US Department of Homeland Security has funded research into extremism in gaming. The anti-terrorism agency has given almost up to $700,000 to attempt to tackle the issue. This funding will back a program for monitoring, evaluating, and preventing extremist activities and targeting within the gaming world.
The world of gaming has changed vastly across the years with a large focus on online gaming and social hubs. As such they could become a source of recruitment for extremist groups.
While social media platforms have dedicated counterterrorism teams, video games have, mostly, until now, lacked the resources and research needed to combat the issue.
The funding will support a collaborative project that includes Middlebury's Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism, Take This which – a non-profit mental health group that provides support in the game industry – and Logically, a private firm that develops advanced AI to help fight misinformation.
Creating a safer space
A DHS statement reads "Over the past decade, video games have increasingly become focal points of social activity and identity creation for adolescents and young adults. Relationships made and fostered within game ecosystems routinely cross over into the real world and are impactful parts of local communities. Correspondingly, extremists have used video games and targeted video game communities for activities ranging from propaganda creation to terrorist mobilization and training."
In a further statement the DHS commented that these issues so far have been overlooked "Game developers in general – from small, independent studios to billion-dollar multinational corporations have lagged in awareness of how extremists may attempt to exploit their games, and how their communities can be targeted for radicalisation "
These types of concerns are not the first within the gaming industry. Back in May Attorney General Letitia James opened an investigation into the likes of Twitch and Discord in connection to a terror attack in Buffalo that claimed 10 lives. It is thought the shooter used these platforms to communicate his intentions about the attack.
With social gaming and ease of access to mobile gaming platforms on the rise, aims to ensure extremist groups do not thrive in the adapting space may be something we'll see more of in the future.
The gaming world also faces growing security issues with the likes of stolen content, cheating and hacking. In a recent interview we discussed these issues.