From early Bulletin Board Systems adopted by neo-Nazis to the Islamic State’s more recent prolific use of social media platforms, an aspect of terrorism studies that is generally agreed upon is that violent extremists are often early adopters of emerging technologies. These groups, organisations, and networks have demonstrated innovative uses of these digital spaces, harnessed for recruitment, coordination, community building, attack planning, propaganda dissemination, and other purposes. Alongside studying these phenomena, it is important to explore where future trends lie; particularly as findings and recommendations can ensure that relevant stakeholders are aware of and can begin to prepare for emerging threats. This paper considers the potential exploitation of Web 3.0, specifically the metaverse, by violent extremists and explores conceivable opportunities to undertake nefarious activities within these spaces. There is a particular focus on the gamification of violent extremism in the metaverse, an issue—i.e. the gamification of violent extremism—that is causing increasing concern to terrorism practitioners more generally. Although it is difficult to predict exactly how violent extremists will utilise, exploit, and misuse the metaverse and related technologies due to the early stage of its conceptualisation and development, it is possible to develop hypotheses based on past trends and current examples demonstrating manipulation of online spaces that resemble aspects of the metaverse. In fact, aspects of the gamification of violent extremism in the metaverse may well have distinct overlaps with current threats, but simply utilise emerging technologies and take place within developing and more immersive online spaces.
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The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) is a think-and-do tank based in The Hague, Netherlands. We provide research, policy advice, training and other solutions to support better counter-terrorism policies and practices worldwide. We also contribute to the scientific and publi.…