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"playing" America's Army
May 30, 2006 7:11 AM   Subscribe

In Memoriam and in Protest --why not use an online deathmatch as a pedestal for speaking out against a war? Artist/Professor uses US Govt-developed America's Army (...placing Soldiering front and center within popular culture and showcasing the roles training, teamwork and technology play in the Army. ... ) as protest and art space. DeLappe's homepage (and jpgs) here
posted by amberglow (135 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
The reaction of gamers to DeLappe's typing during AA online matches is varied. He says, "A lot of times I'm completely ignored. More often than not I am vote-kicked." Sometimes gamers ask him if he's a soldier, or try to start up a dialogue with him. Other times they'll just shoot him.

Wow.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:18 AM on May 30, 2006


Gosh, I can understand people getting frustrated with him spamming this on the in-game chat. I'd vote-kick him too, if he didn't stop after being asked.

Interesting concept - seems somewhat lacking in execution.
posted by dazed_one at 7:30 AM on May 30, 2006


Other times they'll just shoot him

This fragging raises the Iraq conflict to a whole new dimension of similarity with the Vietnam War.
posted by Mr. Six at 7:35 AM on May 30, 2006


Brilliant brilliant brilliant idea, but "two to three hours a week"? C'mon Joe, put a little effort in.
posted by Nahum Tate at 7:36 AM on May 30, 2006


His previous projects have included logging onto online games of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault to quote poetry and gathering six people together to log onto online games of Quake III: Arena to recite every line from an episode of the hit sitcom Friends. The pieces were titled "War Poetry: Medal of Honor" and "Quake/Friends," respectively.
Oh, no... not this guy again. Spamming text is a faux pas no matter what online community you are involved with, let alone the degenerate bracket that constitutes the player base of the generic YAFPS military mouthpiece that is AA. I really, really dislike AA, to an extreme degree. This is just a waste of time.
posted by prostyle at 7:36 AM on May 30, 2006


I'm all for creative protest and what not, but this is stupid. It's not meaningful art or speaking out or anything of the type, it's just annoying people who are never going to change their minds about how awesome they think war is.
posted by borkingchikapa at 7:37 AM on May 30, 2006


Interrupting an Army online war game by typing in the names of the off line real time dead as a protest. Breaking the "kill kill kill" obsessive mindstream. There's some kind of poetic justice in that.
posted by nickyskye at 7:39 AM on May 30, 2006


Yeah, I don't know. This is an interesting idea, but it's still on the lowest level just a guy spamming in a game and screwing it up for the people playing. I'm all for increasing awareness of the toll of war, but this just doesn't seem like the way to do it.

It seems a bit like logging into Battlefield 1942 and going on a little in-game tirade about the horrors of the holocaust. Yeah, it is/was a bad thing, yeah, it deserves mention, ... but maybe you could just... put it on a website or something?

At some point you just have to accept that there are war games and there are people who like to play them, and let them do it. No one's going to have their minds changed by some game spam. I'm pretty sure I'd vote for the kick.
posted by blacklite at 7:40 AM on May 30, 2006


This is no different than anti-abortion demonstrators chanting and holding up images of aborted fetuses outside an abortion clinic.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 7:44 AM on May 30, 2006


Me, I like to present chess opponents with photos of the fallen. You know, just to remind them that they are playing a war game. Also, it’s a great distraction while I kick their ass.
posted by dreamsign at 7:45 AM on May 30, 2006


DeLappe has also claimed artistic status for playing Unreal, shopping on eBay, and doing his taxes.
posted by prostyle at 7:45 AM on May 30, 2006


But isn't just being an annoyance enough sometimes, if it's about something directly related to what they're doing at the time, and in that space, and directly related to the reasons the game was developed (with our money) in the first place? This is not some random game--It's a Video Game, and an Army Recruiter (Washington Post)
posted by amberglow at 7:46 AM on May 30, 2006


I like the idea, AA is just a piece of shit recruitment tool, not some standard game.
posted by twistedonion at 7:47 AM on May 30, 2006


I play a bunch of FPS's, and I hate chat-spam, but the thing about AA is that it's not YAFPS, it's very explicitly a recruiting tool for the Army. I wonder if those who complain the loudest about this guy aren't the ones who understand that connection the least.
posted by mkultra at 7:50 AM on May 30, 2006


Terra Nova had an article about the person in question. Lots of heated comment on both sides. Some of the discussion pertained to the fact that it was a "government" server, and therefore "public" property, so protest was allowed. Meh.
posted by zabuni at 7:51 AM on May 30, 2006


DeLappe has also claimed artistic status for playing Unreal, shopping on eBay, and doing his taxes.

Pollack claimed artistic status for "spilling paint". It's all about context.
posted by mkultra at 7:51 AM on May 30, 2006


This is no different than anti-abortion demonstrators chanting and holding up images of aborted fetuses outside an abortion clinic.

Fuck right off. It is totally different. Maybe if he was hacking into the game and superimposing the potential soldiers faces onto bodies of corpses. Maybe, just maybe, then you could draw that comparison.
posted by twistedonion at 7:52 AM on May 30, 2006


The rest of his stuff is spammy: this is the only piece of this guy's work that I think is really reasonable. Since the game in question is developed by the government, using our money, in order to recruit soldiers to kill in an ongoing, meaningless war, it's perfectly reasonable to fight back by informing the participants of the truth.

And frankly, I'm just really creeped out by the idea of using government-subsidized video games to recruit soldiers. These days, the newspapers read like distopian science-fiction stories from twenty years ago.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:56 AM on May 30, 2006


Fuck right off. It is totally different.
posted by twistedonion at 10:52 AM EST on May 30


I'm afraid your prejudices have taken over your capacity for reason.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 8:03 AM on May 30, 2006


No, seriously, explain how they are identical, coz I was going to call you out, too.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:05 AM on May 30, 2006


Pollock claimed artistic status for "spilling paint". It's all about context.



Fine, context, great. Please explain the context that makes this text spamming (or filing taxes) "art."
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 8:06 AM on May 30, 2006




I cannot believe people still argue over what "actually" constitutes "art" in 2006.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:09 AM on May 30, 2006


I cannot believe people still argue over what "actually" constitutes "art" in 2006.

Of course we do. Should we stop?
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 8:10 AM on May 30, 2006


This is no different than anti-abortion demonstrators chanting and holding up images of aborted fetuses outside an abortion clinic.

Typing someone's name is the same as holding up a picture of dead fetal tissue? I don't see the substance of comparison here.
posted by Mr. Six at 8:13 AM on May 30, 2006


Thanks sonofsamian. If you just mentioned Duchamp we would have no idea what you were talking about, but the inline image was a brilliant flush, adding liters to the conversation. Bravo. Got any more, maybe some bride stripped bare by her bachelors, even?
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 8:15 AM on May 30, 2006


I'm afraid your prejudices have taken over your capacity for reason.

I can smell the bullshit on you mate from way over here. Please, go ahead and make a fool of yourself. Explain how holding up pictures of unborn fetuses in front of women about to go into an abortion clinic is the same as typing the names of soldiers who have died in conflict to potential recruits.

Like I said, you might have pulled off that comparison had he been hacking the game with graphic images.

Now stop being a wab and think a bit.
posted by twistedonion at 8:17 AM on May 30, 2006


An aborted fetus is visually disgusting, like the peta slaughter house videos are disgusting, or pictures of bloody severed limbs of soldiers are disgusting. Naming soldiers is so much less visceral it doesn't merit comparison. I think this guy is kind of a tool, and while americas army is kind of freaky to me the fact that he's done similar but less pointed things in other fps in the past suggests that this is more about promoting DeLappe than accomplishing anything with regards to changing anything.
posted by I Foody at 8:20 AM on May 30, 2006


I think he should list the name of 100 000+ dead Iraqis... oh right, we don't care about them.
posted by Vindaloo at 8:31 AM on May 30, 2006


Where's that girl-on-beach "attention whore" jpg when you need it? That's the first thing that comes to mind when anyone spams text in any FPS.

There's no practical difference between spammers and telemarketers making a nuisance of themselves with commercial messages and "artists" making a nuisance of themselves with political messages, regardless of whether one agrees with that message or not. If I were playing on that server at the time, I'd not only vote-kick them, I'd email the admin to blacklist the IPs of said "artists" ASAP -- partially out of annoyance over everyone's interrupted gaming, and partially to stop these idiots from continuing to make those who support the anti-war cause look like douchebags.

Does DeLappe really believe that whatever meager dialogue (in the middle of a game) that manages to arise from this stunt is going to outweigh the certain animosity generated among the players by his actions? Or is this another "artist" doing the patting-self-on-back, everyone look at how conceptually brilliant I am crap?
posted by DaShiv at 8:31 AM on May 30, 2006


There's no practical difference between spammers and telemarketers making a nuisance of themselves with commercial messages and "artists" making a nuisance of themselves with political messages, regardless of whether one agrees with that message or not.

Seriously. This guy's intentions are probably noble, but his execution is absolutely dreadful. This is not the way to get gamers involved with the war/anti-war efforts. Nor is this any way to inform people of anything. He simply creates a negative environment with this information and probably turns more people off with his intrusive and annoying style.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:36 AM on May 30, 2006


I wonder if those who complain the loudest about this guy aren't the ones who understand that connection the least.

I wonder if those who champion his quest have ever spent more than three minutes reading text in any multiplayer FPS game. I disable it by default, if and when I play online games. That's all the context you need to puncture this conceptual balloon.

Look, I may agree entirely with the ideas behind it - and I'd agree with those here who were most opposed to AA. I despise it to the highest degree. That doesn't change anything about this project or the impact it has on the (incredibly small) amount of users who will be exposed to it.
posted by prostyle at 8:40 AM on May 30, 2006


Please explain the context that makes this text spamming (or filing taxes) "art."

If I were going to entertain this as a serious request instead of stubborn contrariness, I'd start with a suggestion that you read the linked articles.

Does DeLappe really believe that whatever meager dialogue (in the middle of a game) that manages to arise from this stunt is going to outweigh the certain animosity generated among the players by his actions?

Agitprop isn't so much about the immediate, visceral reaction as it is about the larger discussions that arise from it.
posted by mkultra at 8:44 AM on May 30, 2006


If I were going to entertain this as a serious request instead of stubborn contrariness, I'd start with a suggestion that you read the linked articles.

I did. Are you talking about this, from the guy's page?

I investigate notions of work, play, human/machine relations, and the synthesis of traditional artist’s materials with contemporary digital and analog technologies. The work is about the contingency of actions, objects and images. Mechanical aestheticism revealed over time through psuedo genetic mutations. The intent is to create works that are formally and aesthetically engaging while conceptually connecting with the everyday; to reify the ordinary into the extraordinary. Research projects include investigations of kinetic electromechanical sculptures; projected surveillance video installations; online performance works; and the ubiquitous desktop mouse as object and cultur
al icon. In all the work, the intent is to find the connections between concept, object, interaction, beauty and environment.


I mean, do you just take this at face value? Reminds me of Diane Keaton in Manhattan: "It was very textural... and it had a marvelous negative capability." I guess I just don't see the actual case for it being art, being made by anyone but the "artist" himself.

In creative writing workshops there is a general policy that the writer whose work is being workshopped doesn't get to speak. It's not about what you claim to be saying, it's what your work actually says.

