Julia Ebner went undercover to study how extremists are using video-game techniques — with deadly real-world consequences. Have you ever imagined that it’s all just a game? Preparing to give a speech, going into an important meeting, scheduling a romantic date, even simple things like doing the groceries or paying the bills? (…) For me, adding game-playing elements to situations that are not games — a concept called gamification — is a wonderful thing. Getting lost in an imagined world where reality isn’t more than a simulation, a thought experiment, can be oddly comforting. But like so many brilliant innovations, this can also be used as a weapon. When a far-right gunman livestreamed his attack on two Christchurch mosques in New Zealand in March 2019, the first comment to appear beneath the video said: “Get the high score.” The second one asked: “Is this a Larp?” Larps, short for Live Action Role Plays, are games in which the participants physically embody their characters. To some of those users observing events unfold on the far-right extremist 8chan forum, this was still a game. Even after watching the perpetrator shoot dozens of Muslims in real time, they were unable to grasp that 51 innocent civilians had just been killed. Some sympathisers of the Christchurch attacker were quick to create video-game-style remixes of the livestreamed atrocity, which was filmed from a first-person shooter perspective. The loss of reality was by design. The attack had been carefully orchestrated as an entertainment programme for those who lurk in the darkest parts of the internet.Seen in this context, gamification seems to be a particularly 21st-century phenomenon. Its roots, however, go back a lot further and stem from a far more wholesome source.

via financial times: Dark ops: Isis, the far-right and the gamification of terror