Hey kids! Do you like video games? Are you worried about terrorism? Do you have a very loose definition of the word "enjoyable?" Then boy, does the FBI have a game for you. Slippery Slope to Extremism is a Flash game, created as part of the FBI's new "Don't Be a Puppet" program, that aims to warn teens and other young internet users about the dangers of becoming radicalized over the internet — apparently by assaulting them with terrible video games.
"Follow the distorted logic of blame that can lead a person to violent extremism," the blurb for Slippery Slope says, but a more accurate tagline would read "attempt to avoid colored blocks using the worst control system known to humankind." How those colored blocks represent violent extremism isn't clear — perhaps they're talking blocks? — and neither is why your goat character can only move in vast imprecise sweeping motions that make actually avoiding even the smallest obstacles almost impossible.
Do goats explode when they touch green walls?
Also confusing is the message the game delivers. Why am I now a goat? Why is the goat called "Poonikins," when Poonikins is a homicidal horse? Why do goats explode if they touch green walls? If I die — and I died a lot — does that mean the violent extremists won? Is it really this difficult to avoid terrorist indoctrination? Most kids manage it every day without a goat or a colored block in sight. And why, according to the poorly rendered background, does Slippery Slope apparently take place on an original Game Boy? The FBI should know that Nintendo's handheld wasn't capable of reproducing color graphics.
Why is the goat called Poonikins?
Slippery Slope is just one of a series of interactive elements that make up the FBI's project, a well-meaning but awkwardly presented initiative that feels as down with the kids as a school security guard. Users are prompted to click through the project's pages, sifting through the buzzwords to complete quizzes, all with the aim of earning just what every teen really wants: an FBI certificate. All of this is presented in the confines of the FBI's website, the Bureau's stern masthead acting like a teacher supervising your safe, educational "fun."
The vast majority of kids and teens online will avoid being radicalized, but when ISIS has a famously advanced media arm, It's slightly worrying that — with all of its governmental resources — we can't say the same thing about the FBI.