At the Extremism and Gaming Research Network (EGRN), we bring together world-leading counter-extremism researchers, practitioners, and policy makers together with the private sector to develop solutions for the exploitation of online gaming by terrorists and violent extremists. Set up as a practitioner-led initiative in 2021 to counter new online harms and lead evidence-driven solutions, today the EGRN convenes over 50 members, ranging from United Nations agencies to think tanks and private sector organizations. Through our partnerships, the EGRN is at the center of emerging research and analysis while impacting policy and tech design. We work to promote realistic, non-stigmatizing research and programs with a clear focus on using gaming for good. By working collaboratively across academia and practitioners, we advise tech platforms and governments alike to help gaming communities become inclusive, diverse online spaces while curbing the impact of harmful online content.
The EGRN was set up as an independent, self-led initiative in 2021 by practitioners and researchers who saw a need to fill knowledge gaps on the subject and build an evidence base for positive interventions. Over the first year of our existence, we have seen exponential growth. Starting with a partnership between the Love Frankie agency and RUSI, then growing with member support from the United Nations and GIFCT, within a year we have: 1) surveyed the state of research in the field; 2) convened nearly all leading institutions in the countering and preventing violent extremism (P/CVE) space; and, 3) presented our work to governments and the United Nations Security Council. We have also obtained substantial in-kind support from our members and start-up funding from GIFCT, garnered significant interest from governments worldwide, and are implementing a multi-year research vision.
Today, we continue to grow with new global partners from research and policy organizations to tech companies. The EGRN also links with gaming companies, UN agencies, and governments to counter potential misuse and to develop solutions that use gaming to foster resilient online communities. With the support of our members, supporters, and donors, we continue to study how gaming interacts with extremism, including through community creation and identity, how gender and culture play out in gamer-adjacent spaces, and how we can build more inclusive and resilient gamer communities across the world.
From neo-Nazis and far-right groups to Islamic State, those seeking to instigate hate and violence for their ideological ends are finding new platforms to do so as traditional social media platforms crack down on their content. New platforms, including the chat application Discord, live-streaming sites such as Twitch, online games like Fortnite and gaming platforms like Steam, are rife with extremist content and recruiters. Games themselves are not the problem, but socialization inside gaming-related spaces reveals real and pressing difficulties. Video gaming is a source of resilience for many, reaching an all-time-high during the pandemic according to polling agency Nielsen, with 82% of global consumers playing video games and watching gaming content during lockdowns. Yet, media reports about gaming and its potential to be exploited by extremist actors often sensationalize the issue, and impartial research and analysis on the topic is hard to come by.
The EGRN works to expand and enhance evidence-based research on topics relating to the nexus between gaming and extremism, as well as to provide effective solutions for various public and private stakeholders. As a fundamental aspect of this mission, the EGRN is devised to work collaboratively with gaming platforms in designing and implementing viable solutions with sustainable results.
We are a collaborative, largely flat network designed by practitioners and researchers, for practitioners and researchers.
There are currently over 50 individual and organization members of the Network.
Founding organizations and core members of the EGRN include:
The Network is comprised of a three-tiered membership framework: