At the G20 protests in London a couple months ago, the police got in trouble for using agent provocateurs to incite the crowd to violence. While such stories are unfortunately not uncommon at large political rallies, I have never heard of the authorities or a corporation staging an entire protest. That, however, is exactly what the popular video game maker Electronic Arts, did last week in an effort to promote one of their new releases. According to the Associated Press:
The game publisher hired a group of nearly 20 people to stand outside the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles on Wednesday and appear to protest the upcoming EA game “Dante’s Inferno.” EA spokeswoman Holly Rockwood says the stunt was arranged by a viral marketing agency hired by EA.
The group claimed to be protesting the third-person action game — loosely based on Dante Aligheri’s poem “Divine Comedy” — because they said the game glorified eternal damnation.
The fake religious protesters passed out pamphlets and held up picket signs with messages such as “Hell is not a Video Game” and “Trade in Your PlayStation for a PrayStation.”
Apparently, the fake demonstrators that were hired were unemployed. Pretty sad.
I would be delighted to see this stunt, which may very well have been successful from a business perspective, backfire on EA somehow. Perhaps an actual boycott of the company is in order, just so that the execs can get a taste of the real power of nonviolent action. But I don’t think gamers are generally activists, so I won’t hold my breath.