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Electronic empire: Orientalism revisited in the military shooter

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Abstract

Through use of Said's concept of Orientalism, this article examines how a set of military computer games set in the Middle East construct this location within its game space. Initially, the article addresses the problem of the realistic and the real in these games. The discussion then centers on the relationship between these games, the War on Terror and the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. In connection to this, the article pays particular attention to what has been styled the Military Entertainment Complex (Lenoir, 2003) or, alternatively, the military-industrial-media-entertainment network (Der Derian, 2001). The article concludes that, as a part of the Military Entertainment Complex, the games under scrutiny render the Middle East as a site of perpetual war and enlist, both through their marketing strategies and through game semiotics, the gamer as a soldier willing to fight the virtual war and even support the ideology that functions as the games' political rationale.

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... Another study prefers focusing on how game developers rely on the principle of le ng foreign cultures create elements of conflict (Schwartz 2006). An (Hoglund 2008). ...
... The poli cal and cultural change of American society has also marked the process of inheri ng the tradi ons of orientalism previously held by Europe. This new form of Orientalism is known as Neo-Orientalism (Hoglund 2008). This exact defini on and scope of this term is s ll debated, but there are two characters that mark the emergence of neoorientalism. ...
... The second is a shi in focus that specifically leads to the Arab-Muslim world, which is characterized, one of which, by the stereotyping process of Middle Eastern society into too simplified representa on (Said 1998). Several studies have been carried out previously to confirm the forms of neo-orientalism in various media, one of which focuses on the military shooter video game genre ''''''' (Hoglund 2008;Sisler 2008;Zwieten 2011;Mantello 2013;Stahl 2006;Tucker 2008). ...
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This paper provides an analysis of different orientalism forms found in the third title of the popular Far Cry game series released by from Ubisoft. The open world games offered by Far Cry 3 bring a new nuance in the discourse of orientalism in video games. It provides both opportunities and challenges for developers to build ‘world’ as real as possible for players to explore. This construction process often reflects the orientalism practices shown by game developers in describing Eastern society and culture. The Pacific island community, which is the setting of Far Cry 3,is described as being naive, primitive, violent, despotic, superstitious, and powerless compared to both the protagonist and antagonist figures who represent Western contemporary and progressive ideas. This depiction goes hand in hand with the process of interaction and exploration of players over the virtual world offered in the game. Through a variety of activities such as hunting, exploring, sailing, and killing enemy forces, the player acts as a 'western mediator' who understands the Eastern world as a strange and mysterious territory. Therefore, this article offers an in-depth analysis of Far Cry 3 from the point of view of cultural studies to explain how the open world of the shooter genre game offers a new form of orientalism.
... These studies on realism in military-themed digital games (in a post-1989 setting) have been complemented with specific content analysis, particularly concerning aspects of ideology and the representation of Botherness.^Several studies have highlighted how the subsequent versions of the game America's Army, which was created by the US army, can be seen as Bvirtual advertisementsf or the military (e.g., Li 2003;Nieborg 2010;Power 2007), while also other games like Medal of Honor and both Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Call of duty: Modern Warfare 2, created by entertainment companies, convey clear pro-militarist opinions (Gagnon 2010;Van Zwieten 2011). In relation to depiction of Bthe other,^several studies have focused on representations of the Middle East in particular, as the region is shown frequently in such games (Höglund 2008). They highlighted that military-themed shooting games offer stereotyped portrayals of the region, in which no consideration is given to its ethnic and religious diversity (Šisler 2008). ...
... They highlighted that military-themed shooting games offer stereotyped portrayals of the region, in which no consideration is given to its ethnic and religious diversity (Šisler 2008). Höglund (2008) describes it as a form of Bneo-Orientalism,^an American set of discursive strategies about the region heir to the British sense of Orientalism, portraying the Middle East as a perpetual war zone, where US interests continuously clash with forms of Islamic radicalism and terrorism. ...
... As a consequence, especially regions that are recognizable for American, and to a lesser extent European, gamers-the audiences these games usually target (Kohler 2010)-or regions that are of a geopolitical interest to the USA, are depicted. This is especially true for the Middle East, which features prominently in these games, meaning that the sense of neo-Orientalism as described by Höglund (2008) is still very present in the popular Bwar^games published since 2009 (see Appendix 1). The same holds true for the depiction of the USA itself and Latin American countries, which corresponds to a fear of potential future conflicts that was already identified by Breuer et al. (2012). ...
Article
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Commercial “war” games in a post-1989 setting are popular among a large audience. They offer players an enjoyable gameplay experience, while also referring to contemporary “war” scenarios. As such, they have been studied in several ways, e.g., concerning the “realistic” nature of how they depict warfare. However, little is still known about the way in which the notion of “war” is conceptualized in these games. To fill this gap, this article offers a systematic analysis of the narrative content of 15 popular “war” games set after 1989, as well as their promotional descriptions, as these provide insight into how publishers respond to the interests of players. This is done based on the conceptual framework of conflict/war offered by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP).
... They also highlight the need to mobilise a cross-disciplinary methodological matrix from Media and Cultural Studies, Post-Colonial Studies, Sociology, History and Political Science to explore the complex relationships between the game space that military games produce, the narratives they construct and the militarisation of politics and society more broadly. Through using a discourse theoretical approach as a methodological framework for the analysis of Hezbollah and IS videogame productions, this article responds to the call to incorporate theoretical tools associated with Cultural Studies in the analysis of games (Höglund, 2008). ...
... These overgeneralising depictions of Arabs in US games have been addressed -and largely criticised -by a number of scholars, many of whom are referenced at the end of this article. Two main contributions from this vast body of literature are particularly useful for the argument we are attempting to make in this piece: on one hand, the concept of 'neo-Orientalism', and on the other, the depiction of the Middle East as the site of a 'permanent state of war', 2 both presented in Höglund's (2008) article 'Electronic Empire: Orientalism revisited in the military shooter'. Building on Edward Said's Orientalism, Höglund introduces the concept of neo-Orientalism, which he defines as a discourse within military electronic entertainment 'characterized by the construction of the Middle East as a frontier zone where a perpetual war between US interests and Islamic terrorism is enacted' (Höglund, 2008). ...
