Thursday, June 30, 2005

News: Chinese Government to influence MMOGs

This news item on ties into my previous post. As gamers and game designers, we see MMOG as simple enjoyable games. If you are a totalitarian government such as China, you correctly identify MMOG as the following:
  • A cohesive group of well informed, technologically literate citizens that have strong ties and social beliefs that are potentially separate than your own.
  • A method of meeting, collaborating and distributing news outside of traditional government intervention
  • A powerful reward system that can be used to promote and reward specific activies amongst a large population

When the number of players start reaching into the millions and there is no government oversight, you have a potential forum for dissent. In some ways, MMOGs can serve the same purpose as a free press. In other ways, they are more powerful since they have strong organizational and collaboration mechanisms built in.

MMOGs are in their infancy as a political medium. We are witnessing a small moment of history in which a major government, China, is making the first steps to politicize these game systems as a mechanism for social control. Others will follow. The threat and the opportunity is too great.

The reality is that online communal systems mimic many of the social forces and systems found in offline governments. Expect to see the good, the bad and the ugly lessons of human governance, the same ones that have played out for thousands of years of human history, played out in a virtual form as MMOG's evolve. At the moment, I'm content to be an observer. Over time activists will emerge and starting bringing virtual struggles into the real world.

take care


  1. One word: crap. This could be one of the most effective propaganda machines to date: subliminal messaging through MMOGs. Wait, there's the America's Army (the game), so . . . I guess it'll be a matter of time before such games are widely implemented and acknowledged as a tool towards such ends. o_o;

  2. Ummm... so you're comparing a recruiting tool for the military (one that never pretended to be anything else, BTW). With Government intervention in private commerce and leisure activity?

    People who strive to equate every aspect of the US Government with evil bore me. Please get out of the house more often... travel the world... experience life and you will be better suited to evaluate topics like these.

  3. If Bush were smart he'd try to spread democracy with these instead of bombs... hmm.

  4. I think it's pretty clear that struggles can move from the virtual to the "real" world. In part it's because I see no serious delineation. People have been killed over virtual possessions at this point. Yes, few, however it is an example. Not having lived in a country where people are very publically imprisoned for ideas or even RUN OVER BY TANKS. I cannot discount MMO's as a real outlet for political dissent. I think he has a point.