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6/6/2006
08:04 PM
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Environmentalist Pranksters Pose As McDonald's Execs At Corporate Game Conference

An environmental activist posed as a representative of McDonald's to deliver a message critiquing corporate environmental practices at a gaming conference.

At the International Serious Games Event 2006 in the U.K Monday, environmental activists offered some unexpected levity.

Posing as a representative of McDonald's Interactive, a non-existent division of McDonald's Corporation, a man with the unlikely name Andrew Shimery-Wolf delivered a low-key critique of corporate environmental practices backed by PowerPoint slides.

The International Serious Games Event 2006 is a two-day conference that was held in Birmingham, England to showcase serious applications for game technology like business simulations and industrial training.

"Today I'm going to tell you the story of a game so serious that it changed the direction of a company," Shimery-Wolf said. "And I'll also talk about an even more serious game - the game we're all playing with the future of the world."

Shimery-Wolf then went on to talk about the dire consequences of global warming. He concluded, "We in the serious software industry have a powerful tool at our disposal. We can use it to change the world, or we can use it to serve suicidal corporate policies."

Ben Sawyer, the moderator of the Serious Games mailing list and co-founder of Digitalmill, a technology project and software development firm based in Portland, Maine, wrote in an e-mail that he was in the process of looking into the incident. He speculated, "I'm thinking someone screwed up."

"We wanted to see what would happen if a respectable entity presented this obvious (if inconvenient) truth," a person identifying himself as "Harold Burns" explained in an e-mail. "Invited to the conference as McDonald's, that's what we did. Our talk was the hit of the conference, by all accounts. People were absolutely behind our message, as well they should have been."

The e-mail message from Burns was sent from an RTMARK.com address though it purported to be from info@mcdonaldsinteractive.com, "McDonald's Interactive Press Office." RTMARK is a well-known umbrella organization for cultural activism.

McDonald's officials were not immediately available to comment.

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