Militarism and opposition in the living room: the case of military videogames

Article English OPEN
Robinson, N (2016)
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Subject:
    acm: ComputingMilieux_PERSONALCOMPUTING | ComputerApplications_COMPUTERSINOTHERSYSTEMS

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 anothers 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.
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