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
    Tyshaun, 30 May 2006 @ 8:34am

    video games have always been in the propoganda bus

    Even when I was a teenager I remember Atari/Commodore games like Spy Hunter that were definately propoganda vehicles. This isn't anythingnew, but it's interesting that the general public didn't realized how much it was a fact until the Army simulation came out a few years ago.

    If only the wars could be fought virtually as well.

    That all depends on what virtual means to you. The closest thing I can think of to a virtual war today is the increase use of unmanned assets like the predator.

    For now, the military maintains the stance that although they "could" develop a fully autonomous war machine, it is better to still have a human in the loop at least making the final decision to fire or not. In the future, I'll postulate, as the military becomes more and more comfortable with machines making decsions, we may start to see drones and other vehicles that are almost completely autonomous, and that may be the dawn of truly virtual wars.

    I almost hope that isn't the case, however, because one of the biggest deterrents from going to war has been the possibility of soldiers dying. With more and more autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles, that deterrent is no longer in place and while we may see less soldiers dying, the collatoral damage to infrstructure and the general population in and near the war zones would be enormous.

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