World of Warcraft, Fortnite, Roblox, Rocket League — these immensely popular games, many with child audiences, have been the subject of a new phenomenon in extremism.
Some critics say online gaming and adjacent chat-based platforms are being used to expose and possibly recruit users to potentially dangerous ideologies.
What remains to be seen is how widespread the problem really is.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, three-fifths of gamers between the ages of 13 and 17 reported experiencing harassment while playing online games. Minority and LGBTQ+ gamers reported higher levels of harassment than their counterparts. Keeping up and detecting those instances of hate speech is not as easy as it sounds. It’s not always clear if and when someone exposed to extremist ideology recognizes it.
Some experts said the games can be used to foster relationships through things like voice chat and in other private conversations.
Others believe extremist ideas can be normalized through the lens of gaming, though there is a lack of conclusive research on the topic.
All of the experts Newsy spoke with said it would take a mixture of civil, governmental and platform enforcement to deal with the problem of any potential extremism.