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A German take on IRL Gaming
January 28, 2013 1:19 AM   Subscribe

Camover is a new game from Germany.

The rules are simple: First, organize a crew starting with "Command", "Brigade" or "Cell", followed by the name of a historical figure. ("Van Der Lubbe") is one of many currently in use.) Next: Destroy as many CCTV cameras as possible!

The Camover site has an extensive FAQ for those looking to get started, including reasons to play, discussion of camera types, camera removal techniques, and the fundamentals of good teamwork.

In case the link goes down, the Camover FAQ is archived here.
posted by dunkadunc (45 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's going to end in tears.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:23 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Interesting, I assume this constitutes advocating for criminal behavior?
posted by Shit Parade at 1:33 AM on January 28, 2013


Future News: "Sales of graffiti- and vandalism-proof CCTV systems have skyrocketed in Germany."
posted by double block and bleed at 1:34 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yep. The camera owners will harden the cameras. The camover guys will have to use harder methods (guns or explosives?) to knock out the cameras. The police will arrest the camover guys as terrorists. Also, because the costs of fancy cameras will be high, the fines will be high. Or the camera owners will put cheap decoy cameras in plain sight while hiding the real cameras, so the camover guys will waste time attacking decoys without improving privacy.
posted by pracowity at 1:42 AM on January 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yep. The camera owners will harden the cameras. The camover guys will have to use harder methods (guns or explosives?) to knock out the cameras. The police will arrest the camover guys as terrorists. Also, because the costs of fancy cameras will be high, the fines will be high. Or the camera owners will put cheap decoy cameras in plain sight while hiding the real cameras, so the camover guys will waste time attacking decoys without improving privacy.

Or the camover people will start burning out CCDs with reasonably powered handheld lasers.
posted by jaduncan at 1:55 AM on January 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


This will kaput well.
posted by bardic at 2:01 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a two-year old child, I would like to note that this game is just a rip-off of the very similar game that we two-year old children invented, called "break your parents' cameras".

The rules are simple: first, be two years old. Second, either on your own or, alternately, with other children, find all the camera-bearing electronic devices that your parents own, such as digital cameras, smartphones, tablet computers and so on. Third: break them.

Best results obtained by poking them with your snotty or food-encrusted fingers, and then grabbing them and then dropping them on a hard floor, or just banging them against a table. Then turn to your mom and/or dad and smile that winning two-year old smile - you know, the one that says, "Ain't I cute! Ha ha! Oh, and I just broke your iPad. Also I shat my pants. So have fun washing the disgusting turd off my ass with the hot, helpless tears you cry thinking about how your precious new iPad with retina display is now lying broken on the floor. PS - you will wither with age and drop dead long before I do".

If you are a parent, the best counter-play is obtained by lulling your child into a false sense of security by providing love and care until they are in their teens, and then when they get their first crush on somebody and it ends horribly (for them) and their little heart is all broken, turn to them and say: HA HA HA! SUCK IT PUBERTY-FACE! YOU LOSE!!! YOU FUCKING LOSE, YOU JERK! LIFE PWNED YOU, LIKE A FUCKING BOSS.

And that's a tip from my new book, "quidnunc's guide to parenting".
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:03 AM on January 28, 2013 [43 favorites]


Or the camover people will start burning out CCDs with reasonably powered handheld lasers.

That sounds good, assuming they aren't just shooting at decoys, but if it's possible why aren't they doing it now instead of wasting all that energy trying to destroy them otherwise? And wouldn't the camera owners just find ways to protect their cameras from lasers?
posted by pracowity at 2:05 AM on January 28, 2013


This. Is. Stupid.

There is absolutely no country in the world with stronger privacy laws and enforcement than Germany. If these people actually worry about privacy, then they have a plethora of legal means to go after the camera owners (just ask Google).

Of course, if this is all about finding some fake justification to destroy things, it makes a lot more sense.
posted by Skeptic at 2:06 AM on January 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


And wouldn't the camera owners just find ways to protect their cameras from lasers?

