interesting thoughts have been coming our way via personal
email. Someday I will get around to filtering out the spam
from the forum also so discussion threads there will be
legible. Headings are my own mostly:
GOOD ADVICE FROM A PRO:)"
Maybe I'm just a natural subversive, but I've actually already
cooked up most of the intervention recipes on your Velvet-Strike
Other fun Counter-Strike pastimes include:
* As a terrorist, spend all your time being chatty and constantly
try to reopen negotiations with the counter-terrorists.
* Flashbangs are fantastic - there's absolutely no rule
about flashbanging your own team-mates, and you can carry
two every round! Everytime you see two people about to start
shooting at one another, flashbang them both -
after you do this enough times, both teams will put aside
differences to concentrate on a mutual hate of you, the
* I downloaded several sprays with transparent backgrounds
that look just like terrorists/counter-terrorists - when
I remember where, I'll give you the link. Counter-strike
players are very jumpy and trigger-happy as a rule, hopefully
they'll waste all their ammo trying to kill the fake spray
enemies and be forced to throw down their weapons and love
* One can at least minimise the killing by finding obscure
hiding places on maps and then sitting very still for the
entire round where nobody can find one. This generally means
each round is 3 minutes of bloodshed and 12 minutes of trying
to find the last bloody player who's crawled into a lift
shaft and refuses to move. Hiding is also an excellent time
to be very chatty and tell everyone you're scared and you've
become a pacifist and beg them to leave you alone. Hopefully
you'll shame them into peace!
* As a counter-terrorist, question your superiors. After
all, often they send you into combat outnumbered and without
even enough cash to buy a weapon AND body armour. What kind
of government makes its soldiers choose?? Be very vocal
in your criticisms.
* Spend all your "dead" time screaming in pain.
Aaaargh, oh shit, argh, oh god it hurts so much, I'm bleeding,
oh god I'm bleeding, I think I'm dying... It's so cold!
Mummy! I want my mummy! Oh shit, I didn't sign up for this...
I didn't want to die in a foreign land. Oh no, I can't feel
my legs, my legs... oh no oh no oh no I'm slipping away.
Help me someone, please help me. Tell my sister I love her.
Oh oh OH OW OW OW the pain!
* Throw down your weapons and surrender. People will shoot
you anyway, but you'll deny them a challenging kill and
maybe it'll eat away at their conscience after a while.
Well, you never know.
* Join a friendly fire server, pretend to be a n00b with
extremely bad aim, and then spend all your time running
into intense firefights and blasting wildly at both sides.
This might be for those who wish to join the Black Bloc,
and abandon peaceful protest in the name of anarchy.
Anyhoo... All good fun.
In defence of Counter-Strike players, speaking as a human
rights and anti-war activist/protestor of some years, I've
found the people who play this game to be generally older,
more mature, more intelligent and more liberal than other
games. I suspect this is because it's a game that attracts
a lot of coders and hackers who tend to have lefty political
beliefs, at least in the UK, so there doesn't seem to be
the level of homophobia and racism that I sometimes see
on Quake servers, and I think the people I've talked to
and gotten to know quite while from playing regularly on
a few servers have generally been fairly anti-war irl, and
probably would enjoy a wider selection of player skins to
choose from. I personally find it hard to justify my love
of games like Counter-Strike with my political beliefs in
reality, but sometimes I think you just have to take the
hedonistic approach of doing what pleases you, putting aside
your principles and taking some small satisfaction in that
at least you're polluting the system with your views.
I'm definitely not disputing the fact that there are enough
idiots out there playing the game. :)
I worry a little about you holding up Everquest as a shining
beacon of what's right about the gaming world - there's
just something wrong about paying out $x per month for the
privilege of being able to play, but maybe that's the anti-capitalist
I thoroughly recommend you check out Morrowind, perhaps
the first FPS/RPG game ever in which you could, in theory,
play the whole game through without killing anyone, at all,
ever. Deus Ex is another similar game in which you're frequently
reminded that the people you kill are human and you're strongly
encouraged NOT to kill your enemies, but rather "take
them down" in a non-lethal fashion. It also raises
lots of interesting questions about what IS right and wrong,
but I'd have to spoil the game plot (which is refreshingly
original) to tell you about it. The beauty of
both of these games is that they leave the choices in the
hands of the players, and where the game goes, and how different
people react to you, depend very much on how you play. There's
no right or wrong way to play either.
