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May 05, 2006

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1.

Virtual Worlds are clubs. Clubs put restrictions on what the members can do, say, wear while in the club. If a memeber violates the rule from the club then she/he is banned. If a member does not like the rules of the club or the club itself then she/he can be in it and there is no reason for that person being part of the club.

Now the real world is not a club. If I don't like a rule I still have to follow it or I go to jail. I can't leave the club. So I must be allowed to express myself freely to show my discontent with the rule. So if goverments can send people to war then people should be able to say what they think of the war.

2.

Correction:

If a member does not like the rules of the club or the club itself then she/he can "leave" and there is no reason for that person being a part of the club.

3.

This is surely a special case. America's Army is not a only a video game, it is also a recruiting tool that the US Military uses to recruit US citizens into joining the actual Army which actually is actively deployed in combat.

So in a very exact way this particular act of protest/activism is different from I think every other form of activism in virtual spaces that I've been aware of in the past.

In a sense, this is the only way for peace activists to disrupt the recruiting activities of the US military, since they have been given unprecedented access to young people both in US High Schools and through online marketing which includes America's Army.

Have we moved past the legitimacy of using virtual spaces for art or political protest I wonder? While people may have very different views about this protest and different assumptions about its purpose does anyone think that using the medium of a video game is misplaced?

I certainly hope not. Most of the world hasn't even experienced a Virtual World yet. To suggest that direct virtual action is already passe is to hand the keys of (all) the kingdoms to the elite circle that can afford to develop, own and operate them.

As we move more towards and internet mediated future, it is in our interest as citizens to work for our rights in virtual space to be expanded, since they now are much diminished from real spaces, at least in most of the largest virtual worlds (I'm talking WoW, not SL here).

To a certain extent, I was disappointed when Blizzard "settled" their GLBT fandango and thus avoided a lawsuit from Lambda Legal. While I'm glad of course that they did the right thing and affirmed the right of their customers to not be forced into this or that closet, I was hoping that the lawsuit would establish a legal precedent that would guide virtual world developers towards a more enfranchised population.

Alejandro: Now the real world is not a club. If I don't like a rule I still have to follow it or I go to jail. I can't leave the club. So I must be allowed to express myself freely to show my discontent with the rule. So if goverments can send people to war then people should be able to say what they think of the war.

When a virtual world is developed, owned and operated by a government, do you think it's a club or an extension of that government?

America's Army is owned by the U.S. Military, and is thus developed with taxpayer money. If this is the case, then being in the AA Virtual World seems to entail being in a virtual extension of the United States, and in my mind would mean that everyone who logged in would be covered by US Federal Law.

I guess it's another argument as to whether when you log in to AA you are on a virtual army base, and thus restricted, but I think an argument like that would be spurious at best.

4.

The "real" world is not a club? It seems to me that the world consists only of clubs; overlapping and intermingling ones.

In the case of 'dead in iraq', I was not clear, Alejandro, if you meant that 'dead' should leave the game or if those who are complaining should. It doesn't seem that 'dead' is breaking any rules of the game, only the social conventions of those who want to play soldier in peace: where peace means forgetting that real soldiers can't respawn when they catch some lead in the face.

To Ren's question: Have we moved past the legitimacy of using virtual spaces for art or political protest. The legitimacy is still there, it's the legality that is in question. The modern world is calling into question the whole concept of public space.

In the States, we have the right to public assembly. Public used to mean, where others congregate, now it means on land that isn’t owned (or is owned by the government). Look up Reverend Billy at the Church of Stop Shopping. His protests take place in Starbucks and Disney stores. The very context of the store is integral to the protest, but the use of the store is technically illegal. Virtual Worlds are equivalent: owned, yet where the public is to be found.

Protests are not meant for preaching to the choir. Protests are designed to cause friction with those who disagree and remind them that there are various ways of viewing the world. As more people congregate in imagined worlds it is understandable and desirable that the medium of protest would come along with them.

5.

"When a virtual world is developed, owned and operated by a government, do you think it's a club or an extension of that government?"

I did not know that it was owned and operated by the US Army, I thought it was a private game.

So I guess that as taxpayer dead_in_irak has the right to express his/her opinion.

"Protests are not meant for preaching to the choir. Protests are designed to cause friction with those who disagree and remind them that there are various ways of viewing the world. As more people congregate in imagined worlds it is understandable and desirable that the medium of protest would come along with them."