It's basically almost impossible to do so, as the CCD works on absorbing photons. A certain wavelength can be filtered, sure, and that works until people change the colour, brand or LED of the laser. If you wanted to get all serous bizness about it you could even use one of the military/torture ones that cycles through the colour spectrum to blind people and prevent them adjusting to one colour. IMHO that is something that shouldn't be in either civilian or military hands though.
posted by jaduncan at 2:19 AM on January 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Related: the CCD-me-not umbrella, which non-destructively blinds CCD-based cameras with bursts of light from infrared LEDs.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:23 AM on January 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


If these people actually worry about privacy, then they have a plethora of legal means to go after the camera owners (just ask Google).

This is an interesting claim. Do you suppose those camover boys could convince German courts to make everyone take down all those street and subway cameras?
posted by pracowity at 2:24 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Always thought a more interesting and potentially disruptive way of jamming CCTV cameras is with infra-red.They can see it (and can't differentiate between it and visible light), so if you can aim a bright enough IR LED at them, they should shutter down until that's all they see.

Because we can't see IR, this also opens the possibility of people wearing protest messages picked out in IR LED matrixes that camera operators can see but people on the ground cannot. Unless they use cameraphones, of course.

I don't know if all this will work, but it has potential to play around with and is slightly less daft than calling yourself the Cell Bruce Forsythe and running around the subway in black masks with big sticks.
posted by Devonian at 2:28 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Always thought a more interesting and potentially disruptive way of jamming CCTV cameras is with infra-red.They can see it (and can't differentiate between it and visible light), so if you can aim a bright enough IR LED at them, they should shutter down until that's all they see.

That's because of cheap filters; better quality filters will cut out IR at the lens if you are willing to pay for that. Not much civvy stuff does though.
posted by jaduncan at 2:37 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do you suppose those camover boys could convince German courts to make everyone take down all those street and subway cameras?

If they invade their privacy, yes. However, a subway carriage is not supposed to be a private space.
posted by Skeptic at 2:38 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't understand how they think this is going to top Settlers of Catan. It needs to be more family friendly and social. They should also work on monetizing it better. Where are the expansions? All in all a poor effort.
posted by jadayne at 2:51 AM on January 28, 2013 [19 favorites]


I see what you did there. Because.. you brought... your own camera.

Wimps. Take it to the next level and start spray painting each other's GoPros as you escape.
posted by hal9k at 3:47 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


@Skeptic

>There is absolutely no country in the world with stronger privacy laws and enforcement than Germany.

Indeed. And how did we get them? By getting very, very violently pissed off at things that impinge on privacy. See also: the ransacking of the Stasi headquarters.
posted by sixohsix at 3:50 AM on January 28, 2013 [12 favorites]


This is fucking obnoxious.
Vandalism pretending that it is meaningful, or probably more realistically, stupidity masquerading as well-intended 'civil' disobedience.
Real 'revolutionary' acts would be more along the lines of protecting the rights of individuals from the purely financially motivated actions of 'corporations'.
You wanna really fuck things up? Re-structure capitalism.
Break some cameras? (And on private property?) Come on, you don't have anything better than that?
posted by From Bklyn at 4:07 AM on January 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Indeed. And how did we get them? By getting very, very violently pissed off at things that impinge on privacy. See also: the ransacking of the Stasi headquarters.

The Federal Republic's "Datenschutzgesetz" very much predates the ransacking of the Stasi HQ (which, furthermore, may at least have been partly orchestrated by people wanting to destroy incriminating evidence of their cooperation with the Stasi).
posted by Skeptic at 4:21 AM on January 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


The linked video was posted by Cory a few days ago over on BoingBoing, and he was breathlessly all over it as some amazing act of urban street protest. He actually evoked the legacy of the Stasi in his glowing admiration of the cam-smashers. I see that they've now edited the text to reflect the "game" aspect of the thing.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:37 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Blinding the cameras with lasers will work, but narrowband filters will happily defeat that. Also, seconding the 'fake camera' decoys. No point if you're blinding a fake camera.

The linked video was posted by Cory a few days ago over on BoingBoing, and he was breathlessly all over it as some amazing act of urban street protest.