... Two main contributions from this vast body of literature are particularly useful for the argument we are attempting to make in this piece: on one hand, the concept of 'neo-Orientalism', and on the other, the depiction of the Middle East as the site of a 'permanent state of war', 2 both presented in Höglund's (2008) article 'Electronic Empire: Orientalism revisited in the military shooter'. Building on Edward Said's Orientalism, Höglund introduces the concept of neo-Orientalism, which he defines as a discourse within military electronic entertainment 'characterized by the construction of the Middle East as a frontier zone where a perpetual war between US interests and Islamic terrorism is enacted' (Höglund, 2008). This creates a framework within which the Middle East remains a space where the United States can endlessly fight its (necessary) 'War on Terror'. ...
Article
In recent years, non-state actors in the Middle East have engaged a new generation of activists through a variety of media strategies. Notable among these is a series of videogame interventions, which have appropriated Western game products to convey political and religious messages through the inversion or complication of the roles of hero and enemy. This article explores a selection of such media, produced by or in support of two non-state groups, Hezbollah and Islamic State (IS). The article takes a discourse theoretical approach to examine the ideologies presented in these media and reflects on the ways in which these game artefacts engage with, and reject, Western narratives of history and of US pre-eminence. It concludes that while these game interventions challenge existing hegemonic (re)presentations of the Middle East and the ‘War on Terror’, they remove or reduce agency to the extent that those who engage with them can only witness these challenges, rather than instigate their own. While we acknowledge that hegemony can always be challenged, we view this lack of agency as support for Mouffe’s proposition that the result of counter-hegemonic resistance is often to maintain and reproduce the hegemonic order.
... As medial expressions of what Edward Said coined imaginative geographies (2003,(54)(55) -"the projection of images of identity and difference on to geographical space" (Cloke, Crang, and Goodwin 2014, 930)the virtual environments of video games also frequently reflect encoded discourses of othering. This has been investigated by several scholars in different contexts, as, for instance, regarding the othering representation of the Middle East in video games (Höglund 2008, Šisler 2006, Bialasiewicz et al. 2007, Graham 2006 in gamer interaction on RP-PvP servers. The question of how othering discourses within video games are perceived by the gamers, whether they are appropriated as in this case, critically challenged, subverted, or maybe not perceived as such at all is of course a crucial one, which will be further investigated at a later point in this article. ...
... Compared to racial issues, representations of religious identity as othering elements have received far less attention. Some authors have investigated the othering of Islam in games (Šisler 2006, Höglund 2008, de Riso 2013, a topic that I will elaborate on in the next section. However, religion as a category of othering in video games has not been widely discussed so far, and when it has been, the conversation has been brief. ...
... As King and Leonard explain, "with the exception of a few instances, the majority of games transporting players onto the battlefields of the Global War on Terror do so in absence of civilians, living cities, or civilization" (2010, 100). Therefore, in terms of gameplay, the only possible interaction the games allow between the player and the people assigned to the Middle Eastern gamespace is usually military violence (Höglund 2008). To put it bluntly: you shoot them or they shoot you. ...
Article
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Despite the fact that the medium is technologically capable of an infinite number of representations nowadays, video games still frequently resort to simplistic, ideologized and stereotypical portrayals of characters as well as virtual environments. Binary othering constructions of race, gender, national, cultural or religious identities are common modes of representation in any genre. I argue that in many instances religious identity as an excluding and marginalizing element only becomes visible in all its complexity when examined intersectionally, meaning in relation to other categories of difference. This article explores how religion can function as an element of othering in video game representations and how it appears as such in relation to other categories of difference. This is investigated by looking at the example of representations of Islam in contemporary military shooters, specifically in Medal of Honor: Warfighter (2012). Taking metaludic discourses into account (Ensslin 2012, 9), the article concludes with an examination of comments on YouTube-Walkthroughs to investigate whether the othering representations observed in the game are also perceived as such by gamers.
... This trend toward essentialism has led to stereotyping as reported by Sisler (2008) who found the representation of Arabs in more than 100 computer games (and military action games in particular) was consistent. Middle-Eastern men are routinely represented as terrorists or Islamic extremists who laugh mockingly after they have killed American soldiers (Sisler, 2008, p. 207-8) Referring to this study, Hoglund (2008) points out that military-themed games also invariably portray Middle-Eastern cities as dark, chaotic mazes, rife with terrorists and not much else (Hoglund, 2008). The more generic one size fits all enemy that features in the America's Army (U.S.Army, 2002) games is a self-professed bid to transcend the limits of specific conflicts or ethnic associations and replace racism with a focus on team play (Roberston, 2011). ...
... This trend toward essentialism has led to stereotyping as reported by Sisler (2008) who found the representation of Arabs in more than 100 computer games (and military action games in particular) was consistent. Middle-Eastern men are routinely represented as terrorists or Islamic extremists who laugh mockingly after they have killed American soldiers (Sisler, 2008, p. 207-8) Referring to this study, Hoglund (2008) points out that military-themed games also invariably portray Middle-Eastern cities as dark, chaotic mazes, rife with terrorists and not much else (Hoglund, 2008). The more generic one size fits all enemy that features in the America's Army (U.S.Army, 2002) games is a self-professed bid to transcend the limits of specific conflicts or ethnic associations and replace racism with a focus on team play (Roberston, 2011). ...