How much frictions are allowed? Can we get into the Disney Store and refuse to leave when asked? Can we take merchandise when we decide to leave? Can we burn the store? Can we kill the guard who is standing on the side? What about a museum? Can we get in a protest because we don't like what they show?

If I disagree with you can I go to your house and make a public assembly in your living room?

6.

If I disagree with you can I go to your house and make a public assembly in your living room?

No, but you do have the right to stand outside my house as many public figures have been appalled to learn.

But the issue here isn't private property as private residence, but private property as public space. In the modern west, the very existence of a "commons" has been replaced by a series of interlocking privately owned public spaces which various large institutions actively assert control over.

As Ralph Nader said so eloquently during his perhaps misguided Presidential bid in 2000, "Big business is in a battle with democracy, and democracy is losing.*" If your rights to speech and assembly are only valid in private residences and clubs which support your speech and assembly, then those rights are worth very little anymore, and suddenly the dissidents are standing in a government established "free speech zone" conveniently located very far from anyone who might care to look.

* quote is from memory, can't remember exactly what he said

7.

There's a little clause in most endorsements of the philosophy of classical liberalism that mandates that all recognition of private control over some parcel of nature must at least indirectly contribute to some common good. Of course, at the time it was written, I believe it tended more towards a certain common good, and thus shows the general backwardness of hegemonic classical liberalism.

To my perception, the participation of multitudes in club or virtual space is the key factor that gives the experiment significance. Not the architect or lead conductor. The cinema exists soley so that many may enjoy something as a shared experience. It is not the many that might enjoy it simultaneously who exist so that the film may be displayed. I find the same to be true for all community architecture and experiments.

8.

Ren,

I agree wholeheartedly with the ideas raised in your post.

However, at one point, you ask "But I wonder if US readers have a different understanding of intent - are the US war dead the invisible casualties of conflict with Iraqi dead being all to prominent on our screens? Why are other war dead seeming not mentioned?"

Although President Bush and his aides would like to perpetuate the myth that national opinion is unified with respect to Iraq, this is pure propaganda. Our nation is deeply divided on this issue. Many Americans are disturbed about all of the people who have been killed in this senseless war.

As a college professor in a very conservative state (Texas), I have been encouraged to notice that anti-war sentiment is gradually building among college students. Stephen Colbert's recent trouncing of President Bush at the White House Correspondents' Dinner is a stirring example of the polarized political climate here in the US.

Most Americans do not support President Bush. Most Americans do not support this unjust war.

We are engaged in a non-violent struggle to preserve our democratic institutions in the face of a neo-fascist coup. Like-minded citizens in other nations can help us in this struggle by acknowledging widespread popular dissent within the American electorate. Bush does not represent us, and this war is not a reflection of the popular will.

9.

Maya Anne Evans protest was about bringing attention to the absurdity of the Serious Organised Crime act. ( Part of which says that 3 people standing on a street corner can be considered a riot if the police so choose ). She chose to use reading war names on that particular day because it was appropriate and totally innocuous and would gather public support.

Having said this I think using virtual space for political protest is as valid as anywhere else. Not that I always agree with the politics !

10.

I really wish political garbage like this would not pollute Terra Nova.

Is there no refuge anywhere from having to listen to people share their spew about the Iraq War, George Bush, and every other over discussed political topic?

Can't we just discuss games here, please?

There are a zillion better sites for political discussions.

11.

[TerraNova] talking-about-war-protests messages REN REYNOLDS
[TerraNova] talking-about-war-protests messages ALEJANDRO
[TerraNova] talking-about-war-protests messages ILLOVICH
[TerraNova] talking-about-war-protests messages GENERICDEFECT
[TerraNova] Michael Hartman messaged: talking-about-war-protests shut up!

12.

America's Army is more than just a recruiting tool - it is a virtual extension of the traditional recruiting office; an immersive experience in war without unpleasant consequences. Using the game to demonstrate the true cost of this conflict isn't only effective, it's necessary.

For Mr. Hartman: Terra Nova is about discussing virtual worlds, not simply games. Discussing the legality of protesting within a government created virtual world - a world designed specifically to recruit soldiers - is entirely appropriate.

13.

Michael,

This thread is directly related to games.

Games such as America's Army, and the entire genre of first-person shooters, are intrinsically political. America's Army was deliberately designed as a recruitment tool, and the U.S. Army is the founding sponsor of the annual Serious Games Summit.

