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Sexual harassment in Overwatch could become illegal in South Korea

Bannable? Maybe, maybe not, but certain types of toxic behaviour could soon be illegal in South Korea's online games

Sexual harassment in online games like Overwatch may soon be punishable by law – at least in South Korea. A proposed bill from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family would make some types of toxic behaviour in gaming chat a crime.

The news comes to us via a Korean news source, so an iffy translation makes it hard to nail down the details – and it seems the bill itself has not been locked down just yet. Broadly, it seems the intention is to extend the punishments in place for workplace sexual harassment to non-working working areas, including online games.

Overwatch is specifically cited in the Naver article (spotted by Dot Esports) as a game where harassment is “rampant.” The game’s preference for voice chat over text chat is brought up, likely insinuating that vocal harassment is worth treating more seriously, though this is an area where it certainly appears detail is getting lost in translation.

Toxic behaviour in online games has been a problem from the beginning, and it’s only gotten more prevalent over time. It’s not always gendered, though it often is – and almost always becomes far worse as result. Developers have attempted to address the problem in different ways, including measures like Rainbow Six Siege’s auto-ban for toxic language.

That’s still several steps short of legal intervention, however. Blizzard reports a sharp downturn in Overwatch toxicity since endorsements were added, though it’s certainly not a solution that ends harassment in all its forms.