"This act is concrete sabotage against the system of surveillance and control."
– CAMOVER Mission Statement
It started in Germany, where activists in black bloc garb hit the streets of Berlin at nightfall to tear down surveillance cameras. As different anarchists joined in on the task, posting videos and photos of their exploits online, it turned into a game: Camover. Players first form a team, name their brigade, and then get busy trashing the cameras that loom in public spaces – the omnipresent eye of Big Daddy. Points are given out for each sacked camera, with bonus scores for the most innovative modes of destruction. Some vigilantes use their bare hands, others use axes, or most impressively, string lassoes.
The number of CCTV surveillance cameras on the streets of Germany is on the rise, and “Camover” came in at the perfect moment, disrupting the silent rise of a totalizing panopticism, with its catchy blend of reality-gaming and activism.
The situation in Germany is case and point at to why we have to give up our reliance on staid lefty tactics. German citizens who oppose CCTV found that petitions, letters, marches and solemn documentaries can achieve very little. A group of 40 protestors march the streets of Berlin in June, protesting the Orwellian level of surveillance in the city, and another group screened documentaries about the rise of CCTV months later. But Camover’s direct-action approach has been the only effective measure. They took down over 50 cameras in just the first few weeks of actions, and successfully shifted public dialogue about surveillance – internationally.
It didn’t taken long for this flame to catch. The game spread quickly throughout Germany, to Finland, Greece and just hit the Northwest Coast of the USA this month.
What other gaming-activism hybrid initiatives will emerge from the rumbling global imagination this spring? Is #Camover but the first wave of many? The clever and potent mix of reality-game and direct-action could be a game-changer for the political left.
… Oh, and keep an eye out for #Killcap.