What Can Terrorists Learn From Video Games?

What Can Terrorists Learn From Video Games?

Gamification is the act of applying video game-like rewards to non-gaming situations as a form of motivation. Imagine earning experience points for taking out the trash, or scoring well on a customer service survey, or learning how to create homemade explosives for use in terrorist acts.

The same mechanic that shows so much potential for good can also be utilized in endeavours most would deem not-so-good. Just as gamification is proving an effective tool in the traditional workplace, there’s a growing fear that Islamic extremists are using the same techniques to recruit competitive young men into terrorist organisations.

Game designer, games researcher, alternate reality game master, and author Jane McGonigal appeared on yesterday’s episode of Al Jazeera’s The Stream to discuss the possible danger of the gamification of terrorism.

If gamifying terrorism is an issue, it’s not one we can do anything about. It’s an incredibly powerful and effective concept that no one owns, and even if someone did have the rights, Islamic extremists aren’t the sort of people that respond well to harshly-written emails. At best they’d ignore you. At worst, your point value would go up.

Al Jazeera | The Stream [USTREAM]


  • Mark, they quote your article in this video! Kotaku AU commentors are in there too 🙂

    It was an interesting interview with Jane McGonigal.

    … but I still think the link between gamification and radicalism is too simplistic. ‘Gamification’ can’t engender extremist behaviour that has real-world roots.

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