The South-East Europe Programme of ELIAMEP participates in the new HORIZON EUROPE research project GEMS – Gaming Ecosystem as a Multi-layered Security Threat which aims to contribute to the fight against the rapid spread of extremism across the gaming ecosystem. There is widespread agreement across police authorities, policy makers and the academic community that the video gaming ecosystem plays a substantial role in the process of radicalization. However as yet there is no compelling evidence base to understand how the process takes place, or the best measures to prevent the radicalization process.
Gaming Ecosystem as a Multi-layered Security Threat (GEMS) is an interdisciplinary, mixed-method and cross-sectoral project bringing together academic researchers, AI specialists, policy experts and a range of police authorities from across Europe in order to address this challenge. Co-creation of knowledge with a comprehensive end-user engagement is the fundamental principle of GEMS.
The main aims of GEMS are:
1) to contribute to a scientific advancement of the field of radicalisation and violent extremism by developing a new academic field of Sociology of Gaming and Radicalisation;
2) to provide European Police Authorities (EPAs) with a novel Training Curriculum and an innovative tool, the Watchtower (a future-proof AI platform trained to recognise and prevent the spread of extremist content and recruitment in the online gaming space);
3) to create a new cross-sectoral collaborative network dedicated to countering extremist presence in the gaming ecosystem – European Networks Against Gaming-Related Extremism (ENgaGE); and
4) to develop an effective Citizens Awareness Campaign and evidence-based Policy Solutions which will greatly improve high level decision making, empower citizens and enhance youth protection.
These aims will significantly contribute to the fight against the rapid spread of extremism in the online gaming spaces and lead to a secure cyberspace.
In order to achieve these aims GEMS will coalesce the knowledge, expertise and experiences of the security community, the European police authorities, technical innovators, academics from a host of disciplines, policy makers and influencers, all led by a profound dedication to the protection and security of EU citizens. GEMS is a project which answers a particular security challenge, i.e., the presence of extremism in the gaming ecosystem. Consequently, it is envisioned as a product-oriented, practical project, with major contributions from EPAs and the technical sector, specifically the AI developers.
The overarching aim of the project is to minimize if not outright remove the threat of extremist recruitment in the gaming ecosystem in its earliest stages. GEMS will be in the position to reach this aim by focusing on arguably the only area where meaningful and effective intervention during the radicalization process is in fact possible, i.e., the in-game communication platforms. The gaming ecosystem is understood herein as an umbrella term for a host of interconnected activities (online and offline) broadly associated with the so-called “gaming culture.” Thus, the gaming ecosystem includes the games (computer, mobile, console, hybrid), in-game communication venues, streaming platforms (e.g., Twitch, Discord), social media, gaming-related news outlets, cultural events (e.g., gaming conventions, tournaments).
The overall working hypothesis of GEMS is as follows. The process of radicalization associated with the gaming ecosystem is a two-step process. The first step, i.e., the preselection process, takes place in the gaming space proper. The second step, i.e., the process of radicalization and mobilization for action takes place outside of the gaming space on the other adjacent, and often inaccessible platforms. By interrupting the first step, the extremist actors within the gaming ecosystem are denied access to potential initiates, which in turn will severely reduce the disruptive potential of extremist groups for the society at large.
GEMS Main Objectives and Impact
In order to test the GEMS central hypothesis and achieve the overarching aim of the project GEMS will fulfil 6 major research objectives, underpinned by 27 support objectives.
First objective: is to enhance the scientific (i.e., academic) knowledge base of complex gaming ecosystems and develop Sociology of Gaming and Radicalisation.
Second objective: To understand the methods of pre-selection of vulnerable individuals in the online gaming space and recruitment methods and tools.
Third objective: To provide European Police Authorities (EPAs) with training materials and increased understanding of radicalization in the gaming ecosystem.
Fourth objective: To foster cross-sectoral dialogue and knowledge exchange with non-EU international stakeholders experienced in countering online extremist presence and protection of youth.
Fifth objective: To develop and train the AI moderation tool capable of 1) recognising extremist presence in the gaming ecosystem, and 2) interrupt both grooming and recruitment attempts in real-time – The Watchtower Platform.
Sixth objective: To develop European Network Against Gaming related Extremism (ENgaGE), a cross-sectoral network composed of EPAs, gaming professionals, community representatives, and civil society.
The impact of GEMS project is three-fold. Firstly, GEMS will contribute to a scientific advancement of the field of radicalisation and violent extremism by developing a new academic sub-discipline of Sociology of Gaming and Radicalisation. Secondly, GEMS will contribute to the technological advancement by producing Watchtower Platform, a future-proof AI assisted tool trained to recognise and prevent the spread of extremist content and recruitment in the online gaming space. Thirdly, GEMS will have a societal impact by producing the EPA Training Curricula, Citizens Awareness Campaign and evidence-based Policy Solutions which will greatly improve high level decision making, empower citizens and enhance youth protection.
The GEMS Consortium
The GEMS consortium has been constructed to reflect the range of perspectives and activities that this project will undertake. The consortium is composed of two universities (Trinity College Dublin and University of Warwick), one independent think tank (ELIAMEP), two industry partners (Moonshot and Sambanova Systems), one SME agency (AGSKK) and four EPA partners: Policia Municipal Madrid (Spain), Politiezone Rupel (Belgium), Kosovo Police (Kosovo), and An Garda Síochána (Ireland).
- Trinity College Dublin – Project Coordinator
- Moonshot CVE – Work Package Leader
- Agentur für Sicherheitsforschung, Kriminologie und Kriminalpolitik GmbH – Work Package Leader
- SambaNova Systems – Work Package Leader
- The University of Warwick – Associated Partner
- Ayuntamiento de Madrid – Project Beneficiary
- Politiezone Rupel Belgium – Project Beneficiary
- Kosovo Police – Project Beneficiary
- An Garda Síochána Ireland – Project Beneficiary
The Role of ELIAMEP
ELIAMEP will have a central role in GEMS project, implementing a number of tasks in order to contribute to project’s outcomes, participating in all project’s work packages and leading work package six. One of the main tasks of ELIAMEP will be the establishment of the European Network against Gaming-related Extremism (ENgaGE) which is envisioned as a central output and communication hub of the GEMS project. Apart from its immediate role relative to GEMS, the network is envisioned as outliving the project’s lifecycle. ENgaGE’s main objective will be to contribute to the overall resolution of the threat of extremism in the gaming ecosystem by utilizing the outputs produced by GEMS. To maximise the policy impact of the research and translate GEMS findings into a policy-based solutions, the team of ELIAMEP will devise a strategy for a systematic and sustained engagement with the policy community, key EU member states and Western Balkan capitals. The team of ELIAMEP will also work to increase awareness of citizens about online radicalisation through gaming culture. The team will create the ‘Know the Gaming Risks Campaign’ which endeavours to create a more secure and informed gaming spaces for the general public, and especially the gaming community.
The GEMS Team of ELIAMEP
Dr. Ioannis Armakolas, Team Leader & Head of Research – GEMS Project
Bledar Feta, PhD Candidate on International Relations & P/CVE Researcher – GEMS Project
Alexandros Koutras, Project Administrator – GEMS Project
GEMS Project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe’ research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 101121345.
You can find more information about the GEMS project here.
News & Media:
Kickoff meeting of the GEMS project – Gaming Ecosystem as a Multi-layered Security Threat, 26-27 October 2023, Dublin.