Deus Ex suffers from the only-one-choice-of-character thang
(although he can be black, so maybe that's something), but
Morrowind lets you choose from a radical range of different
characters, and even has gay NPCs, which is a huge leap
forward in my humble opinion. However, you need a beast
of a machine to play it. Particularly interesting in Morrowind
is the opportunity to play one of the "slave"
races, which presents you with quite a lot of tricky moral
decisions. Do you kill the slaver and free your brethren?
Or let him live, and leave your comrades in chains?
Decisions, decisions. :)
Anyway, great site, good work. Your site found me in a chatty
mood, so I'm
sorry if I've waffled on way too much. ;)
Thanks for reading this far, if you did!
Happy weekend. :)
AMERICAN RADIO INVITE"
After reading a story about Velvet-Strike and viewing your
website, we're eager to discuss it on the nationally syndicated
Michael Medved Show.
The radio program is heard in more than 140 cities such
as LA, DC, Detroit, Denver, San Diego and Seattle and airs
weekdays from noon to three PST.
The show covers topics ranging from pop culture to politics
and we have discussed video games several times since there's
a great interest with our audience and demographics.
Michael is a conservative talk show host, regular columnist
for USA Today and Wall Street Journal, film critic and best
Please call or email me to discuss the details.
The Michael Medved Show
i didn't want to post in the forum, it's full of spam and
you probably won't read it. i think what you do is a good
idea, but too less accepted by the mainly american community...what
you see in those spammers.
well, you're right when you say that cstrike is a male game,
but i've already seen female skins (playerskins, not
nude hostages) and players. and many big german clans have
a lady's squad.
anyway, go on with your work, i like it :))
mfg: -[D4e|GANJaN]- alias Jan Wahmes
for one think you hit upon something brilliant.
I've often been conflicted by Counter-Strike myself.
It's hyper-violent; the factions involved are caricatures
of revolutionaries and capitalist oppressors; zealous murderers
and hopeless defenders; the players are mostly insecure,
misogynistic, homophobic, semi-dyslexic, and otherwise mind-locked
That, and a significant portion will cheat if given the
Why am I playing this game?
Yay... But it goes deeper than that. Actually I worked on
the retail version of Counter-Strike; I did the textures
for CS office (I know they're shabby... but I did it all
from scratch in 10 days) - my ex-girlfriend's picture is
on the wall.
I and thousands of others have splattered blood decals all
over her. That's pretty weird.
I worked on it because I've been playing games like this
for a pretty long time. In 1998 I toured up the west coast
visiting friends in the industry. I got to alpha-test half-life
in house. I also got to create one of (if not the first)
third party sprays. It was the logo for the US Army Rangers
- the tab - which was for the clan I've been in since before
quakeworld. It was started by a former Ranger, Heath Brown.
This history in fact gets more convoluted the further you
go, but I'll spare you. Sometimes it strikes me as rather
unbelievable, but then again such strange things happen
to people. It can all be
corroborated in any case.
Back to you; Velvet Strike is neat - it's instantly pissing
off the 14 year old majority. They seem confused as to what's
going on, their status quo is affronted, I'm clapping. I
made some sprays I'd like to submit; I'm sorry I don't have
time to wally them, I've been up all night and I have finals
(unstudied) and work due this week.
I'd be interested in helping out in your project any way
I can, and if you may share any future ideas I'd be privileged.
My backpack has 3 items which interrelate applicably: a
rainbow triangle pin (sexuality needs to be reconsidered),
a pin that says "THIS is what a feminist looks like!"
