A strange “war”, the “pixel war”, focused the attention of hundreds of thousands of French Internet users on the night of Sunday April 4. French, American and Spanish videographers from the Twitch live video platform have fought a fierce battle to maintain control of a digital artistic canvas, supported by their hundreds of thousands of viewers.
The phenomenon has taken on such proportions that presidential candidate Eric Zemmour tweeted to appropriate the popularity of the event, although he is in no way linked to his party, Reconquest. He hopes to capture a young (18-24 years old) and connected population, keen on this kind of web culture event, including only 60% had moved in both rounds in 2017. According to the most recent pollsZemmour is clearly behind the Macron-Le Pen-Mélenchon trio in their voting intentions.
Congratulations to our French Internet users who defend our beautiful tricolor flag on Reddit! France needs you, the Reconquest is also on Reddit.
— Eric Zemmour (@ZemmourEric) April 3, 2022
One pixel every 5 minutes
To understand the “Pixel War”, you have to look at the playing field of the event. On April 1, community site Reddit repeated a social experiment from 2017, in the r/Place sub-forum. The platform has created a digital canvas to which any Internet user can contribute. Concretely, every 5 minutes, each Reddit user can change the color of a pixel on the image. In order to create coherent shapes on the canvas, Internet users are therefore encouraged to organize themselves. For example, a French Reddit community quickly mobilized to create a replica of Notre-Dame. But if some combine to create designs, others combine to destroy the creations already present. And for good reason: even if Reddit increases the size of the canvas at intervals, space is limited.
Quickly, the event crossed the borders of Reddit. Several of Twitch’s most popular streamers have mobilized their community to make and unmake chunks of pixel art. Among them, the French streamer Kamel Kebir, better known under the pseudonym Kameto. In addition to regularly bringing together hundreds of thousands of spectators on his Twitch channel, he runs Karmine Corp, one of the French sports organizations [dédiée à la compétition sur les jeux vidéo, ndlr] the most popular. He first mobilized his spectators to reproduce the logo of his company, then the event reached other proportions following bickering with American and Spanish streamers.
Mobilization of French influencers
Accused by other influential Twitch streamers of using “bots”, i.e. automatic scripts, to make his images, Kameto agreed to open a voice chat on Discord with them. After this “summit” resembling diplomatic discussions followed by more than 250,000 people on the French streamer’s channel, other popular videographers (such as Squeezie, Inoxtag or Zerator) also shone their spotlight on the event.
The very many French spectators have thus united their efforts, pixel by pixel, to draw an Eiffel Tower against the backdrop of the French flag and protect it from attempts to damage it by other contributors. The good-natured gueguerre thus took on a national dimension, in the sense that its participants had to represent the French Internet.
After its first battles, the “pixel war” should continue in the days to come. This community event once again demonstrated the capacity for massive mobilization of French Internet users. This force of commitment, young and connected, makes French political parties salivate who would like to capture it, like Reconquête or En Marche, which has created a world dedicated to Emmanuel Macron’s program on the Minecraft video game. . So far, without success.
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What is the “Pixel War” unleashing the French Internet and what does Zemmour want to recover?
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