Antiwar Games

While a student in Serbia, Ivan Marovic cofounded Otpor ("resistance"), which helped topple Slobodan Milosevic's dictatorship. Now Marovic, 32, is out with a video game, A Force More Powerful: The Game of Nonviolent Strategy. He talks about why gamers make the best revolutionaries.

Fast Company: Your first attempt to boot Milosevic failed. What worked the second time?

Marovic: The idea was to make politics sexy for the ordinary consumer, especially teenagers. We used a corporate approach to branding the revolution. Our symbol was a clenched fist, and we put it on T-shirts, umbrellas, mugs, all that stuff. That was essential to attracting attention.

FC: So in 2000, did Milosevic see all those umbrellas and just give up?

Marovic: No, he stole the election again. But we had prepared the second step: massive civil disobedience. After the election, we organized 10 days of strikes and roadblocks. Life came to a standstill. Finally, on October 5, we took over Parliament and Milosevic resigned.

FC: Cool! What happened then?

Marovic: We started getting calls from people who wanted help in their countries. The first was from the Republic of Georgia. Then the Ukrainians. I'm in contact now with people from around the world.

FC: Why do a game about this?

Marovic: You can't intimidate a compact disc. Plus, it can be proliferated easily.

FC: How do you play?

Marovic: In the game, you run a nonviolent movement. Your goal is to manage your alliance by expanding the number of groups that support you. You try various tactics—mass protests, rallies, picketing, boycotts, strikes, etc.—to get groups to withdraw their support for the regime.

FC: What's the key to winning?

Marovic: Stay low until you are strong enough to accept a blow from the regime.

FC: So playing video games helped you guys win?

Marovic: Yes. Five of the 10 Otpor founders were serious gamers. In a game, you create a strategy in the first 50 moves to plant a seed for what happens 50 moves later. You catch your opponent in a trap. That's a good strategy for political organizing, too.

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