(domination needs to be ended), and a SOG fixed blade Sealpup
combat knife that's sharp enough to shave (either for protection
at night, or simply because this trinity demanded it, I
I'm a fairly homely nerdy skinny straight guy who somehow
got started thinking about this stuff. What you're doing
is part of a difference. Thanks.
heres a scenario:
Lucky that a new war coincided with the hyper popularity
"realistic" on-line shooter (Counterstrike), the
7 million dollar
taxpayer funded game project "America's Army"
forged ahead to a very successful release.
14 year olds looking to right their misaligned (so undeserving)
social position flock to fill the niche created by a socially
acceptable mass market video-game in need of skilled players.
Subsequently a huge community forms around it, with official
sponsors eager to cash-err, tie in. Competing games are
"unimportant" or "non patriotic".
Obsessive competitors are rewarded in proper style by official
US army recognition. Winning combatants are treated as virtual
athletes, and flown out to CA to compete on the army's tie-in
tv show "Shoot To Kill" - where a high end version
of the game is played on SGI workstations against trained
elite (and foreign agents) and broadcast to millions of
IDEA, UNCERTAIN OUTCOME"
Please excuse this unsolicited e-mail - and in addition,
please excuse me for choosing this way of communication
instead of your online forum; in my defense I'd like to
say that mainly trolls seem to use it - hence my steering
clear of using it.
Your project, "velvet-strike", in itself, is wonderful,
and I have utmost respect for it. I understand your protest
to the events in the "gaming scene" after "9-11",
especially this part of your personal manifest exposed on
your site, struck me as particularily interesting:
In this mod, Osama is represented as an Arab corner grocery
story owner, as is common in many tough inner city neighborhoods
in North America. The goal of the mod is to enter the corner
liquor grocery store and kill the Arab owner. a related
article I'd recommend is "Adding Shame to Grief",
as it appeared in The Washington Post
I agree, that the kind of "realism" - or, as I'd
prefer to dub it, "cyber-realism" - most games
are aiming at, is questionable. To me, personally, playing
shooter-games was enjoyable as long as a certain level of
distance was naturally given by the layout and game design
itself; by which I don't refer to the "background story"
(games, such as "Unreal", which had quite an immersing
story, always steered clear of the verge of realism; thus
an appropriate amount of distance was always given), but
rather to games which aim at highest-possible weapon accuracy
An excellent example of questionable "design",
to me, is the "Soldier of Fortune" series, which
was (or rather: both parts, I and II were) advertised in
my home country as "ego-shooter with the most accurate
damage model and most accurate depiction thereof".
This is the kind of game, which even I, as part of the generation
which "grew up infront of the computer" (according
to the media - however true or not that may be) turn down
as "disturbing" and "morally wrong".
Not because I think that such games will spawn a generation
of mass-murderers (the incredibly hysterical, populistic
and despicable reaction of newspapers of virtually every
political orientation and intellectual level in the wake
of the tragic events in Erfurt was quite horrible - also
the German counterpart to the Index Librorvm Prohibitorvm
is highly questionable), but because I, personally, think
that any distance is eliminated - or atleast narrowed down
too far. Since I, personally, see myself as pacifist, I'd
rather not see or, as it is natural for computer games,
participate in / commit a gruesome act of manslaughter (interestingly,
films seem to be able to maintain this distance nonetheless,
since the [mature?] viewer is always aware of the fact that
he is taking the role of an "outside spectator")
- actually, without wanting to sound polemic, why would
any sane person want to?
