"Burn Down the Shopping Malls!"

By Wagner James Au

By Salon Staff
Published February 27, 2002 8:30PM (EST)

Read the story.

As one of many folks who were gassed, beaten and arrested in Seattle during the WTO protests of 1999, (while never breaking anything) I think your article on the new PS2 game is interesting. It's ridiculous that a huge multinational like Sony has a game that is somewhat against it's own business practices. Yet is the game that or just a marketing tool?

Months after Seattle, GAP Inc. (which has just had its bond rating changed to "junk") had a window display about anarchism in an attempt to sell clothes made by teenage girls in Saipan making 12 cents an hour. Is this game any different? There were 65,000 people in Seattle protesting the anti-democratic nature of the WTO. I was involved with radio communications for the medical teams and wandered all over the perimeter of the protest zone. I saw about 35 people break stuff (windows, newspaper machines, etc.); 65,000 minus 35 is a whole lot of people that showed up to peacefully yet diligently protest the WTO. Why is there no game about those folks? (Not that I really want to see one.) This game, while likely fun for some to play, is just more corporate schwag that nobody really needs and is no different than "God Bless America" T-shirts made in China.

Interesting read, though.

-- John WTO

There's a reason games of anarchy are so popular. We have a love/hate relationship with capitalism. We want to destroy the hand that feeds us, because it also holds our leash. Most of us are rational enough to know this would be stupid to actually carry out. But this rationality does not erase the mental stress this conflict creates. We love the fact capitalism has created and refined such things as open heart surgery, which allow us the highest quality medical care ever to exist. Yet we recognize, we'd have far fewer heart attacks sans job-related stress and advertising created brainwashing promoting excessive consumption of food items.

We don't know what to do. Rebelling against the system seems to lead to poverty and harm, sticking with the system alienates us from life and health. A major conflict. Our brain is telling us to rebel, and we won't be happy until we do -- but we know we shouldn't. Anarchy video games let us pretend to rebel against the system, placating our deep seated desire to actually physically do so, and mitigating one of contemporary America's major conflicts.

-- Seth Glucksman

Most gamers won't give a second thought about who they're fighting in an action game. After a firefight they won't remember if the enemy was wearing either a badge or corporate logo. But the gamer will be able to tell you, in great detail, the enemy's rate of fire, weapon range, and movement speed.

If Wagner James Au spoke to someone developing the game at Vis, he may have learned that the anti-capitalist themes in the game are simply an excuse to give the game a riot setting, which doesn't require a gamer to kill our own armed forces in these patriotic days.

Ask the gamers what they're really interested in. Which is destroying things, regardless of who they're fighting.

-- Bobby Kanaeaupuni

State of Emergency has nothing to do with protest or political action. Rather it is simply obscene exploitation. I can't believe Salon thought it worthy of examination. Does the writer really believe that the depiction of violent bloodletting has anything to do with the politics of anti-globalization?

The article would have been much more effective if the writer had gone to Italy to interview Carlo Giuliani's parents. Remember him? He's the kid whose head exploded (just like in a video game) when he was shot by police in Genoa during the G8 riots. I am sure his friends and family would be more than willing to talk about State of Emergency.

-- Mike Tucker

Salon Staff

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