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Expert opinion

Countering the misuse of gaming-related content & spaces: Inspiring practices and opportunities for cooperation with tech companies, November 2022


Publication date
16 November 2022
Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs


The potential exploitation of video games, gaming (-adjacent) platforms and gaming-related content by extremist actors has become an increasingly debated issue over the last years. International organisations, policymakers, tech companies, researchers and practitioners alike devote a considerable amount of attention to delineating how and why extremist groups of multiple ideological backgrounds have been using gaming content and spaces and what implications this may have on the spread of propaganda as well as radicalisation and recruitment processes. It is clear that extremist actors have been using video games and gaming chats, as well as gaming (-adjacent) platforms such as Steam or DLive to disseminate propaganda, livestream attacks, and communicate both with each other and with individuals potentially at risk of radicalising.

They have also incorporated and appropriated gaming-related content and aesthetics in their propaganda outputs and sought to gamify the experience of their followers. The exploitation of gaming, gaming spaces and gaming-related content is a serious issue. The gaming industry and gaming (-adjacent) platforms have a duty of care to keep all players and users in their gaming communities safe and protected from harmful conduct, including from extremism.

Gamers and whole gaming communities suffer due to the hateful content they encounter in gaming spaces — leading many to withdraw from such communities. The countermeasures taken by gaming companies and gaming (-adjacent) platforms differ widely as each company applies different standards to content moderation, regulations, deplatforming, banning of users, muting certain terms, supervising chats, etc. Some gaming (-adjacent) platforms and companies with gaming-related products have also joined the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) to combat extremism in their spaces.

However, despite the experience of other social media companies that proactive, positive measures are needed to combat extremism, many measures taken by the gaming industry so far are generally solely reactive in nature — e.g. removing content deemed to violate the community standards of the gaming space in question. Actors in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) actors, on the other hand, have begun to trial active, positive intervention measures in the gaming sphere and have sought to incorporate games, gaming spaces and gaming-related content into their projects.

Such proactive measures are crucial for a holistic approach against extremism in gaming spaces and can contribute to making playing video games and the use of gaming (-adjacent) platforms a safer, more positive and more inclusive experience for all users — and prevent the exodus of players and users who wish to remove themselves from hateful content and individuals. While deplatforming, moderation and other regulatory activities are important, positive interventions can play a complementary role to existing reactive approaches, support the active facilitation of positive communication in gaming spaces, and benefit the development of safe gaming communities devoid of extremist content. In other words, positive P/CVE interventions can support the gaming industry’s duty of care towards its players.

Countering the misuse of gaming-related content & spaces cover


16 NOVEMBER 2022
Countering the misuse of gaming-related content & spaces: Inspiring practices and opportunities for cooperation with tech companies, November 2022
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