Two Words Helping Overthrow A Government

“Game Over”. It’s a term synonymous with video games, yet right now in Egypt, it’s also a rallying cry for mass political action.

As political turmoil grips the Middle Eastern state, with people clamouring for the removal of President Hosni Mubarak, “Game Over” has quickly become a simple, effective slogan for protesters to employ. In fact, it’s becoming so widely-used it’s turned into the catch-phrase of the entire crisis. As you’re about to see.

It’s simple because in two words it sums up many Egyptian’s feelings towards their President of thirty years, and it’s effective because it’s being written as a pair of words that are as well-known in Germany and Japan as they are in New Zealand and Ireland.

In that sense, then, the placards and graffiti exclaiming “GAME OVER” aren’t being written for the crowds or passers-by on the streets of Cairo. They’re being written for you, and me, and everyone else watching events unfold from home, English-speaking or not.

That being the case, then, how strange it is to see the term selected be not an established piece of political jargon, or something unique to the people of the region, but… something you see when your time in a video game is up.

Are the protesters suggesting that, for the past thirty years, Mubarak — who has long enjoyed American backing at the expense of almost dictatorial behaviour at home — has been toying with the people of Egypt? That his rule has been just a game to him?

Or is it just a snappy slogan, one that actually debuted in Tunisia earlier this month and has now spread beyond the North African state and Egypt to protests in Yemen?

In case you’re wondering, the term “Game Over” actually originated on electronic pinball machines, because their primitive screens were too small to contain an entire sentence like “This Game Is Now Over”, or “You Suck, So Your Time With This Game Is Now Over, Sucky”. So “Game Over” was born.

Once video games came onto the scene in the 1970s, however, they quickly employed the same slogan, and have been using it – and been synonymous with it – ever since.

Here are just a few examples of it being used on the streets in Egypt, but a quick look at your favourite news outlet or photo sharing site Flickr will get you many, many more.

Image credit: Associated Press

Image credit: Getty

Image credit: Getty

Image credit: tabulagaza

Image credit: Wikipedia

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