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War/Play

Video Games and the Militarization of Society

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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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Chapter 5. Propaganda and Video Games

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PROPAGANDA AND VIDEO GAMES

Today propaganda has replaced progress.

—(Virilio, Richard, & Hodges, 2012, p. 38)

War is an area of human activity that spans both the physical and psychological domains. Killing and getting people to kill, or to acquiesce to killing occurring in their name, has been a crucial aspect of the preparation for and the actual conduct of war. Propaganda has been a widely used tool for the positioning of societies to engage in war, and then once the commitment to the conflict has been made, to maintain that commitment, whatever the cost. Recent history is peppered with examples of this process—the Total War that engulfed Europe in mid-twentieth century with Germany fighting almost to the last man, woman, and child is perhaps the quintessential case study. The fanatical determination of the Germans to continue the war owes much to the power and sophistication of the propaganda apparatus that Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels was able to set in motion. Definitions of what constitutes propaganda and how it functions in advanced society have been richly debated. The form, mechanism, and impact of propaganda have evolved over the past decades. From our vantage point in the twenty-first century it is possible to look back and identify a range of practices and strategies that have helped to define the evolution of this powerful political weapon.

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