Terra Nova is a fine place to engage in these conversations. If you prefer not to discuss the Iraq War, you can always avoid opening threads with titles like "dead-in-iraq."

14.

Somebody really needs to go find where that asshole lives and beat the shit out of him. Yeah, it's a free country and he can legally pull this crap, but that same freedom extends to some patriot kicking the living shit out of him.

15.

Right on. Potential recruits should be reminded of how callously the current US administration treats us, its citizens, and although it's a small thing, dead-in-iraq is expressing his support for the manipulated, abused soldiers of America in what I see as an exceptionally poignant and elegant manner. He is a true patriot.

--matt

16.

Woah Brent. You're kidding, right? That is the scariest thing I've ever seen on Terra Nova. Do you realize that you've just called for the contemporary equivalent of Hitler's brownshirts?By what twisted definition of "patriotism" can you suggest that these thuggish tactics have any place in a democracy?

17.

LOL, it's not remotely brownshirtism. It's called community standards. We didn't used to need laws for things like flag burning because nobody pulled that shit. And we still shouldn't have laws for it. But it's quite reasonable for private citizens to take matters into their own hands. Yeah, it's illegal, and yes, they should be prosecuted. But that doesn't mean we wouldn't be better off with that piece of trash in the hospital.

Though given the painful ignorance of reality and our military and the war we are in (not through any choice of our own) expressed above, I really shouldn't bother explaining this.

18.

I wanted to second what Illovich said about virtual worlds being public space. It's really true that public space has increasingly been privatized, and the more it's privatized the less each of us has a means to talk to a wide audience of people about problems in the world around us.

It seems we're faced with a possible fork in the road, a feeling which Dave Elfving alluded to. Games and other play spaces are bounded by "magic circles" in which everyday rules do not apply. And yet, increasingly, people are looking to create non-game virtual worlds which many of us, including the American military, would like or need to be extensions of the everyday world. I think it's time to have a much broader public discussion of when we want play spaces and when we want spaces with "everyday life" rules. With the Metaverse Project aiming to become the next Internet, if not an entirely new form of life, it's going to be really important to define what's a special-rules play space and what's not. Right now we go to virtual worlds for play, and yes, I can understand that people don't want their relaxation space intruded upon. But if we're gonna be spending a lot of time in these virtual worlds, it's a really bad idea to ban political speech from them entirely.

Speaking of private clubs -- or should we call them Discourses? -- does anyone know how Brent and Michael found this site? I've been seeing a lot of commenters on TN who don't seem to be participants in (this admittedly casual) academic discourse, which I thought the blog was mostly about, and I'm interested to find out how people find their way here. Not that I'd like the these-colors-don't-run crowd to stop commenting or anything -- it certainly makes for more interesting discussions than you usually get in the more heterogeneous Ivory Tower -- I'm just fascinated about the process by which non-academics actually find their way to theoretical(ish) discourse online.

19.

A couple points.

Aaron: Michael is right. It is about the game. So talk about the game. Not the fact that people disagree with the war. That's really beside the point.

Brent: You say it's reasonable for a private citizen to break the law in order to make the world a better place in that citizen's opinion. Which means you'd have no problem with someone shooting you because he thinks that people named Brent shouldn't be allowed to exist. "We'd be better off with him in a graveyard," says this hypothetical.

Gus: Terra Nova comes up in Google searches, for one. =P

By and large, the idea of the magic circle is going to eventually require some kind of legal enforcement. Some kind of license to mandate that people stay inside it. The magic circle has a good deal of power, but it is like Locke says: its power comes from the consent of the governed. You can't maintain the magic circle without a way to discipline those who break it, up to the level of a ban.

Like Richard Bartle's mentioned, RMT has always existed. Its breach of the circle gets more visible as games increase in persistence. And no, I don't have a solution.

20.

Michael Hartman > Can't we just discuss games here, please?

No. We discuss lots of things on TN including, say, Second Life – which is widely thought of as not being a game but a space.

What’s more we tend to discuss the wider social and political context of virtual worlds and the way that they impact it and are impacted by it, we even talk tech sometimes.

So if I’d posted ‘yay for the US in Iraq’ or ‘stop the war’ and written a pure political piece then I think I should have been called out on it. What I was trying to get at with the post was the way that the use of this particular virtual space in two particular cultures frames a given political issue, within the context of a common ritual – reading the names of the dead. I’m interested in the way that it does this from all conventional angles, i.e. to put it in simple binary terms what both those for and against the conflict make of the act.