Agitprop isn't so much about the immediate, visceral reaction as it is about the larger discussions that arise from it.

Okay, fine. That doesn't make it "art" or this guy an artist. Why did the poster use such terminology? Why did anyone? That's what I don't understand. And I don't think these "immediate, visceral reactions" are really going to happen. I mean, there are lots of ways people can draw attention to themselves. It doesn't make them worthy of mention or notice. A simplistic and hubristic activity like this especially doesn't.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 8:58 AM on May 30, 2006


mkultra : "Agitprop isn't so much about the immediate, visceral reaction as it is about the larger discussions that arise from it."

And in this case, the discussions within the game are likely to be "this guy is an ass", while the discussion here is "this guy may or may not be an ass". If his art project is getting people to discuss whether he's an ass or not, then he's been very successful, but if it's to get people to think about the actualities of war, I find it hard to believe that he's been at all successful.
posted by Bugbread at 9:04 AM on May 30, 2006


Oh, and I should mention that the article zabuni linked to also contains no real case for the word "artist" to be used here. It restricts itself to discussing the political angle of the guy's work.

Being against the war in Iraq != "art."
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 9:05 AM on May 30, 2006


While I agree with the guy's sentiment and think that going on to a free, military-funded FPS to list the names of the fallen is an interesting idea, I was turned off by the whole Quake/Friends and Medal of Honor thing.

It's not shocking so much as just plain rude. How would he react if a bunch of people went to one of his lectures and let their cellphones ring constantly?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:05 AM on May 30, 2006


robocop is bleeding : "How would he react if a bunch of people went to one of his lectures and let their cellphones ring constantly?"

Presumably, he would find it to be a formally and aesthetically engaging reification of the ordinary into the extraordinary.
posted by Bugbread at 9:09 AM on May 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


Art is, ultimately, whatever you say it is. To me, this guy took a fairly fixed scenario (you run around and shoot each other) and not only gave it a new purpose, but used the medium to subvert itself. Run-of-the-mill text spammers aren't attempting to get you to question the medium itself.

And in this case, the discussions within the game are likely to be "this guy is an ass", while the discussion here is "this guy may or may not be an ass". If his art project is getting people to discuss whether he's an ass or not, then he's been very successful, but if it's to get people to think about the actualities of war, I find it hard to believe that he's been at all successful.

Oh, I don't know. I'm finding the rapid and vociferous defense of a piece of government propaganda, and simplistic equivocations of this guy with scammers as a tool to discredit him pretty interesting...
posted by mkultra at 9:20 AM on May 30, 2006


Art is, ultimately, whatever you say it is.

Not everyone agrees. Which is great. I'm glad people don't agree about this.

I'm finding the rapid and vociferous defense of a piece of government propaganda, and simplistic equivocations of this guy with scammers as a tool to discredit him pretty interesting...

I find it interesting too. But who defended the game? I don't think anyone did that.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 9:23 AM on May 30, 2006


mkultra : "To me, this guy took a fairly fixed scenario (you run around and shoot each other) and not only gave it a new purpose, but used the medium to subvert itself. Run-of-the-mill text spammers aren't attempting to get you to question the medium itself."

I think the key word here is "attempting". Run of the mill text spammers aren't attempting to get you to question the medium itself, true. And DeLappe is attempting to get you to question the medium itself, true. However, I don't see any evidence that he has used the medium to subvert itself, only that he has tried to.

mkultra : "I'm finding the rapid and vociferous defense of a piece of government propaganda, and simplistic equivocations of this guy with scammers as a tool to discredit him pretty interesting..."

I don't see these vociferous defenses that you do. Most people are saying "AA sucks, but what this guy is doing sucks too", which I wouldn't really count as a 'defense'. However, that said, I suspect his goal in this was neither to get people to discuss whether or not he is an ass, nor to get people to discuss whether considering him an ass is equivalent to defending AA, so, again, I just can't see that he's been successful at what he's trying. The MeFi discussion that results from it may be interesting, but if that was his goal, he should have just talked about obesity or circumcision.
posted by Bugbread at 9:29 AM on May 30, 2006


Art is, ultimately, whatever you say it is.

Not everyone agrees. Which is great. I'm glad people don't agree about this.


I should say that what I meant here is that I'm glad there's no consensus about what art is in general, not that I'm glad that not everybody agrees with the first statement in particular.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 9:32 AM on May 30, 2006


To me, this guy took a fairly fixed scenario (you run around and shoot each other) and not only gave it a new purpose, but used the medium to subvert itself. Run-of-the-mill text spammers aren't attempting to get you to question the medium itself.

Yes, because there's nothing that subverts the FPS experience like seeing the scripts of Friends being spammed across one's screen. I can see a far more convincing case made for Red vs. Blue or Quake Done Quicker as "art" within the FPS medium than this guy's projects.

With the dead-in-iraq stunt this time, he happened to have taken a widely-held sentiment (only a minority of the country still supports the Bush administration's handling of Iraq) with a widely-castigated game (how many in this thread have actually expressed support for America's Army? and how many have said the opposite?). It's a neither particularly risky nor challenging act -- it's lobbing a rhetorical fat pitch at a big target painted on the side of someone else's barn.
posted by DaShiv at 9:36 AM on May 30, 2006


Most of his art isn't very inspired. Some of it is, though. Of course, a good artist knows to bury his crap. Maybe he should just skip the spamming and send a Vagina Mouse to all those lonely FPS playing teens instead.

AA deserves to be spammed, trolled, griefed and whatever else we can do to it. It's our tax dollars and it's disgusting. Key: Our tax dollars. It's our tax dollars. That can not be stressed enough.
There's no practical difference between spammers and telemarketers making a nuisance of themselves with commercial messages and "artists" making a nuisance of themselves with political messages
I disagree and I believe the law does too. Commercial speech is regulated (FCC, FTC) and (IMHO) should be regulated. Political speech is not and should not be regulated. Contrary to popular trends, we have a tradition of freedom of expression in the United States.

History is littered with important times when a political message needed to be espoused to an unwilling to listen public. Socrates the gadfly, the White Rose Society, MLK Jr. etc... People said the exact same things about their actions. I'm not saying DeLappe is as important as these examples: He's not. He's kind of a hack, but you can not make a philosophically sound litmus test to separate artistic speech from political speech or, in the general case that we're always talking about when someone wants to censor someone else, "speech I like" and "speech I don't like."

And yeah, I'm a hypocrite because commercial speech is speech I don't like. But I do believe there's a qualitative, measurable difference. That is to say, at the very least, money is exchanging hands. Also commercial speech usually originates from corporations (which, in an ideal world, would have no human rights) and political speech originates from individuals with individual rights.
posted by Skwirl at 9:51 AM on May 30, 2006


bugbread:I suspect his goal in this was neither to get people to discuss whether or not he is an ass, nor to get people to discuss whether considering him an ass is equivalent to defending AA

Me, I suspect his goal was to get people to discuss him, period. Not an anti-war statement, but a new form of war profiteering.
posted by Skeptic at 9:57 AM on May 30, 2006


Vindaloo writes 'I think he should list the name of 100 000+ dead Iraqis... oh right, we don't care about them.'

Yeah, that got to me too, how a few thousand dead volunteer invaders is shocking, whereas a hundred times more dead invaded is just collateral damage or in any case not something you need to worry about. It is natural to care more about people like you, I guess, but would a sense of proportion be too much to ask for?
posted by signal at 10:22 AM on May 30, 2006


it's not YAFPS, it's very explicitly a recruiting tool for the Army. I wonder if those who complain the loudest about this guy aren't the ones who understand that connection the least.

$$$$$$$

a widely-held sentiment (only a minority of the country still supports the Bush administration's handling of Iraq) with a widely-castigated game (how many in this thread have actually expressed support for America's Army?

a big fat target? it's not about Bush's negatives, it's about how many Americans want to stop the slaughter of their soldiers NOW (ie, pullout from Iraq). do you think that the majority of Americans support a pullout? not the case. actually, look at what happened to poor John Murtha when he tried that.

so, if the AA spammer guy's point is "withdrawal now" (the only way to make sure the body count of American GIs stops) well, the target is not that big, not in America. and that barn is not that close.
posted by matteo at 10:33 AM on May 30, 2006


placing Soldiering front and center within popular culture

That gives me chills. I understand that a volunteer army needs to recruit, but the militarization of US culture is a direct threat to .... oh, whatever. I give up. This country jumped the shark five years ago. The masses are asses and they get the rulers they deserve.

/derail

Skwirl: Political speech is not and should not be regulated.

I give you the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.
posted by oncogenesis at 10:35 AM on May 30, 2006


The masses are asses and they get the rulers they deserve.

BARI QVIPPE BOVI
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:38 AM on May 30, 2006


DaShiv : "I can see a far more convincing case made for Red vs. Blue"

True, especially the first season or so of Red vs. Blue, which explores why the Red team and the Blue team are fighting eachother.
posted by Bugbread at 10:50 AM on May 30, 2006


He's kind of a hack, but you can not make a philosophically sound litmus test to separate artistic speech from political speech or, in the general case that we're always talking about when someone wants to censor someone else, "speech I like" and "speech I don't like."

Were we discussing censorship, I'd agree with that distinction between commercial and political speech. When it comes to discussing intrusiveness/disruptiveness, audience annoyance, lack of efficacy in choosing of space and occasion, and degrees of self-serving though, I don't see the need to draw any distinctions between commercial and political speech as opposed to simply speech. Do you?

Spamming on someone else's gaming server is akin to doing so at someone else's house in the middle of their party -- incredibly rude and tasteless. Just because there are people there doesn't make it an appropriate "public space", no matter who's hosting the party.

so, if the AA spammer guy's point is "withdrawal now"

That's a bit of a stretch to go from a list of names to "withdrawal now". I see the names as a memorial and a general anti-war message, rather than advocating any specific policies for a specific schedule of withdrawal. And numerous newspapers and websites have published not just names, but photos and blurbs about the individual fatalities of the Iraq war as well. Why would a gaming server be a more appropriate and efficient medium for disseminating this information?

And none of this excuses his previous episodes of server-spamming, either. Broadcasting lines from Friends on a Quake server? Come on. Excuse me while I disrupt one of his classes with my performance project entitled "Participatory Allegorical Perspectives and Feedback on Educational Discourse: Goatse.cx Projected onto a Large Classroom Wall During a Live Lecture". I'm sure he'd understand: it'd be for art's sake.
posted by DaShiv at 11:11 AM on May 30, 2006


I see the names as a memorial and a general anti-war message,

OK, but then, as others have already said, why doesn't he mention the (much larger) number of Iraqi civlians who died? if one's point is, "I dont' want to waste another GI's life in Iraq", then the only solution is withdrawal. not that I agree with it, but that is a consistent posiition -- if the thing that bothers you the most about Iraq Attaq is the American casualties.
posted by matteo at 11:25 AM on May 30, 2006


Just reading this, I can think of better art: Red v. Blue on an America's Army set. I'm guessing that seems like too much work. I agree that this is too much like grandstanding. As art, it's not very imaginative. As protest, it's not very effective. As self-propomtion, it's sort embarrassing. It makes me want to sit on his tenure committee.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:38 AM on May 30, 2006


if the thing that bothers you the most about Iraq Attaq is the American casualties.

