Sexual misconduct in online gaming communities difficult to police

For many young people, the new way to get out and play is to plop down at a gaming station. San Jose’s Play Live Nation recently reopened inside Westfield Valley Fair Mall, and is ready for the Summer rush.
“We just basically invite them to get socialized and everything. Although it is kind of hard with everything trying to open back up. But we are providing social distancing and stuff,” said Joe Zamora, one of the gaming shop’s managers.
While this on-line world features games testing skills, it’s also susceptible to real world issues. Some players and even league founders say abusive language is part-and-parcel with the competitive nature of sports.
“It happens so often, it’s literally a part of gaming. Especially being a girl gamer or woman gamer, you come across it all the time. Racism, sexism, all types of things,” said Whittney Allen, founder and owner of Houston-based WCL Professional eSports League.
San Jose State University finds itself caught up in controversy, as Thursday night the Esports at San Jose State team tweeted, “Multiple individuals of the esports community at SJSU, past and present, have been accused of sexual violence and misconduct. No incidents of this nature took place during any operations within our organizations. Spartan Esports has no place for such abuse.”
University officials said they are aware of the allegations, but declined a Fox 2 on-camera interview request. They instead emailed a short statement which read in part, “The Title IX Office has been made aware and has reached out on Twitter and will reach out further.  As a matter of protocol, SJSU does not disclose if someone has reached out to the Title IX Office.”
eSports is a billion-dollar global business, with double-digit annual revenue growth. But policing bad actors who can take trash-talking over the line is difficult.
“There’s nothing to monitor these words or certain words that people say during, while in-game. And the typing or text, there’s very little words that they pick up,” said Allen.
At Play Live Nation, managers said they receive training, and can report offensive behavior which can lead to an accountholder’s suspension or permanent ban.
“It’s the gamer’s part and the game company’s part. So the game company is the one that takes responsibility and being able to check on the accounts and certain stuff. And then the gamers are the ones that can do their part by reporting these certain players, their toxicity, all this racism and all that stuff,” said Zamora.
Reporting and banning only go so far, since all an offender need do is re-register with a new user ID and new account, and then continue playing, and possibly offending.