2000, originally published on artbreak.net
1. Background Story (as all good computer games need)
Once upon a time, 1994 to be exact, there was a European net art group called etoy.com. etoy spent its young years practicing cultural mischief. They modeled themselves as a hybrid of social art and corporate structure. They ran around in orange uniforms with shaved heads and mirrored sunglasses. They sold etoy.SHARES instead of art.They were (and still are) a faceless group known only by pseudonyms. In general, they did the things you are not supposed to do in professional art practice. Oh yeah, and worse of all, they did it online.
All was well and good in the art kingdom of etoy.com (good enough in fact to win the Golden Nica at Ars Electronica) until the billion dollar online toy store eToys.com decided to steal the etoy.CORPORATION domain name and banish them from the World Wide Web. etoy rejected a hostile takeover bid from the toy seller and were dragged into a California court. The court issued an injunction against etoy effectively shutting down the online art corporation. Thus began the TOYWAR.
2. The TOYWAR Resistance Game (Winter 1999/2000)
And so, with the help of rtmark.com, thing.net, rhizome.org and a slew of other net art groups, online activists and communities, etoy developed an online 'game' with the winning goal of driving the eToys.com stock price down. Over 1,800 individual player avatars joined the game. Virtual sit-ins were staged. A TOYWAR PR machine kicked into gear. Two hundred online support sites were created. A real world rally for the TOYWAR was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. And when things got rough, TOYWAR DJ's created downloadable chill-out music ...
A blast from the past... At the recent Net Aesthetics 2.0 panel, Wolfgang Staehle called Toywar something like 'the most important work of internet art, ever.'
Originally posted on MTAA Reference Resource by Rhizome