Since the livestreamed terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, and various subsequent attacks following a similar modus operandi in Pittsburgh, El Paso and Halle, discussions on the ‘gamification’ of violent right-wing extremism have risen to prominence. The perpetrators livestreamed their attacks on Facebook or Twitch, mirroring “Let’s Play” videos popular in the gaming community, sought to copy the stylistic elements of first-person shooter games, provided live commentary on their actions through gamified language, and are believed to have been embedded in specific online communities, in which gamification and game references are part of the subcultural practice.
The use of game elements, however, is not limited to right-wing extremist individuals and organisations but is evident in the propaganda and recruitment efforts of jihadist organisations too. Prominently, Daesh launched an app aimed at ‘playfully’ transmitting ideology to children via gaming elements and has both utilised footage from video games such as Call of Duty as well as imitated the aesthetics and viewpoint of first-person shooter games in their propaganda videos filmed with helmet cameras.
As game elements seem to become increasingly prominent in contemporary extremist milieus, those involved in the implementation of prevention and countermeasures need to be aware of this trend, understand its mechanisms and implications, and, ultimately, consider potential applications of gamification components in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) efforts. After providing a brief introduction to gamification as such, this paper provides an overview of the use of gamification within extremist communities and the mechanisms by which it makes propaganda more attractive. Then, the potential for gamification in the P/CVE context is considered. Read more