I found Chan’s article about dead-in-iraq extremely interesting, Concerning the debate between enraged gamers and thoughtful activists, I originally found myself siding with the gamers. And in most cases I still do – if I was an avid Counter Strike fan and some of my teammates were to spend their time in the game standing still and voicing a political message, I would be annoyed at their unwillingness to participate. To relate it back to Huizinga, as Chan did, they become the spoilsports of the game – not for the reason that “I don’t want to hear about any real world relevance,” but because people enter the game space with a joint agreement to play the game and have fun. In fact, I would assume that most players of the game would agree with the types of messages that DeLappe posts in chat, and I think most people come into the game world knowing that they are distancing themselves from reality – the content of the game does not by any means imply that those gamers will have an increased desire to go out and join the army. (As I have written before, the main campaign for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has the player massacre innocents at an airport, almost as a form of resistance within the game itself. This is rare, but I would assume would have the opposite effect.)
I definitely think that games like Counter Strike, or any other games, are much more in favor of the players. There is a time and a place for the messages, and many players understand that. However, my opinion changed about this when Chan’s discussion of America’s Army dug deeper. America’s Army is fundamentally different from games like Counter Strike, because essentially the point of the game is a recruitment tool developed by the military. In this case, the game space is not an end, but a means to an external and very real end. I have to leave the side of the gamers and be somewhere in the middle of both sides on this argument, because while it is disrupting the game space to not move and type for the entire match, the game space is actively, intentionally, and unconsciously shaping the minds of its players. It is very hard to say what is right and wrong when AA functions as both a game and a political persuasion tool. In that sense, DeLappe has every right to counter the propaganda perpetuated by the game. I think that a major point to keep in mind, when talking about what actions are allowed in a given game, is what that game was created for. If the point of the game is to spread a certain ideology, then players should be able to share their own. If the point of the game is to have fun, then players should be able to have fun together. There is something very scary to me about AA allowing itself to make a political point and users not being able to fight back in the name of the “magic circle”. Though I wonder if DeLappe would have been more successful if he had played the game and naturally steered the discussion toward deaths in Iraq. Perhaps gamers would have then seen him as an ally who is just worried about the state of things, instead of a troll.
Resistance as a plot line or mechanism of games is also something very interesting. It exists in many indie games particularly, such as Super Meat Boy or Braid, and at varying levels of depth. This is also something I am very interested in, because players want to play these games because of that against-the-grain feel combined with addictive gameplay. This is sort of a side note to what I just wrote about, but I feel that indie games will really lead the way on this dialogue in the future. It’s a very interesting discussion, and I hope players and developers alike pursue this discourse.