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Department of Homeland Security to Spend $700,000 Studying 'Radicalization' Through Games

Alejandro Mayorkas, head of the DHS.
Alejandro Mayorkas, head of the DHS. / Chip Somodevilla/GettyImages

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

The funds will go to Middlebury Institute's Center on Terrorism, Extremism and Counterterrorism (CTEC), the mental health non-profit Take This, and Logically, a tech company that aims to curb toxic behavior 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 made and fostered within game ecosystems routinely cross over into real world and are impactful parts of local communities.

"Correspondingly, extremists have used video games and targeted video game communities for activities ranging from propaganda creation to terrorist mobilization and training."

The grant funding will also go toward creating a "set of best practices and centralize resources for monitoring and evaluation of extremist activities as well as a series of training workshops for the monitoring, detection, and prevention of extremist exploitation in gaming spaces for community managers, multiplayer designers, lore developers, mechanics designers, and trust and safety professionals," per the announcement.

DHS notes that game developers have repeatedly fallen short in awareness and action when it comes to extremist groups attempting to exploit their games and recruit new radicals to their causes. White nationalists and white supremacists in particular have found footing in these games. When presenting some of their early findings at the 2022 Game Developer Conference, leaders at Take This and CTEC said their research would likely focus on that problem.