The following is an excerpt from my doctoral dissertation, Geek Cultures: Media and Identity in the Digital Age. It has been edited for the web.
Just south of Central Park, walking north on Broadway, we were spotted. A group of 50 or so people hurled their attack at us from across the street, shouting at the top of their lungs: “Can we help you?”
We screamed our response: “We’re amazed by you!”
Both attacks flew wide. We announced, “You’re too kind,” and each team proceeded on its way.
Cruel 2 B Kind is a game of â€œbenevolent assassination.â€ Itâ€™s played in normal social spaces, where you donâ€™t necessarily know whoâ€™s in on the game and who isnâ€™t. Like the â€œassassinsâ€ games that have been played on college campuses for years, the purpose is to hunt some target and avoid being hunted yourself. In this particular variant, however, there’s a twist: You â€œkillâ€ enemies with a warm greeting. If you hit the right players with your compliment, you absorb them into your team. If you hit the wrong players, they inform you that “you’re too kind.” If you hit someone whoâ€™s not playing â€“Â well, itâ€™s friendlier than traditional crossfire, at least.