Mario. Solid Snake. Cloud Strife. EDWARD SNOWDEN.
Anyone who’s been following the story of America’s most notorious whistleblower undoubtedly knows that he’s a big ol’ geek, but this nugget from a recent GQ interviewwith reporter Glen Greenwald — who worked with Snowden on the infamous NSA leak last year — is particularly interesting:
You mention in your book that Snowden’s moral universe was first informed by video games.
In Hong Kong, Snowden told me that at the heart of most video games is an ordinary individual who sees some serious injustice, right? Like some person who’s been kidnapped and you’ve got to rescue them, or some evil force that has obtained this weapon and you’ve got to deactivate it or kill them or whatever. And it’s all about figuring out ways to empower yourself as an ordinary person, to take on powerful forces in a way that allows you to undermine them in pursuit of some public good. Even if it’s really risky or dangerous. That moral narrative at the heart of video games was part of his preadolescence and formed part of his moral understanding of the world and one’s obligation as an individual.
If not for video games, we might not know that the NSA is clandestinely monitoring everything we do. Neat! Thanks, video games. But yeah, no joke: I find it fascinating to think about how society will evolve — in both positive and negative ways — as culture gets dominated by people who grew up with games. It’s easy to forget just how influential this little hobby can be.