The Politics of Play in Military Video Games
Routledge – 2010 – 312 pages
Joystick Soldiers is the first anthology to examine the reciprocal relationship between militarism and video games. War has been an integral theme of the games industry since the invention of the first video game, Spacewar! in 1962.While war video games began as entertainment, military organizations soon saw their potential as combat simulation and recruitment tools. A profitable and popular relationship was established between the video game industry and the military, and continues today with video game franchises like America’s Army, which was developed by the U.S.Army as a public relations and recruitment tool.
This collection features all new essays that explore how modern warfare has been represented in and influenced by video games. The contributors explore the history and political economy of video games and the "military-entertainment complex;" present textual analyses of military-themed video games such as Metal Gear Solid; and offer reception studies of gamers, fandom, and political activism within online gaming.
"Joystick Soldiers plunges into the crossfire surrounding the key issues of war and video games to bring the reader thought provoking analyses and arguments about the history of games, the role of the military and government in game development, and contemporary representations of war in popular games such as Call of Duty 4 and America’s Army. Contributors explore how players make sense of war in games, and how the military-entertainment complex is shaping our larger understandings of militarism, war, and what it means to be a citizen today. Along the way, we gain a broader understanding of how both war and games have worked to construct understandings of each other." - Mia Consalvo, author of Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames
"Joystick Soldiers is an extremely valuable collection that offers multiple perspectives--contributors include a military trainer and a retired officer, as well as academics in various disciplines--on the relationship between militarism and video games. The collection as a whole provides the richest and most detailed picture yet of what theorists have called the ‘military-entertainment complex,’ while focusing attention on the specific video games that help to manifest that complex in the culture but also, surprisingly, offer a platform for critique and resistance." - Steven E. Jones, author of The Meaning of Video Games
"…theoretically satisfying, the book is approachable as the authors explore a diverse range of topics…" - Context Magazine
Foreword Ian Bogost Introduction Nina B. Huntemann and Matthew Thomas Payne Section 1: Historicizing the Joystick Soldier 1. Living Room Wars: Remediation, Boardgames, and the Early History of Video Wargaming Sebastian Deterding 2. Target Acquired: America’s Army and the Video Games Industry Randy Nichols 3. Training Recruits and Conditioning Youth: The Soft Power of Military Games David B. Nieborg Interview with James F. Dunnigan edited by Nina B. Huntemann and Matthew Thomas Payne Section 2: Representing War 4. Behind the Barrel: Reading the Video Game Gun Scott A. Lukas 5. War Games as a New Frontier: Securing American Empire in Virtual Space C. Richard King and David. J. Leonard 6. Future Combat, Combating Futures: Temporalities of War Video Games and the Performance of Proleptic Histories Josh Smicker Interview with Rachel Hardwick edited by Matthew Thomas Payne Section 3: Producing Pedagogical War 7. Mobilizing Affect: The Politics of Performative Realism in Military New Media Dan Leopard 8. A Battle in Every Classroom: Gaming in the U.S. Army Command & General Staff College Jeffrey Leser and James Sterrett 9. A Battle for Hearts and Minds: The Design Politics of ELECT BiLat Elizabeth Losh Interview with Colonel Casey Wardynski edited by Nina B. Huntemann Section 4: Playing War 10. “No Better Way to ‘Experience’ World War II”: Authenticity and Ideology in the Call of Duty and Medal of Honor Player Communities Joel Penney 11. “F*ck You, Noob Tube!”: Learning the Art of Ludic LAN War Mathew Thomas Payne 12. Playing with Fear: Catharsis and Resistance in Military-Themed Video Games Nina B. Huntemann Section 5: Resisting War 13. Playing Against the Grain: Machinima and Military Gaming Irene Chien 14. “Turn the game console off right now!”: War, Subjectivity, and Control in Metal Gear Solid 2, Tanner Higgin 15. Dead-in-Iraq: The Spatial Politics of Digital Game Art Activism and the In-Game Protest Dean Chan. Gameography. List of Contributors. Index
Nina B. Huntemann is Associate Professor of Communication and Journalism at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. She produced and directed the documentary film Game Over: Gender, Race, and Violence in Video Games, distributed by the Media Education Foundation.
Matthew Thomas Payne is a Media Studies doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. He has served as a coordinating editor for FlowTV (www.flowtv.org), a critical forum for television and new media culture, and is a co-editor of the anthology Flow TV: Television in the Age of Media Convergence (Routledge, forthcoming).