The problem lies, in my opinion,
a) in the industry, which is not willing to explore new
markets to cater for, with a few exceptions - one example
would be the Miller-Siblings [Myst, Riven, ...], whom I
have utmost respect for - but rather invests in the kind
of games which is bound to sell, at the lowest possible
cost and which are also producable in the lowest possible
amount of time - shooters usually don't need a big storyline;
the technological question is answered rather quickly with
"we have to care for players with low-end machines",
"advanced technology doesn't mean nice gameplay"
[oh the hypocrisy: subsequently the very same publishers
will advertise their games as "3d", "hyperrealistic"
and other nonsensical wordings], "today's technology
isn't capable of more", the soundtrack just needs to
be loud and basical [not like anyone'd be able to listen
to it really because of the sound effects, as well as the
-characteristical for shooter games1 - "semi-trance"
which soon kicks in], and as long as it features shiny,
new and / or well-known, preferrably large [cyber-counterpart
to Jung's "phallic knife"?] armament, there are
not many obstacles to be expected for the game in question
to become a hit.
b) in the missing consumer-awareness, which is partially
tied closely to a) - games such as Riven never reached a
similarily large audience as Counterstrike, because of the
missing advertisement [or, in C.S.' case, "negative
advertisement" and "media-hype"]
c) in the still widely negative view of "the society"
(please excuse the fuzzy wording) of games in general ("waste
of time", "hobby for nerds, losers and bums"),
which obstructs an effective [government-backed?] method
of encouragement for the industry to cover different ground
as well as for the audience to turn towards alternative
After this lengthy itroduction, I can finally come to the
core of this inane rambling, which is the following:
With all due respect and appreciation for your idea, it
probably won't change much - or anything. I understand very
well what you're trying to do and I also think it's better
to try than not to - or to rather dream a dream than to
plunge into apathy - however, if you look at the audience
of games such as counter-strike (especially this game!),
which consists to a huge part of typically male, pubescent
subjects, incapable of expressing themselves efficiently,
let alone grasping the concept of your project.
Of course, you'll ask for evidence, but I may advice you
a) take a look at your fora ;-) and the "intelligent"
posts of fanatic C.S. fans there
b) join a random server of your choice located in the U.S,
U.K. or Germany [especially the "Barrysworld"
service was infamous for its hilarious amount of "0mfg
l0l r u gh3y" - level gamers] - I can assure you that
As a Counter-Strike newbie I was sometimes even able to
solicit help from my enemies, indicating a clear awareness
of the game as fictional play space.was quite an exception
from the usual C.S.-player's behaviour pattern :-) [atleast
according to observations from my acquiantances and my humble
c) post about your project in random, large C.S.-"community"
related board systemsLastly, I'd like to touch this point:
I like fantastic environments where there is more room for
imaginative habitats and characters. Japanese games for
children and adults are engaged in this undertaking, filled
with curious animal Pokemon creatures, Robo-cats, transformers,
Anime people, monsters, demons and fairies, of all genders.In
my personal opinion, this kind of "cultural import"
is not without its dangers, either - because it nourishes
prejudices at an exceedingly alarming rate and influences
the image of nippon in the "western hemisphere"
dangerously - let me please quote D.C. Simpson on this:
It's just that Japan has a culture that's thousands of years
old--it isn't a magical imaginary land invented for cartoons
in 1980 [...]. In conclusion: I respect your dream, I appreciate
your commitment, I salute your idealism, but I remain doubtful
about the effectivity.
Thanks for your time,
Most sincerely yours,
Jonas N. Selb
I just wanted to drop you a short note applauding your efforts
regards to velvet strike. I personally have never played
the "Counterstrike" mods etc. I tried "Half-Life"
before though. It's ok, but the FPS I get the most enjoyment
out of is "Star Trek Voyager Elite Force." At
least in this one, when you run across aliens etc., you
can find some way to communicate with them to resolve difficulties
etc. (Playing it in "story" mode)
Just thought you'd like to know if you haven't already seen
Keep up the good work and wishing you all the best.
