Alexander Galloway
Since the beginning
Works in New York, New York United States of America

Alex works with RSG. Projects include the surveillance tool "Carnivore," "Low Level All Stars" a DVD collection of C64 intros, and the computer game Kriegspiel.
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DISCUSSION Article--Online Games Grab Grim Reality

Online Games Grab Grim Reality
September 17, 2003

As flames crackled and the wind howled through a gash in
the skyscraper's wall, a gray-suited businessman wandered
in a daze through the smoke. Unable to find an escape
route, he suddenly strode toward the sky and leaped.

This appalling scene appears neither in print nor on film
but in a computer game, "9-11 Survivor," that was briefly
available this summer on the Internet. Using a mouse,
players could move through an animated, three-dimensional
rendering of a burning World Trade Center office.
Ultimately one might perish in the fire, opt to jump like
the businessman or, if concealed stairs were discovered,
flee to safety.

"9-11 Survivor" provoked an immediate outcry on the
Internet. Infuriated e-mail correspondents accused the
game's makers of lacking taste and moral decency by
exploiting a tragedy. The game depicts only one scene, and
although an online description, at
/911survivor, makes it seem as if a full product were still
coming, "9-11 Survivor" was never planned for commercial

It was created as an art-class project by three students at
the University of California, San Diego, John Brennan, Mike
Caloud and Jeff Cole. They said their goal was to
reinterpret a historic moment by transplanting it to the
medium with which they were most familiar: computer games.
Inured to the distant televised images of Sept. 11, they
hoped an immersive, interactive version would restore an
immediacy to the day's horrors. Mr. Cole, who examined
photographs to reconstruct the scene, said, "The more I
delved into it, the more personal it became."

Computer and video games were once the province of
futuristic gladiators and soldiers of yore. But as better
graphics technology has made games more visually realistic,
digital artists have been using 3-D game environments to
recreate real places and simulate recent events. In the
process they are turning what has been a platform for pure
fantasy into a medium for social realism. At the very least
the violent action at the heart of many games accurately
reflects the world that game players confront when they
step away from their screens.

Digital games appeal to artists for several reasons. Their
very mass appeal makes them a target for tweaking in much
the same manner that a soup can was a subject for Andy
Warhol's paintbrush. The opportunity to imagine and build
an entire virtual universe can be compelling. And game play
generates a live performance with a bonus: audience
participation is required.

Some artists construct games from scratch, while others
develop modifications, or mods, to existing commercial
releases. "Survivor 9-11," for instance, is like a skin
slipped over the computerized skeleton of "Unreal
Tournament 2003," a top-selling combat title.

Brody Condon, a Los Angeles artist and the teacher of the
experimental game-design class that spawned "9-11
Survivor," said game mods were rapidly evolving into a new
populist art form. He said artists and game enthusiasts
were naturally inclined to use them to depict the world,
including culturally significant places and events.

People who make mods "probably don't go to museums," Mr.
Condon said. "They're not going to paint." But "they have
this immediately accessible tool for cultural criticism,
and it has an immediate method of dissemination, which is
the Internet," he continued. "That's enticing."

High-tech re-creations of archaeological landmarks like
Stonehenge and the Roman Colosseum are no longer news at
this stage of digital history. But for many artists adding
game-play elements to a virtual reconstruction can convert
a preservationist exercise into an involving aesthetic

Rachel Greene, the co-curator of <object.title
class="Movie" idsrc="nyt_ttl" value="22971">"Killer
Instinct,"</object.title> a game-art exhibition that will
open on Dec. 12 at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in
Lower Manhattan, said: "Games allow you to move through
space and assume a personality, whether it's heroic or one
of a victim. Those are powerful psychological tools,
especially when artists want to connect them to real-world

"Waco Resurrection," for instance, is a new computer game
in which four players assume the role of the cult leader
David Koresh in a virtual re-creation of his Texas compound
where more than three dozen people were killed in a
confrontation with federal agents. From Oct. 15 to Oct. 25
the game can be played at the Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street
in Chelsea, where players must read Koresh's messianic
messages aloud and attract followers to advance. The game,
to be put online early in 2004, was created by a Los
Angeles artists' collective, C-level. Its members intend to
produce a series of games about ideologues, including the
Heaven's Gate leader Marshall Applewhite and the Unabomber,
Theodore Kaczynski.