Article
The first-person shooter (FPS), with its subjective view point and relentless action, gives its players an intense, often violent, virtual experience. There has been considerable debate about the effects of this mediated experience. Of particular concern is whether these games stage a propaganda campaign for the interests of governments and the military-industrial complex. Some fear that these games are leading us toward a perpetual state of war. However, such discussions have usually focussed on a very narrow selection from the FPS genre. This article examines a large sample, over 160 individual titles, of FPSs with a contemporary setting. The enemies presented by these games are analyzed and found to be far wider than a narrow examination of games based on topical conflicts would suggest, being instead inspired by a range of political, cultural, and literary sources. Any analysis of FPS games needs to take this diversity into account.
... The designer plays on the stereotypes that usually represent the Middle East in mainstream video games. Johan Höglund (2008) explains how military-industrial-mediaentertainment renders the Middle East as a site of constant war and the gamer as a soldier willing to fight and even support the ideology that functions as the games' political rationale. Gutmann opposes Middle Eastern and Arab misrepresentation in war games by providing edutainment that represents the individual, who refuses the war. ...
Article
Narrating my reflections on the quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and my experience of the crisis in Syria, this paper studies the ways fear can transform into resilience by examining the self-reflexive works Path Out (Causa Creations, 2016) and Another Kind of Girl (You Must know, 2016). Using digital media, the creators of these works of art construct autobiographical, educational, and interactive narratives about coping and belonging in the course of the crisis. I propose viewing both texts as examples of ‘resilient communication’ that reacts to social and cultural issues brought about by crisis and suggests creative solutions that convey optimistic views of the future. Outlining the conventions of resilient communication, in turn, promotes the production of media works that use educational, creative and autobiographical techniques to foster collective resilience.
... Höglund, J., 2008. Electronic empire: Orientalism revisited in the military shooter. ...
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International media outlets, including through editorials, articles, and news reports, have huge overall impact on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict by shaping public opinion. The principal purpose behind conducting this research is to provide an analytical tool for the comparative study of the coverage of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict by the leading international media outlets.
... We also have a third goal: to supplement the growing body of work analyzing the way mass-market, high-budget games cater to and reinforce the imperial ideology of the industrialized West by perpetuating myths of cultural superiority and benevolence of Western rule disguised as a narrative of anti-conquest (Pratt, 1992) or understood in terms of the "white man's burden" through the usage of fantasy and science fiction aesthetics. Although a such perspective is not completely alien to digital-game analysis, it is worth pointing out that most existing postcolonial research focuses mainly on two issues: the representation of real-world races and the historical colonial past (Berger, 2008;Harrer and Pichlmair, 2015;Höglund, 2008;Martin, 2016;Shaw, 2015;Šisler, 2008), and the imperial legacy of strategy games (Euteneuer, 2018;Magnet, 2006;Mukherjee, 2017). In both cases, the research aims at either criticizing the medium as inherently colonial and beyond redemption (Breger, 2008;Fuchs et al., 2018, Harrer, 2018, or seeking how digital games could introduce postcolonial subjectivity (Apperley, 2018;Ford, 2016;Hammar, 2017;Lammes, 2010;Lammes and Smale, 2018;Mukherjee, 2015) and struggle to bring a critical perspective to the colonial legacy (Hammar, 2017;Felczak, 2020). ...
... Conversely, this presumed body-neutral technicity, based on very specific technological competencies, is actually shot through with patriarchal control dynamics and militaristic logics of elimination which have been consistently aimed at the Middle East, especially after the start of the War on Terror (cf. Höglund, 2008). There is also an overwhelming able-bodied bias in the medium, notable in its heavy focus on audiovisual cues and the male-centered standardization of its input devices (cf. ...
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This article develops and critiques the concept of ludic cyborgism: the notion that playing videogames allows players a free, non-committal, yet strongly embodied pedagogical engagement with cyborg-being. The article argues that videogame play is a form of cyborgization-the act of becoming a metaphorical cyborg through participation in cybernetic feedback loops. Game Studies has so far neglected to deal with the historical and political implications of this cybernetic engagement, having chosen instead to focus on the supposedly educational and emancipatory aspects of the phenomenon. The history of videogames as simulations is intimately entangled with the development of training simulations in the military-entertainment complex of the late twentieth century United States (Crogan, 2011; Lenoir, 2000), and so what players are principally being taught through videogame play is how to operate military technologies like weapons targeting systems without critiquing the violent nature of those technologies. Moreover, the "cyborg-utopian" reading by game scholars of Donna Haraway's (1985/1991) "Cyborg Manifesto," which underlies most of the theoretical framework of ludic cyborgism, facilitates an uncritical understanding of cybernetic videogame play as an ideologically neutral phenomenon. If we wish to bring emancipatory movements into videogames, we should see the simulatory nature of videogames as an inherently conservative force with strong ties to military violence, imperialism, and economic injustice, meaning that these frameworks would require significant transformation in order to become neutral or progressive in any sense.
... Останнім часом спостерігається зростання наукового інтересу до того, як масова культура і розважальні медіа репрезентують воєнні конфлікти з використанням пропаганди [4][5][6]. Зокрема, дедалі більшу увагу науковці приділяють відеоіграм: вони окреслили їхню роль у гарантуванні міжнародної безпеки, виявили, чим відеоігри відрізняються від інших медіа, а також дослідили потенціал відеоігор як джерела пропаганди [7][8][9][10][11][12]. ...
... The role of media in the propagation of ideological beliefs has long been recognised and at the time of the original seminal works on postcolonialism much attention was paid to how media representations of what came to be known as 'the Other' contributed to the prevalence of colonial and neo-colonial ideology 6 . The forms of media under discussion here would be traditional forms of media such as news coverage, film and television, however other authors have more recently started to examine digital media, and more specifically computer games, though the same lens [23] [24] [25]. For example Mukharajee [24] looks at video games and suggests that racist stereotyping is rampant within this world, citing instances such as Streetfighter 2 (1991), and Age Of Empires 3 (2005), both of which perpetuate numerous damaging stereotypes pertaining to Indian characters. ...