As people have raised this also brings up a few wider issues – the idea of the magic circle and the related notion of a consistent world fiction – I think the notion of word fiction or at least narrative is interesting here as it seems the work was put against a narrative and from other posts it seems other have a different view of either what truth is or what bit of a commonly understood truth are valid in a given space. There is also the ever present notion of whether virtual spaces constitute public spaces or not, something that I touch on here was the idea of national views, it seems that if America’s Army is public in some sense then that is a an American sense – but as I can log into it and enter into the discourse one immediately gets into the old notions of the internet as a 3rd space, a non-national space or, well, pick your model.

21.

Hey guys, I found http://www.theonion.com/content/node/33878> another article Brent wrote.

22.

Michael,

Ren's original response was about the use of virtual worlds as a public space. My reply addressed one line of his posting, basically saying "please remember that many of us in this country don't support the war." This was legitimate contribution to the discussion.

Conversations can flow in many different directions. When reading lengthy threads, I often skip past comments that I don't find interesting. I encourage you to do the same.

Aaron

23.

Somebody really needs to go find where that asshole lives and beat the shit out of him. Yeah, it's a free country and he can legally pull this crap, but that same freedom extends to some patriot kicking the living shit out of him

You are partially incorrect. When you affirm that dead-in-iraq is exercising his constitutional rights to fre speech, one of the four freedoms that are the basis of the "free country" you seem so enthusiastic about, you are--in my opinion--on the right track.

On the other hand, "some patriot kicking the living shit out of him" is--as far as I know--either assault or aggrivated assault which can get said patriot a minimum year in jail and $1000 fine in some states, and depending how much shit is kicked out of what part of the dead-in-iraq, could qualify the afforementioned patriot as a genuine felon (DING!). So on that score, you're pretty much wrong to say that assault is covered by the same freedoms that speech is.

So, there you have it.

LOL, it's not remotely brownshirtism. It's called community standards. We didn't used to need laws for things like flag burning because nobody pulled that shit. And we still shouldn't have laws for it. But it's quite reasonable for private citizens to take matters into their own hands.

Well, that's pretty much what "brownshirtism" is, except you don't get a uniform and there isn't a political party fanning the flames. Of course, Nazi Germany is too often loosely brought up in general conversation on the net, and casual use of the analogy does threaten to obscure what the problem with your thinking is.

Obviously, the correct analogy is lynching.*

*(a term loosely applied to various forms of violence, usually murder, conceived by its perpetrators as extra-legal punishment of offenders by a summary procedure, ignoring, or even contrary to, the strict forms of law, notably execution, or used as a terrorist method of enforcing social domination)

24.

Looks like Joseph has a surrender impulse. Which is his right as a citizen in a free society. He also has the right to try to share his impulse with others, and to try to convince them to surrender as well.

With some people, obviously, he'd be preaching to the choir. Like a few of the commenters on this thread.

With others though, such as the rest of the people playing the game, his opinion appears to be an irritant.

I've never played AA, so I have to ask if there's an /ignore feature. It's pretty standard in most of these online games, isn't it?

Good on him if he manages to stick it out until he's actually copy-pasted all the names of the dead into the chat box. That's a lot of grinding. After awhile he might have a tough time finding a team, though.

The existence of his web site, and the presence of articles like this one, and the others referred to from his page, smells like publicity to me. Don't be surprised if there's a book deal in this. "My Noble Online Protest", by Joseph "surrender-monkey" DeLappe, coming soon to a B&N near you.

25.

Virtual worlds are not public space. As long as the law of free speech remains geographically defined (the legality of what I say, oddly enough, still depends on where I say it), and as long as people continue to reject the spatial analogy online (the whole "cyberspace isn't a space" party line) then we will not see the emergence of free speech online. At all.

However: That doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The willingness to speak in contravention of the law is the single greatest purveyor of political content. When nuns protest weapons by trespassing, or dead_in_iraq reads out the war dead online, let's be clear: they're breaking the law of tresapss, or the license agreement they signed when they logged in. But that doesn't change the analysis a single whit.

Sometimes breaking the rules *is* the message.

26.

