Colin Delany September 14, 2007

Using an Online Game to Make a Point — and to Build an Activist List

One of the marine conservation folks at my day job passed along this little critter yesterday — it’s an online game that uses the classic Space Invaders model, only this time you’re a whale trying to stop Japanese whaling ships by “bumping” them from below with globs of bubbles while at the same time you avoid hitting the little Greenpeace speedboats. The whalers are dropping harpoons on you in return (ouch!). Build points and you get a faster whale (that orca kicks ass!), hit ships enough time and they sink (oh, the humanity). Check the wacky details — the blood that spurts when you’re harpooned, the WW2-style Rising Sun on the ships, and the little mushroom-head sailors (are they wearing hats???) who bounce and flail (and drown?) when you bump a boat.

According to the site stats, the game site has collected almost 400,000 signatures since its launch a year and a half ago. Interestingly, it seems to have been created by a random web development company in Australia as an awareness-raising device — no doubt both for the whales and for the company. It’s a good example of how a game can be a practical way to net email addresses for an activist list. Just don’t forget the fun — ain’t nobody gonna play it if it sucks.

cpd

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