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This paper describes the use of a board game, Civil War, as a learning experience in the context of a course on critical theory. Civil War was created by the Educational Games Company of Lebanon and is set during the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war. The game functions both as a pedagogical instrument, in that players learn about the situation in Lebanon while playing the game, but also as a form of critique, in that its makers are clearly using it as a means of articulating their lived experiences and challenging the dominant narratives around the conflict. We suggest that the game is a rare example of one that is counter ideological in nature, as rather than perpetuating stereotyped views of Middle East conflicts that are constructed and imposed from outside, it instead directly presents the experience of those who are inside. A case study of using the game in the context of a class on postcolonialism is presented and responses by students are analysed. We argue that the active experience of playing a board game is an effective way of engaging students with a topic, and in this case in particular, an effective way of connecting them with the lived experiences of others.
... • Virtual Military Landscape: this type is the result of representation of landscape in computer and video games, which is the continuation of traditional approach to analysis of landscape that can be found in representations and reconstructions (Hoglund, 2008). Many military advisors and many military landscape imaginaries are engaged in virtual military landscape due to a vast commercial market. ...
Article
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War and conflict are one of the dark sides of mankind experiences and are one of the bitterest ones which sometimes seem to be inevitable despite of many attempts to prevent them. This paper aims to discover the war as phenomena and in this way have considered the landscape as not only the setting for the occurrence of conflict but also as a production that helps us to have a realistic perception of war. In such an approach exchanging experiences and concepts of the conflict would be more possible. This study makes a distinction between War and Conflict and argues that there is a dialectical relation between landscape and conflict in which its production in deferent conditions creates and recreates many kinds of "Conflict Landscape". These categories have been defined in qualitative strategy with an inductive approach. Accordingly, fore type of landscape of conflict defined and recommended: "Pre-war landscape of conflict", "war landscape of conflict" (also could be named as landscape of war of Battlefield landscape), "Post-war landscape of conflict". There are two important concepts in this categorization; first is the concept of landscape Value and the second is the Changeable Ability of Landscape. The first concept is important in the sense of identifying and conserving any kinds of conflict landscape and it needs contextual and interdisciplinary approaches. The second one shows the capability of landscape for converting to and changing from one kind to the other one. For instance, War landscape of conflict can change into postwar landscape of conflict and / or postwar landscape of conflict can experience all of the types during the process of completion and evolution. In this sense, the final condition of landscape will be the frame of reference. From this kind of view considering the Final position of the landscape and having a continuous monitoring checklist for taking any necessary actions, is essential for preservation of these landscapes.
... Está de más mencionar que la diversidad en el consumo de videojuegos no encuentra un paralelo en la diversidad de representación: en concordancia con la idea errónea que mantiene la industria de videojuego respecto a su demográfico, la mayoría de los juegos de gran impacto comercial cuentan con protagonistas masculinos y caucásicos (Corona, 2013;dietrich, 2013;Williams et al., 2009). los personajes femeninos son mostrados de manera sobre-sexualizada (díez, Fontal y Blanco, 2004;díez et al, 2014;downs y Smith, 2009;Ivory, 2006) y algunos grupos racializados, como las culturas de medio oriente, son siempre presentados como el enemigo (Höglund 2008;Šisler, 2008). ...
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Con la identidad como eje central, se abordan reflexiones relacionadas con la multiculturalidad, pobreza, videojuegos y competencias digitales, en las que se enfatiza la relación del nosotros con los otros, que tienen lugar a partir de estructuras en las que hay un desigual reparto del poder.
... Pioneering research in the field has focused on analysis of the symbolic and ideological dimensions of in-game representational politics related to the Middle East (see Marashi 2001;Reichmuth and Werning 2006;Höglund 2008;Kavoori 2008;and Sisler 2008). This work typically interrogates the representational politics of games produced outside the region. ...
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The simultaneous appropriation of mobile technologies, locative media, and social networking has created a new set of relationships between place and gaming. Boundaries between hard-core and casual gaming are blurred, boundaries between private and public places are confused, and boundaries between play spaces and nonplay spaces are fused. Games demonstrate that place is a space that is not only geographic and physical but also evokes cartographies of the imaginary, emotional, mnemonic, and psychological. In each different place, the types of games played and social media deployed are reflective of the locality—that is, a sum of various factors such as linguistic, sociocultural, technological, and the economic. One region demonstrating a variety of gameplay is the Asia-Pacific region (Hjorth and Chan 2009). Locations such as Japan, South Korea, and China are indicative of this diversity.
... Such games offer strongly militaristic messages to their players (and hence contribute to militarism). Chan (2005), Höglund (2008), Šisler (2008), Huntemann and Payne (2009), Mantello (2012), Schulzke (2013) and Robinson (2015) all examined the messages within military games, demonstrating how these games differentiate between the allies of the player and the enemy, often offering Orientalist depictions which position the latter as a 'rogue state' beyond the boundaries of reason and diplomacy so legitimating the use of overwhelming force. ...
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This article explores the importance of videogames and their associated promotional media for both militarism and the resulting opposition. It focuses on the games Medal of Honor and Medal of Honor Warfighter – two mainstream, commercially successful military combat games which purport to offer an ‘authentic’ experience of post 9/11 military action to the player – to develop a framework to explore the role of videogames in this area. First, in terms of the military industrial and military entertainment complex, it shows the close association between the game developers and the military, with the military providing consultancy services, access to military hardware and openly celebrating their mutual associations. Second, these associations take on an important spatial dimension with the developers and weapons makers producing promotional materials which literally show both parties ‘enjoying one another’s company’ in the same physical space; games also ‘transport the player’ into the virtual battlefield and allow them to embody the soldier. Finally, gendered militarism is shown in the gameplay and narratives within these games, alongside their associated promotional materials, all of which place significant emphasis on the links between militaristic values and masculinity. In both games, the celebration of militarism was highly controversial, prompting heated debate and active opposition – albeit varying in the two cases – from the military, politicians and players on the appropriateness of using videogames for militaristic entertainment. This suggests that there are limits to society’s acquiescence in militarism and a continuing capacity to critique militaristic popular culture.
