The Great Debate: Battlefield Vietnam

Posted by Joseph DeLappe | Fri Oct 8th 2004 10:51 a.m.

Announcing: Battlefield Vietnam: The Great Debate

On Sunday, October 3rd, 2004, artist Joseph DeLappe re-enacted the first, 2004 Presidential Debate between Senator John Kerry and President George Bush in the PC online first person shooter game, "Battlefield Vietnam".

The performance/re-enactment involved typing into "Battlefield Vietnam" online the entire transcript from the first presidential debate. DeLappe switched his profile, or name, during the gameplay from "George Bush" to "John Kerry", as needed, to recreate, through the instant, text messaging system used in the online game, the entire 14,000+ words. The transcript, used in printed form from the NYtimes on the web, were typed into the online gameplay over the course of an eight hour session, visiting multiple game servers in the US and abroad.

"John Kerry" or "George Bush" were randomly assigned by the host servers to either the US, South Vietnamese Army or the NVA(North Vietnamese Army) teams during the numerous online game sessions, each lasting from 2 minutes to 1/2 hour. Each game session featured between 14 and 31 other online gamers. There was much reaction from the other players during the re-enactment: from righteous outrage to genuine political dialogue to being kicked several times from multiple servers. The experience was thoroughly exhausting, truly a monumental effort at absurdist, online political theater.

Please visit my website to view a few screen shots and some composites of the text messages from the actual performance online:

On Saturday, October 4th, DeLappe will re-enact the second "Town Hall" style presidential debate in a piece entitled: "Town Hall: Jedi Knight Outcast", using the "Starwars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast" online game as a platform for recreating this second presidential debate. DeLappe is considering re-enacting the third debate, focused on domestic issues, in the "Sims Online" game.
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