BullyHunters, an initiative aimed at preventing online abuse, particularly in online video games, directed at women, has received widespread criticism for its approach, and bold unverified claims.
The program included a live streamed event, where they conducted a live “hunt” – where so called Bully Hunters would enter the game, and humiliate the harasser, in one example by knifing them in the back during a game of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
The approach was criticized, mainly because it was heavily scripted and included pre-recorded ‘harassment’ which the show claimed was real-time and authentic.
However, regardless of the approach, there is certainly a noble cause at the route of the idea, however skewed it ended up becoming. But, the program was also criticized for greatly inflating the numbers and data of women targeted by abuse and harassment in video games.
A tweet from one the show’s host, ZombiUnicorn, claimed that “around three million women have stopped playing video games altogether because of harassment” in a Tweet on her personal account.
~3 million women have stopped playin games altogether bc of harassment. While you & I might have thick skin, that doesn’t mean everyone does nor should any1 belittle the cause. Sexual harassment is a serious issue. it’s NEVER okay. If we progress when we stand up for what’s right
— Nati Casanova | ZombiUnicorn (@TheZombiUnicorn) April 12, 2018
The figure of three million was doubted by researcher of Psychology and video games, platinumparagon, and later who posted her findings that the number is completely false and in fact based on “84 women quitting one video game because of poor online interactions” and is “the epitome of bad data science.”
The data was drawn from 874 participants in a random sample, which was limited to American women who own a video game console (not a PC), meaning a large majority of female gamers were not represented.
Further, the study itself, from 2012, did not receive ethical approval, was not peer reviewed, and the details of methodology including sampling and possible mishandling of data are not readily available.
In conclusion, the post accuses BullyHunters of simply exploiting misleading and possibly falsified data around mental health, to promote SteelSeries headsets, which it turned out was a main promotional incentive for the entire scheme.
You can watch a short clip of the BullyHunters live stream below, showing a section where they claim a female gamer was targeted with repeated rape threats – but has been accused of being entirely scripted.
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