Virtual worlds are not public space. As long as the law of free speech remains geographically defined (the legality of what I say, oddly enough, still depends on where I say it), and as long as people continue to reject the spatial analogy online (the whole "cyberspace isn't a space" party line) then we will not see the emergence of free speech online. At all.

I'm not sure anymore that this is as black and white an issue as the virtual world/entertainment complex would have us believe. Lamda Legal certainly believed that virtual worlds operators aren't the sole determiners of individual rights in an online environment strongly enough to very seriously threaten litigation:

Online environments are public accommodations, subject to regulation as such. Butler v. Adoption Media, L.L.C., 2005 WL 1513142 (N.D.Cal.). Discrimination against LGBT individuals in the provision of public accommodations is clearly prohibited by California law. Id., see also, Cal. Civ. Code § 51 et seq. It has been so for more than fifty years. Stouman v. Reilly, 234 P.2d 969 (Cal. 1951). Insisting that LGBT persons not discuss their sexual orientation or gender identity can constitute discrimination under California law. Erdmann v. Tranquility Inc., 155 F.Supp.2d 1152 (N.D.Cal. 2001) (in which an employee who experienced a hostile environment at his workplace, including being instructed by a supervisor to "keep [his homosexuality] in the closet while he [was] at work," stated a cause of action for employment discrimination); see also Gay Law Students v. Pacific Telephone & Telegraph, 595 P.2d 592 (1978) (same); Henkle v. Gregory, 150 F.Supp.2d 1067 (D.Nev.2001) (discussing students' right to discuss their sexual orientation at school); Colin v. Orange Unified School District, 83 F.Supp.2d 1135 (C.D.Cal.2000) (addressing students' right to use the word "gay" in the name of their school club).
As I mentioned above, I'm sort of sorry that the case wasn't played out in court as it had the opportunity to set valuable precedent for all involved. My guess is if they had that much precedent to back up the specific issue they were litigating over, there would be quite a bit more to support more generalized litigation over basic constitutional freedoms in virtual space.
27.

I am the one creating the work in question. I've read your comments. Where to begin! First off, please don't threaten violence, Brent. It is amazing to me how quickly some turn to such thoughts at the first sign of anything they find disagreeable. Where is the balance in such comments? I am a pascifist. This is a peaceful act.

I thought a very long time about whether or not to proceed with this act. I considered the possibility of typing (yes, the names are typed, not cut and pasted) the names of Iraqi dead but a complete list of such does not exist. There are some partial lists out there but nothing that categorically notes the 30,000+ civilians who have died in this conflict (now thats somehting to get upset about!). We are not keeping track of civilian casualties.

In the end, I decided to proceed with the list of American casualties - in part thinking that the absence of the Iraqi dead would speak for itself.

I have no book deal in the works. I do, however, see the ongoing spread of information regarding this work as part of the work. The concept and the act has created dialogue - some of it a bit scary - yet necessary.

I've engaged in much work over the past 5-6 years involving computer gaming - take a look at my website, you will see previous interventionist gestures in a variety of online game contexts. I am fascinated by the issues you raise regarding public and private spaces, trespassing and the legalities involved in such actions. That is part of what my works seeks to explored. Are these public spaces? If I pay taxes and this is a government sponsored war and a game, do I not have an obligation to pose questions through such an act? Is this any less appropriate a venue for a memorial to our war dead than the Vietnam memorial in Washington DC?

BTW, I've linked this dialog to my website. Hope you don't mind.

Peace.

28.

I forgot to post this link. This is from Rhizom.org. Marisa Olson has written a very eloquent piece about dead-in-iraq.

http://www.rhizome.org/netartnews/story.rhiz?timestamp=20060505

29.

I logged on to WWIIOL and started up a protest by listing the 114 people on average that die in automobile accidents each day.

It's my way of pointing out that Cheney is evil because of his Halliburton ties.

30.

@Jeff:

Your sarcasm, while funny, I don't think quite works.

There is at least an arguable link between "America's Army" and the war in Iraq. You can make the point that politics don't belong in games. In which case, protestors should stay the heck out.

But if that's the case, then shouldn't it work both ways? Shouldn't the US Government, in the form of its Army, stay out of the business of creating games? Anything the government does has an explicit political overtone, and invites commentary of a political nature. If the government creates content in a particular medium, supporting a particular agenda, then using that medium to criticize that agenda cannot be inappropriate. It is, I think, a free speech issue.

If the game was privately owned, I'd agree with the "private club" example and say, "Up to the owner." If somebody staged a similar protest in another MMO, it would be much less sensible.