... FPS games such as these have as their defining characteristic a lone hero armed to the teeth and up against hordes of Nazis in Wolfenstein, or trans-dimensional demons in Doom. Doom underwent a military make-over in the 1990s when the US military modified it to become Marine Doom which has since been used as an official military training tool [22]. Military Shooters differ from these early games in that they are often realistic in their use of plot, location and weaponry. ...
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This paper outlines the relationship between military themed or oriented video and computer games and the process of militarisation. A theoretical and analytical framework which draws on elements of sociology, cultural studies and media analysis is required to help to understand the complex interplay between entertainment in the form of playable media, the military and the maintenance of Empire. At one level games can be described as simple forms of entertainment designed to engage players in a pleasurable fun activity. However, any form of media, whether playable or not, contains within it a set of ideological and political structures, meanings and ways of depicting the world. For the purpose of this paper playable media with a military theme or orientation will be described as political tools helping to shape the mental framework of players through the extension of a form of "military habitus". Playable media with a military theme or orientation such as the Call of Duty series promote and facilitate the extension of the process of militarisation and impact on how players view the world. This worldview can have consequences for national security in promoting pro-war sentiments. © 2012 IFIP International Federation for Information Processing.
... It is not unusual, however, to deploy orientalism with popular media or news journalism (e.g., Ban, Sastry, & Dutta, 2013). Other scholars before me have also studied games' representational content from the point of view of orientalist analysis (Höglund, 2008;Komel, 2014). ...
Article
From gold farmers and '100 million brain-damaged online gamers' to the world's biggest game company and more players than US citizens, China seems like the cabinet of curiosities for the whole world of digital gaming. This article focuses on news coverage around Chinese gaming and presents three phases of such journalism. China's emerging games market was most prominently featured between 1999 and 2005, while 2006-2011 focused on extreme play behavior in China. Most recently, a discourse of vast business opportunities and stabilizing markets has been presented by Western news media. In total more than 853 news articles are explored in parallel to the theoretical concept of Sinological-orientalism. This article suggests significant historical changes in the ways in which knowledge of Chinese gaming has been produced in English language news media.
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Utilizing Bogost’s procedural rhetoric framework in his book Persuasive Games, this article examines Labyrinth, a boardgame that simulates the conflict between the United States and global terrorism. The authors systematically integrate ludology (rules/gameplay) and narratology (narratives/representations) to illustrate how Labyrinth was intentionally designed so that players became active participants in a narrative about how good governance undermines the sources of terrorism and the counterproductive nature of militarized counterterrorism, as well as bear witness to the agency of the Muslim world and the region’s political dynamism on the tabletop. This is a very different account of the War on Terror than has previously been studied in the literature, which has focused overwhelmingly on first-person shooter videogames and, in turn, has provided a very limited range of how this conflict can be represented in ludic form. However, Labyrinth is not alone, and the wargames that many players grew up with have given way to a variety of boardgames which approach complex historical or contemporary situations and environments beyond simply killing one’s enemies. This represents a diverse, but largely untapped, resource already in the public space and ready to be investigated. Media studies can therefore benefit from considering how boardgames similar to Labyrinth present alternative ways in which the ‘real world’ has been, and indeed can be, translated through popular culture objects.
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This essay considers political affect in the open world action-adventure survival horror game Days Gone (SIE Bend Studio, 2019). Through an examination of its rendering of the Pacific Northwest landscape as ideology, much is revealed about a deeply troubled and oppositional worldview. While this research addresses matters of representation—particularly notions of fraught masculinity and a struggle for recognition—its focus is on how the game functions as a window onto a fantasy of American self-reliance and populism that strongly resonates with a Trump-era nationalist turn in the U.S. The essay also gestures toward a methodology of experiential close-reading, one focused on working-through and sitting with a difficult aesthetic object that may at first seem entirely generic. In this essay, the author reaches through the offending, formulaic image to grasp the political affect that emanates from a sustained aesthetic experience of playing Days Gone.
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In the following essay 15 Hollywood films and 4 American television series, which were released between 2003-2019, have been analyzed with the epistemological tools of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). This essay traces how dominant ideology, orientalism, and American soft power are dispersed throughout film dialogues, music, cinematography, and language representation. Our findings suggest that cinematic and television representations of Iran are in line, not only with the decisions taken by the Iranian and American political leadership but also with the events that have shaped the political landscape of the Middle Eastern region. Keywords: Iran, Orientalism, cinema, CDA, soft power, 2001, U.S.A.