I am mistaken in remembering the upswing of the anti-war movement in the US to be in actuality a we're-getting-killed-over-there movement? Cause that's how I remember it.
posted by dreamsign at 12:00 PM on May 30, 2006


I agree that RvB is a better-executed piece of performance art. But, you wouldn't be able to pull that off on AA. RvB is carefully planned and staged on private servers. AA is played on gov't-controlled servers, so you'd never get the privacy you need.
posted by mkultra at 12:00 PM on May 30, 2006


Heh. In the next fifteen posts, mefites will plan and execute some political art that makes this guy look like a chimp without a typewriter.

Two possibilities: take over an AA game entirely with "crew"? Re-network to create a private server, even though that's not usually allowed? But I'm out of my element here. I'd guess that the US military would want to discourage the use of its likeness in protest art, and would write software that presents major challenges to reappropriation. But not, you know, impenetrable obstacles for savvy pirates.

Maybe we could restage the Haditha massacre.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:16 PM on May 30, 2006


AA is played on gov't-controlled servers, so you'd never get the privacy you need.

You can easily modify the .ini files from the UT engine used in AA to create private network games. I don't even know how a piece of Machinima could be oriented to be analogous to his current presentation though. Let's see... you could film the AA GI model being killed in a statistically appropriate manner multiple times - and loop that until you reach the number dead. It'd still be pretty boring and tedious, but at least it wouldn't be polluting a public game space where the message is instantly drowned out. At the very least, it would have actually taken some time and skill to execute and present in an engaging fashion.
posted by prostyle at 12:29 PM on May 30, 2006


Because of the standard concepts of FPS, (players run to their deaths and heap scorn upon anyone thoughtful enough to avoid confrontation in pursuit of mission goals) and the unique nature of this game, Players see themselves as US soldiers (heroes) and see their enemies as the scenario specific bad guys (Terrorists, Slavs, Branch Davidians...whatever) there is a great potential for a interesting piece
If he could get enough people to work together, they could stage whatever US vs arab battle they want, as long as they are willing to vote kick whomever tries to mess with their play.
that said:
I played AA for some time and I can't think of a group of people who need more reminding of the realities of war than AA players "1 in the turban, 2 in the chest" was a favorite phrase on voice chat when I was playing.
posted by Megafly at 12:39 PM on May 30, 2006


why doesn't he mention the (much larger) number of Iraqi civlians who died?

I don't see how he could get a list--our military's not releasing any, and neither are any of the various Iraqi governments...that would be great too, i think, but listing OUR dead reminds readers that they're playing a game devised as a recruiting tool so that the players can join up, and that what happened to those listed might happen to them. It's not spamming and it's not selling himself (i think the sites discussing it and myself for posting it can be accused of that, but not him--there's no link in the game to his work nor anything to sell, except an idea: "These people died. War kills. It's not a game. These people died. Your government created this game explicitly to try and recruit you too. You could die, and it wouldn't be like this game we're in. These people died. ..."

I think any annoyance in the game is because people don't want to be reminded that it's real. And if people are treating AA like any other game, they're sorely mistaken.
posted by amberglow at 4:33 PM on May 30, 2006


amberglow : "It's not spamming"

Amberglow, I think you may be misunderstanding "spam" in this context. Spamming, in online games, refers to either cutting and pasting long passages for broadcast to multiple gameplayers, or repeating the same thing over and over again to multiple gameplayers. It doesn't imply selling/advertising. Even if it's totally in the context of the game (for example, in World of Warcraft, if I say "I'm low on health. Somebody heal me!"), if it's repeated more than a few times it's referred to as spamming.
posted by Bugbread at 4:43 PM on May 30, 2006


really? why's it defined so differently in games? (and, of course, how can you type text and play the game at the same time anyway?)
posted by amberglow at 4:50 PM on May 30, 2006


Amberglow:

Dunno why it's defined that way. My guess is that perhaps it started from people trying to sell products (that is, armor, swords, etc.) in online games which had no good auction systems, so they'd stand around in the town square and constantly broadcast "Sword of Extreme Pointiness +100 DMG 75 GP Cheap!", kinda like email spam. From there the meaning migrated to anyone repeatedly broadcasting anything, regardless if they were selling anything or not.

In online FPS games, especially games without respawn (like AA), once you die, there's nothing to do but watch your remaining teammates until the end of the match (think about games like dodgeball: once you're out, you just watch the remaining folks until the match ends), so there is much chatting. Not so much chatting when you're still alive, though.
posted by Bugbread at 4:57 PM on May 30, 2006


ahhh....thanks.
posted by amberglow at 5:07 PM on May 30, 2006


Sorry, that was unclear. DeLappe's chatting while still alive. I was just speaking about how/when people generally chat in games.
posted by Bugbread at 5:10 PM on May 30, 2006


at least it wouldn't be polluting a public game space where the message is instantly drowned out

I'm interested in AA machinima, but let's at least admit that DeLappe's text-spamming strategy reaches many would-be recruits who are not receptive to wierd gamer-related performance art. The point is to reach people who are being seduced by AA into joining the US military. If he'd done it without the 'art' moniker and the press releases, it'd be worthwhile protest and public dialogue, wouldn't it? It'd be just like he went to a Nascar rally and started up a conversation about the war.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:04 PM on May 30, 2006


DeLappe's text-spamming strategy reaches many would-be recruits who are not receptive to wierd gamer-related performance art.

Nobody in multiplayer FPS games is receptive to text spam, let alone any form of "performance art". Playing the game well is the only quantifiable performance art that there is, the text functionality is for basic communications. That's the crux of my disapproval. The scope or scale of the hobbyhorse you want to ride is insignificant, it has no place in that communication medium and will be derided as the noise that it is. You could relate any human tragedy to this form (as was done upthread - see Holocaust/WW2 fps games) and it would be just as retarded. At the very least, he should have been playing as the Insurgency and announced these obituaries as he struck down American Forces - at least then it would have made relative sense to the game world at hand.

The point is to reach people who are being seduced by AA into joining the US military.

Yes, all 32 (assuming a fully populated server) at a time. How prolific.

If he'd done it without the 'art' moniker and the press releases, it'd be worthwhile protest and public dialogue, wouldn't it? It'd be just like he went to a Nascar rally and started up a conversation about the war.

The environment that encompasses this "performance" cannot be conflated with anything in real life, let alone Nascar. I didn't realize that was a tax-payer funded venture for military recruiting - nonetheless. The communication in online games consists of concise declarative statements that almost never enter the realm of multiple sentences, let alone paragraphs. As you can see, he adapted to that communication form by having a very simple and generic shorthand for these obituary details. There is no resulting dialogue, due to the nature of the communication medium. More people will hear about this and engage in discussions based on the press pieces rather than from firsthand experience of this "performance art".
posted by prostyle at 6:33 PM on May 30, 2006


Nobody in multiplayer FPS games is receptive to text spam, let alone any form of "performance art".

Eh? Are you sure? What sort of studies have you conducted?

Yes, all 32 (assuming a fully populated server) at a time. How prolific.

I frequently teach courses capped at 25 students; should I give up this pursuit as a waste of time?

There is no resulting dialogue, due to the nature of the communication medium.


Again, how do you know what his audience does or doesn't discuss? Even if it's a flame-war, how do you know what the results of the invective are, in the minds of each gamer? In this case, it seems the goal is reflection, not conversation. Every time a player gets fragged, he's gonna ask himself: could this happen to me in real life? It's precisely by disturbing the smooth course of the recruitment/game that DeLappe achieves his success.

As I've said, I think this is lazy and mostly ineffectual art. I think we could do better in the course of an afternoon. But as a protest, as politicized speech, it's not half-bad. It's no "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"... but that's a pretty high standard. We are talking about it, after all, and the press releases draw attention to this recruitment game which you and I paid for. That money could have been spent on the body armor and sundries our reserve troops could use in Iraq right now.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:03 PM on May 30, 2006


prostyle : "At the very least, he should have been playing as the Insurgency and announced these obituaries as he struck down American Forces - at least then it would have made relative sense to the game world at hand."

That's not actually possible in AA. Because it's a recruitment tool, as opposed to a straightforward game, AA is designed so that everyone plays as a US soldier (i.e. the military didn't want to create a game where the goal of half the players is to kill US soldiers). The way this is done is that each team sees themselves as being dressed as US military, and the opposing team as non-US military. Also, if I remember correctly, when you talk, the only people who can hear you are your own team (so that you can give strategic orders ("Circle around the right, and throw a grenade behind that truck to flush them out") without the enemy hearing you). So, as a result of that design, the only people who can hear you would be folks on your own team, who see you, and themselves, as US soldiers.
posted by Bugbread at 5:04 AM on May 31, 2006


Eh? Are you sure? What sort of studies have you conducted?

The study is called playing an online FPS for ten minutes and observing the exchange of ideas. Unfortunately, I've been observing this study for a decade and it gets old fast. The time that text is displayed and the limitation of the screen resolution is enough to determine the medium is not capable of complicated, high volume exchanges. In a game like AA where world events are displayed in conjunction with the same text area, things scroll by quickly. Anyway, that's just the metrics surrounding the display system - I was referring more to the general attitude people have when confronted with such material in that context.

I frequently teach courses capped at 25 students; should I give up this pursuit as a waste of time?

Again, like the Nascar analogy this one is deeply flawed. Your students come to you with a specific goal in mind (to learn) and pay money to receive your information in a private environment. If you were to interrupt a fellow teachers course with your own condensed polemics I would see a more comparable situation. Of course, you'd have to stand in the back of the room and not be involved (playing), simply shouting out short declarative statements incessantly. I would call that a waste of time, and I think those that you were interrupting would be suitably annoyed and inherently less receptive to your screeds, assuming they dropped everything they were doing up to that point to engage you in conversation.

Even if it's a flame-war, how do you know what the results of the invective are, in the minds of each gamer? In this case, it seems the goal is reflection, not conversation.

It's true that I don't know, I can only project my experiences in these online spaces to the situation at hand. Granted, I did smile when I saw this exchange:

Mojo216: i dunno... i was thinking of joining the army soon.
Mojo216: dead in iraq, you aren't encouraging me to join the services.


However, that's not indicative of anything but a minute kneejerk reflection based on the circumstances. I'd rather have a person make an honest and educated decision to join or not join based on solid information and their actual emotional input on the issue. I don't like to see people confronted and pressured one way or the other and then make a major life decision (or reverse it) based on a line of text they saw playing a video game, and I doubt they do.

"We appeal to people's self-interest, then put them in a situation that is based on self-sacrifice."

That's not actually possible in AA. Because it's a recruitment tool, as opposed to a straightforward game, AA is designed so that everyone plays as a US soldier

True, I had forgot about that aspect of the design. To me, that seems to be an interesting dichotomy. If you were to observe the game situation and relate it to the experience you imagine having in the services, why wouldn't you carry this with you? Everyone sees themselves as the good guys, so who am I to get involved? I know a couple people who I went to highschool with that played AA before they joined the services, and none of them honestly thought it was an accurate depiction of the experience they would have. Just like every time we played CounterStrike and were Phoenix Connection Cell members planting C4 on random Crates in random Nuclear Facilities. I'd feel rather bad for anyone who was shortsighted enough to think it would be similar in any fashion, and I don't think it happens very much. I hate to be judgmental, but what would keep a person of that inclination from joining the services anyway? If they can be convinced by a video game of a major life decision their future seems rather suspect.