It would be like protesting Cheney's Halliburton ties in WWIIOL.

But, as it is, there is a "bright line" between the protest and the publisher. Much more compelling. Much more interesting. Much more...

telling.

31.

Man, this is something I hate: the current "you're a criminal, no *you're* a criminal" level of the political debate in the US spills over *everywhere* on the net, and we all get dragged into massive flamewars.

The OP was kinda trolling with a tenuous link, but no more tenuous than a few TN posts recently. I guess we can only discuss goldfarmers for so long.

Others rose to the trollbait with way too much alacrity. Going round to peoples' houses to beat some political sense into them is not a legitimate means of political self-expression.

32.

Hey, to be fair, I've given up discussing gold farmers. =P

33.

Andy, you missed the point entirely. It was pretty obscure I'll admit but how could I just come out and say that the protestor is a complete @ss for taking advantage of those deaths for his own little vain protest ?

34.

"Do not confuse the war with the warrior."
--John F. Kerry

Protesting the war in the America's Army game is inappropriate. The war is a political question, not a military one. Thus his venue for protest should be a political one, not a military one.

All the folks in the military want to do is serve their country honorably. This protest in that format is a pointless intrusion. Protesting the Army (in effect) is just an attack on our common defense and the men and women in uniform who gave their lives in that cause, regardless of the legitimacy of the conflict.

Freedom is also the freedom to fail. The freedom to be stupid. And the freedom to get shouted down. (or banned.) For dead-in-iraq, this appears to be such a case.

35.

Setting aside the legal issues, a video-game designed as a recruitment tool is an ideal location for this type of protest. There is a long tradition of speaking out at recruitment centers.

In 1965, in the San Francisco Bay Area, hundreds of demonstrators placed their bodies on railroad tracks in an attempt to non-violently stop troop trains. Later that year, scores of anti-war activists marched to the Oakland Army Terminal. In 1967, more than 10,000 demonstrators rallied outside the Oakland Induction Center.

There is nothing in Delappe's work which suggests that he is attacking the integrity of the soldiers. Protesting the Army's actions is hardly an attack on our common defense. After all, many men and women in the service oppose the war.

During the Vietnam War, there was a considerable GI resistance movement. A similar movement is developing among Iraq veterans and among soldiers currently stationed in Iraq.

Freedom comes with the responsibility to critically evaluate the actions of our leaders, and to ask difficult questions during times of war. Case, if you are looking for credible sources, the site maintained by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America is a good place to start.

36.

Case: Protesting the war in the America's Army game is inappropriate. The war is a political question, not a military one.

Agreed

I’ve avoided posting on this topic for a while, forgive the length, I’ll tie this in, I swear:

I'm a veteran of the '90-91 conflict (feels weird calling it "gulf war *1*). Back then, letters from Vietnam Veterans made all the difference- they swore that I would have a better homecoming than they had. I extend that promise to the current lot of kids in camouflage.

It’s been difficult to criticize the political decisions regarding the war while supporting the soldiers. For so long, any attack, no matter how carefully crafted toward the administration has been repackaged as “demoralizing the troops” by those attacked. It’s felt like emotional blackmail- we know that those we seek to protect will be put in the crossfire by those we seek to attack.

The kids fighting this war are risking more than many can imagine. Their sacrifice should be recognized with honor- the dead, the maimed, the wounded, and those that will forever carry the scars of battle with them- they should to be remembered.

We have stretches of highway and buildings bearing the name of influential congressmen, but not the names of soldiers forgotten. Stadiums are named after commercial sponsors, where athletes destined to be memorialized in a “hall of fame” compete with much less risk, for much larger rewards.

Instead, our soldiers’ deaths are shuttered away from the public eye. Unless your life was touched by one of these lost men and women, you would never notice their passing. The administration relies on the public's “indifference” to the war for "support" and can't risk greater visibility lest others use it against them…

…and so many opportunists WOULD politicize the issue and exploit their names, rather than memorialize the hero.

I'd like to see the soldiers remembered, but does it belong in online places?
(told you I’d get back on topic)

It depends on the community and the context.

Although the America's Army example seems intended to provoke rather than memorialize, the differences between the two can be subtle- perhaps too subtle to be detected without consciously adding context- much as a friendly jab in chat needs a emoticon ( :-P ) to convey they’re not serious.

