Edward Snowden Sees Himself As A Video Game Hero

Edward Snowden Sees Himself As A Video Game Hero
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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.


  • Easy joke of the day: Bradley Manning is Cloud Strife when he went undercover as a girl.

  • While I’m on the fence regarding the whole issue of a single individual making a personal decision which impacts things far beyond their own understanding, one thing I’m certain of; this dude is a massive tool.

    • If no one speaks up about potential injustices. How are we going to set them right?

      An entire government organisation or government itself is doing something incredibly dodgy and you can get access to the paperwork to prove it’s happening. What do you do? Allow the injustice to continue or be a “massive tool”?

      If your solution is to shut up and keep working ignorantly. I want to hire you for my new political party “Totally Not Corrupt Guys”.

      • Nah, guy’s a total tool, what he did doesn’t matter but if someone is concerned about freedom of information, anti-opression and government transparency then why the fuck do you seek refuge in Russia? Nothing quite says I’m a hypocritical twat like that

        • There’s the small fact of the US cancelling his passport while he was en route for South America (as well as forcing down a presidential plane), thus sticking him in Russia without any choice, but why let reality get in the way of your stupid bullcrap?

        • Do you even try to inform yourself before spouting ridiculous assertions and moral judgements? The US is DESPERATELY hunting him and if you for a second believe he will have a fair trial and will not be subjected to the most inhumane possible torture if apprehended, then you are a naive fool.

          Russia is one if not the only country in the world that: 1. Gave sanctuary to him in spite of extreme pressure from the US (which they effectively inflicted on most of the “free world” by threatening commercial embargoes and God knows what else.) 2. Refuses to extradite him, and 3. is big and powerful enough to give pause to the US whenever they think of removing Snowden by force.

      • So everything Russia does is totally above board is it? How’s he paying for board these days? Or does this fantastic right to transparency suddenly not apply?

  • He’ll end up under a few feet of concrete once Putin has sucked all he can from this guys brain.

  • A lot of games are far from being about an “ordinary” person. You’re most often playing someone who has special powers, or is a child of prophecy, or someone who just happened to be in the right place at the right time to become powerful. Even if you start out as an ordinary person, most games portray you as the only one who can defeat the evil because it’s not something “ordinary” people can do, only people like you.

    Similarly, morality in video games is generally set up to portray the hero’s particular morality as being “good” and that of the enemy as being “bad”. It often translates well, because games are rarely made that contradict the morality of the intended audience. For those games where you are the “bad” guy, it’s only because your society has morals that contradict the character’s, while to the character themselves, their moral system is the correct one. You also have to wonder about the morality of a person who, at the end of the game, has the highest body count and has spent the entire time trying to commit genocide, xenocide, deicide, and whatever other ‘cides’ relate to the game’s conflicts.

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