As far as I know recruitment and retainment levels are at an all time low, and there are no data points for the effect Americas Army has produced on either level. If there were this information available, I might be changing my tune about confronting individuals in that game space. I might consider it slightly more noble, but again, due to the nature of the medium - I would still see it as pointless.
posted by prostyle at 6:59 AM on May 31, 2006


Man, I been in chat rooms, just RUINING nerds' lives.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:30 AM on May 31, 2006


Your students come to you with a specific goal in mind (to learn) and pay money to receive your information in a private environment.

Heh. Would that it were so. Mostly, it seems that parents pay the bills and I'm distracting them from the true college experiences. Perhaps 10 out of 25 are as you describe them. For the rest, I feel a bit like a poor performance artist. "Why aren't you being funny, clown?" :-) Still, I manage... and mostly because I don't limit myself to obviously partisan declaratives. I think the disrespectful disruption you describe is a truly bad analogy, though. AA isn't a learning environment, and as a recruitment tool it's DeLappe's right to be heard disrupting it.

I think the best analogy is a protest outside a recruitment office, without pictures, but just a slowly scrolling list of the dead.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:30 AM on May 31, 2006


This has been quite interesting reading the discussion regarding this project. Where to begin? First off, I don't think I have ever referred to "dead-in-iraq" as a "performance" - a memorial and a protest, yes. I don't even know if I would call it art. I thought very carefully about how to proceed with this project - should I be anonymous and just do it otherwise as an "artist" and an "academic" I would become the target of invective and bile? My sense was that if I had done this anonymously this would have led to being attacked for being a coward and that if I did this as an "artist" I would be attacked for being such. The latter has proven to be the case. One cannot win I suppose. This is unfortunate as there is an assumption that this is about me. No, this is about taking a stand, online civil disobedience if you will, with the intention of raising important issues and to question the state of things.

"dead-in-iraq" is truly intended as a memorial and a protest - whether it is being received as such is really quite out of my control. I had hoped this work would create dialogue, discussion and, as one noted in this forum, reflection. It is disturbing to me that such a game is so vigorously defended as escapist entertainment - this game is so problematic in that it could be considered a first step towards death - either of our own soldiers, an enemy or innocent civilians. This is deeply disturbing. The act of manually typing in the names of each soldier is an attempt to make their sacrifice real and our complicity evident.

You may think I am an ass, a fraud, a bad artist and/or a hack. Fine. The fact is you have been engaged in a very interesting dialogue that likely would not have occurred had I not chosen to engage in this project. What I am doing is striking a nerve that I think goes deeper than the concerns expressed regarding game etiquette. When I conceived of this project my first concern was in respect to the dead – the families, the very real lives that could possibly be hurt further due to my actions. I guess I would hope that what I am doing might be considered a positive act in support of these people who are dying in our name.
This may be wishful thinking - all the same, it is better to act than to succumb to apathy.
posted by delappe at 3:41 PM on May 31, 2006 [2 favorites]


it is better to act, and i'm very grateful you are, especially within that recruiting tool/game. : >

and the dialogue you've started is still going on all over the net. i hope you keep it up, and i hope that soon there aren't any more names for you to type.
posted by amberglow at 4:06 PM on May 31, 2006


delappe, you're in an art department, right? Everything you do has the imprimatur of 'performance,' whether you like it or not. Moreover, the press you've received indicates that this is to be taken as a 'work' rather than simply an effort. You were not acting solely as a private citizen, but as an academic artist. Still, it's good to have your input. WTF was this?
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:01 PM on May 31, 2006


Perhaps you are correct - still, this should not negate my right to engage is such or be taken seriously? Simply because I am an artist and an academic should not preclude me from being involved in potentially difficult work.

The "this" in question is a sumi ink scroll being used to record the activity of inputing my financial information into my tax software - I used red ink when my totals were in the red and black ink when in the black - marks are being made according to my mouse movements with the attached brush. Make sense?
posted by delappe at 5:11 PM on May 31, 2006


(Slightly off-topic--there's an ampitheatre in the park in City Of Heroes. I always wanted to do Shakespeare there, but I could never get enough people together.)
posted by EarBucket at 5:24 PM on May 31, 2006


Thanks for joining in the dialogue.

The fact is you have been engaged in a very interesting dialogue that likely would not have occurred had I not chosen to engage in this project.

With all due respect, we have interesting political discussions here all the time, with no artistic provocation required.

It is disturbing to me that such a game is so vigorously defended as escapist entertainment - this game is so problematic in that it could be considered a first step towards death - either of our own soldiers, an enemy or innocent civilians.

I've never played America's Army, but I play a lot of Counter-Strike, which is a similar game. It seems to me that aggression and violence is to some degree inherent in human nature, and that such games can provide a harmless outlet for this aggression.
posted by russilwvong at 5:26 PM on May 31, 2006


russilwvong : "With all due respect, we have interesting political discussions here all the time, with no artistic provocation required."

That's what I had started to respond, but in retrospect, it has been a very long time since America's Army was discussed, so I think DeLappe has something of a point.
posted by Bugbread at 5:30 PM on May 31, 2006


Every community has its own rules of social behavior. This includes computer-mediated communities such as MetaFilter; it also includes multiplayer servers. If you engage in disruptive behavior which violates those rules, people aren't going to like it.

Such disruptive behavior might be justifiable because of some higher-level purpose--discouraging military recruitment, in this case. But for this justification to have force, you'd have to look at whether your actions are actually effective in achieving their stated purpose. If not, you're just annoying people and calling it art.
posted by russilwvong at 5:32 PM on May 31, 2006


annoying people can be art too, and it can be protest, and it can just be speech, etc....i don't see why what it is categorically matters so much as what it is physically and actually and effective-wise.
posted by amberglow at 6:50 PM on May 31, 2006


I love it. Nicely done, delappe.
posted by homunculus at 8:03 PM on May 31, 2006


But for this justification to have force, you'd have to look at whether your actions are actually effective in achieving their stated purpose.

Someone should point this out to Bush and Cheney.
posted by homunculus at 8:04 PM on May 31, 2006


aggression and violence is to some degree inherent in human nature, and that such games can provide a harmless outlet for this aggression

Although there may be a human propensity to experience aggression, there are environmental factors and circumstances, particularly being swayed by political leaders, that come into play when it comes to war or violence.

This AA 'game' is a preparation for war, simulated offline killing, not a harmless outlet for aggression.

this game is so problematic in that it could be considered a first step towards death - either of our own soldiers, an enemy or innocent civilians

Yes, delappe, I agree and am glad you are interrupting this so-called game playing with a reminder of the real life deadly effects, the names of the dead.

Thank you for your active and creative protest. I also enjoyed your zen red and black tax art. :)
posted by nickyskye at 8:56 PM on May 31, 2006


delappe, do you know Red v. Blue? (torrent)
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:43 PM on May 31, 2006


This AA 'game' is a preparation for war, simulated offline killing, not a harmless outlet for aggression.

No more than playing Medal of Honor prepares you to be a Nazi. The fact that America's Army is set in the contemporary era against terrorist antagonists makes the game no better of a "killing simulation" than any other FPS: it makes it a better piece of propaganda.

While discussing America's Army, that you would enclose the word 'game' in quotes is telling. AA is many things: a PR stunt, an interactive recruitment brochure, a primer about the various combat and combat-support roles that soldiers perform in our military, an active community of AA players, and so on -- but first and foremost, AA is a game, and it's utterly disingenuous to treat it as anything other than that. In fact, the fact that AA even attempts to delve into the "ethos" and "honor" of being a soldier (whether you agree or not with how these concepts are used here) as well as its squad and mission aspects makes it a far less of a direct "killing simulation" than, say, Quake. (Or to use a nice fat easy target: Postal 2.) To take issue with America's Army to the point of dismissing it as a game entirely means to take issue with the entire FPS genre altogether. Which you're free to do, of course, but let's be accurate with what's at stake here.

Just because many of us disagree with the political aims of America's Army doesn't mean it's fair to use it as a whipping boy for the entire FPS genre.

The fact is you have been engaged in a very interesting dialogue that likely would not have occurred had I not chosen to engage in this project. What I am doing is striking a nerve that I think goes deeper than the concerns expressed regarding game etiquette.

Except that the entirety of the dialogue in this thread has had nothing at all to do with America's Iraq policy, and has entirely been focused instead upon gaming etiquette and art.

The nerve that's being struck among the gamers here is that in an FPS game, text-spamming is one of the trio in the pantheon of lameness, right up there with spawn-camping and team-killing. Imagine protesting the Haditha massacre by shooting your own teammates during a game of America's Army to show your disapproval of the actions of American soldiers in Iraq, or -- using a hypothetical MetaFilter example -- to protest the same by posting a front-page post that self-links to an article on your own blog. Would you be surprised to have "struck a nerve"? And how effective would the subsequent discussion have been, if at all?

No, this is about taking a stand, online civil disobedience if you will, with the intention of raising important issues and to question the state of things.

That's wonderful. How about taking a stand, say, politically? Those 2-3 hours spent over many days on the AA servers -- how many lives on both sides could have been saved if that time had been used to write letters to government officials? To organize and run a brand-new grass roots political organization? To volunteer in a campaign for an anti-war candidate? To work extra hours and donate the proceeds to anti-war causes, or to help war widows, or to fund an Iraqi veteran's memorial? And what about spending that time disrupting other people's gaming sessions?

I'm completely supportive of sticking it to the Man and hitting him where it hurts, like at the ballot box and in the pocketbook. However, pissing in the cheerios of a bunch of gamers, all in the name of "civil disobedience" -- well, that's pretty lame. Do you really think you're pissing off the recruiters, or the gamers?
posted by DaShiv at 12:44 AM on June 1, 2006


Out of curiosity (though not enough curiosity to log on and look at the game for myself, and besides I'm shit at video games), is it possible to play with the explicit intention of killing as many US soldiers as you can, either as an "enemy combatant" (whatever that means in this case) or just turning round and shooting the other players?

It could be quite a challenge - seeing how many other players you can kill before you're yanked. More interesting, perhaps, than the actual game, although it obviously wouldn't make you very popular (would any of us here care about popularity within this particular demographic, though?) and I accept it's a bit self-indulgent.

I don't know why I'm wondering that, but I am.

(Really, really shit at video games. As far as I'm concerned, Tomb Raider II is about a woman who jumps into a swimming pool in an ancient temple and immediately drowns, because that's all I ever saw of it.)
posted by Grangousier at 2:40 AM on June 1, 2006


If you ask me AA mainly demonstrates reasons NOT to join the Army. It's so easy to die in that game that I would hope anyone playing it would think twice about actually putting themselves in that position in real life.
posted by PenDevil at 2:49 AM on June 1, 2006


The time that text is displayed and the limitation of the screen resolution is enough to determine the medium is not capable of complicated, high volume exchanges. In a game like AA where world events are displayed in conjunction with the same text area, things scroll by quickly.

This is true, and it seems to be a fact that is not registering with many people here.

Someone subverting the in-game chat feature for non-game-related purposes does not prevent everyone else from enjoying the game! Sure, it might be mildly annoying, but some of you guys are acting like he's out there ruining everyone else's gaming experience. It isn't that hard to ignore the little text box.

The nerve that's being struck among the gamers here is that in an FPS game, text-spamming is one of the trio in the pantheon of lameness, right up there with spawn-camping and team-killing.

