War Propaganda Is Fun On Your Xbox 360

from the the-battle-in-your-livingroom dept

Historically, film has been a dominant medium for propaganda, as filmmakers working for and against governments have used it to express certain viewpoints. It appears, though, that propagandists are increasingly shifting towards videogames as the way to promote their message. In Iran, a new videogame is being developed depicting a scenario in which a top Iranian nuclear scientist has been taken hostage by US forces. The mission, of course, is to secure his release. Videogames are used similarly here as well. Recall that a few years ago, the Army released its own videogame for recruiting purposes. Recently, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez lashed out at an American company for creating a game that simulates an invasion of Venezuela. Chavez' fears are somewhat understandable, since an invasion of Venezuela wouldn't normally be something on people's minds (unlike say an invasion of Iran, which wouldn't be surprising to find in a game). Furthermore, as author Ed Halter notes, the company that developed the game, Pandemic, has a history of working side by side with the Army to develop training games. Halter's book From Sun Tzu To Xbox: War And Video Games delves deeply into the historical and ongoing ties between the military and the video game industry. So as videogames continue to capture attention that was historically owned by the film industry, expect games to be a home of fierce propaganda battles. If only the wars could be fought virtually as well.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 May 2006 @ 9:06am

    Wouldn't "propaganda" imply that the game encouraged one viewpoint over another? So unless the game made an invasion of Venezuela a)incredibly easy or b)impossible AND acheived wide enough distribution that it actually influenced significant numbers of people (which would be a longshot with unrealistic gameplay) is it actually "propaganda"? The military has a real good incentive to working with video game companies; games are the primary training ground for their current crop of troops. Unlike generations ago when recruits arrived with a basic knowledge of firearms and shooting but no knowledge of tactics, you have to figure a lot of current recruits are SOCOM and Halo ninjas that have never actually handled a weapon. Training goes a lot faster when you can use an analog that the troops are used to.

    And if you think we don't have a plan in a filing cabinent somewhere detailing precisely how we'd invade Venezuela (and Canada, and Cuba, and Belguim, and Peru...) then you don't know how militaries think. Old military saying, "At a party, treat everyone with respect, but always have a plan to kill everyone in the room."

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