About the EGRN

The Extremism and Gaming Research Network works together to uncover how malign actors exploit gaming, to build resilience in gaming communities to online harms, and to discover new ways to use gaming for good.

Our Mission

At the Extremism and Gaming Research Network (EGRN), we bring researchers, practitioners, and policymakers together with the private sector to develop an understanding of potential threats, as well as solutions for the exploitation of gaming by terrorists and violent extremists. Our work is structured around convening and connecting our global members across sectors, supporting research development and reporting, advising and training tech platforms an  governments, and generating best intervention practices.

The EGRN and our members work to uncover how malign actors exploit gaming, and also the opportunities to use gaming for good to counter those online harms. Our overarching priorities fall across four pillars:


1)         To Convene and connect EGRN members via a Secretariat function that organizes regular meetings, seminars, conferences, and practical exchanges across sectors, while also expanding the Network to other relevant organizations and individuals working on gaming and online harms such as targeted hate, violence, and extremism. The Secretariat administration of the EGRN provides: convening via monthly meetings and affiliate events including panels, conferences, and speaking engagements, information provision via a website, newsletter, and other outreach activities, networking via membership directories and connections to relevant experts, and relationship brokering functions as a major international association working with significant governmental, private sector, and civil society actors across sectors and countries. 

2)         To Research why and how video games, gaming platforms, gaming content, and cultural aspects of gaming are used by extremist and targeted hate-motivated individuals or organizations. The EGRN sets research agendas in the sector to increase synergies and reduce duplicate efforts while understanding the implications of radicalization and recruitment in gaming and how those trends vary across geographies, cultures, subcultures, ideologies, and identities. The research function sets research agendas across members, distributes global comparative information to members, commissions and distributes reports, and engages in grant-funded research projects on select issues.


3)         To Train others both inside and beyond the Network members, especially among regulators, tech platforms, law enforcement, and frontline violence/extremism prevention practitioners on the issue. The Training function provides links with established experts among EGRN members and staff with those in need of training, develops curricula and training materials based on scientific evidence and best practices, and contracts to deliver training via partners and members.


4)         To Advise and Intervene by empowering gamers, companies, governments, and civil society to prevent targeted hate, violence, and extremism by building positive, inclusive, and resilient communities online. The EGRN’s legitimacy as a significant, cross-cutting membership body provides access to major international agencies, national governments, and business institutions. As such, the EGRN has a duty to provide policy and regulatory advice consistent with best practice and scientific evidence; designing and piloting interventions that assist our ultimate beneficiaries of gamers; and offering points of reference in national deliberations on tech and online harms. The EGRN also provides support for members to call on for assistance or technical advice. 


How We Started

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. 

After over three years as an unincorporated, independent, self-led initiative, we formally incorporated the EGRN as a US-based 501(c)3 nonprofit with the support of our Board of Directors. Today, EGRN counts among its 145+ global members over 30 of the leading research and policy institutions working to understand and counter violent extremism, including the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), Tech Against Terrorism, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, and Moonshot. Additionally, we have a wide range of network members and supporters, including United Nations and other multilateral agencies, governments, and private sector companies that are working to counter online harms in gaming and gaming-adjacent spaces and to lead evidence-driven solutions.

Over the last three years, we have conducted substantial research, training and awareness raising activites, and advising on how to protect gaming spaces from violent extremist exploitation. Our accomplishments include:

  1. Establishing ourselves as the premier source and network for subject matter expertise on violent extremism, terrorism, and gaming globally. We regularly provide briefings to governments, policymakers, and UN entities, including public-facing engagements at 15 conferences and events in 2023;
  2. Creating a collaborative network of 145+ researchers and practitioners worldwide who come together monthly  to learn, exchange, and promote digital resilience;
  3. Producing research publications in collaboration with the Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET) and the EU Radicalization Awareness Network (RAN), including 8 GNET Insight briefings and a feature report in 2022-23, along with at least 6 media features, podcasts, and video spots in 2023;
  4. Progressing significantly, in collaboration with our membership, on answering many of the initial research agenda questions set at the onset of the network in 2021;
  5. Securing grant-based funding;
  6. Developing and organizing regular workshops, trainings, and events globally, hosting a vibrant online community, and publishing internal newsletters with reports, events, and member updates.
The Problem

The EGRN notes that games alone do not cause offline violence and seeks to avoid stigmatizing gaming communities.

However, we know that gaming communities, including children and young people across the world, are actively being targeted by violent extremist and terrorist actors. Yet, they are not generally included in contemporary prevention of targeted violence efforts – as policymakers, policing authorities and other practitioners often lack an understanding of risks and opportunities in these virtual spaces. This is a crucial and potentially dangerous gap. Consequently, enhancing research and prevention efforts in the gaming realm is necessary. This addresses Strategic Goal 2.2 of the White House National Strategy on Countering Domestic Terrorism, which calls for understanding and addressing recruitment and mobilization inside online gaming, as well as the vulnerabilities and protective characteristics of individuals radicalized to violence online, and commonalities among targeted violence and terrorism incidents prompted or enhanced by online gaming influences.

Due to the global focus and reach of the EGRN, our work complements the National Strategy for Counter Terrorism’s call to “combat terrorists’ influence online” and the broader work of the DOS Bureau of Counterterrorism by supporting foreign partners and countries in line with multilateral commitments. For example, the Strong Cities Network is a proud member of the EGRN, and we are a full member of the Christchurch Call and the Global Research Network of the UN Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED). Through our partnerships with both CTED and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, we have briefed the Security Council and member states to build the capacity of foreign partners in support of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. Additionally, through the EGRN’s continued contributions to the EU Radicalization Awareness Network (RAN), our members have had the opportunity to shape the thinking of the European Commission and many European Union Member States on the threats and opportunities of online gaming spaces. Meanwhile, EGRN members have individually contributed to briefings and trainings for a multitude of global partners, including multiple US Government departments and agencies.

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.


Our Approach

We are a collaborative, largely flat network designed by practitioners and researchers, for practitioners, researchers, tech companies, government officials and policymakers, and other relevant groups and entities.

There are currently over 150 individuals and institutional members of the Network.

The EGRN is comprised of four membership categories and types:

  1. “Individual” for participating individual researcher, practitioners, & others;
  2. “Institutional” for formal organizations (& individuals within their institution);
  3. “Student” for current students of higher education institutions; and,
  4. “Network Supporters” for those who support but not actively participate in the EGRN.

* These are not listed for length but can be found on our membership page online.