Game On: State Department To Fund Ukrainian Video Games To Combat Propaganda

By Javier Sanchez | Friday, 12 April 2024 08:30 AM
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The U.S. Department of State has recently published a grant listing, seeking assistance in educating Ukrainians on how to counteract "disinformation" through the medium of competitive video gaming.

The initiative aims to enhance the gaming skills of Ukrainians while simultaneously providing them with "counter disinformation/conflict resolution training" to combat foreign propaganda and disinformation in the realm of competitive online gaming, as per the grant posting. This move is part of a broader effort by the State Department under President Joe Biden's administration, initiated in 2021, to combat what it identifies as disinformation, occasionally through funding organizations that are perceived to suppress conservative voices.

The grant documents released by the State Department do not explicitly outline how training Ukrainians in video gaming will help in combating "disinformation". However, the program intends to exploit "the popularity and penetration of video games in Eastern Europe" to establish an eSports program that will fulfill the program's objectives.

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The term "eSports", an abbreviation for electronic sports, generally refers to organized multiplayer video game competitions that involve professional gamers and attract large audiences. The grant solicitation states that Ukrainian "eSports athletes" will be provided with federally-funded "professional training" to create a talent pipeline for professional teams in Ukraine. The program is set to conclude with a video game tournament.

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The Ukrainian eSports disinformation program by the State Department is projected to cost taxpayers $250,000, as indicated by the grant listing.

In a similar vein, the State Department posted a grant solicitation in April 2022, proposing the use of competitive video games to promote gender equality in India.

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The State Department has a history of attempting to counter "disinformation" by funding organizations that support censorship. For instance, it funded the Global Disinformation Index (GDI), a UK-based organization that provides a blacklist to advertising companies, encouraging them to withdraw ads from news outlets accused of disseminating disinformation. The New York Post, the Daily Wire, and Newsmax are among the outlets flagged by GDI for disinformation.

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The CEO of GDI once boasted that their blacklist has "had a significant impact on the advertising revenue" of the websites it flags, as reported by the Washington Examiner.

Recent awards and grant solicitations by the State Department have been directed towards influencing media members in foreign countries to enhance their skills in confronting what the department considers to be disinformation, according to federal records.

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