How are Female Gamers' Experiences of General and Sexual Harassment Related to Coping Strategies and Mental Health Outcomes?

Senya Wong and Rabindra Ratan


Online multiplayer games are widely recognized as a forum for toxic behaviors. Female gamers are often exposed to both general harassment and sexual harassment. Although studies have investigated the effects of harassment and associated coping strategies on the mental health of females within settings such as the workplace, comparable studies have not been conducted within online gaming environments. This study surveyed adult female gamers to assess the relationship between female gamers' exposure to general and sexual harassment, coping strategies employed in response to harassment (self-blame, seeking help), and associated mental health outcomes (psychological distress, anxiety). Findings indicate that general harassment but not sexual harassment was significantly associated with greater levels of distress and anxiety. Self-blame moderated the effects of general harassment on psychological distress, whereas seeking help moderated the effects of general harassment on anxiety. Future studies should examine the effects of coping and general harassment on all gamers.