Online Toxicity & eSports: The Dark Side of a Billion Dollar Industry

eSports’ popularity has exploded in recent years, even competing with traditional sports. Its stars grace the cover of the likes of ESPN magazine, and its teams are avidly followed by millions of fans. At live events, gamers attract enormous crowds, and eSports have become so popular that there are petitions for it to become an Olympic event. 

eSports began gaining much more attention since physical sporting events were postponed or canceled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To a large degree, eSports replaced physical sports for many people and became a way for them to interact and support a competitive team. 

But this billion-dollar industry has had its share of controversies. We’ll go through some of the challenges facing eSports, specifically in terms of the toxicity that’s been found on its platforms. 

Toxic Behavior In The eSports Ecosystem

Cyberbullying and hate speech have long been a problem in the gaming community, with numerous cases of hate speech and discrimination against players on the in-game voice and text chat platforms. 

This problem extends into eSports in general. 

For example, a highly-ranked Overwatch player named Francine “Fran” Vo has been harassed by countless sexist comments from the Overwatch fan community. These gender-based comments accuse her of being “carried” by her teammates and advocate for her to be “benched”. 

The problem of bullying and sexism in gaming even culminated in an enormous scandal known as Gamergate, in which female gamers were being personally threatened with graphic violence. The issue became so pervasive that an all-women gaming league, WPGI, was established. 

And it’s not only sexism, either. Racism has been a serious problem in eSports arenas as well. 

One of the more popular gaming arenas called Smite, recently suspended over 500 accounts after completing a full chat-log review and finding extremely racist rhetoric.

How Is Toxicity In Gaming Being Addressed?

The gaming community is no stranger to racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of online toxicity. So what steps are being taken to prevent such online toxicity?

Recent admirable alliances aimed at stamping out toxicity in gaming have shown that through the right combination of technology and partnerships, it is within our grasp to make toxicity in eSports and gaming in general a thing of the past.

This does not mean an end to competition and competitiveness – quite the opposite. It does mean however that hate and abuse should have no place on gaming platforms.

As we saw, an entirely new league had to be set up just for women to be able to play and feel safe in their gaming environment. While obviously an amazing initiative, this just shows that this issue is incredibly urgent.

Bringing L1ght To eSports

Currently, our day-to-day headlines are filled with too many instances of racism, hate, and intolerance. eSports are an incredible opportunity to change the narrative and highlight diversity, cooperation, and a spirit of togetherness. 

L1ght, together with our partners, can make this vision a reality. Harnessing the power of deep learning and AI, L1ght can be embedded in any number of gaming platforms to ensure the environment stays fun, competitive, and safe for all. Offering cutting-edge real-time safeguards against online toxicity such as sexism, racism, homophobia, and hate, L1ght is the natural partner of eSports and gaming platforms to keep the gaming community protected.

To hear more about how L1ght is fighting online toxicity, get in touch

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