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Military Videogames and the Future of Ideological Warfare

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JournalThe British Journal of Politics & International Relations
DateAccepted/In press - 21 Mar 2017
DatePublished (current) - 1 Aug 2017
Issue number3
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)609-626
Original languageEnglish


Military videogames play an important role in violent actors’ media strategies, and while scholars have attempted to theorize their significance, too much attention is devoted to characterizing games as an ideological distortion that must be unmasked to reveal a more authentic view of war. I offer an alternative perspective on these games and their political import. Relying on a conception of ideology as an inescapable constitutive part of politics, rather than ideology as a form of deception, I highlight three salient characteristics of these games. First, regardless of what strategic interests they are designed to advance, videogames’ meanings are open to contestation and reconfiguration, making games a site of conflict in themselves. Second, videogames grant insight into violent actors’ goals and self-conceptions. Third, because videogames are designed as closed systems built from mutually reinforcing ontological and epistemological assumptions, they introduce opportunities for normative critique based on testing ideologies’ coherence.

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