In December 1964, Che Guevara delivered a classic speech to the UN General Assembly in New York. The South American revolutionary effortlessly did what revolutionaries do best, inspiring, threatening and posturing, rising to his historic occasion with vehemence and dignity. It was his time and he took it neatly. During a withering diatribe focused almost exclusively on US foreign policy, Guevara said, "Cuba, distinguished delegates, a free and sovereign state with no chains binding it to anyone, with no foreign investments on its territory, with no proconsuls directing its policy, can speak with its head held high in this Assembly and can demonstrate the justice of the phrase by which it has been baptised: 'Free Territory of the Americas'."
The speech - one accompanied by rapturous applause - came towards the end of Guevara's life; he was assassinated in 1967, perhaps unsurprisingly if you read the transcript. He was peaking. He would never be more prominent, or more dangerous. Looking back through quotes attributed to Guevara, you see him becoming bolder, more cogent, more obvious as time goes on, leading up to his audience with world leaders in 1964. The progression of Hitler's speeches is very similar. The development of their ideas finally reaches a place where they cannot be ignored. They reach a place where their proponents shift from soapbox barkers to leaders.
Of course, the likes of Guevara and Hitler were genuine, historical figures, radical politicians that changed the world. Their prominence was 50, 60 years ago: now entertainment is politics and within the sphere of entertainment, interaction is the true explosion. PlayStation is a mass movement: conservatism is banality. World of Warcraft trends: socialism stagnates. But ubiquitous as games are, it could be argued that they shackle the masses, that the games industry has never had a bona fide revolutionary. We may have been led away from the grinding drudgery of television, but no one's ever threatened to take on the establishment wholesale.
Maybe the wait's finally over.
Days of Darkness
On June 1 2007, CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson stood on stage at the company's 10th birthday party in Reykjavik, Iceland, and said that when he joined the EVE Online team seven years ago, he "thought he'd be making a computer game". EVE, he said completely seriously, is "changing the way people think about entertainment". "Yay," said a few in the crowd. Some smiled. Others looked confused; drank some more.
Pétursson continued, pointing a finger shyly beyond the microphone, talking about a "self-governing virtual society" before remembering himself and holding his hands up in a "whatever" sense. He played a video titled "Days of Darkness", a lengthy piece put together by EVE players depicting events in the Amarr-Minmitar war covered in the game's back-story. The club quaked to the spectacle of titan laser. Icelandic society's great and good were assembled for the reception, and there were many middle-aged business types in the crowd. Standing at the front taking photos, I turned to see the face of one grey-haired woman watching the Minmatar fleet decimated to thunderous drum and bass. She was baffled and scared, very obviously. She didn't know what was happening in that movie. It made no sense to her. A man she knew as "important" had told her this was the new face of modern entertainment and all she was seeing was a terrible display of brute force. There was no "game" on her screen. She was seeing something she didn't understand. And if this is the future, her brain was saying, I have no place in it.
Her brain was only part right. EVE is the future, and she belongs in it just as much as everybody else.