Information Warfare: Games Some People Are Forbidden To Play

Archives

August 17, 2014: Earlier this year (May) there was another military coup in Thailand. One not-too-surprising (to Thais) move by the generals was a recent banning of a computer game (Tropico 5) that simulates a military coup and opposition to it. Games like this are not new. A board game simulation of coups (Junta) first appeared in 1975 and became a dangerous item to have for those living in countries living under military rule. Other board game and computerized games along these lines followed. Tropico first appeared in 2001 and there have been four major upgrades to the game since (thus it is now Tropico 5).

The Thai ban on Tropico 5 backfired because it can be obtained via the Internet and the ban itself gave the game a lot of unexpected publicity. This misjudgment was not an isolated event. The Thai military also tried to shut down Facebook and similar sites because of all the hostile chatter about the coup. The generals quickly discovered that such sites are tremendously popular in Thailand, by pro-coup Thais and opponents alike. Thus the army was forced to come out and say it would never shut down Facebook access in Thailand. Games like Tropico 5 are another matter.

Thailand is not the only country to ban computer games that are seen as critical of the government. In late 2013 China banned Battlefield 4, a popular American video game. Despite having done this dozens of times over the last few years, this particular ban got picked up by the mass media. Battlefield 4 annoyed the Chinese because one of its scenarios portrays a China that has undergone civil war and sundry other humiliations.

These bans are largely ineffective because Chinese gamers are heavy users of pirated versions of video games and can also buy banned games without too much trouble. The bans are mainly for show, to demonstrate that the Communist Party (which runs China) will not openly tolerate anything that is immoral (especially anything related to gambling or drugs) or that makes China look bad.

Meanwhile there have been twelve coups in Thailand in the last 80 years (since a constitutional monarchy replaced the century’s old absolute monarchy) and people are getting tired of it. Where the army often runs into problems is with their efforts to control what people say about them. Unless the army does the impossible, and shuts down access to social media sites like Facebook, popular resistance to whatever the military government is doing will have an Internet platform on which to spread and grow. This time around troops have orders to arrest anyone who appears to be leading resistance to the coup, but the number of anti-coup opponents are so numerous that trying to decapitate the opposition by taking most leaders out of action will not work. The opposition has plenty of competent replacements for lost leaders and too many ways for coup opponents to get their comments into circulation.

 

 


Article Archive

Information Warfare: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
30

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 30 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close