'The Video Game Industry Have Profited From Fear and Anxiety About Terrorism,” Professor Says

Illustration for article titled The Video Game Industry Have Profited From Fear and Anxiety About Terrorism,” Professor Says

Suffolk University Professor Nina Huntemann is probably not calling in sick tomorrow to play Modern Warfare 3. She's no fan.

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Amid all the hype for the release of this year's huge first person shooter, she wants anyone who will listen to know what's wrong with Modern Warfare, Battlefield and the rest of video game's interactive military complex.

"Since the attacks on 9/11, the largest publishers in the videogame industry have profited from fear and anxiety about terrorism," she said in a press release blasted to reporters today. "Electronic Arts (Battlefield 3) and Activision (Modern Warfare) have spent millions of dollars producing and marketing first-person shooter games that simplify and glamorize global conflict and military intervention."

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Huntemann wrote a book about this two years ago. It's called Joystick Soldiers: The Politics of Play in Military Video Games. She's modernizing those arguments today, because she thinks big-budget video games still don't properly address the costs of war.

"Instead they reduce military intervention to narratives about weapons systems and how we fight," she wrote. "As the U.S. government debates federal budget priorities that include decisions about military spending, it is difficult to have a thoughtful national conversation about the strategic use of the armed forces when the overwhelming attention to military conflict in the entertainment media is focused on treating war as a game."

While Prof. Huntemann's outreach to reporters today doesn't explain if or whether she draws a distinction between gaming's glorification of war and movie and TV's practices of doing the same, a movies-do-it-too defense wouldn't be gaming's strongest defense. Kotaku has reached out to Huntemann to find out more about her take. We'll let you know what we hear.


You can contact Stephen Totilo, the author of this post, at stephentotilo@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.

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DISCUSSION

TheSadClown
Nightshift Nurse

I don't think Huntemann's commentary is without merit. The Medal of Honor reboot (which I still enjoyed) is shockingly jingoistic. And Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare took the Hollywood approach to contemporary depictions of war and further distilled it by removing any social commentary or subversion.

To be fair, I don't believe the motivations of the developers are at all sinister, we just happen to be living in a time when there's a huge demand for "America, fuck yeah!" If the technology had existed during World War 2 or Vietnam, I guarantee we would've seen games produced that were even more one-sided in their depictions of conflict. Games that would've operated as little more than interactive recruitment posters. I don't believe either of the games I've mentioned necessarily cross that line, though Medal of Honor comes perilously close.