Technology to Combat Bullying in Your Esports Program

For all its positive qualities, the field of esports still grapples with its inherent issue of toxicity. A 2019 survey from the Anti-Defamation League found that 65% of players reported experiencing “severe harassment” including physical threats, sustained harassing and stalking. Exposure to such behavior, the study shows, found that 23% of players became less social and “one in 10 players said they had suicidal thoughts after being harassed while playing online games.”

Between bullying and harassment and little administrative efforts to effectively curb these bad practices, are academic institutions exposing themselves to Title IX investigations? As the National Women’s Law Center highlights in an FAQ, “Title IX is not just about sports! It is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex—including harassment and bullying—in schools that receive federal funding.”

The Women’s Law Center document further defines sexual harassment and gender harassment, and stresses “An anti-bullying policy does not mean the school’s work is done. Even if it has policies in place that prohibit bullying and harassment, your school is responsible for investigating, ending, and preventing harassment.”

Esports organizations are making efforts to address these issues. NASEF’s Code of Conduct is a great example of the expectations we must set for players and coaches. In addition, NASEF partnered with Healthy Player ONE, the first and only software designed to combat bullying in esports. NASEF members receive a discount on the annual subscription.

The software acts like a dashcam, always capturing computer screens and audio during game play. If a student flags a moment where they feel they are being bullied, the recording (including the past few minutes) is uploaded to a dashboard for the coach or director to review.

Cyber-bullying is a serious issue, but it shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with a program that can provide academic and social benefit to young people. Your administration can take a few proactive steps today to ensure esports continues to grow, and one in which all students can enjoy an exciting and safe experience.