Survey shows 91% of game devs view harassment from players as a serious problem in the industry

No one deserves abuse.

Image via Games Developer Conference

The Game Developers Conference is just around the corner, and in advance of the event the organizers chose to survey over 2,300 respondents to get their thoughts on a number of issues surrounding the industry. On the agenda were a number of hot-button topics, including the recent move towards unionization and worker rights, the addition of accessibility options, and the ever-present specter of blockchain gaming. But one of the most enlightening questions asked concerned an issue that, it seems, all too many developers have had to wrangle with — abuse and harassment from players.

According to the 2023 State of the Game Industry survey, a jaw-dropping 91% of respondents considered player toxicity an issue, whether very serious, serious, or minor. Just 4% didn’t think it was an issue, while the remaining 5% identified as unsure. That said, just 40% of respondents reported having experienced harassment from the player community themselves, whether directed at themselves, colleagues, or both. Predictably, the people that experienced the most harassment tended to work in departments like community management, marketing, or PR — generally much more public-facing roles that allowed toxic community members to put a face and a name to any particular grudge they might hold.

Suggestions for remedies to the problem varied in approach. While a minority endorsed a thicker skin or suggested that “the customer is always right,” most agreed that action needed to be taken at a studio level, whether it involved creating more adequate resources for affected workers or taking a more public stance against harassment. One respondent lamented that they had received death threats and calls to their family, but found that their company “ignored [their] concerns,” while another, who has done research on player harassment, wrote: “It begins with the industry understanding this is serious and it is not just coming from ‘passionate players.’ It’s abuse.” Hopefully this data begins a process towards finding a solution to this toxic behavior.