Rockstar‘s State of Emergency is kicking up a shitstorm of confusion and ignorance. For those unfamiliar, the game is an oldschool brawler, but the enemies are not thuggish street gangs who have captured your girlfriend, they are thuggish corporations, governments and their hired muscle, and the setting is strictly protest riot. Wagner James Au discusses the fallout amongst the protest contingent, notably Naomi Klein. Concerns: a) corporations (Rockstar, Sony) are co-opting the anti-corporation movement and profiting from it; b) the game obscures legitimate, nonviolent dissent behind “let’s fuckin’ smash stuff” hooliganism.
Some thoughts, questions mostly:
- Can we effectively distinguish between good corporations and bad ones? Rockstar and Sony seem to be examples of good corporations if there ever were any.
- What are the defenses against co-optation? The corporations are getting better at it every year. (Compare the relatively long time it took for 60s protest to be commodified to the insta-commercialization of recent movements, especially jungle.) Is there a way of re-co-opting, or should we be co-opting the corporations’ culture? (®™mark)
- Isn’t a political game better than an apolitical one, from the protest movement’s point of view?
- The inevitable backlash against the game’s violence will benefit both the game creators and the protest movement, as there will be hints of political censorship as well as free publicity.
- When can I play this goddamned game? I can smell the tear gas already.