Police Brutality

Fuck The Police - Peacefully

Free Download
Jason Rohrer

In the tradition of Flash mobs (which are going to be tracked by the NSA and headed off at the pass, going into the future) and Ghandi (dead) comes Police Brutality, a game by Jason Rohrer that explores how vocal dissent can disrupt police's efforts to taze people. The game has you, as the lone leader, shouting. As you do, other people are galvanized, and become available to shout, or move, blocking police. The goal is to prevent anyone from being evicted from the premises; you achieve this by playing the numbers of the crowd against the lesser numbers of police, divide and deter.

When historians look back on the fall and decline of the American Empire, the most wry among them may remark that the transition was from an attitude of "Don't Tread On Me" to an attitude of "Don't Taze Me, Bro!".

4 out of 5 scientists agree: the United States is rapidly descending into fascism. (1 out of 5 scientists funded by DARPA). Fortunately, the worst instances of this tend to emerge indirectly, through seemingly isolated incidents, like when somebody asks in public if John Kerry is a member of Skull and Bones. Totally isolated incidents with no pattern whatsoever.

Police Brutality is interesting, because the way the system works actually makes you think these tactics might be effective. But would they? Certainly violent protest would be swatted down, but more subtle forms might work, as this paper explores. I would argue that the methods demonstrated in Rohrer's prototype are only effective in certain contexts, and that when successful, the leverage in favor of the crowd wouldn't come from their expressed dissent so much as the risk of liability that might result from multi-party escalation. That would only make sense in the context of university security officers; good ol' fashioned porklice have a much more mild risk of legal backlash for any of their abuses, and as such may take cause to escalate things past the level of merely restraining individuals. The game implies that the worst thing to happen to you is for a cop to handcuff you and pin you down, but what about back-up? What about the various loopholes that allow prosecution of people for "participating" in violent protest? Because the game fails to scale to the higher levels of conflict intensity that the machine has contingencies for, it fails to provide a robust education of effective counter-brutality tactics. It would work for a town-hall meeting in Potsdam. It would not work in a "free speech zone" in NYC.

That said, the game provides an interesting window in the tactics of winning hearts and minds, which is the secret war that has defined society for over a century. It's good that there's exploration in this direction, as prototypic as it may be.

Ed: See also Liberal Crime Squad and A Force More Powerful.


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