The generic understanding is that video games are for the purpose of entertainment. However the underlying underpinning of it suggests that it can be used as a political tool to brainwash the common masses into doing something that they would not if their imaginations and fancies are not won over by some agency of socialization. The purpose of this report is thus to analyze how exactly can through the popularization of valorizing war games, with particular reference to the first person shooter, a culture of preparedness for war can be brought about. The following sections shall be containing the views of several scholars on the issue and it shall be related to a survey report to locate the areas where it contradicts with the theoretical propositions, which sums up the research question of the essay.
Critical Analysis: Convergences and Divergences between the Scholarly Views and the Survey Report
Peter Mantello (2013) in his article talks about how a sense of legitimacy has been created by the US government through the means of the video game first person shooter. He hints at the fact that the sensation which is triggered in the minds of the player has been utilised very skillfully by the government through economic means, that is by encouraging the buying and selling of first person shooter video games, to win over their thoughts and value perceptions and drive them into war. In other words, by playing the game, the players had started developing a sense of fascination for the game as they felt like a hero on being able to knock down an opponent. That behaviour had been taken advantage of by recruiting soldiers for going into the battle field, for a cause which the player thought was justified and real, but in reality it wasn’t. To demonstrate the fact Mantello provides the example of the US intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. Having provided an overview of the theoretical propositions of Mantello, it shall now be diagnosed against the findings of the survey. Mantello’s findings contradict with the survey findings in the sense that the responses recorded were not very favourably disposed to the idea of being overwhelmed by a sense of achievement on being able to shoot down an opponent. The respondents however did enjoy the game as it had the thrill factor in it but it however did not deprive the human element present in the players. Some of them have expressed deep dissatisfaction towards the game as it made them feel uncomfortable after a certain point of time, the gory images and graphics were not something which they enjoyed after a certain period of time. The only point of similarity with the survey report is the factor of thrill which the players experienced. However it was quite shortlived.
Robert Stahl (2006) in his article makes an attempt to expand the idea presented by Mantello more precisely. He uses the conceptual framework of militarization of the sphere meant for the civilians to explain how games like first person shooter is in itself quite brainwashing. Stahl (2006) also hints at the point that since it is in itself equipped with a capability to win over the masses, it can be very lethal if used for surreptitious purposes. He says that the video games of the likes of the first person shooter tends to overlap the spaces meant for commercial pursuits with that of militarization thereby causing civilian spaces to be co-opted by an ideological position which is generally not nurtured by them. All of it happens when the aura of the video game takes over the discretion of the player and he or she starts to feel that they are an agent themselves potent enough, and filled with all the capabilities to wage a war on terror. This is the central idea if the article of Stahl. Having said that the discussion shall now be focussing on the aspect of finding out its contradiction with the survey reports. The report has definitely hinted about the feelings that the player felt like a soldier, similar to what the scholar has pointed out, but that was not a long lasting affair which is contradictory. The responses of the respondents as recorded suggests that the game is not that powerful that it shall be robbing them of their senses and they shall be driven to do something which they themselves were not inclined to ideologically. The sense of being critical of the game had soon dawned on them and that was the moment when they had started developing dislike for the game.
In another article, Robert Stahl (2009) broadens his explanation with regard to how the behaviour amongst the players of imagining themselves as soldiers was taken advantage of by political forces to develop real life warriors. He mentions in his article of how the war graphic images were used as a tool to teach the civilians the tactics to be used in battle field. It was indirectly a training on a small scale provided to the players in order to prepare them with an introductory training session on the techniques to be used in a battlefield. As it is the climate was suitable for dissemination of the tactics amongst the American masses as they were already prepared to absorb the training quickly. On top of that the government had also taken resort to the media for popularizing and inspiring the masses to take up combatant role by glorifying war. This goes as far as the views of Robert Stahl is concerned in a nutshell. With regard to the contradiction of the views propounded by Stahl with that of the survey reports, it can be said that the imageries of the war presented through the game had actually had negative effect on the players who had tried first person shooter game. As it has already been said that in one of the previous sections that the players have expressed critical attitude towards the game, and to the whole idea of war in general. They felt repulsed by the sheer amount of violence displayed in the game. Hence it is not feasible to assume that the viewers shall be favourably disposed towards the idea of going into war simply on the basis of playing the game. They had expressed disgust for the game from the standpoint that if just the game is so violent in nature that their moral self is not giving consent to indulging in it after a certain period of time, then the actual act of going into war would be way more violent and they were definitely not prepared for it.
Der Derian (2009) in his article talks of the virtual enemy and the virtuous war by creating a connection between them. He writes that by means of playing the game, the players were getting ideologically moulded into believing that the entire act of going into a war is in itself an act of great virtue. The enemies in the game are not real, they are virtual, they are created by the help of software, but the effect and the motivation to action was however quite real as many players were getting themselves ready to take up the job of being real soldiers in the battlefield. The danger of it as per Der Derian was that many of the players were giving consent to going to the battlefield without being aware of the fact whether the war expeditions their country was going into was at all justified as a cause or not. They were expressing readiness to go into a war just on the basis of playing a video game of which they hardly had any idea. Having provided a brief idea of what the scholar had to say with regard to the connection of going into war and playing video games, now the points of contradictions with the survey report shall be provided. The respondants considered not the just as virtual but also the idea of going into war. They seemed quite convinced that the real situation which prevails at a battlefield is quite difficult than playing a video game, naturally they were not convinced that war could be virtuous at any cost.
Thus, it is very evident that the results of the survey do not match with the theoretical constructs in totality. The point of convergence between the scholarly works and the survey is just on the aspect of the behavioural tendency to be carried away by the aura of the game, and a development of the sense of fascination for war and roles which demand one to be combatant. However, there have been some worth noticing divergences which belie the tendency which had been noticed at a point of time in the bygone era when America and even the Americans cherished the sense of superiority which it had gained in the international sphere by virtue of being the one to decide upon the fate of other countries. Given the context of today’s world, such over romanticism with the spirit of nationhood which calls for perils to other has died out, which is why the thesis inferences collected back then does not match with the survey conducted very recently. This does not deny the validity of the previous reports, but it states that the behavioural tendencies observed previously holds no ground in today’s world.
Der Derian, J., 2009. Virtuous war: Mapping the military-industrial-media-entertainment-network. Routledge.
Mantello, P., 2013. Legitimacy and the virtual battlefield: putting the first-person shooter on the witness stand. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 67(5), pp.638-658.
Stahl, R., 2006. Have you played the war on terror?. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 23(2), pp.112-130.
Stahl, R., 2009. Militainment, Inc.: War, media, and popular culture. Routledge.