Online activism: internet games

Video games on the Internet no longer spell just mindless escapism for misguided kids. Many of the most popular games today also involve role-playing, and players aren't necessarily participating to escape their daily grind. Instead they are increasingly using online games as virtual soapboxes for staging cyberspace protests. Gamers are protesting the impending war in Iraq, starting newspapers, donating to charity and participating in a lot of other activities they might or might not be willing to do in the real world

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

No escape from protest Internet Games

Video games on the Internet no longer spell just mindless escapism for misguided kids. Many of the most popular games today also involve role-playing, and players aren't necessarily participating to escape their daily grind. Instead they are increasingly using online games as virtual soapboxes for staging cyberspace protests.

Gamers are protesting the impending war in Iraq, starting newspapers, donating to charity and participating in a lot of other activities they might or might not be willing to do in the real world. At There.com, players attire their in-game puppets in symbolic fashion for socialising with others. Peaceniks clad their marionettes in peace symbols and organise rallies protesting the us' gung-ho Iraq policy.

Players of EverQuest, the most popular online game in the us, held candlelight vigils after the September 11 attack and created memorials for victims, all within the game's universe. Sometimes though, things can get out of hand. Players have been attacked in real life for killing other gamers playing Lineage, considered the world's most popular online game. It's therefore no surprise that these games are seen as guages that indicate how far people are willing to merge their real and virtual lives.

Online games are also being studied for their expressive potential, which many feel may not have been fully exploited as yet. One forthcoming release is sure to push the envelope; Star Wars Galaxies, which will permit players to enter George Lucas' popular creation. The game's designers fear that controversial actions of participants might malign Lucasfilm and George Lucas, and seek the power to expel such activists.

Will users get the same free-speech rights in cyberspace that they enjoy in the physical world?

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