Imagine, in the same venue, if an “honor guard” were established that sought to provide a memorial to those that have fallen before them. If it were in broadcast chat, it would appear the same, and would likely provoke people in a similar way.

Such an event would have to be carefully crafted, with the community well in consideration so the intent is preserved across a spotty medium. It would also have to balance the need for a memorial to be “public” with the needs of community members that might find the chat server spammed to the point of inconvenience.

How would a war memorial be perceived in Second Life?

Imagine a virtual Arlington, with the names of the dead on each stone. Many Bush supporters would still likely see this as a “protest” – gross theatre to exploit the troops. Many antiwar supporters might consider it a monument to the military action. Again, others might complain about the “intrusion.”

The context surrounding the memorial, more than the memorial itself, will determine the community response.

Finally, …I was once in an (old time) multiplayer space conquest game, and a player had taken the time to name his starships with the last names he found on a memorial in his hometown. It was his personal way of “honoring,” much like we have the USS Ronald Reagan IRL. Some found it inappropriate for such a setting…. particularly since he wasn’t playing a “human” race. To be honest, I found myself a bit reluctant to gun down his ships after that…

maybe it gave him an unfair in-game advantage? Playing the meta-game?

37.

While AA might have been developed as a recruiting tool, it isn't like the army is using game stats and registration email addresses to select soldiers. It's more like an interactive commercial, like Be All You Can Be and Then Some. They provide a fairly realistic simulation of battle environments, at least compared to most other video games. Death & casualties in combat are represented; when you die in a round, you don't get to play again until a round resets. If you are wounded, you'll move more slowly and your aim might suffer. You can bleed to death if you don't get medical attention. Some servers use the nonlethal MILES system, just like military wargames. Your gun can jam if you are not careful with it. Sure, in real life there is no round reset, but it is a VIDEO GAME.

I hope DeLappe realizes that he isn't going to reach the audience he is trying for. Because he doesn't actually play the game as designed, he will never even be granted access to the "High Honor" servers where the big fans of the game play, including actual members of the military. Any competent admin would kick & ban him after a round or two. He will be regulated to the noob servers with no admins. At least he is getting publicity outside the game... good for him and his cause.

Since it's essentially a free game (I think of it as possibly the best thing the government has ever done with about $0.88 of my tax money), you'll have to put up with the lowest common denominator online, especially when you first begin. That means asshats who use racial slurs, team-griefers, and idiots who just stand at spawn typing in names of dead people until they catch a round to the cranium. Once you work your way up to the HH servers, you find an amazing objective-oriented teamplay experience, where communication and tactics reach a level not often found outside of league play.

Personally, I give the game credit for convincing me that I'd be a poor soldier. I do a fine job of completing objectives and eliminating enemy forces, but my tendency to kill or blind my teammates with grenades (and my stubborn refusal to quit using them) has made me realize that I would be more dangerous to my squad than the enemy. Thanks AA!

38.

[i]Protesting the war in the America's Army game is inappropriate. The war is a political question, not a military one. Thus his venue for protest should be a political one, not a military one.[/i]

As a recruitment tool, AA is is propaganda, and therefore political.

39.

JAFO,

Not really correct on a couple of levels.

Propaganda is generally, by its definition, promoting a specific doctrine or cause. To label any recruiting tool "propoganda" would mean that any marketing by any organization is it. There is a big difference between "pro military service" and "pro war" and there is little in the recruiting game that encourages a specific agenda.

Also, the decision to go to war is a political decision made by the civilian command. I won't try to claim that politics doesn't permeate the ranks, but the principle of the matter is that the military IS SUBSERVIANT to the civilian command. They don't make the policy, they execute the orders given (or resign in protest, for officers...) So, a venue that directly communicates to them would not be an effective PROTEST.

However, if the person were trying to insure that those recruited were fully aware of the risks associated, the "this is not a game" approach, it would be relevant

40.

Chas, sorry I missed commenting on your original post – interesting thoughts, thanks

Chas> the America's Army example seems intended to provoke rather than memorialize

My feeling is that it’s intended to do both, though other than the private sense of memorial it seems likely to provoke more than anything else, though that to me seems a fair use of the virtual space and is a valid artistic intervention, though being a brit I'm some what cautious as there is context that I lack.

41.

There is at least an arguable link between "America's Army" and the war in Iraq. You can make the point that politics don't belong in games. In which case, protestors should stay the heck out.

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