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RETURNING FIRE: DOCU EXAMINES HOW VIDEO GAME 'MILITAINMENT' PROMOTES WAR

by Mimi Brickmeyer, staff writer.  [June 22, 2011]

 

 

The Media Education Foundation reports that profits from war-happy video games have exploded over the past decade. Blood-crazy games like Modern Warfare, America's Army, Medal of Honor, and Battlefield are part of an exploding market of war games whose revenues eclipse even the hugest of Hollywood blockbusters.

The sophistication of these games is undeniable, offering a creepily realistic experience of ground combat, and a glimpse into the increasingly virtual world of long-distance, push-button massacres.

How are these gory games influencing the minds of children? How are they influencing America's political culture -- and Americans' capacity to empathize with people directly affected by the actual trauma of war? Are war-crazy video games just harmless entertainment? Or do they cheapen our attitudes about war -- desensitizing America's next generation of killer soldiers?

 

 

In the new MEF documentary, Returning Fire, Roger Stahl profiles three culture-jamming activists who have used game technology to force players to consider the potential costs of turning war into entertainment. Anne-Marie Schleiner, Wafaa Bilal, and Joseph Delappe moved dissent from the streets onto our video screens -- infiltrating war games in an attempt to break the hypnotic spell of "militainment."

Their activism forces video game users to think critically about what it means when the clinical tools of real-world killing become forms of consumer play.

Director Roger Stahl is Associate Professor of Speech Communication at the University of Georgia. His latest book is Militainment, Inc.: War, Media, and Popular Culture.

 

Also read Mimi Brickmeyer's analysis of post-9/11 war films -- and the hidden meaning behind the war-crazy film, 300!

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