war games: virtual hero

What me worry? The country is safe. The anarchist threat has been rebuffed. The virtual vigilantes ensure that the sun will always rise on America. …”The latest ‘Call of Duty” video game set a first-day sales record  of over $400million in sales in its first day hours in stores. On the one hand, it does indicate that violence sells, and that these games do reinforce militarism and male patriarchy and are a kind of hidden army upholding the structures of society and negate the reckoning of what we look like outside of patriarchy. But, games are so ubiquitous and participation so extensive, that it is difficult to generalize the overall effect, without letting the eco-yuppie pacifists create a bureaucracy to legislate video gaming. In the end, its an industry. Part of the entertainment complex. A business in the post-modern economy, and part of pop culture, and a recruiting tool of the military and means of socializing society.

---Read More:http://www.archives.gov.on.ca/english/on-line-exhibits/posters/big/big_13_war_poster.aspx

It’s fake, but allows people to be emotionally affected; a virtual reality that even if we know is staged, a fiction, is still fascinating to participants.  It remains part of the fundamental magic of video games: fascinated by persistent illusion, a search for something real in illusion that seems more engrossing that what appears to be the tedious boredom behind it. Explorations of the social ambiguity of violence are so stark it may even as the military points out, reduce trauma. So, its a very complex system that defies definitive judgement. It may actually function that not to do something in reality you do it virtually. An outlet valve.


---In her evocative book, Bananas, Beaches, and Bases, Cynthia Enloe observes that ‘nationalism has typically sprung from masculinized memory, masculinized humiliation and masculinized hope’. She argues that women are relegated to minor, often symbolic, roles in nationalist movements and conflicts, either as icons of nationhood, to be elevated and defended, or as the booty or spoils of war, to be denigrated and disgraced. In either case, the real actors are men who are defending their freedom, their honour, their homeland and their women. Enloe’s insight about the connection between manhood and nationhood raises definitional questions about each: what do we mean by ‘masculinity,’ and what do we mean by ‘nationalism?’--- Read More:http://www.las.iastate.edu/wsp_kcgs_partners/english/modules/stereotypes_nationalism/nagel.pdf

The creation of the games themselves can be considered an art form. However, as long as the market for the work will be mass, the achievement of economies of scale, it will fall into pop culture, become kitschified and bring to bear a variety of perversions that are destructive. The present debate over video games may go back all the way to Marcel Duchamp who shattered the difference between non-art and art which played out in the incorporation of perverse impulses within the conceptual sphere.

…Besides the steadily increasing fanbase, the latest TV commercial of Call of Duty: Black Ops – “there’s a soldier in all of us” implies a strong sense that shooting down others and co-operating with friends in the virtual battleground can release us from our boring ordinary life…. It then produces the illusion as if experiencing the simulated-conflict in this kind, like many gamers naively claim, is ‘just playing through another game.’ In fact, the gamers’ feelings and experiences in this genre are sophisticated than one can easily imagine.

“Clearly, post-9/11, we’re living in a much more fearful world.We carry more fear with us than we did 2 years ago, and one of the things these games allow people to do is, even if just for 45 minutes, sit and play a game – it gives you a sense of getting back the control of that fear. It’s fantastical, it’s temporary, but if you can play a game where you are neutralizing a terrorist threat – for 45 minutes you can pretend you have some sense of agency, some control, or at the very least, some part in trying to make the world a safer place….

---"America's Army" represents the official U.S. Army game that competes with commercial offerings such as "Modern Warfare 2" by also featuring online multiplayer shootouts. The free-to-play game has become a more effective recruiting tool for the Army than all other Army advertisements combined, according to MIT researchers. Such blurring between entertainment and war may have unwanted consequences, according to Peter Singer, a Brookings Institute defense expert. He argues in a Foreign Policy journal article that the "militainment" phenomenon can lead to greater distortions in how people view war. In real life, "any military person will tell you that there's a blend of incredible intensity and stress combined with long years of boredom," Singer pointed out. "But is a game going to capture that?" --- Read More:http://www.livescience.com/10022-military-video-games.html

…There is something to be said for that kind of cathartic and escapist moment that it gives you.Of course, the downside of that is if the only place where you address the fear is in your fantasy world, is in your entertainment, is in a game for 45 minutes, then that leaves the rest of you really wanting for another way of addressing that. Talking to other people, becoming part of a community effort to make your neighborhoods safer, learning more about your fears, and so forth, are things to think about. If you get your relief from that fear via a temporary and fantastical scenario, it could take away from addressing it in a realistic, long-term, and healthy way.” Read More:http://www.mediaed.org/Handouts/WarGames.pdf


That video, which is incredibly disturbing and graphic, shows a group of Iraqis walking the streets of New Baghdad, identified as armed “insurgents” by military personnel. The group, which reportedly included Reuters photojournalist Namir Noor-Eldeen and assistant Saeed Chmagh, is gunned down by a pair of Apache attack helicopters. Later, a minivan that appears to come to the assistance of the wounded is fired upon….

