This might look like a cute video game about a goat dodging objects, but it’s actually a video game made by the FBI to (apparently) help educate people about “the slippery slope to violent extremism.”
Aimed at teens, here’s how the FBI describes the website:
The site doesn’t refute violent extremist beliefs point by point or discuss matters of faith or politics. Instead, it makes teens aware of the destructive reality of various forms of violent extremism, including hateful attacks based on race, religion, or other factors. Through its Don’t Be a Puppet theme, the program encourages teens to think for themselves and display a healthy skepticism if they come across anyone who appears to be advocating extremist violence.
But, I mean, look at this:
If this was the setup for a 90s-themed X-Files video game, I might be into it.
Anyway, one of the interactive bits takes place on that table with a Game Boy. You play a terrible game called Slippery Slope, in which players are to “follow the distorted logic of blame that can lead a person into violent extremism.” Sure!
In practice, here’s what that looks like:
One small tap has the sheep sliding across the whole screen. Though not the intended audience for Slippery Slope, the bad controls grabbed my attention more than the “message.” I suspect younger people would react the same way.
This website has been in development a while, too. After an early version was shown, the FBI was immediately criticized for focusing solely on Islamic extremism, and they decided to rework it. This is the “reworked” version.
Per a New York Times report from last year:
The F.B.I. had told the community organizations that the program would be available online as soon as Monday. The organizations’ leaders spoke to a reporter only after learning that the F.B.I. was likely to proceed despite their concern that the program would stigmatize Arab and Muslim students, who are already susceptible to bullying.
“Teachers in classrooms should not become an extension of law enforcement,” said Arjun S. Sethi, an adjunct professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center. Mr. Sethi, who specializes in counterterrorism and law enforcement, was invited by the F.B.I. to give feedback on the program.
You can reach the author of this post at email@example.com or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.