Hardly. Besides, I wouldn't consider this spamming at all; it would be spamming if he were rapidly copying and pasting the same message over and over. Spam is noise. Instead he's just typing messages.

Imagine protesting the Haditha massacre by shooting your own teammates during a game of America's Army to show your disapproval of the actions of American soldiers in Iraq

Again, that's a bad analogy. Team-killing is not at all comparable to using the in-game chat. He isn't preventing anyone from playing the game.

No more than playing Medal of Honor prepares you to be a Nazi.

Also a bad analogy. Medal of Honor simulates a historical conflict; not only does AA simulate an ongoing conflict, it's specifically meant as a recruiting tool. Someone can play AA, go out and join the army, and then kill or be killed in the very conflict the game is meant to simulate. And the presentation of the game, what with the ranking and squad and training stuff, is way more real-military oriented than entertaining war-movie stuff like MoH.

In fact, the fact that AA even attempts to delve into the "ethos" and "honor" of being a soldier (whether you agree or not with how these concepts are used here) as well as its squad and mission aspects makes it a far less of a direct "killing simulation" than, say, Quake.

I guess. I don't really see your point here. I think you're coming across as too much of a knee-jerk FPS defender here, DaShiv. I play lots of games and vehemently oppose politicians who want to censor them and what have you, but I don't see anything wrong with what DeLappe is doing here. It's certainly not nearly as rude and disruptive as some are making it out to be.

Out of curiosity (though not enough curiosity to log on and look at the game for myself, and besides I'm shit at video games), is it possible to play with the explicit intention of killing as many US soldiers as you can, either as an "enemy combatant" (whatever that means in this case) or just turning round and shooting the other players?


As was mentioned, all players see themselves as US soldiers. It's been awhile since I've played AA; I'm not sure if servers can disable friendly fire or not. But you get points deducted for harming your teammates, and I believe if you do it a few times you'll get automatically kicked from the server.
posted by ludwig_van at 4:25 AM on June 1, 2006


Medal of Honor simulates a historical conflict; not only does AA simulate an ongoing conflict, it's specifically meant as a recruiting tool.

So what AA does is much less 'train people to kill,' and much more 'encourage people to go talk to a recruiter.'

There are all sorts of wargames out there, that depict past, present and future conflicts. Drawing a nice bright arrow from 'playing America's Army' to 'killing people in Iraq' is more than a bit of a stretch.

Besides, you played the game, and you're not in the army now, are you?
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 5:40 AM on June 1, 2006


So what AA does is much less 'train people to kill,' and much more 'encourage people to go talk to a recruiter.'

Yeah, encourage people to join the army. I never said or implied that it trains people to kill.

Besides, you played the game, and you're not in the army now, are you?

Come on. I didn't say the game made people join the army or kill people in Iraq. I was just pointing out that there's a real difference between this game and other games, and that "Medal of Honor doesn't prepare you to be a Nazi" or "It's like going into BF1942 and sharing an anti-Nazi screed" are poor analogies.

The more important point was the fact that DeLappe's project isn't really all that rude or disruptive to people in the game.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:46 AM on June 1, 2006


We all make choices. Rosa Parks chose to sit in the white section on the bus. Cindy Sheehan chose to sit on the outskirts of Bush's ranch. Our nation was founded, in part, on the basis of protest - the Boston Tea Party? Now I would not pretend to compare myself to any of the afforementioned situations - particularly as we are talking about a computer game after all. From some of the sentiments expressed regarding my project(s) it would seem that anything even slightly annoying to gamers is viewed as extremely problematic. That is the point! While we are gaming away our time in FPS games (yes, all of them) the world is a mess. You ask if I couldn't be spending my 3 hours a week doing something else productive - good question for all FPS players, no? No doubt, these games are fun - even addictive - yet they take us away from other things. Is this a problem? Is this a given? Implicit in the project "dead-in-iraq" is indeed a critique, a questioning of the nature of FPS games and online distractions in general.

By entering the game and taking a personal stand that, no, one does not need to kill to be productive or creative in said context is a statement in and of itself. To do so in the context of a military recruiting game is wholly appropriate as a protest and memorial. Why must we participate in the proscribed mayhem? Why must conformity rule the day? You might say that these games require structure and an adherence to rules to function properly - fair enough. It is in the nature of protest to break the rules to make a point. If other gamers don't want me in the game, they can vote to kick me.

Part of my concern here is that in a general sense we are unprepared, as a culture, to critically examine such new technologies that enter our lives. Gaming is considered "entertainment" and an "escape". So much of it surrounds violence of a type that is, when one takes a step back and really pays attention, shocking and disturbing in the extreme. This is not just distraction and escape - all images teach us something. The type of play a society engages in is emblematic perhaps of larger cultural tendencies. In our case (the US) one could argue that we are becoming so inured to violence and the true cost of war that we were easily led down the garden path into untenable situations like our current situation in Iraq. Do FPS games play a role in this? Those images of remote missiles exploded buildings - the absence of images of dead soldiers either in Iraq or the returning coffins (images which were only released after a court fight) - consequences largely absent from our day-to-day lives. The war in Iraq has largely been a mediated experience for the vast majority of American's - it doesn't touch us in any real way - it is nearly abstract. The first month of the war was pure joy on the TV - remember? All went swimmingly and we soaked it in like a cut scene in our favorite game. Yes, we, as gamers need to question what it is we are doing. We are part of the larger scheme of things - escape in the current situation, while understandable, may in fact be the larger problem, no?

Anyway, rambling a bit. Do appreciate the dialog. Must go now.
posted by delappe at 9:50 AM on June 1, 2006 [2 favorites]


Implicit in the project "dead-in-iraq" is indeed a critique, a questioning of the nature of FPS games and online distractions in general.

What? I wouldn't say that's an obvious implication, let alone an applicable one.

By entering the game and taking a personal stand that, no, one does not need to kill to be productive or creative in said context is a statement in and of itself.

The only quantifiable metrics of FPS games is your performance in the game space, not in the text area. Productive? Not a chance. "Creative"? Very subjective. I've seen better uses of the text area. If you had utilized the UT scripting engine and had the information pulled from a database at the press of a keystroke, I'd be impressed at technical creativity. As it stands, you are employing the communication function in the same way everyone else does.

Why must we participate in the proscribed mayhem? Why must conformity rule the day? You might say that these games require structure and an adherence to rules to function properly - fair enough.

Well, it's more or less that the games don't function any other way. It's not like you're shattering the paradigm of experience for all the users your message connects with. It's simply a distracting nuisance due to the frequency and content. Anyway, nobody "must" do anything - it's a free game that you downloaded and installed at your own will.

Part of my concern here is that in a general sense we are unprepared, as a culture, to critically examine such new technologies that enter our lives. Gaming is considered "entertainment" and an "escape". So much of it surrounds violence of a type that is, when one takes a step back and really pays attention, shocking and disturbing in the extreme.

Again, what? I'd argue the culture of violence was given rise long ago due to factors that have very little to do with this supposed lust for electronic murder simulations. I'm no history major, and I'm sure there is someone who could explain it better than I, but that is my general sense of the progression. You're muddying the waters of your protest by painting things with such a wide brush here. What about violent sports? What about violent films and media that have long predated video games? You can't seriously just flail around, myopically ascribing all of these traits and historical moral inadequacies to video game consumption. This is an entirely separate conversation as far as I'm concerned. You can replace the art assets in any FPS game with the most cute and cuddly bullshit imaginable and the gameplay would still be as visceral and exciting as it was before - now you're just clamoring to click on the CareBears fuzzy chest faster than he can click on yours - first one to make the lovebeam connection wins! Etc, ad infinitum.

This is not just distraction and escape - all images teach us something. The type of play a society engages in is emblematic perhaps of larger cultural tendencies. In our case (the US) one could argue that we are becoming so inured to violence and the true cost of war that we were easily led down the garden path into untenable situations like our current situation in Iraq. Do FPS games play a role in this?

As I pointed out earlier, if there were some metrics on the affect AA has had on recruitment levels I could see a more direct correlation. As it stands you are verifying my skepticism by going off on such wild tangents. From what I understand, recruitment and retention levels are at an all time low and the services have implemented rather stringent stop loss programs. I very much doubt the culture of video games has much to do with our collective gullibility and lust for propaganda, let alone a direct correlation to "Shock & Awe".

The war in Iraq has largely been a mediated experience for the vast majority of American's - it doesn't touch us in any real way - it is nearly abstract. The first month of the war was pure joy on the TV - remember? All went swimmingly and we soaked it in like a cut scene in our favorite game. Yes, we, as gamers need to question what it is we are doing. We are part of the larger scheme of things - escape in the current situation, while understandable, may in fact be the larger problem, no?

Negative.
posted by prostyle at 11:21 AM on June 1, 2006


delappe: welcome to metafilter. How quaint of the gamers to think that their little world of play death should be exempt from someone playing protest. Surely this makes their game more realistic if it has to incorporate dissent. How did a world war 1 squaddie feel as the conscientious objector arrived on the front line to haul his shot-up ass on a stretcher back to the medical tent? Grateful, or angry that said stretcher-bearer didn't catch a bullet too? Dissent can take many forms. As you note, the gamers in this instance are indeed playing the role of the pissed-off white folks at the front of the bus.
posted by Rumple at 11:46 AM on June 1, 2006


How quaint of the gamers to think that their little world of play death should be exempt from someone playing protest.

Did you even read the thread? There are a lot of mechanics involved here, and you are mistaken when you state his activities as "playing protest". If there was a protestor class in AA, that's news to me - but that's besides the point. DaShiv puts it nicely:

DaShiv: "...the entirety of the dialogue in this thread has had nothing at all to do with America's Iraq policy, and has entirely been focused instead upon gaming etiquette and art."

So please, spare me the hyperbole. I am against this administration and this war as much as anyone else, as well as the fundamental ideas behind AA and its development. I don't play games to engorge myself in murder fantasies or release aggression, or whatever other convenient media statement you currently entertain to pigeonhole your dialogue, and again - as far as I'm concerned, those are two entirely different conversations. The fact that DeLappe so easily colludes the two is contiguous with his pension for half baked conceptual art.

As you note, the gamers in this instance are indeed playing the role of the pissed-off white folks at the front of the bus.

Well, if that isn't some bulletproof logic right there! In your rush to cast such a caustic aspersion you seem to have glossed over his following statement: Now I would not pretend to compare myself to any of the afforementioned situations - particularly as we are talking about a computer game after all.
posted by prostyle at 12:15 PM on June 1, 2006


Personally, I think this is pretty cool.
There are lots of kids playing this, and seeing this may make them think twice. More so than a protest would. You catch them in their element.

It's unnerving and clever, in my opinion.

The scariest thing about AA is that you are ALWAYS an american soldier, but you view the opposing players as terrorists, even though they view YOU as terrorists.

This always creeped me out.
posted by Espoo2 at 12:46 PM on June 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Espoo2: that's bizarre!

There's a lesson in there, but probably not one intended by the manufacturers.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:47 PM on June 1, 2006


Espoo2 AND delappe, so nicely said. Thank you.

Case in point, a couple of years ago there was a bank robber who drove his getaway car into a store window in my midtown NYC neighborhood (crushing but not killing a women passerby). There were loads of cops who pulled their weapons on the robber as he stumbled out of his vehicle. The local high school got out for the day just as this drama unfolded and the kids literally ran into the line of fire, dozens of kids. They acted almost intoxicated by the sight of guns and kept saying "This is like a game!" And "I wanna see them fire!" Those kids expressed no empathy for the hurt pedestrian, except for loudly wanting to "see the blood" on the pavement.