---Very few games have the ambition to convey both the physical carnage and mental anguish of warfare, such as was shown in the recent Oscar-winning film "The Hurt Locker" or HBO's Emmy-nominated World War II series "The Pacific." Instead, they have more narrow goals, such as attracting today's recruits through familiar entertainment. One Army recruitment station in the Philadelphia area featured war-themed video games and helicopter simulators aimed at attracting urban youth. It closed down last month, but the Army hinted that it might adopt a similar approach for future recruitment stations. "America's Army" continues a strong run with more than 11 million registered users having played over 260 million total hours and counting since 2002, including enlisted soldiers who play under their real-life unit designations. "The whole concept behind the game was that it was not going to be about scoring based on kills," Berry told LiveScience. "We wanted it to represent Army values and career options." Gamers can undergo virtual Army training around barracks and shooting ranges, as well as fight in teams against opposing players in online multiplayer combat. Players who faithfully complete tasks, such as medic training, even get perks in multiplayer games, such as being able to revive wounded comrades during online battles. The game does have some quirks that reveal how tricky it is to reproduce combat realities on an imaginary platform. In online games, players always view themselves as U.S. Army soldiers and see the opposing team of players as a fictional enemy. By contrast, an upcoming commercial game "Medal of Honor" allows players to fight one another as either U.S. Army or as the Taliban insurgents of Afghanistan. Killing in "America's Army" also represents a fairly clean affair compared with the bloodier kills of "Modern Warfare 2." That allowed the game to earn a "T for teen" rating, as part of its recruitment tool value. "We wanted kids to be able to start playing at 13," Berry explained. "If they haven't thought about the Army by the time they get to 17, it's probably not something they'll do." --- Read More:http://www.livescience.com/10022-military-video-games.html image:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gomer_Pyle_Hospital.jpg

…Australian journalist and WikiLeaks advisory board member Julian Assange released the video at the National Press Club in Washington. “The behavior of the pilots is like they’re playing a video game,” said Assange, according to a report from Fox News. “It’s like they want to get high-scores in that computer game.”

Assange may be referring to the detached, casual nature of the dialogue between military personnel and the excitable language following the attack. While the comparison of real-world violence to that of video games isn’t uncommon, in this case, it’s perhaps accurate, if a bit inflammatory….

---Even in private, men no longer feel like heroes’. Horrocks catalogues the costs of ‘patriarchal masculinity: Patriarchal masculinity cripples men. Manhood as we know it in our society requires such a self-destructive identity, a deeply masochistic self-denial, a shrinkage of the self, a turning away from whole areas of life, the man who obeys the demands of masculinity has become only half-human. . . To become the man I was supposed to be, I had to destroy my most vulnerable side, my sensitivity, my femininity, my creativity, and I had to pretend to be both more powerful and less powerful than I feel---Read More:http://www.las.iastate.edu/wsp_kcgs_partners/english/modules/stereotypes_nationalism/nagel.pdf image:http://video.answers.com/jewel-gets-hands-on-for-veterans-day-517200641

…The gruesome video will be visually familiar to anyone who has played through Infinity Ward’s most recent Call of Duty games, in which the player pilots an AC-130 gunship in an attack on ground forces. The in-game dialogue in Modern Warfare 2, which closely mirrors that of the WikiLeaks-released video, appears to be just as realistic in its nature as the piloting of a military aircraft and the destructive firepower inflicted upon human beings.

Clearly, some games like Modern Warfare and Battlefield, the aim for a high level of realism, but the unsettling video released by WikiLeaks may put that virtual violence in a new context for some viewers. Whether its appropriate to toss out a “video game” comparison in a grim story like this is up for discussion. Read More:http://kotaku.com/5510188/us-army-accused-of-video-game+like-behavior-in-disturbing-leaked-iraq-war-video

John Sargent Singer. Read More:http://artcontrarian.blogspot.com/2011/01/combat-art-worthwhile.html

The most futuristic example of game-like training comes from Raytheon, a giant in the defense industry, and Motion Reality, the company responsible for the 3-D technology behind the Hollywood blockbuster “Avatar.”

The two companies developed a free-roaming simulator called VIRTSIM, which allows participants wearing full gear and virtual reality goggles to physically fight their way through a virtual setting. The participants can toss physical objects such as mock grenades that explode in the virtual setting, and even experience a low-level Taser-style shock when a virtual enemy manages to shoot them.

