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    US Homeland Security will spend $700k investigating ‘Radicalization’ through video games

    Radicalization through video games: In order to investigate whether video games can be used as a tool for radicalization, the Department of Homeland Security has awarded nearly $700,000 in grants to terrorism and security researchers.

    According to Vice, the funds will go to Middlebury Institute’s Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism (CTEC), Take This, and a company called Logically dedicated to curbing toxic online behavior.

    “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,” the grant announcement on the DHS website said. “Correspondingly, extremists have used video games and targeted video game communities for activities ranging from propaganda creation to terrorist mobilization and training.”

    It is the objective of this new project to develop a “set of best practices and centralized resources for monitoring and evaluation of extremist activities as well as a series of training workshops for the monitoring, detection, and prevention of extremist exploitation in gaming spaces for community managers, multiplayer designers, lore developers, mechanics designers, and trust and safety professionals,”

    Apparently, video game studios of all sizes are not fully aware of how these extremists could attempt to radicalize their players by exploiting their games. As there have been groups on Steam in the past that “openly advocated Neo-Nazi beliefs and worshipped school shooters,” white nationalists have unfortunately found a foothold here. Steam has attempted to remove these groups, but the people behind this grant wish to go even further.

    At this year’s Game Developer Conference, Take This’s Dr. Rachel Kowert and CTEC’s Alex Newhouse presented some of their early findings, which indicate that the initial focus will be on white nationalism and white supremacy. We hope that their efforts will contribute to a lasting change in the industry as a whole.

    It comes in the wake of a racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, that was broadcast on Twitch and resulted in the death of ten people and the injury of three more.

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