Far-right groups are using online games such as Fortnite to radicalize kids and recruit them into their organizations, according to one reformed neo-Nazi.
Speaking about his time as a “white supremacist leader,” skinhead-turned-peace activist Christian Picciolini explained how his group “sought marginalized youth and promised them ‘paradise.’”
Answering readers’ questions on internet forum Reddit, Picciolini made it clear that this is still happening today, through “nefarious tactics like going to depression and mental health forums, and in multiplayer gaming, to recruit those same people.”
“They drop benign hints and then ramp up when hooked,” he explained. In some games, these hints can start by talking about how some in-game races are superior to others, for example, and move on from there to drawing real-world “parallels.”
When asked what games these groups used, Picciolini said “Fortnite, Minecraft, COD, all of them.”
The people involved in recruitment in these games are “mostly foreign recruiters from Russia and eastern Europe,” according to Picciolini. These international initiatives are “somewhat” co-ordinated, he says.
Many fringe gaming-related groups are tied to the far-right, with the misogynistic “gamergate” movement the best known thanks to its ties to the alt-right.
It’s also not Fortnite’s first brush with Nazi controversy. Developer Epic Games was forced into action last week when players discovered some of the game’s floor tiles contained swastikas.
It’s not the first time the internet or online gaming has been implicated in such radicalization. ISIS was found to be using a spelling app to radicalize British kids last year, and extremists targeted kids as young as 14 using YouTube with a message that jihad was better than football.