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Gameplay Mode

Gameplay Mode: War, Simulation, and Technoculture

Volume: 36
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Gameplay Mode
    Book Description:

    To understand the place of computer games in contemporary culture, Patrick Crogan argues, we must first understand the military logics that created and continue to inform them. Drawing on critical theoretical perspectives on computer-based technoculture, Crogan reveals how today’s computer games—and the wider culture they increasingly influence—are informed by the technoscientific program they inherited from the military-industrial complex.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7833-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: Technology, War, and Simulation
    (pp. xi-xxviii)

    Maxis’s 2008 computer gameSpore(Electronic Arts) offers a world of interactive play that tells us much about the world in which it jostles for position among competing digital entertainments. Designed by Will Wright, legendary designer of video game classicsSim City(Maxis, 1989) andThe Sims(Maxis, 2000), it is a game of many modes. Single-player play (including first-person, tactical, realtime, and turn-based strategy), asynchronous interactivity, user-generated content creation, and publishing are all built into the downloadable or packaged commodity. The player controls the development of a species from its beginnings as a single cell organism through stages of...

  5. 1 From the Military-Industrial to the Military-Entertainment Complex
    (pp. 1-18)

    Mainstream media commentary on the carefully orchestrated “highlights packages” released daily to the international press during the U.S.-led 1991 Desert Storm campaign in Kuwait and Iraq registered the striking resemblance between the “missile cam” and spotter plane footage of targets being destroyed and the screens of contemporary combat-based video games. Media theorists typically responded in the wake of the war by exposing the highly selective and unrepresentative nature of U.S. military–controlled media briefings. The rhetoric of a war of precision weapons delivering surgical strikes obscured the fact that the vast majority of military ordnance was not precision guided; that...

  6. 2 Select Gameplay Mode: Simulation, Criticality, and the Chance of Video Games
    (pp. 19-36)

    Alternative reality games (ARGs) have grown in popularity since the turn of the most recent century. Players are engaged to uncover some mystery or puzzle by searching for clues in documents, on Web sites, via communication with other players or game-created automatic agents (“bots”), and so forth. The multimodal means by which ARGs are played is key to their appeal: the games are played not on a screen like a video game, but in and among the spaces and routines of everyday life.

    By mapping a game over the real space of normal activity, alternative reality games virtualize reality for...

  7. 3 Logistical Space: Flight Simulators and the Animation of Virtual Reality
    (pp. 37-58)

    James Cameron’sAvatar(2009) opens with a sequence in which the viewer flies over a computer-generated landscape. The groundbreaking 3-D graphics approach, disappear out of the frame, and rock and sway to provide the fulfilling illusion that you inhabit a real flying vehicle in a real, exotically beautiful space. You are the warrior–protagonist whose voice-over accompanies these images in an introspective reflection on the circumstances that have brought him to this strange world. This film, oscillating between its simplistic allegory of the costs of the United States’ aggressive pursuit of its post-9/11 military adventures and its box office–breaking...

  8. 4 Military Gametime: History, Narrative, and Temporality in Cinema and Games
    (pp. 59-86)

    The perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attack included commercial and game flight simulation software systems in their training regimen for their suicide missions.¹ As one of the many facts to have emerged via mainstream media reporting to the American (and worldwide) audience in the weeks after the attacks, this contributed to the shocking sense that the world was not what it had seemed to be for people living in advanced Western democracies before September 11, 2001. The news about the simulation training amounted to a disturbing defamiliarization of flight simulator technology from useful or entertaining virtual reality system to dangerously...

  9. 5 The Game of Life: Experiences of the First-Person Shooter
    (pp. 87-110)

    This chapter examines the experience of information in first-person shooter computer games. At first glance, this might seem to refer to the rich layerings of textual and graphically presented information that accompany the perspectival animation of virtual space in these games. Elements of the screen interface, such as a compass heading graphic, a mini map, or a radar screen giving extra information about the player’s surrounds, avatar health level, and weapons selection indicators, are common informational supplements to the visual field of perception provided to the player. These elements are included as characteristic of the experience of first-person shooter play,...

  10. 6 Other Players in Other Spaces: War and Online Games
    (pp. 111-134)

    The American new media artist/activist Joseph DeLappe is waging an interventionist campaign in the U.S. military’s own multiplayer online game,America’s Army(U.S. Department of Defense, from 2002). Having qualified for entry to the multiplayer mode of the game by completing the basic training (or “boot camp”) missions, he joins a game on one of the official game servers as a member of one of two teams involved in the squad-based tactical combat. This allows him to stage his intervention into the normal routines of gameplay. He does not participate actively in the combat play—a refusal to act that...

  11. 7 Playing Through: The Future of Alternative and Critical Game Practices
    (pp. 135-156)

    In this chapter, I will examine several alternative and critical new media projects taking computer game systems or practices as their major medium and/or theme. This will enable me to explore some instances of aesthetic and critical reproduction of mainstream computer game forms and technocultural practices for what they say about these, and for what they indicate of the future of aesthetically experimental and critical computer game projects. My examination of these works will initiate consideration of the question of critical simulation raised by several theorists, most notably in the arena of computer games by Gonzalo Frasca, who has called...

  12. Conclusion: The Challenge of Simulation
    (pp. 157-176)

    The 2009Army Capstone Conceptis a short video released by TRADOC (U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command) as a digestible summary of the Army’s concept statement about what kind of capabilities the Army estimates it will require to “apply finite resources to overcome adaptive adversaries in an era of complexity and uncertainty.”¹ This statement, based on the lessons of the first decade of the war on terror, revises the previous prediction that technology would provide “near perfect situational awareness” via “sensors, standoff capability and improved command and control.” It outlines a project of incorporating cultural and historical knowledge and...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 177-208)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 209-222)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 223-225)