Video Games and the Militarization of Society
Chapter 6. The First Person Shooter
· 6 · the first person shooter In play there is something “at play” which transcends the immediate needs of life and imparts meaning to action. All play means something. —Johan Huizinga (2003, p. 1) The advent of game studies (Aarseth, 2001) as a serious academic undertaking has presented the opportunity to consider digital games as more than simple diversions and has allowed us to critique their design, usability, and content. The academic debate within games studies has been binary, centering on two dominant positions. The first is the position adopted by European game schol- ars, such as Espen Aarseth (1997, 2001), who take a top- down approach to the analysis of games that privileges “definitional argument.” The second ap- proach has its origins in America and centers on a bottom- up dialogue with gamers, designers, the game industry, and its fans (Jenkins, 2002; Raessens, 2006). Both approaches to games fail to consider the broad context within which this form of technology has emerged and, in particular, the military origins of some forms of games and gameplay. The dominant discourse within both paradigms does not account for the place that games and gaming occupy within the culture of advanced capitalism. 78 war/play: video games and the militarization of society As Ian Bogost points out, critics are well within their rights to describe “games studies… (as being)… naïve” in its failure to adequately address sig- nificant issues such as the military origins of games” (2012). Much of the work undertaken within the...
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