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Abstract Narrating my reflections on the quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and my experience of the crisis in Syria, this paper studies the ways fear can transform into resilience by examining the self-reflexive works Path Out (Karam, 2017) and Another Kind of Girl (Jibawi, 2015). Using digital media, the creators of these works of art construct autobiographical, educational, and interactive narratives about coping and belonging in the course of crisis. I propose viewing both texts as examples of “resilient communication” that reacts to social and cultural issues brought about by crisis and suggests creative solutions that convey optimistic views of the future. Outlining the conventions of resilient communication, in turn, promotes the production of media works that use educational, creative, autobiographical techniques to foster collective resilience. Keywords: resilient communication, video games, COVID-19, autobiography, digital media. --- I use the term "resilient communication" to designate media that responds to current social or cultural problems and suggests solutions that convey an optimistic view of the future. Resilient communication is strongly connected to its makers and their personal experiences, helping both artist and audience cope with crisis. It addresses the audience directly either through the narrative or via interactive digital storytelling techniques. Autobiography, edutainment, and encoded empathy are some of its defining narrative conventions. Read full article in JACR: https://journalofappliedcommunicationresearch.org/quarantined-across-borders/qab-resilient-communication-using-art-in-applied-contexts/
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The video-game industry has become a significant force in the business and entertainment world. Video games have become so widespread and pervasive that they are now considered a part of the mass media, a common method of storytelling and representation. Despite the massive popularity of video games, their increasing variety, and the diversification of the player base, until very recently little attention was devoted to understanding how playing video games affects the way people think and collaborate across cultures. This paper examines the recent literature regarding the impact of video games on players from an intercultural perspective. Sixty-two studies are identified whose aim is to analyze behavioral-change, content understanding, knowledge acquisition, and perceptional impacts. Their findings suggest that video games have the potential to help to acquire cultural knowledge and develop intercultural literacy, socio-cultural literacy, cultural awareness, self-awareness, and the cultural understanding of different geopolitical spaces, to reinforce or weaken stereotypes, and to some extent also facilitate the development of intercultural skills. The paper provides valuable insights to the scholars, teachers, and practitioners of cultural studies, education, social studies, as well as to the researchers, pointing out areas for future research.
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Like other pop-cultural forms, videogames commonly reify militarist representations of warfare as straightforward, precise, and moral by obscuring conflict's embodied messiness. But videogames do not just reflect militarist interests in their content; they are materially, symbiotically entangled with militarist interests. Recognising this intimate connection, and the phenomenon of virtuous warfare that results, this paper takes videogames seriously as material cultural artefacts. This paper draws on feminist IR, critical military studies, and game studies to explore three categories of bodies, and their gendered logics, produced by virtualised warfare: the hypermasculine, technologised soldier; the oft-ignored broken bodies of the soldier and game developer; and the obfuscated civilian. Together, this analysis argues that the consumption and production of videogames benefits certain parties, in ways that are reproduced and sustained through the production and obfuscation of bodies. Such entanglements have real consequences for how war, and its popular culture production, is understood and imagined.
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Hans Staats’ essay explores the intersection of war and the “Visual Gothic” in comics and graphic narratives between 1950 and 1983, highlighting the transition between New Trend EC war comics (Two-Fisted Tales, 1950–1955; Frontline Combat, 1951–1954) and DC and Marvel war tales (Weird War Tales, 1971–1983; The Invaders, 1975–1979) after changes in the Comics Code Authority (CCA) made the use of horror elements possible.
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Video game addiction is a complex phenomenon. Therefore, we try to under­ stand video game addiction in individual and cultural contexts. In this paper, results from four smaller studies are reported: (1) A Test for video game ad­ diction has been researched by interviewing 215 6 to 20 year old people in Austria with an online survey. (2) We conducted five biographical interviews with former excessive players. All of them stopped excessive playing without therapeutical aid. (3) Interviews with four currently addicted people show that they are aware of their addiction, but do not want to change their beha­ viour. (4) Additionally, we conducted six interviews with therapists who work with video game addicted people. While most of them do not consider the ICD 10 criteria as appropiate, they described their clients as addicted to flow experiences, communication, social standing, and the opportunity for self­expressions. According to the therapists, most addictives are aware of their addiction.
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Military-themed video games allow civilians to play war, not just as a soldier, but in a particularly constructed, heavily gendered soldier identity, situated in our cultural understanding of militarized masculinity. Call of Duty, the top-selling video game franchise in North America for the previous seven consecutive years, is an exemplar of the military games genre, a significant potential source for representations of masculinity, and a suitable entry point for exploring military masculinity in video games. In this analysis, I examine how militarized masculinity is constructed within the single-player campaigns of Call of Duty, how this construction reinforces the default conflation between military and masculine ideals, and how traditionally entrenched aspects of masculinity are in turn reinforced and challenged throughout the series.
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With all its intricate processes, colonialism, both as an ideology and a historical period, has been a rich source of inspiration for contemporary popular culture, whether in the form of movies, novels, digital games, or analogue games. This article presents a critical analysis of colonial representations in three examples of the latter: 'Puerto Rico' (2002), 'Struggle of Empires' (2004), and 'Archipelago' (2012). These three games are simulation, strategy type Eurogames, with rules designed to emulate and reproduce two time periods: first-wave European colonialism ('Puerto Rico; Archipelago') and 18th-century European colonial expansion ('Struggle of Empires'). On BoardGameGeek.com, where users have ranked more than 87,000 board games and extensions, these three are in the top three-hundred overall, with more than 3,000 votes each. Building on John McLeod’s definition of colonialism and interpretation of colonial economies, Edward Said’s theory of Orientalism, and Gayatri Spivak’s theory of subalternity, this comparative study examines representations of: a) the otherness of colonial subjects in relation to colonisers; b) indigenous peoples’ agency and subaltern voice; c) expressions of the indigenous culture; and d) Eurocentrism. The analysis investigates the denotative and connotative meanings of game rules, game mechanics, artwork, and tiles, critically assessing how these might influence the player’s cultural, social, and aesthetic experience of the ideological and historical context. In so doing, the article attempts to raise awareness about how these games (mis)represent colonial realities and relations.
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This article considers larger methodological questions of what political work is undertaken when scholars engage in postcolonial critiques of video games within academic intellectual frameworks. What is postcolonial game studies, and what is its purpose, within the context of larger issues of inclusion, representation, diversity, and the challenging of hegemonic power structures? After surveying some of the key literature in postcolonial game studies, the author provides critical frameworks for understanding the means by which these approaches have largely been excluded from video game studies, and their crucial function in operating against the grain of profit and innovation-driven discourses in games. This work is the extension of a larger discussion of inclusion, diversity, and tolerance discourse within the liberal academy, and particularly the functions of postcolonial, postmodern and other critical cultural scholarly interventions. In this article, the author argues for a postcolonial approach to game studies, but one that refuses to be reduced to an institutional cultural labor of due diligence, or according to Slavoj Žižek’s term, a ‘culturalization of politics’. Through the work of Stuart Hall and Sara Ahmed on intellectual diversity work within the context of large systems and academic institutions, this article asserts that the perception that critical theorizations (like postcolonial game studies) exert pressure on efficiency and innovation is greatly outweighed by the rich toolkits they bring to video games as maturing cultural forms.
