The Creators, the Protectors, and the Destroyers: a Reddit Turf War
April 8, 2017 1:47 PM   Subscribe

When Pixels Collide is a brief recap of the pixel turf war played out on Reddit Place, a collaborative drawing space that allowed any user to place one pixel every few minutes. Surprisingly or not, the result was not just an awful combative mess.
posted by emmet (35 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
I took a look at it, and didn't see a "Wenger Out".

I'm surprised.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:03 PM on April 8 [5 favorites]


The problem was less one of immaturity, and more of the fundamental complexity of the creative process.

Well, and immaturity.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:09 PM on April 8 [9 favorites]


"a coordinated attempt at a prism"

somebody send this child to a record store immediately
posted by scrowdid at 2:36 PM on April 8 [18 favorites]


Someone took an activity heat map from place and turned into a very plausible show opening.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 2:40 PM on April 8 [26 favorites]


Surprisingly or not, the result was not just an awful combative mess

um, are we looking at the same mess of nationalist flags fighting over space?
Its kind of scary that on the "world wide web", it is still so much nationality that dominates the possibility of a shared project.
posted by mary8nne at 2:40 PM on April 8 [2 favorites]


That was a good read, thanks.
posted by sacrifix at 2:49 PM on April 8


Or perhaps not so much was filled with nationalist flags, if you think of them as a fraction of the total available space.
posted by aniola at 2:59 PM on April 8


um, are we looking at the same mess of nationalist flags fighting over space?

Frankly, I just felt a massive feeling of pride and delight coming across a little "ANZAC PRIDE" space next to the Australian and NZ flags. I don't think this is excessive nationalism, it's just a bunch of people's flags. There's a big old hot dog and a beer next to Germany.

Check out the little Moomin family! Check out the little Chrono Trigger jam! NecroDancer and Van Gogh! The Asexual Pride banner and a massive and terrible Star Wars meme! It's got the feeling of a doodled schoolbook cover, only far more lovingly and competently done than mine ever were.
posted by monster truck weekend at 3:21 PM on April 8 [12 favorites]


The end result is surprisingly complete. There must have been a sense that people should just finish up what they were working on and let it go, rather than messing with other stuff? If you look through the scrollable final version, you find occasional patches of crap, but most of it appears to be exactly what people meant it to be. You'd think there'd be more things that just weren't done yet when time ran out.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:36 PM on April 8 [3 favorites]


um, are we looking at the same mess of nationalist flags fighting over space?

So there was a post eleven years ago (took a bit of searching to track that down) about a site called Drawball that was doing basically exactly this but just as an ongoing independent thing. I commented in that thread about having seen a (South) Korean flag eating up a big chunk of the canvas because of international brigading.

I think vexillology's just an easy organizing principle if you're trying to get a punch of people to make art together: you've got (a) design simplicity, (b) recognizability, and (c) a point of local pride all working for a "hey let's make a huge x" pitch.

Someone took an activity heat map from place and turned into a very plausible show opening.

Ha, that's fantastic.
posted by cortex at 3:38 PM on April 8 [4 favorites]


Also I'll note that that old post's link seems still to be at least nominally active.
posted by cortex at 3:38 PM on April 8


The end result and organic process of this as it grew was pretty wonderful and fascinating to watch. As I understand it, it was more heavily moderated/monitored than Reddit ordinarily is, which kept it from otherwise devolving into white nationalist/fascist propaganda. That, and there was pushback against that sort of content from those who wanted a more innocent celebration of retro games/pixel art. There are some flags, yes, but considering some of the content on Reddit, it could have been infinitely uglier.
posted by byanyothername at 3:47 PM on April 8 [2 favorites]


Frankly, I just felt a massive feeling of pride and delight coming across a little "ANZAC PRIDE" space next to the Australian and NZ flags.

