By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —This story first appeared online on Nov. 29, 2020.
OKLAHOMA CITY – University of Central Oklahoma students have recently launched 1Up Against Hate , an anti-hate project, as part of their objective to target the gaming community. The concept is to bring awareness that extremists and hate groups target impressionable youth with propaganda through gaming platforms online.
The message to gamers is that they can be a target for recruitment.
Students involved in the project will work to educate individuals who – through video and online games – may unknowingly be targeted by others who recruit individuals for violent activities using different methods, from hate talk to developing hate-based games.
UCO’s Strategic Communications Campaigns class has partnered with the McCain Institute and Edventure Partners as one of 13 universities nationwide participating in a competition to counter hate-based violence.
Research shows that organized hate-based groups have extreme biases toward societal beliefs and different social classes of people. They seek interaction with gamers through online game platforms to promote their hate propaganda. Their objective is to recruit individuals who may carry their ideas forward and participate in violent acts against others.
“I am especially enthusiastic about the McCain Institute projects because of their vital information and ethics orientation,” said UCO’s Strategic Communications Campaign Professor Sandra Martin.
“I think our students find them so relevant to their daily lives, their enthusiasm for the project is there even before we begin the task of developing a communications response to the challenge,” Martin continued.
Individuals who play online video games are encouraged to take a stand against hate-based groups. By signing a pledge at www.OneUpAgainstHate.org, the first 25 individuals will receive a gamers mouse pad.
“UCO has had a long rewarding relationship with Edventure Partners and the Peer to Peer global competition projects. We have participated in the national finals for various projects five times and placed five times,” said Martin. The university whose concept is selected will be awarded up to $5,000.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, there has seen a rise in young people spending more time online as the pandemic has made staying home from school or work a new norm.
The additional time caused by changes to employment and the way education is being delivered has caused a sharp increase in playing games online, according to the United Nations Security Council, Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Doctorate (CTED).
The CTED has stated that this increase in game time presents more opportunity for hate-based groups to target vulnerable individuals who look for community and personal relationships online.
Individuals who may feel alone, disconnected, and marginalized by society can unknowingly fall victim to the extreme ideas and hate talk by these groups.