Millions of female gamers face shocking abuse and harassment when playing their favourite games online – with one in ten left feeling suicidal, a new report has revealed.
Nearly half (49%) of British women, who play online games, have been subject to such abuse – rising to three-quarters of young women aged 18-24.
More than a third (35%) claim they have received violent messages, with 80% of those saying these are often of a sexual nature.
And for 52% of women gamers, this tarnishes the experience, as they worry about the impact on their mental health just from playing their favourite video games.
The abuse has left one in four feeling depressed, while 11% even feel suicidal, according to the poll of 4,000 gamers – and four in ten have felt personally threatened by the abuse experienced online.
But it is not just the online harassment they worry about – as almost a third of women fear being attacked in real life, after suffering a barrage of threats on online gaming platforms.
The research, commissioned by Sky Broadband, also found that over half of males (51%) report witnessing female streamers being harassed on live streams.
And 71% of all those polled say they have stepped in to stop any abuse they have spotted.
To shine a light on the abuse experienced by female gamers in the UK, Sky Broadband has created a new immersive experience, in partnership with Guild Esports, at the Sky Guild Gaming Centre in Shoreditch.
The high-level gaming simulator highlights the terrifying level of harassment that female gamers face.
Video content from the experience shows the real-time reactions of players as they’re slowly given increasingly aggressive messages while they try to game.
Menacing messages like, “Stop playing a man’s game, little girl”, and “Someone kill this wh*re”, can be heard throughout the room, to provide an insight into the real-life experiences of female gamers, and give a tiny insight into the aggressive messages women receive.
Sky Broadband has also partnered with a host of female gamers and gaming experts to feature in a series of striking images that depict some of the abuse they face whilst playing online.
Stephanie Ijoma, Sunpi, Elz the Witch, and Danielle Udogaranya appear in front of a backdrop covered with writing that illustrates true-to-life, abusive and violent messages that are heard daily by women in gaming.
Stephanie Ijoma, founder of gaming and entertainment company, NNESAGA, said: “As women, the abuse we receive on a daily basis is simply unacceptable, which is why campaigns like this are so important to challenge the gaming community to become part of the change.
“It’s crucial that we work together in making the online gaming world safer for women, as there is absolutely no room for abuse.”
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Sky Broadband has also partnered with Cybersmile to create a series of educational modules to raise awareness of sexist abuse in gaming, promoting personal safety, and empowering gamers to be better informed.
The modules cover how to recognise abuse, how to report abusive behaviour, and how to become an ally.
Speaking about the campaign, YouTuber and presenter, Elz the Witch, said: “I’m proud to be part of this campaign, which is shining a light on the real challenges women that play or stream games online face – which is often worse for women from racially diverse backgrounds.
“It’s hugely important that we not only raise awareness, but encourage real action – there must be allyship for change to happen.”
Speaking about the research, Jasmine Skee, CEO of Guild Esports, said: “The findings of this research are deeply concerning, though not surprising.
“In order to create an equitable gaming environment, it is imperative that members and leaders of the industry come together in solidarity to eliminate harmful behaviours towards women gamers.”
And Amber Pine, managing director of Broadband and Connectivity, at Sky Broadband, added: “The results of this research are shocking, and should alarm the gaming community.
“It is completely unacceptable for this type of sexist abuse to be so prevalent. We are determined to improve the experience for women in gaming. We’re calling on players to become allies, and stand with us to make clear there is no room for abuse in gaming.”
Sky is encouraging gamers to stand in solidarity, by sharing awareness on their pages with the tag #NoRoomForAbuse.
Those experiencing abuse can visit here to download information about staying safe online, as well as how to become an ally for all gamers.
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