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The Online Gaming Ecosystem: Assessing Digital Socialisation, Extremism Risks and Harms Mitigation Efforts

The Online Gaming Ecosystem: Assessing Digital Socialisation, Extremism Risks and Harms Mitigation Efforts
26th May 2023 Galen Englund
In Report-Gnet

This report provides a review of the research on the exploitation of gaming and gaming‑adjacent platforms by violent extremists and the policies seeking to mitigate the impact of that exploitation. There is increasing interest in the nexus of online gaming and (violent) extremism. This report builds on the work of the Extremism and Gaming Research Network (EGRN) to provide a primer for those new to this space and an updated state of play of the cutting‑edge research taking place among members of the network and beyond.

The report is divided into three sections.

First, it lays out the online gaming ecosystem. The report identifies gamers, the unique individual and community identity formations that can happen in these spaces and the multifaceted environment in which this takes place, including games, gaming‑adjacent spaces and beyond.

Second, it builds upon and enhances a typology of potential harms in the online gaming ecosystem. This typology allows clarification of the different ways in which extremism can both spread through these spaces and how extremists can specifically exploit these spaces and communities.

Third, it provides an overview of some of the efforts that are currently ongoing to mitigate these potential harms. This includes efforts in the tech industry to reinforce policies and moderation efforts, by game designers to address potential challenges at an early stage and by practitioners who use online gaming engagement or gamification to prevent and counter violent extremism effectively.

Finally, the report concludes by looking to the future of this exponentially expanding space. It offers some recommendations for research, policy and practice to better understand and address the threat of extremism within online gaming to protect and enhance online gaming as a positive engagement space.

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