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Gameplay Mode

War, Simulation, and Technoculture

2011
Author:

Patrick Crogan

Gameplay Mode

Understanding the military logics that created and continue to inform computer games

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.

Gameplay Mode is a groundbreaking work that will make readers regard digital games in new and important ways. Patrick Crogan makes impressive and skillful use of a range of concepts drawn from critical theory to call our attention to the complex and highly significant relationships between digital games and technologies of war. He explores with intelligence and subtlety the effects and influences that techno-militarism have had, and are having, on culture in general and digital games specifically.

Tanya Krzywinska, Brunel University

From flight simulators and first-person shooters to MMPOG and innovative strategy games like 2008’s Spore, computer games owe their development to computer simulation and imaging produced by and for the military during the Cold War. To understand their place in contemporary culture, Patrick Crogan argues, we must first understand the military logics that created and continue to inform them. Gameplay Mode situates computer games and gaming within the contemporary technocultural moment, connecting them to developments in the conceptualization of pure war since the Second World War and the evolution of simulation as both a technological achievement and a sociopolitical tool.

Crogan begins by locating the origins of computer games in the development of cybernetic weapons systems in the 1940s, the U.S. Air Force’s attempt to use computer simulation to protect the country against nuclear attack, and the U.S. military’s development of the SIMNET simulated battlefield network in the late 1980s. He then examines specific game modes and genres in detail, from the creation of virtual space in fight simulation games and the co-option of narrative forms in gameplay to the continuities between online gaming sociality and real-world communities and the potential of experimental or artgame projects like September 12th: A Toy World and Painstation, to critique conventional computer games.

Drawing on critical theoretical perspectives on computer-based technoculture, Crogan reveals the profound extent to which today’s computer games—and the wider culture they increasingly influence—are informed by the technoscientific program they inherited from the military-industrial complex. But, Crogan concludes, games can play with, as well as play out, their underlying logic, offering the potential for computer gaming to anticipate a different, more peaceful and hopeful future.

Gameplay Mode

Patrick Crogan teaches film and media studies at the University of the West of England, Bristol.

Gameplay Mode

Gameplay Mode is a groundbreaking work that will make readers regard digital games in new and important ways. Patrick Crogan makes impressive and skillful use of a range of concepts drawn from critical theory to call our attention to the complex and highly significant relationships between digital games and technologies of war. He explores with intelligence and subtlety the effects and influences that techno-militarism have had, and are having, on culture in general and digital games specifically.

Tanya Krzywinska, Brunel University

Thought-provoking, well supported, and engaging.

Choice

It is brilliant writing, and if you care about the ideological and material conditions from which video games sprung from, it is necessary reading. There are too few books on the subject. This one is masterfully researched and written.

This Cage is Worms

Offers a welcome new perspective that belongs on the shelves of any games scholar, for all of us should embrace the many traditions that intersect with digital games.

Game Studies

Gameplay Mode

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Technology, War, and Simulation
1. From the Military-Industrial to the Military-Entertainment Complex
2. Select Gameplay Mode: Simulation, Criticality, and the Chance of Videogames
3. Logistical Space: Flight Simulators and the Animation of Virtual Reality
4. Military Gametime: History, Narrative, and Temporality in Cinema and Games
5. The Game of Life: Experiences of the First-Person Shooter
6. Other Players in Other Spaces: War and Online Games
7. Playing Through: The Future of Alternative and Critical Game Projects
Conclusion: The Challenge of Simulation

Notes
Index