War and Play: Insensitivity and Humanity in the Realm of Pushbutton Warfare

War and Play: Insensitivity and Humanity in the Realm of Pushbutton Warfare

Devin Monnens
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-120-1.ch006
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This chapter argues for a game design ethic for war game production and the development of games that produce a more realistic and conscientious critique of warfare, defined as antiwar and conscientious war games. Given the medium’s preponderance toward narratives and simulations of military conflict, there are surprisingly few works that seriously examine its consequences. This chapter surveys and critiques several existing antiwar and conscientious war games and examines design problems associated with exploring antiwar narratives. It concludes with an exploration of areas in which both new antiwar games can be developed and existing war games can be modified to produce conscientious messages about war. Artists and designers should have a vested interest in producing antiwar games to both enrich the medium and improve society by inspiring audiences to seek alternatives to conflict.
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War Games

Games have depicted war for centuries in nearly every genre from the combat vehicle simulator (Army Battlezone, 1981) to card games (Echelons of Fire, 1995). They may be specifically about war, as in a military first-person shooter (FPS) such as Medal of Honor (1999) or like Chess may only abstractly represent conflict. War games may depict historical wars, speculative future wars, fictional wars, or the wars of fantasy and science fiction; the wars may be abstract or naturalistic. Even a game of Tic-Tac-Toe can be considered a fierce battle of territorial control and all the militarist and colonialist narratives it implies. With the invention of kriegspeil in the early 19th Century, games have also been used as simulations and training for warriors, and most recently as recruitment tools, a history concisely described by Ed Halter (2005).

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