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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 10. War without End?

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← 158 | 159 → · 10 ·

WAR WITHOUT END?

The kinds of games that are very definitely enabling violence are the ones in which you actually hold a weapon in your hand and fire it at human-shaped targets on the screen.

—Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (2009, p. 319)

I began writing this book in the shadow of the massacre on the island of Utøya in Norway in 2011 by extremist and neo-Fascist Anders Breivik. I had been attending an international information and computing technology conference in Rome when the news first broke. At the time I was deeply moved and horrified by the events on that tranquil island. After the event it was reported that the killer had been practicing for his attack with one of the Call of Duty games (Pidd, 2012). I had already begun preliminary work on what was to become this book and had begun looking seriously at First Person Shooter video games. The more I read and the more I played these games the more I began to think that this technology was emblematic of a much deeper and more profound process than one might initially consider.

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