There is a whole generation of kids/people who have a videogame relation to reality and this AA 'game', which ultimately results in goverment funded, politically driven, offline killing, is tapping into that.
posted by nickyskye at 12:56 PM on June 1, 2006


Fsking whiny gamers. If you are playing a game where dead-in-iraq or some other protester is messing up your concentration, use either technical or methodological measures to avoid the protest. Leave that game session and join another. Leave the game entirely for a while. If AA provides it, /ignore or use some other gag-like command to stop "hearing"/seeing the objectionable messages.

That there is a person willing to use what you might call vulnerabilities in the software architecture of a game to pursue their own ends should not surprise you. How long have you been on the Intarweb? How many (probably far more objectionable) exploits have you witnessed? How many of them have messed up your short range (next 5 minutes) or long range (hours/days in the future) plans?

You learn to adapt and adjust.

Believe me, if you took AA's propaganda and joined the Armed Forces, even if you didn't get wounded or killed, you would definitely be looking at having to tolerate having your own agenda overridden by someone else's. That's what Basic Training is all about.
posted by kalessin at 12:57 PM on June 1, 2006


Espoo2: "There are lots of kids playing this, and seeing this may make them think twice."

9,000 of them. How many do you think DeLappes message has reached? Assuming a servers maximum player cap is 32, it looks like he would have to join around 280 packed sessions for a relatively even dispersal. Now, out of that 9K, how many would you suppose actively enroll in the military? I have no idea, but really... what's the standard conversion rate for any massive advertising campaign? A 2% return? That would be like three people signing up. Again, I'm just throwing that out there as one way to extrapolate the effect this game is having on the service - I'd really like to have hard numbers. Then again, I doubt there's a checkbox that says "Yes, I played AA, and my preferred roll was...", etc.

For context, HalfLife has 10X that amount of users at any given time, and considering his arguments against violent FPS escapism applies to the entire genre it looks like he's going to be busy for a while. I'm not arguing against DeLappe, I'm arguing against logical inconsistencies and gross generalizations that (surprise) are earning me scorn as a "silly" "quaint" and "whiny" "gamer". Meh. You can ride this hobbyhorse off into the sunset, for all I care.
posted by prostyle at 1:06 PM on June 1, 2006


prostyle: its a game. he is taking part in the game using the game's functionality. Therefore he is playing the game. Not playing by the rules is dissent. The game is about the war on terror. Therefore he is dissenting against that. Maybe he is like a streaker with "Bomb Iran" stencilled on his chest at a football game. Or maybe he is just holding a sign in the stands, or heckling the players.

The fact that you are so apparently worked up about this truly does show he has touched a nerve and therefore his art is having an impact.

And I interpret delappe as being (rightly) humble when he disavows comparisons to Rosa Parks. But consider this: playing a game is no big deal. Where you sit on a bus is no big deal. If both are governed by rules, and someone infringes upon those rules and does something that is possible within the game/bus, then why should that be so objectionable? I suggest you complain to the game maker and ask them to stifle any possible dissent intervention in the game. Being the US Army, I imagine they will be happy to oblige.
posted by Rumple at 1:08 PM on June 1, 2006


amberglow: annoying people can be art too, and it can be protest, and it can just be speech, etc....i don't see why what it is categorically matters so much as what it is physically and actually and effective-wise.

Art and politics are both legitimate spheres of activity, but aren't they judged by different criteria--aesthetics in the case of art, effectiveness in the case of politics?

This isn't to say that art cannot have political intent, only that it would be judged differently as a work of art as opposed to a political action. A book, a play, a painting which has a tremendous political effect may be terrible as a work of art. (An Amazon reviewer on Uncle Tom's Cabin: "The literary quality of the book is in no proportion to the influence which it had.")

I'm not familiar with the standards which are applied to conceptual and performance art, but judged as political activism, I'm dubious about the effectiveness of this project.

delappe: --it would seem that anything even slightly annoying to gamers is viewed as extremely problematic.

I wouldn't say "extremely problematic"--there's all sorts of much ruder behavior in online games.

To me it seems a bit like the people who stand at bus stops and hand out copies of the Watchtower.
posted by russilwvong at 1:13 PM on June 1, 2006


nickyskye: They acted almost intoxicated by the sight of guns and kept saying "This is like a game!" And "I wanna see them fire!"

To me it seems that people in our society are sheltered from violence to an extraordinary degree, historically speaking. Our main experiences of violence are those that we see in movies and videogames. (And contact sports, such as hockey and football.)

There was a story a few years ago about some tourists in Africa who were caught in a gun battle--I remember one of them said that on hearing the gunfire, her first reaction was a sense of unreality, that it was like being in a movie. Where else would she have heard gunfire?
posted by russilwvong at 1:24 PM on June 1, 2006


Rumple: "prostyle: its a game. he is taking part in the game using the game's functionality. Therefore he is playing the game.

Well, err... no, that's one of the basic points that's been made by multiple users here. The text area doesn't have to include chat, that is simply an additional feature that's been added to bridge basic communications. Its standard implementation and presentation has not been expanded on since Doom 2, for crying out loud. It would have no general effect on the gameplay if it was removed or disabled, so in all technical regards it has nothing to do with playing the game.

The fact that you are so apparently worked up about this truly does show he has touched a nerve and therefore his art is having an impact.

I simply find the conversation surrounding his projects to be interesting, in comparison to a lot of things I see online. I've been around a lot of gaming boards (unfortunately), and he's been a topic of conversation since 2002 with his Quake/Friends project. I'm not angry or upset and I apologize if I have given the appearance of being worked up as it is not a good position to engage in a dialogue. I have found the thread to be fascinating on a few levels, but those have little to do with American policy, let alone in Iraq.

But consider this: playing a game is no big deal. Where you sit on a bus is no big deal. If both are governed by rules, and someone infringes upon those rules and does something that is possible within the game/bus, then why should that be so objectionable?

Well, I could certainly do a lot of things on a bus that its patrons would find objectionable. Does that mean they should put up with it? I really don't think that's what we're talking about though, and again that's a very wide open analogy that avoids the key technicalities I have taken issue with.
posted by prostyle at 1:24 PM on June 1, 2006


It would have no general effect on the gameplay if it was removed or disabled, so in all technical regards it has nothing to do with playing the game.

Of course it would have an effect; it's meant for communication between players. And there are commands that send pre-determined messages for coordinating action, etc. Some people use voice chat, but not everyone.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:55 PM on June 1, 2006


Someone subverting the in-game chat feature for non-game-related purposes does not prevent everyone else from enjoying the game! Sure, it might be mildly annoying, but some of you guys are acting like he's out there ruining everyone else's gaming experience. It isn't that hard to ignore the little text box.

Right, and I could also ignore the game/map messages scrolling into that box and the teammate messages from those (like me) who don't use voice chat. Oops. Should broadcasting MP3's to other players be implemented as well, since it doesn't actually interfere with aiming?

That his texting was disruptive enough for his fellow players to vote-kick him is persuasive to me.

Spam is noise. Instead he's just typing messages.

And from a gameplay perspective, his messages are pure noise. Therefore, spam.

Again, that's a bad analogy. Team-killing is not at all comparable to using the in-game chat. He isn't preventing anyone from playing the game.

Actually, death from friendly fire is entirely an intended part of "playing the game", to control tactics such as grenade spamming. It's the subverting friendly fire for one's own ulterior motives part that gets team-killers labeled as griefers. And text-spammers are griefers of the same stripe.

From some of the sentiments expressed regarding my project(s) it would seem that anything even slightly annoying to gamers is viewed as extremely problematic. That is the point! While we are gaming away our time in FPS games (yes, all of them) the world is a mess. You ask if I couldn't be spending my 3 hours a week doing something else productive - good question for all FPS players, no? No doubt, these games are fun - even addictive - yet they take us away from other things.

That's nice. Does the "saving gamers from their addictive games to focus on more important things like stopping the war" Moses complex come with a side of "water into wine" and a sermon about how gamers are misguided children? I know, how about driving really slow on the freeway to remind people that speeding wastes gas, which increases our dependency of Middle Eastern oil, which leads to our fiascos in that region? I bet there are all sorts of oblivious people just waiting for you to gently remind them about such things.

By entering the game and taking a personal stand that, no, one does not need to kill to be productive or creative in said context is a statement in and of itself. [...] Why must we participate in the proscribed mayhem?

Right, because people are twisting your arm to participate in a game whose premise you disapprove of. In Soviet Russia, oppression logs on in search of you!

How quaint of the gamers to think that their little world of play death should be exempt from someone playing protest.

Smug and completely ignorant of the long-term appeal of FPS games -- a charming combination.

Fsking whiny gamers. If you are playing a game where dead-in-iraq or some other protester is messing up your concentration, use either technical or methodological measures to avoid the protest.

That's right -- we should all quit whining about email spam and just use SpamAssassin. We should quit complaining about lame or self-linking FPP's and just flag and move on. Or, perhaps one could do both -- adapt and condemn. Those aren't mutually exclusive behaviors.

[I]ts a game. he is taking part in the game using the game's functionality. Therefore he is playing the game. Not playing by the rules is dissent. The game is about the war on terror. Therefore he is dissenting against that. Maybe he is like a streaker with "Bomb Iran" stencilled on his chest at a football game. Or maybe he is just holding a sign in the stands, or heckling the players.

The same way that a team-killer is just using the game's functionality to grief their own teammates. The same way that MetaFilter users are just using the site's functionality when they FPP a self-link. Or, maybe it's willfully dense to say "the program's functionality allows this so deal with it".

And for non-FPS gamers: streaking isn't a major problem at football games, but disruptive players are a major problem for FPS games, especially on pub servers. For many pub players this is a sensitive issue, and this "protest" just exacerbates the problem.

Lastly, as I've previously mentioned: "dead-in-iraq" is just the latest and aim-for-the-easiest-target iteration of the same M.O. that DeLappe has used previously. Making an (ineffectual) "political protest" against an unpopular war on a widely-criticized game? That's artistically daring as all hell. Reels all the non-gamers right in to boot -- time to add another notch to the ol' CV on that "artist/academic" belt. And speaking of the ground-breaking political stand being made here, don't forget the previous "making a stand for literary visibility" in the poetry-in-MOH stunt, and "making a stand for TV sitcom longevity" in the reciting-Friends-in-Quake incident. Surely this is all a matter of principled politics, and the riling of gamers is merely incidental -- or to borrow from our Army friends, just collateral damage?

It's all about the war. It's all about the message. And Friends.
posted by DaShiv at 3:04 PM on June 1, 2006 [1 favorite]


Art and politics are both legitimate spheres of activity, but aren't they judged by different criteria--aesthetics in the case of art, effectiveness in the case of politics?

This isn't to say that art cannot have political intent, only that it would be judged differently as a work of art as opposed to a political action. A book, a play, a painting which has a tremendous political effect may be terrible as a work of art. (An Amazon reviewer on Uncle Tom's Cabin: "The literary quality of the book is in no proportion to the influence which it had.")


