Some 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:



Maybe I'm just a natural subversive, but I've actually already cooked up most of the intervention recipes on your Velvet-Strike site. :)

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 their
differences to concentrate on a mutual hate of you, the subversive!
* 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 their
* 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 in me.
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. :)



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 selling author.
Please call or email me to discuss the details.
Jeremy Steiner
The Michael Medved Show



hey there!

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



I 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 at fourteen.
That, and a significant portion will cheat if given the chance.
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 gay-pride
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 dunno).
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.
-Chris Birke
aka [R2]Sphinx


anyway, heres a scenario:
Lucky that a new war coincided with the hyper popularity of a
"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 snubbed as
"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 wagering fans.



Dear Madam!
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 et al.
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 products.
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 to just
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 this:
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 self]
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 with
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 it.
Keep up the good work and wishing you all the best.
Jim L. Jones



Hi Anne-Marie,
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 terror'

An interesting 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 there!



Hello all,
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 purposes.
Another game with springs to my mind here is Diablo2, which is
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'.