Jim L. Jones
NO LONGER FOLK ART"
I am interested in your ideas about gaming and mod culture
- I was an avid fan of 'action quake', which more recently
became the (unfortunately named - prior to September 11th)
'reality' mod 'Urban terror' - basically a more expansive
counter-strike clone built on the quake 3 engine. I have
always been fascinated by 'mod' culture - because before
counter-strike, it seemed like a kind of 'folk art' , of
course the success of 'counter-strike' (from underground
mod, to over-the-counter retail success) has changed the
online mod-community, now 'modding' is a (possible) spring-board
to a 'real job' in the lucrative gaming industry. But I
was always fascinated by the fact that even though mod teams
could basically warp the game however they like (and there
are some pretty interesting mod variations for Quake for
instance) they tend to stick to conventional game concepts
and formats. But this is interesting in its outright - the
underlying myths and pathologies of 'gaming' are well-illustrated
in mod culture, as are their most compelling features (for
instance, the most exciting feature of the urban terror
mod to me, was that your survival depends on being able
to work well with your teammates, you are simply too vulnerable
if you run around - this amplifies the team/social part
of the game, which I enjoy - and which seems to suggest
other models for gaming, cooperative models) However, when
the mods are 'wired' to their 'real-life' mirror-image,
the line between fantasy and reality, as you have illustrated,
begins to breakdown. Then we begin to wonder about the games
we play, and the coding and concepts behind them. in the
case of 'urban terror' I stopped playing shortly after september
11th, it was no longer entertaining or ironic, it had become
grotesque - especially since many of the game scenarios
(including a map set in the middle-east) anticipated current
real-life scenarios. But what interests me, is the potential
of mods to become metaphorical playgrounds for the real-world,
but in-which avenues that are unavailable (at present) in
the real-world can be explored. This would certainly require
new concepts and new code - and wouldn't be as simple as
adding a 'negotiate' button to the usual arsenal of 'strafe',
'jump' and 'shoot' - the challenge would be to design a
game that remains compelling (perhaps even to the same audience)
- but that 'changes the rules'. Is this possible? What would
it look like? How can we get under the 'skin'?
Thanks for an intriguing article, and do check out the 'urban
aside to this discussion is that one of the more recent
community-built maps for Urban Terror is an accurate recreation
of a lane near my childhood home (UT players will recognize
this as 'laneway'). In reading the authors description of
his process of building the map - a faithfully rendered
model of the lane below his bedroom window - it seems like
an almost sentimental gesture despite the carnage that unfolds
I¥ve just visited the 'Velvet Strike' Website, and first
of all I¥d like to say that in my opinion this is a brilliant
idea, politically concious and stil funny, subversive though
down with the gamer culture.Thank you anne-marie for letting
me know about this and your interesting mail.
Still, there is too little research done on computer games.I¥m
missing balanced comments and essays leaving behind the
structuralist-functionalist approach (i.e. what¥s the
game dealing with and what kind of ideas does it transport)
in favor of a more
'player-response' oriented criticism , taking into consideration
the patterns of cultural practices growing around computer
games (i.e. how are people dealing with games and what ideas
do they infuse them with).
I think anne-marie¥s thoughtful remarks made it very clear
that a game like CS cannot be judged by its martial appearance
alone.One would also have to take a look at how players are
forming social relationships via the game and how in general
they are 'mis-using' games and adapting them to their own
Another game with springs to my mind here is Diablo2, which
structurally a pretty straightforward hack¥n¥slay
action RPG, but has turned via the internet into some kind
of trading simulation or virtual bazaar.Since the right equipment
is most important for advancing in the game, players have
started trading items, and in order to do that, one has to
build a web of relations with other players, be trustworthy
and find out who else is,become a part of the community, know
about the current market value of the numerous items etc.
Many high-level players have abandoned actually playing the
game in favor of trading their collected items in order to
end up with the 'perfect' equipment for a certain character
class.You might say, they have worked enough for items and
now let their items work for them.
Are kids being poisioned with capitalist values and strategies
here ? Maybe, but at the same time, as anne-marie pointed
out, isn¥t it just a game ? Aren¥t market mechanisms
revealed here to be parts of a game also?
And is that good or bad ?
If millions of people are engaged in gaining capital in a
game world which will gain them absolutely no capital in the
real world, isn¥t that a subversive strategy in itself
I¥m not sure about any of these questions, but these are
the questions whicj would yield more interesting answers than
just the usual 'killing virtual people leads to killing real
people in the end'.