Velvet-Strike is a mod of the first-person shooter video game Counter-Strike. The mod, developed by Anne-Marie Schleiner, Joan Leandre, and Brody Condon, adds “protest sprays” to the game’s existing graffiti function. Velvet-Strike’s sprays ranged from being playfully out of step with the game’s self-serious violence and machismo to spreading explicitly anti-war messages.
Velvet-Strike was developed just after 9/11, coming into existence alongside the United States’ declaration of the “War on Terror.” It was an early intervention into the space where gaming culture and politics converge—a space that has become more contested as gaming has become mainstream. Velvet-Strike was at the forefront of artistic and activist gestures that questioned the militaristic ideologies present in popular video games. Velvet-Strike makes an important argument for the entwinement of “the real” and “the virtual” when it comes to politics and demonstrates the possibilities of activism in the virtual space of video games.
-rhizome.org Net Art Anthology