Dr Nick Robinson quoted in Guardian article about protests and activism within video games
Dr Robinson spoke to the Guardian about the increased presence of in-game protests organised by gamers and activists, most recently regarding Hong Kong and BLM.
The article takes a look at the virtual protests taking place within videogames such as Animal Crossing and The Sims, examining the growing popularity of such forms of activism during the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.
Following the murder of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, some gamers who were unable to take part in physical protests created memorials to black victims of police brutaility within the game Animal Crossing: New Horizons. In The Sims, player Ebonix hosted a rally for Black Lives Matter, attended by more than 200 players.
Earlier this year, some pro-Hong Kong democracy demonstrations moved online on Animal Crossing – a situation that was widely covered in the media internationally, and eventually led to the game being banned from China.
Dr Nick Robinson says that what makes these protests different to previous years is that the ‘interrelationship with other technologies is more acute’ and ‘the game’s aesthetics lend themselves well to being shared on social media’ which allows images of the protests to be widely shared online.
Regarding the often-criticised reaction of the game developers themselves in the face of these protests, Dr Robinson points out ‘when developers have to make hard and fast decisions about what they do or don’t take down, it can enter into murky territory.’