See that irritated me, but then the word 'pride' in a nationalistic context always worries me. Add to this - there was an aboriginal flag to the right of that ANZAC PRIDE bit, but it was erased. A whole crew of people were attentive to making sure no one messed up the Aus and NZ flags. Not so much the aboriginal one.

I like the boxing kangaroo with the VB logo over to the right of the image better, is what's I'm saying.
posted by Jimbob at 3:57 PM on April 8 [6 favorites]


I helped with party parrot for a while. Then I got bored.
posted by Splunge at 3:57 PM on April 8


I wish it had ended with Dickbutt in the middle instead of the American flag.
posted by goatdog at 4:13 PM on April 8 [6 favorites]


Here's a full timelapse.

I participated for the duration of the experiment and helped hold down turf and clean things up in a number of places.

One of the amazing moments from the video is when The Void contingent attacked the center of the map, which just happened to be where the trans flag/banner cut through the middle of the field.

In the video you can watch the banner just totally overwhelm and burn right through The Void even as it actively spreads around it, as well as the initial attempts at the Pink Floyd logo, which opens up the field for the David Bowie graphic and a smaller, slightly better Floyd logo.

One of the things that happened in this experiment is that there was an INCREDIBLE amount of back channel communication as well as an incredible amount of diplomacy and negotiation, where unlikely rivals and allies bartered favors and protection and engaged in a lot of mutual planning. Not only were people making subreddits for factions, but on Discord. Hundreds of megs or even gigs of text went on behind the scenes.

Also, it was noted that the reason why pixel field co-operative art experiments like this devolve into flags, sports team logos, social causes and other easy symbols is because that's basically what develops when trying to agree to compete together in this kind of things. So you get a lot of pop culture icons, logos, places, countries, and specialty and energetic fandoms rallying behind different kinds of flags.
posted by loquacious at 4:30 PM on April 8 [20 favorites]


I don't mind the idea of putting down a flag. People like joining teams, and they're convenient teams with easy logos. But it took awhile for some of the groups to just... stop focusing on making the biggest possible thing they could and focus on making one spot nice. That's when the national flags started getting accompanying art and the meaningless patterns started to give way to things that had meaning to people. Compared to how it looked when I first saw it--I didn't participate myself--the end result actually surprised me in how WELL people wound up sharing space when the only way they had to compete for it was actual ongoing attention and labor devoted to cultivating that space and nobody could claim more space than they could actually keep up with.

I mean, it's not that it all wound up perfect, and some of it was pretty NSFW, and a few things that happened in the course of it were a bit gross. But compared to the way Reddit is on a daily basis? It went better than I thought it was going to.
posted by Sequence at 4:43 PM on April 8 [3 favorites]




fuck the rainbow.
posted by atomicmedia at 5:29 PM on April 8


The repeated attempts to give Prince Adam cleavage were amusing.
posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 5:34 PM on April 8


My son was involved in this. He joined the blue faction, where they were trying to get as much blue on the board as possible, but of course the red and the rainbow factions, along with The Void were trying to prevent that.

I was very impressed when he showed me the final canvas, though I was a little disappointed I couldn't find a little "MeFi" somewhere inside.
posted by bondcliff at 5:37 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


As I understand it, it was more heavily moderated/monitored than Reddit ordinarily is, which kept it from otherwise devolving into white nationalist/fascist propaganda.

In what sense was this thing moderated?
posted by straight at 5:39 PM on April 8


r/yumenikki and r/sweden became friends, so this can't have been wrong.
posted by KChasm at 6:00 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


I seem to remember reading about early crowd pixel drawing installations in France which predated the Drawball link (maybe in the 1980s? 90s?) and other modern Internet-based crowd drawing. Google is failing my Google-fu, though. Could some fellow mefite help me find out about it?
posted by runcifex at 7:24 PM on April 8


I just liked the little banner that said "Day 9: Be a better gamer" which was edited to read "Be a better Gamera" before succumbing to the chaos.