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Game studies has been an understudied area within the emerging field of digital media and religion. Video games can reflect, reject, or reconfigure traditionally held religious ideas and often serve as sources for the production of religious practices and ideas. This collection of essays presents a broad range of influential methodological approaches that illuminate how and why video games shape the construction of religious beliefs and practices, and also situates such research within the wider discourse on how digital media intersect with the religious worlds of the 21st century. Each chapter discusses a particular method and its theoretical background, summarizes existing research, and provides a practical case study that demonstrates how the method specifically contributes to the wider study of video games and religion. Featuring contributions from leading and emerging scholars of religion and digital gaming, this book will be an invaluable resource for scholars in the areas of digital culture, new media, religious studies, and game studies across a wide range of disciplines.
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On August 5, 2012, self-avowed white supremacist Wade Michael Page gunned down six Sikh worshipers at a Gurudwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, before turning the gun on himself. The coverage of the shooting in select media outlets mostly blamed Wade’s obsession with white supremacist hate music and his troubled childhood for the fatal shooting spree. Alternately, I argue that other, neglected factors also converged to produce the conditions that resulted in the Oak Creek massacre. These include the violent interventions of the US into the Muslim world pre- and post-9/11 and the long history of American Orientalism as an ideological force that rationalizes such interventions and racializes Muslim, Arab, and turbaned bodies as threats to American security; Page’s radicalization in the military, including his intense exposure to orientalist discourse as a PSYOP specialist; and his involvement with the organized white supremacist movement. I end with a call for scholars to center Orientalism in their study of emerging security cultures and discourses.
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The “military shooter” (MS) video game is the latest in a long line of video games that immerse the player in a fantasy world. Although the MS video game was once regarded as excessively violent, it has now become socially acceptable, as the virtues of military life have become incorporated in popular culture. That transition has taken place in part because the military has begun to work closely with the producers of MS video games, such as the “Call of Duty” series, to imagine and prepare for future military threats, both on virtual battlefields and on actual terrain. The increasing use of highly paid corporate mercenaries in actual war zones has also influenced game play by introducing players to the potential for large financial rewards by becoming experts in virtual combat. Thus, MS video games incorporate players not only into the technological domain of modern warfare but also into the economic domain of fighting war for profit. In the post 9/11 era, warfare has increasingly become a strategy of risk management, in which the battlefield is less a physical space than a semiotic landscape of conflicting loyalties and financial incentives. The MS shooter game is conditioning the soldiers of the future to fight in this shadowy world that lies between the virtual and the real. All of these changes have political ramifications. In the long run, constant exposure to these games is creating a subculture that is not only immersed in an armament culture but also increasingly allied with current patterns of geopolitical domination and subordination.
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Adaptation studies have long focused on the relationship of the source text to the adaptation, and overwhelmingly on the relationship between fiction or plays and the films derived from them, frequently with a focus on the fidelity of the adaptation to the source. But there is a substantial difference between film adaptation and videogame adaptations, where the relationship between adaptation and source is vastly different. Games always insist on their positioning within a videogame genre rather than their status as adaptation, as shown by the example of The Lord of the Rings. As a result, the important source is the game genre’s history. This genre-driven focus renders the relationship between a game adaptation and its literary or filmic source text a paratextual one.
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In May 2005, I was studying Arabic at the Language Institute of the Damascus University in Syria. I stayed in the sūq sarūja area, a beautiful, shabby part of the Old City. Every morning on my way to the university, I passed through the main computer and video game market, where vendors sold mostly copied US and European games and a few unauthorized Arabic localizations of the latter. If you chose to buy a game, the vendor would ask if you wanted an original or a copy. If you wanted a copy, the vendor would simply burn the game onto a CD and sell it to you for the equivalent of US$2. If you asked for an original, the vendor would essentially repeat the same operation, plus he would print a colored booklet for an additional fee. A similar process was applied to software, music, and movies, which were all widely available from street vendors throughout the city.
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Political scientists are increasingly engaged with the importance of the 'visual turn', asking questions about how we understand what we see and the social and political consequences of that seeing. One of the greatest challenges facing researchers is developing methods that can help us understand visual politics. Much of the literature has fallen into the familiar qualitative vs. quantitative methodological binary, with a strong bias in favour of the former, and has consequently been unable to realize the advantages of mixed-methods research. This paper advances the study of visual politics as well as the literature on bridging the quantitative vs. qualitative divide by showing that it is possible to generate quantitative data that is rooted in, and amenable to, qualitative research on visual phenomena. Our approach to conducting mixed- methods research is an alternative to the more common strategy of seeing various research methods as an assortment of tools, as it is directed at developing an organic relationship between qualitative and quantitative methods. We demonstrate the effectiveness of this strategy for research on visual politics by discussing our own efforts to create a dataset for quantifying visual signifiers of militarism.
