Violent extremist organisations are actively exploiting online gaming across the world. Yet, research into gaming and radicalisation is sparse and outdated. The Extremism and Gaming Research Network (EGRN) intends to fill this gap by evidencing how malign extremist actors may be using gaming for harm, and how gaming could be used for positive outcomes. This newly established network brings together the strengths and expertise of 11 distinguished counter-extremism organisations to build up the evidence base and develop concrete solutions to counter the exploitation of online gaming environments by violent extremist organisations.
Set up as a self-led initiative by practitioners and researchers who saw a need to fill existing knowledge gaps and provide a basis for evidence-led solutions, we are continually seeking new stakeholders, such as research and policy organisations or tech companies, to join our network. EGRN also seeks to partner with gaming companies and governments to counter potential misuse and to develop solutions that use gaming to foster resilient online communities. The network is open to funding opportunities supporting future research and project activities.
Aims and objectives
From neo-Nazis and far-right groups to Islamic State, those seeking to instigate hate and violence for their ideological ends are finding new platforms to do so as traditional social media platforms crack down on their content. New platforms, including the chat application Discord, live-streaming sites such as Twitch, online games like Fortnite and gaming platforms like Steam, are rife with extremist content and recruiters. Games themselves are not the problem, but socialisation inside gaming-related spaces reveals real and pressing difficulties. Video gaming is a source of resilience for many, reaching an all-time-high during the pandemic according to polling agency Nielsen, with 82% of global consumers playing video games and watching gaming content during lockdowns. Yet, media reports about gaming and its potential to be exploited by extremist actors often sensationalise the issue, and impartial research and analysis on the topic is hard to come by.
As part of its multi-layered research effort, the EGRN will map the research that has already been carried out in this relatively unexplored field and utilise innovative methodologies to help bridge outstanding evidence gaps. We aim to conduct research and build up evidence around the following priority research questions:
- In what ways are gaming platforms used by extremist individuals or organisations?
- How does this trend differ across regions?
- In what ways can gaming, gaming-related spaces (forums, platforms, etc.) and key messengers be utilised for the prevention and countering of (violent) extremism?
This research will go beyond written outputs and suggest actionable outcomes, such as designing and executing digital interventions in gaming spaces.
Access articles and papers produced by the network
State of Play on Gaming & Extremism - An Annotated Bibliography, - A Product of the Extremism and Gaming Research Network, 6 October 2021
Gamers Who Hate: An Introduction to ISD’s Gaming and Extremism Series - Jacob Davey, 12 August 2021
Gaming and Extremism: The Extreme Right on Steam - Pierre Vaux, Aoife Gallagher, Jacob Davey, 12 August 2021
Gaming and Extremism: The Extreme Right on Discord - Aoife Gallagher, Ciaran O’Connor, Pierre Vaux, Elise Thomas, Jacob Davey, 19 August 2021
Gaming and Extremism: The Extreme Right on DLive - Elise Thomas, 26 August 2021
Gaming and Extremism: The Extreme Right on Twitch - Ciaran O’Connor, 2 September 2021
Perspectives on Terrorism, Volume 15, Issue 4 - Linda Schlegel
This article seeks to contribute to the development of a gamification of radicalization theory by exploring how Marczewski’s HEXAD, a user typology for gamified applications, may facilitate our understanding of individual variations in engagement with gamified extremist content.
Journal for Deradicalisation, Summer 2020 Nr. 23 - Linda Schlegel
This article makes an exploratory contribution to the theoretical foundations of the study of gaming in radicalization research.
Why The Radical Right Exploits Games As Tools For Radicalization - Yannick Lengkeek, 13 August 202
Framing Far Cry 5: The Gamification of White Separatist Propaganda - Ashton Kingdon, 16 December 2019
GIFCT Tech Innovation invests in the development and distribution of groundbreaking technological solutions to support member companies committed to preventing terrorist and violent extremists from exploiting their platforms while protecting human rights.
SCENOR (SCientia ENim ORbis terrarum) is a non-profit association, located in Vienna, Austria. Access the blog
Love Frankie is a social change agency specializing in innovative research and strategic communication initiatives. We address critical societal issues including extremism, disinformation, digital literacy, and inclusion across Asia and the Pacific. We offer innovative research methodologies and combine creative approaches with deep local insight to create culturally relevant, targeted work that creates real impact.View website
Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD)
The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) is the leading global counter-extremism ‘think and do tank’. As an independent non-profit organisation, we are dedicated to safeguarding democracy and human rights. ISD partners with governments, cities, businesses and communities to reverse the rising tide of hate, extremism and disinformation worldwide.View website
M&C Saatchi World Services
M&C Saatchi World Services is a specialist division of a global communications network dedicated to supporting public diplomacy, defence, and development programs. We employ creative expertise to tackle some of humanity’s toughest challenges through social and behaviour change communications.View website
modus|zad identifies and brings together relevant experts from academia, business, tech, politics, and non-profits to identify new trends and close acute research gaps, and then rapidly develop, test, and widely disseminate new approaches to counter emerging trends across a broad-range of extremist groups and ideologies.View website
Moonshot is a global social enterprise working to end online harms, applying evidence, ethics and human rights. We design new methodologies and technologies to respond effectively to harms that threaten public safety, including violent extremism, gender-based violence, disinformation, and serious organised crime.View website
SCENOR is a non-profit association, located in Vienna, Austria. SCENOR is active in scientific research on radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism and is driven by a motivation to improve society as a whole and while doing so promoting an area of security and democracy in Austria, Europe and world-wide.View website
CARR leads discussion on radical right extremism around the world. We feature work by experts on the radical right in Europe, the US and beyond. Fellows contribute write Research Insight pieces, blogs, add bibliographic content, contribute vlogs and podcasts; and above all, make themselves available for media commentary, stakeholder consultation and policy formulation. Throughout, CARR’s emphasis is placed upon the public dissemination of specialist insights and research on this resurgent phenomenon.View website
Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT)
The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) brings together the technology industry, government, civil society, and academia to foster collaboration and information-sharing to counter terrorist and violent extremist activity online. Our mission is to prevent terrorists and violent extremists from exploiting digital platforms. In every aspect of our work, we aim to be transparent, inclusive, and respectful of fundamental and universal human rights.View website
Since 2014, UNDP has been working to develop a deeper and more nuanced understanding of violent extremism. We aim to address two interlinked challenges: (1) the rise of violent extremism, using a development and peacebuilding approach firmly grounded within human rights principles, and (2) the need to govern increasingly diverse and multi-cultural societies.View website