Yeah, stuff like this stopped me reading Boing Boing a few years ago. Sorry to hear it hasn't improved...
posted by fishboy at 4:44 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


If I had to choose quickly between camera deployers (big business, big government, and ubiquitous cameras that eventually could be used as part of a network to identify and track anybody and everybody) and camera breakers (dumbass tagger kids breaking a few of those cameras partly or even primarily because it was a good time), I'd have to side with the kids, who at least encourage valuable discussion (like this thread) without doing all that much damage to a large and growing surveillance system that may not, after all, deter much crime.
posted by pracowity at 4:53 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


The winner may walk in the first line of the demonstration against the cops on 16 february and crouch down to avoid being hit by flying cams

That doesn't sound like a good time to me.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:56 AM on January 28, 2013


If I saw these masked guys swarming my train car, destroying the CCTV, I would serious flip my shit and think grievous bodily harm is in my personal immediate future.

Terrifying to watch, honestly. Poor guy at 2:14. I'm not a badass, but it sure looks like fight or flight time.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:14 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


[Some comments deleted. If you think the discussion is worthless, best to just go ahead and find something more worthwhile.]
posted by taz at 6:14 AM on January 28, 2013


So, I watched the video and looked through the site, and I couldn't find any reference to what makes this a game as opposed to your usual kind of 'direct intervention'. Not to say that I am a fan of gamification, but I was surprised that there aren't:

- Points for smashing cameras (with extra points for difficulty, style, etc)
- A leaderboard
- Achievements (e.g. 5 in a row)
- A 'game board'
- Rules (e.g. don't get photographed)
- etc

Given all of this, I am struggling to see why people are describing it as a game, unless you think that pretty much any human activity constitutes a game ("GAP is a new game, you go to Gap and buy some clothes", "DRIVING is a new game, drive on roads in cars"). But yeah, games are cool and so if you call your project a game then it'll get press.
posted by adrianhon at 6:17 AM on January 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Really, it needs badges. Possibly made from bits of CCTV camera.

(This is not a serious suggestion, agents of control! Yay surveillance!)
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:26 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I fail to see how gangs of masked men roaming the streets will *decrease* the political will for CCTV. Indeed, I've been pretty neutral or against it so far, but the actions of these fuckers make me think it's a good idea - I can see plenty of times that a CCTV inside a train might be useful.
posted by The River Ivel at 7:01 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can see plenty of times that a CCTV inside a train might be useful.

In theory, yes, cameras are good for such things. If I thought cameras would, for example, keep women safe on walks at night, I'd say screw privacy, we need more cameras. But studies have not borne this out. Other than to help deter crime in car parks (which may indicate something peculiar to vehicular crimes or car parks), CCTV cameras don't appear to be all that much of a deterrent to anything. For deterring most types of crime, they are only marginally useful at best. So maybe we're getting lots of surveillance and security theater with no corresponding reduction in crime.
posted by pracowity at 7:27 AM on January 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


The cameras will be replaced. If they want to have a lasting impact they need to attach images of goatse or similar to the front of the cameras to burn out the eyes of the people watching the surveillance footage.
posted by snofoam at 7:41 AM on January 28, 2013


The cameras will be replaced. If they want to have a lasting impact they need to attach images of goatse or similar to the front of the cameras to burn out the eyes of the people watching the surveillance footage.

Call me on this if I'm wrong, but my impression is that the reason the vandals are making a game out of this is to make it systemically less viable to replace security cameras. If you know your camera will be destroyed again, why bother?
posted by LSK at 8:22 AM on January 28, 2013


If they were serious about issues of surveillance, of course, they would take a lesson from Grounded: Unaccompanied Minors and place phones playing video in front of the cameras. These images are indistinguishable from regular CCTV footage, and will continue to run until their batteries run out, causing Lewis Black to stamp his foot in frustration.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:30 AM on January 28, 2013


Just like most Hacktivists these Urban Mini-Hulks once again "send" the wrong Message.

Because of our Nazi-Past Germany is still very concerned about enforcing Privacy Protection Laws.

And even despite the Anti-Terror-Initiatives of the 70's against the Red Brigades they are still strong. (Germany didn't completely freak out and allow a huge Erosion Civil Liberties like the Americans did.)