Art is judged by all sorts of criteria, not least of which is effectiveness. If no one receives or gets--or misperceives and misreads--whatever you're trying to communicate thru the work (if you're trying to communicate something at all beyond formal things, that is), the work is not effective. This work is effective--as art and as protest. The marriage of form, content, and setting is perfect--beyond perfect. The further reactions we're having here and elsewhere online about the work are also effective.

I'm kinda reminded of Bruce Nauman's work (which i don't like, actually)--In any museum i'm in anywhere in the world, i can hear his stuff before i see it--usually from 2 or 3 rooms away, and it annoys the hell out of me. It distracts from the rest of the work in the place, and it's inescapable. Then i get to it finally, and it's even more annoying.
posted by amberglow at 3:18 PM on June 1, 2006


delappe: Part of my concern here is that in a general sense we are unprepared, as a culture, to critically examine such new technologies that enter our lives.

A reasonable point. And art may indeed be a worthwhile way to explore the possible uses of new technologies. But compared to the kind of experiments going on in Second Life, say, the Quake/Friends and dead-in-iraq projects don't seem to me to proceed very far with this exploration.
posted by russilwvong at 5:04 PM on June 1, 2006


Right, and I could also ignore the game/map messages scrolling into that box and the teammate messages from those (like me) who don't use voice chat.

Again, since he's typing the messages, I don't think they're going by quickly enough to force everything else offscreen.

It's the subverting friendly fire for one's own ulterior motives part that gets team-killers labeled as griefers. And text-spammers are griefers of the same stripe.

Well, I see a meaningful difference between the two.

I just think that you're exaggerating just how obnoxious and disruptive this behavior really is. I don't doubt that it might be annoying for some, but lots of things on public servers are annoying, and I doubt this would bother me too much if it happened in a game I was playing.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:29 PM on June 1, 2006


I wonder if the game could be hacked so that each player actually was given one of the dead soldier's names and identities?
posted by amberglow at 5:56 PM on June 1, 2006


semi-related: Not Your Soldier
posted by amberglow at 6:57 PM on June 1, 2006


That's right -- we should all quit whining about email spam and just use SpamAssassin. We should quit complaining about lame or self-linking FPP's and just flag and move on. Or, perhaps one could do both -- adapt and condemn. Those aren't mutually exclusive behaviors.

I do not find condemnation particularly useful it's just part of the cycle of what goes around coming around.

That I am a stalwart supporter of the First Amendment, however, means I gotta tolerate your condemnation (whining) because it's free speech, just like delappe's performance. Free speech on public networks.

Go condemn someone who cares. :>
posted by kalessin at 7:04 AM on June 2, 2006


I heard today that total deaths attributable to the invasion, the war and ensuing civil war are nearing 300,00 or the total number of people alleged to have been killed by saddams husseins murderous dictatorship - over the course of 20 years.

nice one george.
posted by specialk420 at 9:08 AM on June 2, 2006


Hello all,
Fascinating discussion.

Check out this link to a recent story from the BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4991306.stm

What is interesting to me is that the language the Army is using to justify puting real soldiers modelled in the game is very similar to my stated sentiments for inputing the names of the dead. Granted, the Army's representations of real soldiers will be playing the game (and are all still alive) - yet the cohesion of our intentions - to honor, to remind people of the reality of the war, to support and remember our troops - curious.

As to comments regarding my ongoing exploration of alternate uses of text messaging in games. My intention has always been to explore the new context of online gaming through the straightforward, oddly out of place, analog input of discordant text information into a digital environment. You may think I have been beating a dead horse by continuing to focus on this technique. I would disagree - artists typically work on a series of works over many years - it is only after much experimentation, and dare I say, "play", that one might discover something truly interesting. I would never have conceptualized this current work had I not engaged in the previous projects.

There is a simplicity of form to these works yet a complexity in the result. At base, Quake/Friends is funny, no? Reciting/typing "Howl" in Star Trek Elite Force Voyager is absurd, no? Spending hours online typing to re-enact three distinct presidential debates, word for word in three different gaming contexts? These works were all intended as a new type of online street theater, if you will. I would think some gamers might even appreciate having something truly unexpected happen in the wholly predictable context of FPS?

As for "dead-in-iraq", as Marisa Olson states in her review of the project on Rhizome.org, this is no laughing matter. She writes about the project in a way that I could never imagine. Check it out: http://www.rhizome.org/netartnews/story.rhiz?timestamp=20060505
posted by delappe at 9:14 AM on June 2, 2006


and dare I say, "play"
At base, Quake/Friends is funny, no?

.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:24 AM on June 2, 2006


Here's what I was looking for:

Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown but time will tell and suffers like the divine Miranda with those who for reasons unknown but time will tell are plunged in torment plunged in fire whose fire flames if that continues and who can doubt it will fire the firmament that is to say blast hell to heaven so blue still and calm so calm with a calm which even though intermittent is better than nothing but not so fast and considering what is more that as a result of the labors left unfinished crowned by the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry of Essy-in-Possy of Testew and Cunard it is established beyond all doubt all other doubt than that which clings to the labors of men that as a result of the labors unfinished of Testew and Cunnard it is established as hereinafter but not so fast for reasons unknown that as a result of the public works of Puncher and Wattmann it is established beyond all doubt that in view of the labors of Fartov and Belcher left unfinished for reasons unknown of Testew and Cunard left unfinished it is established what many deny that man in Possy of Testew and Cunard that man in Essy that man in short that man in brief in spite of the strides of alimentation and defecation wastes and pines wastes and pines and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the strides of physical culture the practice of sports such as tennis football running cycling swimming flying floating riding gliding conating camogie skating tennis of all kinds dying flying sports of all sorts autumn summer winter winter tennis of all kinds hockey of all sorts penicillin and succedanea in a word I resume flying gliding golf over nine and eighteen holes tennis of all sorts in a word for reasons unknown in Feckham Peckham Fulham Clapham namely concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown but time will tell fades away I resume Fulham Clapham in a word the dead loss per head since the death of Bishop Berkeley being to the tune of one inch four ounce per head approximately by and large more or less to the nearest decimal good measure round figures stark naked in the stockinged feet in Connemara in a word for reasons unknown no matter what matter the facts are there and considering what is more much more grave that in the light of the labors lost of Steinweg and Peterman it appears what is more much more grave that in the light the light the light of the labors lost of Steinweg and Peterman that in the plains in the mountains by the seas by the rivers running water running fire the air is the same and then the earth namely the air and then the earth in the great cold the great dark the air and the earth abode of stones in the great cold alas alas in the year of their Lord six hundred and something the air the earth the sea the earth abode of stones in the great deeps the great cold on sea on land and in the air I resume for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis the facts are there but time will tell I resume alas alas on on in short in fine on on abode of stones who can doubt it I resume but not so fast I resume the skull fading fading fading and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis on on the beard the flames the tears the stones so blue so calm alas alas on on the skull the skull the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the labors abandoned left unfinished graver still abode of stones in a word I resume alas alas abandoned unfinished the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the skull alas the stones Cunard

You know?
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:33 AM on June 2, 2006


DaShiv: Smug and completely ignorant of the long-term appeal of FPS games -- a charming combination.

smug? maybe. ignorant? Two people: one who finds it enjoyable pretending to kill other people in a realistic game sponsored by the US Army, the other who doesn't find that enjoyable. Is that ignorance? Or different tastes? Or different conceptions of what is healthy adult behaviour?

prostyle: I simply find the conversation surrounding his projects to be interesting, in comparison to a lot of things I see online. I've been around a lot of gaming boards (unfortunately), and he's been a topic of conversation since 2002 with his Quake/Friends project. I'm not angry or upset and I apologize if I have given the appearance of being worked up as it is not a good position to engage in a dialogue. I have found the thread to be fascinating on a few levels, but those have little to do with American policy, let alone in Iraq.

I agree that the discussion is very interesting, and the reason it is interesting is that delappe has succeeded in engaging both the gamers and the non-gamers in a conversation, rather than just stirring up one nest he has stirred up two, and insight is an emergent property of those broken hives. Unlike some others, I think that it is perfectly legitimate for delappe to disrupt (in his very quiet way) these games, and by being "shot" or "censored" he actually inserts even more reality into the game - by inducing real, not ersatz, anger and aggression, and the participants should probably actually thank him.
posted by Rumple at 9:44 AM on June 2, 2006


delappe: My intention has always been to explore the new context of online gaming through the straightforward, oddly out of place, analog input of discordant text information into a digital environment.

That's an extremely narrow avenue of exploration. (And a minor correction: text is digital, not analog.)

Spending hours online typing to re-enact three distinct presidential debates, word for word in three different gaming contexts?

Um.

Not to be a philistine, but this doesn't sound particularly unpredictable or even interesting. It sounds ... lame.

Communication is usually two-way. This isn't.

Doesn't street theater involve more than one guy standing on a street corner talking to himself?
posted by russilwvong at 10:45 AM on June 2, 2006


What is interesting to me is that the language the Army is using to justify puting real soldiers modelled in the game is very similar to my stated sentiments for inputing the names of the dead. Granted, the Army's representations of real soldiers will be playing the game (and are all still alive) - yet the cohesion of our intentions - to honor, to remind people of the reality of the war, to support and remember our troops - curious.

Wow, that is fucked up. Thanks for that link.

There is a simplicity of form to these works yet a complexity in the result. At base, Quake/Friends is funny, no?

No.

Reciting/typing "Howl" in Star Trek Elite Force Voyager is absurd, no?

Yes.

Spending hours online typing to re-enact three distinct presidential debates, word for word in three different gaming contexts?

Pointless.

These works were all intended as a new type of online street theater, if you will.

I'd concede that point to you if it had anything to do with the way the "theater" portion of games is currently presented. As it stands, you create and utilize no assets in the engine - be it models, sound effects, or scripts. All of those elements compose the current state of the art in terms of conveying plot and emotional details to the player. Instead, you sit there and type, and when you dared to say "play" you were mistaken. In some engines you don't even have to be loaded into a client to send remote administration commands (most notably Quake engine games - /rcon), including those of the chat classification (say "xxx"). So in that regard you could be entirely removed from the engine and still transmit your message, and the result would be the exact same. It has little to do with the game space, and everything to do with projecting your conceptual musings upon others.
posted by prostyle at 10:56 AM on June 2, 2006


DaShiv: Were we discussing censorship, I'd agree with that distinction between commercial and political speech. When it comes to discussing intrusiveness/disruptiveness, audience annoyance, lack of efficacy in choosing of space and occasion, and degrees of self-serving though, I don't see the need to draw any distinctions between commercial and political speech as opposed to simply speech. Do you?
Actually, I do believe that individuals with non-profit motives deserve some more leeway. When you have limited resources, some experimentation is required to find strategies that work. I think the message and the sincerity of the message is what's important here. In my opinion, the sin of straight up trolls, spammers and griefers is not their annoyance, but their lack of sincerity. Certainly there's a difference, however small, between "penis extension" spam and "pray for my sick child" spam.
Spamming on someone else's gaming server is akin to doing so at someone else's house in the middle of their party -- incredibly rude and tasteless. Just because there are people there doesn't make it an appropriate "public space", no matter who's hosting the party.
When the US government is hosting the party, using tax dollars with open servers, then what we have is an open forum. AA is a public space. Period. It's fair game. I don't see how it's significantly different, socially or legally, than protesting on the National Mall. There are certainly enough people out there who are annoyed at any protest anywhere.

