Edward Snowden inspired by video games

2 min read

Do you wanna build a snowden

Edward Snowden caused quite a stir when he revealed all the dirty little secrets that the world’s governments had been hiding. Of course, it sorta ruined his life and he had to seek asylum, but it was totally worth it, right? Well, apparently he was inspired to do it thanks to video games.

Glenn Greenwald got to spend some time with Snowden preparing a book about him, and in an interview with GQ, he revealed:

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.

This makes more sense to me than I suppose it should. That moral narrative was a part of my pre-adolescence, too. From a very young age, games that I played (and books I read, but let’s focus on the games) showed that a single person could make a huge difference. It might require help from friends, but it was all about finding your individual power, discovering what made you special or unique or just getting the tools you require. Once you had that, it didn’t matter how big the evil empire was, how strong or manipulative the big bad could get – with perseverance and belief in yourself, anything is possible.

Love him or hate him, Snowden showed that even the largest governments could be taken on. He spilled all the secrets and revealed the truth behind the curtain. Thanks to video games, I think we can all be inspired to do something courageous, to change the world. Or, we can all be inspired to work through our backlog and one day emerge victorious!

Last Updated: May 14, 2014

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