05-26-2018  8:49 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

Attorney General Forms Hate Crime Task Force

The task force will study hate-motivated crimes and review existing legal protections for victims ...

Portland Art Museum Celebrates Art Museum Day with Free Admission on May 25

Portland Art Museum joins art museums across North America, with great works of art and public programs ...

June Key Delta Community Center Hosts May Week ’18 Health Fair May 26

Event includes vision, glucose screenings, medication disposal and car seat installation ...

Mississippi Avenue Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 22, 10 percent of proceeds from participating Mississippi Ave. businesses will go to SEI ...

Oregon advances with 11-1 run-rule victory over Kentucky

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — DJ Sanders hit a grand slam in a seven-run second inning and the Oregon Ducks are headed to the women's College World Series after an 11-1 run-rule victory over Kentucky Saturday night in the deciding game of the Eugene Super Regional.Shannon Rhodes hit a solo home run...

Amtrak: No evidence injured passenger was in fight

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The family of a 22-year-old train passenger found severely injured next to railroad tracks in Truckee, California, suspects he may have been the victim of a hate crime, but Amtrak said Saturday that investigators have found no evidence of foul play.Aaron Salazar's family...

City aims to block release of dangerous psychiatric patients

LAKEWOOD, Wash. (AP) — The city that houses Western State Hospital, Washington's main psychiatric facility, is fighting to keep patients from being released into its boundaries.The News Tribune reports Lakewood on Monday approved a moratorium on city business licenses for new adult family...

Missing fisherman found by divers in submerged vessel

SEATTLE (AP) — The body of a missing fisherman was found by divers inside the sunken vessel, the Kelli J.The Coast Guard said Saturday that the body was found before the vessel was refloated by contractors in Willapay Bay on Friday.The Pacific County Sheriff's Office took the fisherman's...

OPINION

Racism After Graduation May Just Be What's on the Menu

Dr. Julianne Malveaux says that for our young millennials, racism is inevitable ...

Prime Minister Netanyahu Shows Limits of Israel’s Democracy

Bill Fletcher, Jr. on racial politics in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s uneven treatment of African immigrants ...

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Meeting draws people angry over fatal police shooting

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — More than 200 people turned out for a community meeting Saturday to protest the death of a young black man who was fatally shot by a Virginia police officer after he ran naked onto an interstate highway.Speakers at the meeting at Richmond's Second Baptist Church said...

The Latest: Family: Police need to handle people better

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Latest on the fatal police shooting of a naked and unarmed man in Richmond (all times local):5:16 p.m.Family and friends of a man who was fatally shot by Richmond police after running naked onto an interstate highway are calling on police to find non-lethal ways of...

White neighbor gets prison for harassing black family

EASTON, Pa. (AP) — A neighbor accused of harassing and using racial epithets against a black Pennsylvania family for years has been sentenced to prison.A Northampton County judge sentenced 45-year-old Robert Kujawa to the term Friday after a jury convicted him of ethnic intimidation,...

ENTERTAINMENT

Glenn Snoddy, inventor of fuzz pedal for guitarists, dies

MURFREESBORO, Tennessee (AP) — A recording engineer whose invention of a pedal that allowed guitarists to create a fuzzy, distorted sound most famously used by Keith Richards in the Rolling Stones' hit "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" has died.Glenn Snoddy was 96. His daughter Dianne Mayo...

Reaction to criminal charges filed against Harvey Weinstein

Reaction to rape and other criminal charges filed in New York on Friday against Harvey Weinstein:"I hope this gives hope to victims and survivors everywhere, that we are one step closer to justice. Because one win is a win for all of us." — Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan, to The Associated...

Vindication, triumph, also fear: Weinstein accusers react

NEW YORK (AP) — Watching the stunning images of Harvey Weinstein walking into a courthouse Friday in handcuffs, a detective on each arm, Louisette Geiss still felt a shiver of fear in reaction to the man who, she says, once cornered her and tried to physically force her to watch him...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Klay Thompson score 35, Warriors force Game 7 in West finals

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Klay Thompson hit nine 3-pointers and scored 35 points, the Warriors held James...

AP FACT CHECK: Trump on border stats _ and a Merkel mystery

WASHINGTON (AP) — Illegal border crossings, as President Donald Trump measures them, have gone up since he...

US Gulf Coast prepares as Alberto brings wind, rain north

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Florida, Alabama and Mississippi launched emergency preparations ahead of the...

Declassified US cables link Uribe to Colombia drug cartels

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — As Alvaro Uribe, Colombia's most powerful politician, was making his rise to the...

Ebola vaccinations begin in rural Congo on Monday: Ministry

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Ebola vaccinations will begin Monday in the two rural areas of Congo where the...

Israeli soldier badly wounded in West Bank arrest raid dies

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military says a soldier who was seriously wounded in action this week has...

longtime video game developer Becky Heineman poses for a photo at her workspace in Seattle. In the male-dominated world of multiplayer online games like “Grand Theft Auto,” “Halo,” and “Call of Duty,” many women say they've had to take drastic steps to escape harassment, stalking and violent threats from male players. Heineman, the founder of the Olde Skuul game studio in Seattle, used to be an aficionado of action-packed, violent games, but after being constantly harassed while playing highly-competitive games, she now plays simple, single-player games on her phone and computer. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
TALI ARBEL, AP Business Writer

 

NEW YORK (AP) — Nico Deyo, a 33-year-old e-commerce specialist from Milwaukee, used to enjoy mixing it up with players from around the world in the popular online fantasy game "World of Warcraft." Then a stalker began harassing her on the game's forums, impersonating her in the game and, later, sending her barrages of Twitter messages, some threatening her with graphic rape and murder.