These are words we can all live by, I feel. I will strive today to be a better Gamera, and I hope you all will too.
posted by Scattercat at 7:32 PM on April 8 [3 favorites]


This whole thing was absolutely fascinating and honestly I think should be studied.

The notable lack of swastikas and Trump junk was heartening, although isn't "Deus vult" one of those nationalist dog whistles? It got overwritten but ended up complete on the final canvas.

Best was someone putting the "Nintendo Switch" logo and someone else adding to it so it read "Hanzo switch pls."

Really there was a lot of best. This kind of collective creation and gaming often seems like it's going to be an utter disaster but turns out amazing.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 7:59 PM on April 8 [1 favorite]


The “deus vult” is a catchphrase among people who play Paradox strategy games (Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, etc.).
posted by aw_yiss at 8:50 PM on April 8 [3 favorites]


Wasn't so happy to see the big Cleveland Redskin guy, but oh well.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:47 PM on April 8


Ah, found it: Poietic Generator.
The Poietic Generator is a social network game designed by Olivier Auber in 1986, and developed from 1987 under the label free art thanks to many contributors. The game takes place within a two-dimensional matrix in the tradition of board games and its principle is similar to both Conway's Game of Life and the surrealists' Exquisite corpse.

However, it differs from these models in several respects. It is not an algorithm like Conway's, but human players who control in real-time the graphic elements of a global matrix, on the basis of one unit per person. Unlike the exquisite corpse in which there are always hidden parts, here all the players' actions are visible at all times by each of them. Unlike board games, there is no concept of winning or losing, the goal of the game is simply to collectively draw recognizable forms and to observe how we create them together.
posted by runcifex at 10:57 PM on April 8 [2 favorites]


In the end, r/eve left a minor mark on the canvas. The game logo itself is readily visible, next to Brave's callsign; for a while Test's mascot was there as well as a certain recruiting message, but they were eventually swallowed up.

One of the things that happened in this experiment is that there was an INCREDIBLE amount of back channel communication as well as an incredible amount of diplomacy and negotiation, where unlikely rivals and allies bartered favors and protection and engaged in a lot of mutual planning. Not only were people making subreddits for factions, but on Discord. Hundreds of megs or even gigs of text went on behind the scenes.

But r/eve nonetheless considered the entire experiment a moral victory, due to what loquacious described above. For the duration of the event, r/place became Eve.
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 5:47 AM on April 9 [3 favorites]


I liked the /r/place experiment and this was a good narrative of it. I feel like the author perhaps told the story they wanted to more than reflecting the true story, but then again nothing is wrong.

One thing missing; the circle OSU logo at center bottom. It shows up on all the activity maps as one of the very most contested spots in the space. I imagine there's a long story there.

The other thing missing, the role of bots. My understanding is at some point automated software took over human activity. That runs counter to the narrative here a bit.
posted by Nelson at 6:37 AM on April 9 [3 favorites]


An interesting thing about the flags is that while at times there were territorial skirmishes between different nationalities, at other times they became opportunities to celebrate international friendship. For instance, the article talks about the battle between the French and German flags, but doesn't show that by the end, the flag factions had made peace and the two countries worked together to build an EU flag with a dove of peace at their flags' juncture. You can see it in the lower left of the final picture. Many other countries created little hearts joining their flags, most notably the traditionally non-friendly Greece and Turkey. There were some unexpected pairings, like the 3-way between Brazil, Argentina, and Finland.
posted by bookish at 12:47 PM on April 9 [2 favorites]


Beautiful to watch, especially that perfectly straight jet of dickbutt wee.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:30 PM on April 9


R/Homestuck and R/India had an interesting alliance over this where they pledged to protect each other's contribution.
posted by divabat at 9:40 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]


R/Homestuck and R/India had an interesting alliance over this where they pledged to protect each other's contribution.

That's -- the weirdest thing I ever heard. Hope R/India learned to properly put jelly on a hot god.
posted by monster truck weekend at 11:46 AM on April 10


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