Analyzing Online Gaming as a Catalyst for Radicalization

The Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Technology & Society has recently released Hate is No Game: Hate and Harassment in Online Games 2022, a report detailing the rise in exposure to hate speech and harassment in the online gaming community. One of the most concerning trends discovered was the spike in white-supremacist discourse, with 20% of adult gamers being exposed to such ideologies, as opposed to only 8% in just the previous year. The rate of exposure for gamers ages 10-17 was similar at 15% in 2022. The real world consequences have been devastating, with one mass shooter claiming his extremist actions stemmed from nationalistic ideology he was introduced to via online gaming. In addition to the spread harmful ideals, online gaming communities have been plagued with instances of harassment ranging from game play interference to stalking and physical threats.

The troubling reality of harassment and radicalization across the online gaming community becomes more cumbersome when coupled with the acknowledgment that, according to the report, “only one major games company, Roblox, prohibits extremism on its platform.” This is despite the fact that most companies have publicly denounced hate speech and harassment. Without formal and enforceable policies these platforms will continue to be spaces that serve to spread extremists ideology.

For more information on topics related to this piece, please visit the HSDL In Focus on Active Shooters, DisinformationDomestic Terrorism in the US, Hate and AntisemitismJanuary 6th Capitol Attack, and School Violence.

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