Video Games

Fortnite Probably Won't Make Your Child a Neo-Nazi

But that's the story major news sites used.


|||Dan Grytsku/
Dan Grytsku/

A post on Reddit has boycott mobs grabbing their pitchforks and getting ready to storm the gaming servers. In July, reformed white supremacist Christian Picciolini conducted an online interview on r/IAmA, a popular interview forum on Reddit. There, Picciolini responded to a user's question about recruitment by saying that organized bigots used "nefarious tactics" like going to mental health forums and using multiplayer games like Fortnite, Minecraft, and Call of Duty to spam their message of racial superiority. While the existence of racist messages in multiplayer games is not a new concept, it's likely that the media reaction to Picciolini's interview helped to blow a few things out of proportion.

Using Picciolini's answer, The Sun published a story with the headline, "GAMER DANGER: Reformed Neo-Nazi reveals how White Supremacists use FORTNITE to radicalise kids." The story was cross-posted on major news sites like the New York Post and Fox News, both using headlines about the alarming recruitment tactics supposedly targeting impressionable kids. Independent journalist Tim Pool, who formerly worked with Vice, broke down why that story might be alarmist in a video published over the weekend.

Pool notes that the original story lacks any fact-checking beyond a statement made by one person. Additionally, there are no quotes from any of the video game companies whose products are involved in the alleged "recruitment." "While it is interesting that someone who claims to be a former white supremacist made this claim," Pool argued, "that does not mean it is true."

Bonus links: Video games are often society's scapegoat for atrocious behaviors. Politicians like Hillary Clinton, former President Obama, and President Trump have all repeated the claim that video games are linked to violent behavior.