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Digital Landscapes of Imperialism - US Intervention in Video Games

Jokela Måsbäck, Mikko LU (2018) KOVM12 20181
Division of Art History and Visual Studies
Abstract
Within the cultural imaginary of video games, armed conflicts have always occupied a central space. Their subject material, as well as technologies and visual techniques, are often based on historical and present-day conflicts, often involving US Armed Forces, subcontractors or intelligence agents. US actors and interests disproportionally occupy the privileged position of protagonist, which has contributed to creating militarised, US-centric, global interventionist narratives across genres and titles. The dearth of US criticism within video games in turn implicates the corporate and cultural close connections of ‘mainstream’ video game developers and publishers to both US mass media and the actual US Armed Forces.
This thesis classifies... (More)
Within the cultural imaginary of video games, armed conflicts have always occupied a central space. Their subject material, as well as technologies and visual techniques, are often based on historical and present-day conflicts, often involving US Armed Forces, subcontractors or intelligence agents. US actors and interests disproportionally occupy the privileged position of protagonist, which has contributed to creating militarised, US-centric, global interventionist narratives across genres and titles. The dearth of US criticism within video games in turn implicates the corporate and cultural close connections of ‘mainstream’ video game developers and publishers to both US mass media and the actual US Armed Forces.
This thesis classifies the occurrences of US intervention-portrayals across video games released between 2005 and 2014, through a quantitative analysis of technological, visual and rhetorical representation. These ten years of representation come during the time of major US military campaigns in (primarily) Afghanistan and Iraq, and loosely correspond to a technological era, known as the 7th video game console generation. Moreover, two case studies closely inspect the role of landscape in first-person shooters, examining the relationship between military-industrial visualisation (e.g. crosshairs, vehicular vision, drone footage), traces of the colonial imaginary, and the presentation of terrain as fundamentally conquerable and exploitable.
Untangling ideologies of military intervention, heroic protagonist (re-)enactments and imperialist ideas of landscape will help pinpoint how video games (re-)create worlds, but also how real-world political and cultural practices are upheld, subverted or redefined within the logic of the game-world. The motives of exceptionalism and colonial morality are not just overtly visible, but implicit in the very logic of the presentation. Landscapes are presented as accessible and exploitable, traversable by those with the ‘right’ to intervene anywhere, anytime; a visual rhetoric that transcends video games. (Less)
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author
Jokela Måsbäck, Mikko LU
supervisor
organization
course
KOVM12 20181
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Intervention, Video Games, Discourse, Landscape, Imperialism
language
English
id
8958071
date added to LUP
2018-10-04 08:06:38
date last changed
2018-10-04 12:26:24
@misc{8958071,
  abstract     = {Within the cultural imaginary of video games, armed conflicts have always occupied a central space. Their subject material, as well as technologies and visual techniques, are often based on historical and present-day conflicts, often involving US Armed Forces, subcontractors or intelligence agents. US actors and interests disproportionally occupy the privileged position of protagonist, which has contributed to creating militarised, US-centric, global interventionist narratives across genres and titles. The dearth of US criticism within video games in turn implicates the corporate and cultural close connections of ‘mainstream’ video game developers and publishers to both US mass media and the actual US Armed Forces.
This thesis classifies the occurrences of US intervention-portrayals across video games released between 2005 and 2014, through a quantitative analysis of technological, visual and rhetorical representation. These ten years of representation come during the time of major US military campaigns in (primarily) Afghanistan and Iraq, and loosely correspond to a technological era, known as the 7th video game console generation. Moreover, two case studies closely inspect the role of landscape in first-person shooters, examining the relationship between military-industrial visualisation (e.g. crosshairs, vehicular vision, drone footage), traces of the colonial imaginary, and the presentation of terrain as fundamentally conquerable and exploitable.
Untangling ideologies of military intervention, heroic protagonist (re-)enactments and imperialist ideas of landscape will help pinpoint how video games (re-)create worlds, but also how real-world political and cultural practices are upheld, subverted or redefined within the logic of the game-world. The motives of exceptionalism and colonial morality are not just overtly visible, but implicit in the very logic of the presentation. Landscapes are presented as accessible and exploitable, traversable by those with the ‘right’ to intervene anywhere, anytime; a visual rhetoric that transcends video games.},
  author       = {Jokela Måsbäck, Mikko},
  keyword      = {Intervention,Video Games,Discourse,Landscape,Imperialism},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Digital Landscapes of Imperialism - US Intervention in Video Games},
  year         = {2018},
}