Hi Delappe: I think I was the one who broke out the "hack" word. Sorry, 'bout that. Sometimes I use strong language to try and make a rhetorical point. It's easy to forget that there are real people on these, here internets.

For what it's worth, I think a lot of the work on your web site is good. I liked the concept of the mouse mandala. I thought the Friends performance and the Vagina mouse were amusing, but lacked a deeper level. I even liked the aesthetics of the tax work. However, it's not worth muddying the discussion of the AA work by being forced to defend the Friends work. Comparatively, it's not defensible. Usually evolving artists show healthy shame for their less-evolved works. I also have trouble letting go of my old projects, but I'm definitely a hack. On second view, I saw a few more projects on your website that were interesting to me that I didn't see before. Maybe there's something wrong with how your online portfolio presents works chronologically, instead of selectively.

Do you think the AA piece would be more, or less, powerful if you recruited more typists? Why?
posted by Skwirl at 11:04 AM on June 2, 2006


Metafilter: Where self-appointed armchair critics take pot shots at artists who are actually qualified to be artists doing artsy things, because it could theoretically screw up their game of US Army Propaganda.

Now that's what I call critical thinking.
posted by kalessin at 12:08 PM on June 2, 2006


Care to address any specifics, kalessin? Otherwise I have no idea what you are talking about, let alone what this means: artists who are actually qualified to be artists doing artsy things. Or this: their game of US Army Propaganda. Whose game? It should be clear here that nobody has defended AA, or derided DeLappe for encompassing, as you stated: a person willing to use what you might call vulnerabilities in the software architecture of a game to pursue their own ends. Now, about that critical thinking...
posted by prostyle at 12:20 PM on June 2, 2006


Do you think the AA piece would be more, or less, powerful if you recruited more typists? Why?

Don't you think it would then really be an attack on the servers instead of a comment on the game and its makers and its purpose, if more people were involved? Altho, i think it'd be incredible if people in the game and outside of it took the concept and ran with it.
posted by amberglow at 1:37 PM on June 2, 2006


kalessin: Metafilter: Where self-appointed armchair critics take pot shots at artists who are actually qualified to be artists doing artsy things--

I'm not commenting as an art critic, but as a member of the public (and thus, I presume, a member of the intended audience for the project). It's not every day that you can communicate your reaction to a work of art directly to the artist.

I've tried to phrase my criticisms diplomatically. I assume delappe isn't so thin-skinned as to be unable to tolerate any criticism whatsoever.

I've never played America's Army.
posted by russilwvong at 1:37 PM on June 2, 2006


I've been contacted by several people who have suggested either doing their own typing of names or recruiting others to do so. I've replied to them that they are free to take the idea and run with it if they so desire. I have no idea if any of them have followed through on such.

I am thin skinned - most artists are - yet I truly appreciate the dialogue and welcome intelligent criticism - this has expanded my thinking and understanding of this project. What I find very interesting in this regard - being new to blogs - is that I am receiving such a variety of input on a work that is still in progress - very strange experience indeed. BTW, Metafilter is the one blog I have been on these past few weeks where this has not deteriorated into a flame fest - perhaps it is the $5 fee to join keepin out the riff-raff.

I say "analog" in regard to the typing as using my fingers on my keyboard is an "analog" experience - yes, translated into digital information but oddly retro in the use of a 19th century designed keyboard. I do not count myself as an expert gamer - a sometime gamer - paying little attention to mods and such - a self-confessed user. So what? I am still in the game participating, but on my terms. This criticism of my work in games has been regular and annoying (to be quite honest). The simplicity of it all is part of the intent - if I wished to get into modding and such I would but this would intrinsically alter my content and result. (check out velvet strike http://www.opensorcery.net/velvet-strike/) Anne Marie received death threats from irate gamers when this work was first created. I respect her approach towards programmatically subverting counterstrike - this is not what I do!
posted by delappe at 4:06 PM on June 2, 2006


nah, all us riff-raff are already in. : >
posted by amberglow at 5:49 PM on June 2, 2006


DaShiv : "The nerve that's being struck among the gamers here is that in an FPS game, text-spamming is one of the trio in the pantheon of lameness, right up there with spawn-camping and team-killing."

No way. I'd take text-spamming out and replace it with aimbots. Text-spamming comes in the next, lower rank of the pantheon. If it were Catholic theology, aimbots, spawn-camping, and team-killing would be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Text-spamming would be more like Michael the Archangel. Still a big deal, but nowhere near the Big Three.

PenDevil : "If you ask me AA mainly demonstrates reasons NOT to join the Army. It's so easy to die in that game that I would hope anyone playing it would think twice about actually putting themselves in that position in real life."

That's what I thought when I played it. I would never, ever think of joining the military, and have no illusions about my ability to dodge bullets or anything, but MAN, AA is an easy game to get killed in!!

delappe : "You ask if I couldn't be spending my 3 hours a week doing something else productive - good question for all FPS players, no?"

Not really. The difference is that you are trying to do something productive, and people are arguing that you aren't being productive. FPS players are just playing. No-one is saying that you should be writing letters or campaigning instead of having dinner with friends or taking a nap. They're saying that you could be doing something productive when you're trying to be productive. During your off-time, do whatcha want. The same with the FPS players.

kalessin : "Fsking whiny gamers. If you are playing a game where dead-in-iraq or some other protester is messing up your concentration, use either technical or methodological measures to avoid the protest..."

Er, well, they are. DeLappe gets kicked.

Rumple : "I agree that the discussion is very interesting, and the reason it is interesting is that delappe has succeeded in engaging both the gamers and the non-gamers in a conversation, rather than just stirring up one nest he has stirred up two, and insight is an emergent property of those broken hives."

Well, in that sense, I think thanks are more deserved by amberglow. He's the one who's brought the issue to be discussed by non-gamers. Sure, without DeLappe, there would be nothing to discuss, but the person who actually exposed and engaged the non-gamers here is amberglow.
posted by Bugbread at 9:16 PM on June 2, 2006


Oh, and DeLappe, I just wanted to give you kudos for avoiding the pitfall that a lot of people who join MeFi to discuss their projects fall into: You've been polite, on-topic, levelheaded, and mature. Your art doesn't particularly grab me, and I don't think your protest is very effective, but you probably wouldn't find my music very grabbing, nor my jokes very entertaining, so it's not a matter of bad/good, but different tastes and opinions, and I respect they way you're expressing those opinions here. So don't take any of my criticisms of your work as criticisms of you.
posted by Bugbread at 9:19 PM on June 2, 2006


this is the kind of thing that needs input from everyone--i'm a nongamer and really am glad people who play these sorts of things chimed in--i found out about it originally solely because of the political/war angle.

what kind of text distractions are ok with people in games? flirting? talking about other players? the price of the stuff in the games, ebaywise or whatever? is anything ok? what else goes on in the text/chat part of these things?
posted by amberglow at 11:20 PM on June 2, 2006


Amberglow,

Depends largely on the genre. In a FPS, the chat is essentially there for strategic use, but realistically gets used to:

1) Talk strategy
2) Complain about the other team's strategy ("Fucking campers!!")
3) Complain about your own setup ("Damn lag!!")
4) Complain about your own teammates ("WTF, dude?! You almost shot me! You suck!")
5) Complain about the game mechanics ("Dude, the MRG-15 sucks! Hard to aim!")
6) Say "Good game" (or "gg") when the game ends.
7) When you're dead, and can talk to other dead people, to talk about pretty much whatever you want.

Sure, in the ideal world, probably only 1, 6, and 7 would happen, but since everyone inevitably gets frustrated and complains about something, people don't usually get upset when other people complain about stuff.

Stuff outside of that (flirting, talking about music, talking about smurfs, et al) is generally considered noise, and frowned upon, but especially so if one person is talking, but noone is responding (like in real life, if two folks are talking loudly in a crowded elevator, people get annoyed, but if one person is talking loudly in a crowded elevator to no-one in particular, they get more annoyed). So a lot of the time, spamming is basically taken to be talking about stuff besides the usual subjects, but not with anyone, just at people. Again, though, it's very fuzzy, so I don't know of any hard fast definitions.

MMORPGs (World of Warcraft, Star Wars Galaxies, Everquest, Eve Online, etc) are far more open to general talking, since they aren't twitch based, and non-combat socializing, etc. is more a part of the game. Flirting, talking about pricing, talking about music, talking about how much you hate your social studies teacher, etc., are far more accepted in a MMORPG than in a FPS.

Of course, the above is just in reference to text messages on the public channel. In all games, if you want to have a private discussion, you can just send messages to individual people, without cluttering up the airwaves. So ettiquette says that if you want to talk about something with someone in specific, you should private chat them, not chat out on the public channel.
posted by Bugbread at 12:08 AM on June 3, 2006


ahhh...AA is a FPS and not a MMORPG, even tho people have to team up?
posted by amberglow at 9:08 AM on June 3, 2006


ahhh...AA is a FPS and not a MMORPG, even tho people have to team up?

Correct. It's a squad-based FPS.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:29 AM on June 3, 2006


I think that if my words are not clear, my explaining them won't really make a big difference with respect to whether I've gotten any point across, so I'll let ya'll just take it and run with it.

delappe, I appreciate what you're doing, and though you seem reticent to declare it art, I think it exists in a similar space to art (whether or not it achieves whatever you're looking for in a project to make it art in fact). I've always valued art's voice as social commentary/criticism, and I think it's art's ability to make social change that I value and admire most.

Keep up the good work.
posted by kalessin at 3:29 PM on June 3, 2006


bugbread , Now I know the difference between an FPS and a MMORPG.

Thank you for your informative and entertaining posts.
posted by nickyskye at 5:34 PM on June 3, 2006


Amberglow:

The wikipedia links nickyskye provided explain it pretty well, but they're kinda long, so the executive summary:

FPS (first person shooter) are...er, well, shooting games played in the first person. They consist of "rounds" (that is, they don't just go on and on and on, but will last 10 minutes, or until someone has 50 kills, or until everyone has died, or the flag has been captured, or the like) and then the game ends. You don't level up, and it's generally based on skill (and knowledge of the map).

MMORPGS are massively multiplayer online roleplaying games. Massive here is one of the key words: instead of 20 people at a time, they can have thousands (if the servers are strong enough). They are RPGs, in a constantly existing virtual world. There aren't "rounds", you just log on when you want and enter this big world for as long as you want, until you log off again. You can generally level up your character, or your spaceship, or whatever. As such, in a fight, who survives and who dies isn't so much an issue of skill as an issue of level (though there is some skill involved). They also feature many more diversions than just killing (pubs, theatres, auction houses, etc.), because they are (supposedly) role playing games, not shootin' games.

A new genre is MMFPS (massively multiplayer FPS), which is a constantly existing virtual world of war, with tons of people. I can't be sure if I'm right on the specifics, but I believe Planetscape and WWII Online are examples of this. There are no fixed matches, but a giant perpetual war, so you just log on whenever you want and log off whenever you want. Basically, a mix of MMORPG and FPS.
posted by Bugbread at 6:45 PM on June 3, 2006


I liked the idea util I saw that the "artist" also spammed with text from "Friends". Made me lose my respect. Not exaceltly a political statement to type out the script of friends in an online game..
posted by JokingClown at 1:05 AM on June 11, 2006


Mechanical aestheticism revealed over time through psuedo genetic mutations.

Academic who can't compose a complete sentence properly.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:07 PM on June 17, 2006


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