The toxicity that has become inherent in online gaming has become something much more insidious.
There have been enough instances of hate and toxicity in online multiplayer games that stories like this shouldn’t shock or even surprise us anymore. On Friday, Christian Picciolini, an ex-skinhead and hate-group leader, went on Reddit to conduct an AMA (ask me anything) about what his former life was like. During the AMA, Picciolini, who is now an author and considers himself a peace advocate, disseminated some of the tactics used by white supremacist hate groups to recruit new members.
As it turns out, white supremacists are targeting vulnerable young people in multiplayer games. “Fortnight, Minecraft, [Call of Duty], all of them,” Picciolini wrote during the AMA. “[They were] mostly foreign recruiters from Russia and eastern Europe and Poland.”
Some of the other Redditors chimed in with their own experiences of how white supremacy and racism has been popping up in games like Elder Scrolls Online, too.
It’s concerning that these kinds of groups are using multiplayer games to recruit vulnerable, angry young people who may feel cast-off or “othered” by society. Games are an escape, after all, and having that escape co-opted by a group that’s promising “paradise” is a welcome addition to a world that, to these young folks, can feel utterly empty and devoid of meaning.
Minecraft and Fortnite, which have a tendency to skew quite young in terms of audience, being used as hate-group recruitment vessels feels the most disturbing. The biggest problem? If the group isn’t violating the game’s terms of service, then there isn’t much the games can do to oust the offending groups or individuals. Developers and publishers need to be made aware and concerned that their brands and reach are being exploited in a way that goes against the values that they’ve instilled in the communities that they work to nurture.