gamers ... exchange hate speech over their headsets as they stalk each other across the virtual battlefields. Players trade racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic insults so frequently that game makers are taking steps to tone down the rhetoric.
One gamer told an opponent he presumed to be Jewish that he wished Hitler had succeeded in his mission. Many exchanges involve talk of rape or exult over the atomic bombing of Japan. There are frequent slurs on homosexuals, Asians, Hispanics and women.
DeMarco said hate speech has been a problem for years. Game makers, despite some serious efforts, can only seek to limit the amount.
"A lot of the problem lies within the players themselves," DeMarco said.
The widespread use of the slurs is partly fuelled by the same anonymity that provides cover for abuse throughout cyberspace. Players can compete with people around the world, and know them only by the fictional "gamertags" they use to identify themselves.
After years of tolerating abusive players, gamers have become more diligent about noting the gametags of abusive players and reporting them to game companies. Abusive players can be punished or even banned, but the process is slow.
Those complaints are reviewed, and people who use hate speech can face punishments such as having their voice privileges suspended, making them unable to speak with other players in real time.
They can also be banned temporarily or even permanently from the service, Toulouse said. Players whose conduct crosses into criminal behaviour are reported to law enforcement, he said.
DeMarco said the best solution may just be continuing to educate people, especially parents of young gamers, about the problem.
"I'd like to see parents being aware of what their kids being exposed to," he said.