According to one Suffolk University Professor the largest publishers in the video game industry have profited from fear and anxiety about terrorism.
The recent release of Battlefield 3 and this morning’s release of Modern Warfare 3 have once again brought military style first-person shooters into the limelight and one Suffolk University Professor doesn’t want us turning a blind eye to the real costs of war. “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,” says Nina Huntemann, author of the book Joystick Soldiers: The Politics of Play in Military Video Games and Assistant Professor at Suffolk University in the Department of Communication and Journalism.
“Since the attacks on 9/11, the largest publishers in the videogame industry have profited from fear and anxiety about terrorism” -Nina Huntemann
According to this press release, Huntemann is available for interviews and on-air commentary regarding the release of Call of Duty’s Modern Warfare 3 – a game which she says will offer players “an adrenaline rush of lock-and-load style action-adventure that is void of the complexities and consequences of warfare” with “ripped-from-the-headlines” scenarios and a “fetishistic attention to the technologies of war to represent the activities of U.S. forces.”
Rather than creating a true reflection of the many negative aspects surrounding military conflicts Huntemann claims that these games “reduce military intervention to narratives about weapons systems and HOW we fight.”
The portrayal of the military in video games isn’t all Huntemann is concerned about, she goes on to question (somewhat ironically) the vast amount of media attention that these games garner and its possible influence on military budget decisions, “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.”
Have the largest publishers in the video game industry profited from fear and anxiety surrounding terrorism? Almost certainly; some have even gone as far as to have the player assume the role of a terrorist – but the video game industry isn’t alone in glossing over the harrowing face of war, countless movies, television shows, cartoons, books, magazines and websites cash in on the public’s fear of terrorism and war each and every day. I’m not sure what type of video game Professor Huntemann envisions that would illustrate the reality of war rather than glamorize specific aspects of it – as the old saying goes war is hell, if a video game could truly convey that sentiment who would want to play it?
Do you think the video game industry is profiting from terrorism? What could they be doing differently?