The German Pirate Party - still too busy to transform itself into a working political Organization - has so far failed to come up with a coherent Privacy Policy. (Which will be hard since most Nerds consider Society heading into a Post Privacy Era anyway.)

So the few Bits of radical Left Wingers and Pseudo-Luddites have only the Brains for Vandalist Actions and Street Brawls (as experienced every May Day all over Germany).

They lack a wider political Concept and Endurance (a la the American Tea Party) to Form they true Grievances into solid political Action.

Instead of addressing the Fears of normal Citizens (there have been many deadly Beatings by extremely violent young Thugs in recent Years - one of the Reasons why these Cameras were installed), the Opportunism and Overreaction of Politicians they "smash" Objects as an symbolic Act of their own Impotence.

True Anarchists want the Liberty to govern themselves - which also means "policing" your own "Power" of Aggression and Anger over Differences with others.

Anarchism does not equal Vandalism and Terrorism - especially when the Damage you cause will only provoke the opposite Reaction from the Public and will also redirect more Funds for a Surveillance.

This is not Activism - this is called shooting yourself in the Foot.
posted by homodigitalis at 9:15 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


From an American's standpoint this seems like a very inefficient way to deal with a CCTV camera. It's easy enough to just keep out of the field of view and shoot the thing. In fact there are more than a few municipalities that have given up on red light cameras for exactly this reason.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:31 AM on January 28, 2013


Or the camover people will start burning out CCDs with reasonably powered handheld lasers.

There's a guy here in Seattle who has made a hobby of disabling traffic cameras. He doesn't use anything sophisticated: he just dumps a bunch of elmer's glue in a spray bottle, then thins it down with water. With the nozzle set on "stream", he just squirts a bunch of glue all over the lens of the camera. It does no permanent damage and it's easy to clean off, but it makes the image blurry, and it costs the camera operator money since they have to send someone out to clean it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:44 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's easy enough to just keep out of the field of view and shoot the thing.

Do you really think it's a good idea to have people firing guns at cameras mounted on buildings downtown? Oops, I missed, sorry about your dead child, but I was fighting the good fight against cameras?
posted by pracowity at 11:26 AM on January 28, 2013


Which is also why using guns is not suggested.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:35 AM on January 28, 2013


That German noun-capitalization scheme is so cool in English, it makes everything read like a Thomas Paine broadsheet.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 12:22 PM on January 28, 2013


There is absolutely no country in the world with stronger privacy laws and enforcement than Germany.
why are these guys with all these rights putting so much effort into protecting their rights

don't they realize they already have the rights and they can stop now??
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:45 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Isn't the point to protest the cameras buy visibly destroying them, not surreptitiously damaging them like might lasers do?
posted by jeffburdges at 7:15 PM on January 28, 2013


I posted this at Cory Doctorow's blog post at Boing Boing yesterday:

This is asinine. Modern day Germany is about as far as you can get from the Stasi. Those cameras were being used to prevent and prosecute legitimate crimes, not persecute people who speak out against the government. Vandalism is vandalism, not a "form of valid protest," and this makes anyone with legitimate concerns about government surveillance look like a criminal.

These guys may think they're playing "V for Vendetta," but instead of fighting an oppressive fascist state, they're trying to fight a flourishing liberal democracy by destroying private property, which will work... how, exactly? I know Cory specializes in writing the left-wing equivalent of Glenn Beck's Tea Party persecution fantasies, but championing these guys as freedom fighters is ridiculous.
posted by Green Winnebago at 8:23 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


These guys may think they're playing "V for Vendetta," but instead of fighting an oppressive fascist state, they're trying to fight a flourishing liberal democracy by destroying private property, which will work... how, exactly?

It's indeed significant that one of the cells is called "Van der Lubbe"...they could hardly have found something as symbolic for their endeavour as the name of the fool who provided the excuse the Nazis needed to liquidate the Weimar Republic.
posted by Skeptic at 2:51 AM on January 29, 2013


Yeah, the "Van der Lubbe" bit is... troubling.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:03 AM on January 29, 2013


"Eighteen brands of security camera digital video recorders are vulnerable to an attack that would allow a hacker to remotely gain control of the devices to watch, copy, delete or alter video streams"
posted by jeffburdges at 9:21 AM on January 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


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