Eddo Stern, a C-level member with Mr. Condon, said the
commercial game industry has, like the film industry,
focused on escapist entertainment. But now, he said, "what
we're trying to do in a sense is create documentary video

Julian Oliver, the director of SelectParks, a media lab in
Melbourne, Australia, said game-art projects based on
virtual re-creations typically deliver their creators'
vision of an otherwise inaccessible space. They also can be
used to alter people's experience of a public place or a
historic moment.

"Normally they're not just straight simulations where you
simply play out the events as they were then," Mr. Oliver
said. "You can revisit those events and play them
differently and explore them from many different camera

With two other artists, he is developing "Escape From
Woomera" (, a virtual
reconstruction of four Australian immigration-detention

When a prototype version of the game is put online next
month, players will have various ways to escape, from
asking for legal help to digging their way out. Mr. Oliver
said, "We've exploded open an institution that is entirely
designed to be outside of the public imagination."

Mr. Oliver and his SelectParks colleagues also are
developing "Acmi Park," a virtual recreation of Melbourne's
Australian Center for the Moving Image that transplants the
urban museum to a pastoral setting and adds imaginary
features like a virtual concert hall.

When the project is put online in April 2004, players will
be able to pop into offices that are usually closed to
visitors and collaborate on sound-art performances. The
project's sponsors rejected a proposal that would have
allowed players to wreak havoc within the virtual museum.

Mr. Oliver said, "They certainly weren't interested in
people fragging in their office or pulling out a rocket
launcher in the public toilets, much to my disappointment."

Exaggerated gore, a selling point for many fantasy-based
games, can become unsettling when applied to real events
still fresh in the memory. This may explain the outraged
reactions from game enthusiasts to "9-11 Survivor" when it
was put online in June. (The game was removed from the Net
in July, not because of the controversy, the students say,
but because they got an $8,000 bill for heavy site

Daniel A. Topler, senior editor of a technology-review Web
site in Princeton, N.J., was one who objected. In a recent
e-mail message, he said, "Although I am an avid fan of
computer games, including some violent titles based on
World War II and the like, I feel that we must draw the
line somewhere."

The "9-11 Survivor" creators argued that they were trying
to show how that line is always moving. Mr. Cole said one
friend criticized the game even though the same person had
no qualms portraying a Nazi in a World War II role-playing
game. Mr. Brennan said 9/11 would inevitably serve as raw
material for future games, just as the Titanic and Pearl
Harbor became film fodder. Noting the recent increase in
games based on the Vietnam War, Mr. Brennan said: "Would it
have been appropriate the day after? I don't think so. But
it's appropriate now somehow."

One group of hobbyists even plans to develop a game to
combat the notion that virtual violence leads to actual
bloodshed. In August the five-member Dteam 3D Design Team
said it would create "Doom for Columbine" over the next 18

The game, to be set in virtual re-creations of Columbine
High School and other schools, will be based on "Doom," the
game once blamed for inspiring the Columbine shooting
deaths. Scott Leonard, the group's founder, said, "Now
we're going do something on Doom to show them that's
silly." In this version players will be able to attack
monstrous incarnations of bullies and other adolescent

"We're just trying to make a statement," Mr. Leonard said.
"We're trying to say, `It's just a game.' "


demo scene report on Ars Electronica

an interesting report from this year's Ars Electronica written by the
demo scene folks of



Re: "Prepared PlayStation 2" (RSG-THPS4-1)

oh, no reason. just because quicktimes are lame and i want people to
see it on an actual "prepared" ps2. the dvd is available, but it's for
documentation purposes only.

in related news, coverage of the Radical Entertainment show in
london... we're "oddly
stuck in the past, nostalgic even".. awesome!! too bad that reporter
doesn't know the difference between Duck Hunt and HOGAN'S ALLEY! which
any llama would know Cory's work is a mod of. jeesh. although i would
agree with him that Nude Raider is better art than any of us could ever
come up with. also i guess he didn't see the whole show, since the
Nullpointer and Futurefarmers pieces are dealing with a more
contemporary gaming aesthetic. oh well, more hateration from the
mainstream press. =(

On Friday, July 25, 2003, at 01:42 PM, Eryk Salvaggio wrote:

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Alexander Galloway" <>
>> here's some new PS2 stuff... sorry, screenshots only =)
> Why screenshots only when the whole thrust of the work is motion?
> -e.
> + ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht ym tup
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"Prepared PlayStation 2" (RSG-THPS4-1)

here's some new PS2 stuff... sorry, screenshots only =)