In a Reddit AMA, former white supremacist leader Christian Picciolini said that among their tactics, multiplayer gaming is used as breeding grounds for recruitment. Recruiters would prey on disenfranchised young white male gamers, promising them “paradise.”
Christian Picciolini is the author of WHITE AMERICAN YOUTH and a former member of the Chicago Area Skinheads, one of America’s first neo-Nazi skinhead groups. He’s now a peace advocate and the founder of Life After Hate, an organization tasked with helping people to leave hate groups. He took part in an AMA on Reddit, where people asked him questions about the movement. One person asked about what predatory behaviors were used for recruitment, of which one was multiplayer gaming.
“We sought marginalized youth and promised them ‘paradise,'” said Picciolini. “Today they are using nefarious tactics like going to depression and mental health forums and in multiplayer gaming to recruit those same people.” When someone inquired further into multiplayer gaming specifically, asking if there were white supremacists who just played Overwatch and League of Legends all day spamming slurs, he responded: “They drop benign hints and then ramp up when hooked … Fortnight [sic], Minecraft, COD, all of them.”
There were many who responded to this thread in the AMA with stories of their own, seeing neo-Nazi and white supremacist recruiters in the wild. User frickineh said, “I’ve seen them in ESO, too. Lots of people saying “racist” stuff about in-game races, but occasionally one will start pushing a little bit further toward the real world and trying to get other people to agree. I figured they were just assholes, but I’d be willing to bet that at least some are fishing for like minds.”
The Chicago Area Skinheads (CASH) were a formidable American neo-Nazi group that existed from the late 80’s to the 90’s. Picciolini joined the movement in the same year of founding, and became the leader in 1989, at the age of 16. CASH stockpiled weapons in the hopes of overthrowing the US government, and on one occasion was asked to meet with Muammar Gaddafi, former leader of Libya, in an attempt to form an alliance.
While the tactics of white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups are often still as overt as this today (in many cases, at least) operation has taken a more insidious and sinister turn in many ways. For the longest time, since the days of GamerGate, many groups and individuals have warned that male-centric gaming communities were vulnerable to infiltration by the far-right, with some eventually being completely consumed by these movements. The alt-right is worryingly huge right now, and much of its members share space with the gaming community.