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Video Games and the Militarization of Society


John Martino

The impact that First Person Shooter video games have had on the evolution of youth culture over a decade or more has been the focus of attention from political leaders; medical and legal specialists; and the mass media. Much of the discussion concerning these games has focused on the issues of the violence that is depicted in the games and on the perceived psychological and social costs for individuals and society. What is not widely canvassed in the public debate generated by violent video games is the role that military-themed games play in the wider process of militarization. The significance of this genre of gaming for the creation of a militarized variant of youth culture warrants closer interrogation. War/Play critically examines the role that militarized video games such as Call of Duty play in the lives of young people and the impact these games have had on the evolution of youth culture and the broader society. The book examines and critiques the manner in which the habits and social interactions of young people, particularly boys and young men, have been reconfigured through a form of pedagogy embedded within this genre.


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Any book is a collaborative project. It requires hard work and a supportive environment for the work to take shape and in order to produce something meaningful. I could not have completed this project without the inspiration, constructive comments, and belief in me shown by my close friends. I wish to also acknowledge the support of Victoria University for providing me with a sabbatical in 2012 within which much of the thinking that underpins this book was able to occur. It is sad to say that having the time to think, read and write is now a luxury for academics. I would also like to thank Professor Roger Slee of the Victoria Institute who encouraged me to concentrate on this one endeavor. I wish to also ac- knowledge the funding made available by the Australian Commonwealth Government through the Collaborative Research Network program (CRN)— it is not possible to do good critical and analytical work without time and, in this case, the CRN provided that for me. My thanks to colleagues in the College of Education past and present who helped me to develop the idea for this book and to subsequently complete it. The staff at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and in particular Professor Joost Raessens, the chair of Media Theory, who welcomed me on my sabbatical in 2012, and gave me space to work and the opportunity to test out x war/play: video games and the militarization of society and amend my early thinking on this topic....

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