Department of Homeland Security will spend $700,000 to study ‘radicalization’ through games

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The US Department of Homeland Security awarded a grant worth nearly $700,000 to researchers investigating radicalization through video games, Vice reported September 16.

The funds will go to the Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism (CTEC) at the Middlebury Institute, Take This, a mental health nonprofit, and Logically, a technology company that aims to combat toxic behaviors online.

“Over the past decade, video games have increasingly become focal points of social activity and identity creation for adolescents and young adults,” reads the grant announcement on the DHS website. “Relationships created and nurtured within gaming ecosystems regularly find their way into the real world and impact local communities.

“As a result, extremists have used video games and targeted video game communities for activities ranging from creating propaganda to mobilizing and training terrorists.”

Funding from the grant will also be used to create a “set of best practices and centralize resources for monitoring and evaluation of extremist activities as well as a series of training workshops for monitoring, detecting and preventing extremist exploitation in game spaces for community managers, multiplayer designers, lore developers, mechanics designers, and trust and security professionals,” according to the announcement.

DHS notes that game developers have repeatedly lacked awareness and action when it comes to extremist groups trying to exploit their games and recruit new radicals to their causes. White nationalists and white supremacists in particular have found their way into these games. While showcasing some of their early findings at the 2022 Game Developer Conference, Take This and CTEC executives said their research would likely focus on this problem.

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