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Orbited by two moons, ‘White Lady’ and ‘Blue Child,’ Azeroth is a world inhabited by elves, humans, dwarves, goblins, trolls, gnomes, and dragons. It is a world comprised of three main continents, with islands spattered across its dangerous seas. Azeroth’s geography ranges from lush forests with wild fauna, to lonely snow-capped mountains and enchanted cities. This strange universe is the setting for the award-winning online video game, World of Warcraft – home to 11 million subscribers. Beneath this quite extraordinary virtual community lies a complex assemblage of software code and hardware technologies that enable a seamless virtual experience. Defying traditional megaengineering materialities and geographies, such online communities blur the distinction between ‘reality’ and ‘virtuality.’ Taking its cue from this unclear interface, this chapter elaborates on video games as complex assemblages that constantly slide between concrete and imagined geographies. Deploying the conceptual blueprint of ‘assemblage theory’ from Manuel DeLanda, I argue that games such as World of Warcraft are spaces produced by a hybrid assemblage of material and representational components, and that, far from ever being ‘closed,’ are worlds engineered to be in a deliberate and constant state of transformation. The chapter is composed of the following sections. First, it explores the economics of the video game industry, noting the transfer between real and virtual currency. Second, it explores the multiplayer aspect of games through Xbox Live. Third, the chapter takes hold of some of the controversy in the literature surrounding racist, gendered, and violent on-screen representations. Fourth, the ‘military entertainment complex’ is explored through America’s Army. Finally, the main theoretical contribution of the chapter is made, with assemblage theory used to construct an analysis of video games based on the interaction of material, representational, territorializing, deterritorializing, and coding components.
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Digital games are among the most popular forms of entertainment media. Despite their ubiquity, the fields of political science, International Relations, and political communication have generally overlooked the study of digital games. We take up this void by examining the international enemies depicted in combat games – specifically, first-person shooter (FPS) games – which can speak to the process in the construction of international threats in society. Our review of framing the enemy gleans perspectives from multiple disciplines including International Relations, political communication, and digital gaming. Our empirical analysis traces the evolution of images in digital games from 2001 to 2013 to reveal the identity of the enemies and protagonists and to examine the context of the game – including the setting where each game takes place. We find that Russians are a popular form of enemy in FPS games even after considering terrorists as a broad category. Our review of the literature and our empirical analysis together present a foundation for the future study of digital games as a process of framing of enemies and transmission of threats.
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Building upon current interest in studies of how popular culture relates to global politics, this article examines one hitherto overlooked aspect of popular culture: computer games. Although not prominent in the field of International Relations (IR), historical strategy computer games should be of particular interest to the discipline since they are explicitly designed to allow players to simulate global politics. This article highlights five major IR-related assumptions built into most single-player historical strategy games (the assumption of perfect information, the assumption of perfect control, the assumption of radical otherness, the assumption of perpetual conflict, and the assumption of environmental stasis) and contrasts them with IR scholarship about how these assumptions manifest themselves in the “real world.” This article concludes by making two arguments: first, we can use computer games as a mirror to critically reflect on the nature of contemporary global politics, and second, these games have important constitutive effects on understandings of global politics, effects that deserve to be examined empirically in a deeper manner.
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The 2014 Israel-Gaza Conflict inspired the creation of over a dozen games for mobile phones and tablets. These games, which allowed players to Bomb Gaza City, operate the Iron Dome missile defence system, and direct rockets into Israeli settlements, marked an important shift in the mediatisation of war in three ways. First, whereas propaganda is frequently described as a top-down process by which elites influence mass audiences, the mobile war games about Gaza were created by non-elite indie game developers, thereby illustrating these games’ capacities for allowing new actors to participate in ideological contestation. Second, the games were not simply reflections on the conflict, but part of it. They were released while the fighting was in progress and helped to constitute the ideological battleground. Finally, the games reproduced established propaganda techniques in distinctive ways that were shaped by the mobile gaming medium.
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This essay will deal with the question of which models of social policy and social structures can be found in video games. It will examine the relationship between these models, the stories (narrations) provided by the games, and the stories and models created by the players themselves. This examination will be followed by a discussion of two types of virtual models of social politics and social structures. In this discussion, light will be shed on the different models of social policy and social structures that appear in the context of video games. In analyzing these models within games, the question is not whether video games have an influence. Rather, the question is what may children and adolescents learn from "off-the-shelf" video games with respect to political education, political socialization and the forming of political identity?
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This paper discusses a tool developed by the Values at Play (VAP) project to facilitate values-conscious design and analysis of digital games. Our tool, called the Grow-A-Game cards, has been implemented and assessed in numerous advanced and beginner game design courses. Here, we report five case studies of Grow-A-Game exercises, each demonstrating how the cards can be used to produce innovative and interesting values-focused designs and/or guide meaningful exploration of the relationship between values and games.
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The imagination of the early twenty-first century is catastrophic, with Hollywood blockbusters, novels, computer games, popular music, art and even political speeches all depicting a world consumed by vampires, zombies, meteors, aliens from outer space, disease, crazed terrorists and mad scientists. These frequently gothic descriptions of the apocalypse not only commodify fear itself; they articulate and even help produce imperialism. Building on, and often retelling, the British 'imperial gothic' of the late nineteenth century, the American imperial gothic is obsessed with race, gender, degeneration and invasion, with the destruction of society, the collapse of modernity and the disintegration of capitalism. Drawing on a rich array of texts from a long history of the gothic, this book contends that the doom faced by the world in popular culture is related to the current global instability, renegotiation of worldwide power and the American bid for hegemony that goes back to the beginning of the Republic and which have given shape to the first decade of the millennium. From the frontier gothic of Charles Brockden Brown's Edgar Huntly to the apocalyptic torture porn of Eli Roth's Hostel, the American imperial gothic dramatises the desires and anxieties of empire. Revealing the ways in which images of destruction and social upheaval both query the violence with which the US has asserted itself locally and globally, and feed the longing for stable imperial structures, this book will be of interest to scholars and students of popular culture, cultural and media studies, literary and visual studies and sociology.
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Over the past two decades, many scholars have reported a deep division between the American military and the civilian population-a division that is partly caused by civilians' lack of knowledge of the military and its personnel. During this same period, critics of military entertainment have argued that military video games, especially those developed by the Army, are militarizing the American public. This essay provides a brief overview of this new formulation of the fusionist view of military video games. It argues that America's Army, a game produced and distributed by the Army, may help to bridge the civil-military divide.