---When we spectators are sitting in a movie theatre, looking at the screen... You remember, at the very beginning, before the picture is on, it's a black, dark screen, and then light thrown on. Are we basically not staring into a toilet bowl and waiting for things to reappear out of the toilet? And is the entire magic of a spectacle shown on the screen not a kind of deceptive lure, trying to conceal the fact that we are basically watching shit, as it were? ---Zizek. Image:http://drush76.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/kellys-heroes-1970-review/

…Such virtual training may go beyond training military recruits to operate weapons, spot roadside bombs, or clear rooms of enemies. It could also protect them from the mental horrors of war, according to Albert “Skip” Rizzo, a University of Southern California psychologist.

With funding from the U.S. military, Rizzo’s team in the virtual reality lab at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies wants to prepare military recruits for mental trauma before they are ever deployed overseas. It is developing virtual re-creations based on the stories told by returning veterans.

“What we want to create is something that pulls at the hearts of people,” Rizzo said. “Maybe there’s a child lying there with the arms blown off, screaming and crying. Maybe your action kills an innocent civilian, or you see a guy next to you get shot in the eye with blood spurting out of his face.”

At the most upsetting moment, the simulation would freeze and allow a virtual character to come out and walk the player through the situation. That character might look like a gunnery sergeant, a Buddhist monk, even a former schoolteacher – whatever helps the recruit think calmly after experiencing the virtual trauma. Read More:http://www.livescience.com/10022-military-video-games.html

“We’re training people to cope with the jobs they’ve been asked to perform and come back intact,” Rizzo said. “Nobody goes to war and comes back the same, but when they return, are they capable of holding a job and loving their wife and kids? That’s what our aim is, to make the return home as smooth as possible.”

…Before that can happen, Rizzo and his colleagues must figure out how to strike a balance in the realism of their simulations. Too polished a presentation may lull recruits into thinking of the simulation as just another commercial game such as “Modern Warfare 2,” where death only has the consequence of making players wait to reappear in the next match.

“We don’t want it to look like a game [recruits] have already played and become habituated to,” Rizzo said.

Brookings Institute defense expert, Singer wondered if militainment could also lead to a growing sense of detachment among military recruits during actual combat. He spoke with military officers who observed as much about some of the latest recruits.

“This might be the essence of this new era of militainment: a greater fidelity to detail, but perhaps a greater distortion in the end,” Singer wrote in his Foreign Policy article.

That distortion could become magnified among the majority of gamers playing “America’s Army” or “Modern Warfare 2,” who only experience warfare as what appears on their computer and television screens. Few will end up deploying overseas to experience the reality of war in places such as Afghanistan for themselves, according to Singer.

“This is especially the case as you have now almost two generations (X and Millennials) for whom the draft is just some paper card you get when you are 18 and never ever hear about again,” Singer said in an e-mail. “It completely changes the way they think about war.”

The militainment trend also takes place during a time when those killed in the wear rarely show up in U.S. news, and only arrive home as flag-draped coffins. As a result, most gamers may only ever see the casualties of modern wars as pixels on a screen – there one moment, gone the next.Read More:http://www.livescience.com/10022-military-video-games.html

Read More:http://www.feministfrequency.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/MRP-FINAL-web.pdf
Henry Jenkins:The Pew Data complicates easy generalizations about the place of violent entertainment in the lives of American teens. For example, the five most popular among young Americans are Guitar Hero, Halo 3, Madden NFL, Solitaire, and Dance Dance Revolution. Of these, only Halo 3 would qualify as a violent game. Over all, non-violent genres were the most popular. But, 50% of boys name a game with an M or A/O rating as one of their current top three favorites, compared with 14% of girls. (0ne of those places where gender really does make a difference in how people relate to games.) 32% of gaming teens report that at least one of their three favorite games is rated Mature or Adults Only. 12- to 14-year-olds are equally as likely to play M- or AO-rated games as their 15- to 17-year-old counterparts.

The Pew Data further challenges the idea that game playing is a socially isolating activity. The researchers found “65% of game-playing teens play with other people who are in the room with them. 27% play games with people who they connect with through the internet. 82% play games alone, although 71% of this group also plays with others. And nearly 3 in 5 teens (59%) play games in multiple ways — with others in the same room, with others online, or alone.” As someone who has watched games over the past two decades, I would argue that game play has always been more social than many non-gamers expect. I recall my son and his friends going to each other’s houses as a kind of victory house when they beat a level in a challenging game, showing the others how to do it and helping them over the hump. Indeed, playing a game alone is often seen as a rehearsal mode, getting ready for more social forms of play, much like a kid bouncing a ball against a house and catching it, because there aren’t people around to play ball with. The Pew data suggests that for many kids, games is sometimes social, sometimes solitary, but most have a healthy range of different ways of engaging with the games medium. Read More:http://www.henryjenkins.org/2008/10/video_games_myths_revisited_ne.html

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