While the stalker didn't drive her from the game, the experience helped sour her on multiplayer gaming. "There's a lot of things about the community that are very hostile," she says of Warcraft. Deyo largely gave up the game almost two years ago and now mostly spends her time on playing other games by herself.

Deyo is far from alone. In the male-dominated world of multiplayer online games like "Grand Theft Auto," ''Halo," and "Call of Duty," many women say they've had to take drastic steps to escape harassment, stalking and violent threats from male players. Some quit particular games. Others change their screen names or make sure they play only with friends.

Online harassment of women, often involving threats of horrific violence, has become a big issue — and video games are a frequent flashpoint. Two years ago, the online "Gamergate" movement, ostensibly a protest over the ethics of game journalists, also fueled Twitter attacks on female critics replete with gutter-level abuse and assault threats. Some targets left their homes or canceled speaking engagements, fearing for their safety.

On Saturday, the South by Southwest Interactive festival plans a daylong summit on online harassment ; one panel will address problems in "gaming and geek culture ." That summit, however, almost never happened; last October, the festival canceled two gaming-issue panels after receiving "numerous threats of on-site violence ." Organizers reversed themselves a few days later after BuzzFeed and Vox Media threatened to boycott the festival entirely.

Online gaming companies, however, have been slower to act. Major console makers Microsoft and Sony and game developers like Blizzard Entertainment have "terms of service" that explicitly ban stalking and other harassing behavior. The companies have the right to ban reported bad actors from their public forums. Players say that rarely happens — and when it does, as in Deyo's case, their harassers often follow them onto Twitter and other social channels.

Becky Heineman, the 52-year-old founder of the Olde Skuul game studio in Seattle, was an aficionado of shoot-em-ups like "Halo" and "Call of Duty." But constant catcalls from other players and questions about her bra size or "whether I do it on top or bottom, or other derogatory things," she says, wore her down.

Reporting her harassers never seemed to make a difference, she says. She limited her play to friends for a while, but now mostly focuses on simple single-player games like "Cookie Clicker" on her phone and computer.

Contrary to popular stereotypes, women are avid video gamers; one recent survey showed that about half of all women play video games, about the same as men. But men are far more likely to identify themselves as "gamers," and experts say that "hard-core" shooting and action games remain mostly male.

It's only recently that "women players have been recognized as valid gamers that are interesting for companies," said Yasmin Kafai, a University of Pennsylvania professor who focuses on gender and gaming.

Microsoft says recent changes to its Xbox Live service make it more likely that players with bad reputations will end up playing each other. It adds that its enforcement team monitors complaints at all times and that all reports are investigated. Sony, Blizzard and the Entertainment Software Association, a trade group, did not respond to requests for comment.

Those moves don't impress some women in the industry.

"While they have very good statements about harassment and, you know, responsibility to the community and all that kind of stuff, the enforcement side of it is pretty lax," says Kate Edwards, executive director of the International Game Developers Association. "Players basically have to adopt their own strategies to deal with it."

Games and online game networks, for instance, let players "mute" messages from opponents and turn off voice chat, where trash talk can easily shade over into harassment. Xbox Live also labels players who get lots of complaints with a red marker so that other players can avoid them.

But constantly muting or reporting other players interrupts what's supposed to be a fun pastime. And it doesn't change harassing behavior.

"If I just block somebody, is that stopping them from doing the abuse?" says Kishonna Gray, an Eastern Kentucky University professor who wrote a book about racist and sexist interactions within Xbox. "They can go to the next person and do the same thing."

That's especially true when harassment shades into the real world. Mercer Smith-Looper, a 27-year-old Boston woman, found it annoying when male players patronized her and told her how to play. Then she started receiving unwanted gifts — a necklace, a sword — in the mail. One gamer unexpectedly showed up at her workplace after calling her repeatedly.

Fed up, she changed her gamer name and now sticks to playing privately with friends or alone. "I'm kind of in hiding," she says.

What would effective anti-harassment measures look like? Experts like Edwards and Gray point to Riot Games, the maker of "League of Legends," for its efforts to change player culture. Riot built a system based on artificial intelligence and player feedback to determine appropriate behavior during gameplay, and uses it to punish or reward players who draw complaints, according to the company's onlinesupportdocuments .

When players show "signs of toxicity," Riot can block them from competitive play, limit their chats or ban them entirely. The company shows players what behavior other players didn't like when it punishes them. Jeffrey Lin, Riot's lead game designer for social systems, has said that because of these efforts, only 2 percent of its global games experienced racist, homophobic, sexist language or excessive harassment.

Riot Games declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

IGDA's Edwards acknowledges that dealing with harassment is a difficult challenge. "You're dealing with minors versus adults," she says. "You're dealing with free speech issues. It's a struggle for companies to figure out exactly how to approach it."

And while Riot-style moderation might limit harassment, it's unlikely to solve the problem on its own. "This is a social and cultural problem, not a technological one," says Dmitri Williams, CEO of game analytics firm Ninja Metrics.

 

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