Mirko Tobias Schäfer / Assistant Professor
University of Utrecht Department for Media and Culture Studies

November 2007

Date November 2007 / Category News

The right wing party winning the latest elections in Switzerland communicated their political objectives in an online game. As reported by Ian Bogost on Watercoolergames  the game's hero is a white cartoon goat called Zottel. In "Zottel rescues Switzerland" the user has to solve missions such as kicking out black sheep "representing criminal foreigners", intercepting passports issued to immigrants and shooting "EU tax collectors" for the sake of a "flourishing Switzerland." (see screen shots)

The shocking aspect of the game is its trivialized racism, presented as a playful and harmless game. It would have been impossible for the Swiss People's Party to launch a version of Ethnic Cleansing a racist First Person Shooter developed by Neo-Nazi label Resistance Records. Even right-wing conservatives would have distanced themselves from the obvious endorsement of violence, white power, and racism. But it is actually that very spirit that the Zottel game thrives on.

Xenophobia and racism are wrapped into a cheerful online game promoting the People's Party's concern for safety, order and independence. Employing stereotypes of criminal immigrants, unwilling to adapt to Swiss law and culture, the People's Party promotes nationalism and hatred for foreigners as funny leisure activity. The obvious implication is actually the call for race war and genocide promoted explicitly in Ethnic Cleansing. The campaign represents the recent trend in European politics making nationalism sociable as protectionist conservative policy.

Tags Games Opinion

Date November 2007 / Category News

The first Rotterdam Barcamp ever took place at the Worm. It was a packed evening with very exciting presentations on software development and socio-political issues.
Denis Jaromil Rojo gave a talk on piracy and file sharing and discussed option for anonymous access.
Media design student Danja Vasiliev presented a modified ADSL router that was turned into a camera with automatic picture upload to a server through open WLANs.
Audrey Samson talked about the efforts of the Genderchangers to teach woman in using software. Criticizing open source software development for blindness in gender issues Femke Snelting from Constant hit the mark. The unfolding discussion was filled with gender essentialism and revealed how important it is to revisit developer's culture and its relation to the produced artifacts.
Thiago Noaves from Brazil talked about open source operated online radio broadcasting  and how the government's increased funding is changing the Brazilian open source scene.

Socio-political issues were crucial in most of the presentations. It was clear that technology is never just means but reveals society and its regulations and codes. Hopefully the debate will develop further bringing together people from software development as well as from humanities and policy making. The first BarCamp was a good start and hopefully it establishes as regular event.

BarCamp Rotterdam

Tags BarCamp Event

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