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Stefan Werning (Utrecht University)



(Computer) games and contemporary perceptions of military conflicts


The relationship between digital games and the planning, preparation and execution of military conflicts has proven tenuous throughout ist long history, starting with William Higginbotham and his „Tennis for Two“ (1958), displayed on an oscilloscope. Media studies investigations of games have traditionally focused on three approaches, a) representations of military scenarios (Kingsepp 2007; Gieselmann 2007; Allen 2011; Breuer et al. 2011; Mantello 2012; Schulzke 2013a; Stahl 2013; Andersen 2014), b) the political economy of the military entertainment complex (Lenoir 2000; Nieborg & van der Graaf 2003; Ottosen 2009; Payne 2012; Mantello 2013; Schulzke 2013b), and c) the game as a socio-technical apparatus of military conflicts. (Werning 2009; Crogan 2011; Pias 2011; Ash 2012).

The lecture combines elements of all three but particularly focuses on the third trajectory, showing the ‚agency‘ of digital games and their technology in legitimizing military conflict and their distinct epistemic and discursive implications. Apart from video games, it broadens the corpus, e.g. also considering board and card games issued by the US Army, the inherently ludic qualities of digital simulations, and the potential for ‚counter games‘ (cf. Machin & Suleiman 2006 as well as, for the term itself, Werning & Koubek 2017) and anti-war games (z.B. Payne 2014).




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