International Politics

In February, Tiltfactor director Mary Flanagan was honored to be invited to Dubai by the organizers of the World Government Summit and the creative leadership group THNK for the UN/OECD-based Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) In Action workshop at the annual World Government Summit. Mary presented...

Games are a global medium, and to theorists such as Lisa Nakamura at the Games, Learning, and Society Conference 2009, one cannot separate the construction of digital games into particular cultures and practices. Having one national "essense" or sensibility is entirely fictional, Nakamura notes, because...

via: The Jerusalem Post War games By SAM SER Kassam rockets are coming in way too fast, raining terror across the western Negev. IAF fighter-bombers are responding with ferocious bombardments of Gaza City, and tanks are rolling in behind them. The whole chilling scene unfolds on the computer screen... until I hit the "escape" button. As if the constant stream of television coverage of Operation Cast Lead weren't enough, several video games depicting the fighting have been posted to popular on-line gaming sites in the past two weeks. So now the fate of Israelis and Palestinians are in the hands of computer geeks from Nebraska to New Zealand. Look closely at the or Web sites, for example, and you'll find current events reflected in the list of free games. In Gaza Defender, a Hamas gunman must fire his AK-47 into the sky, shooting at IAF jets as they drop bombs that tear away at the Gaza skyline. Save Israel is a race against the clock as rockets bombard the South; the goal is to click on the cities being targeted (to sound the Color Red alarm) and then click on the incoming rockets to destroy them before they hit. Two take-offs on the popular "tower defense" game are used to highlight the disparate forces involved in this (real) war. In Raid Gaza, Israel's high-powered military faces off against woefully inaccurate homemade rockets, in a clear mismatch that leads to an inordinate number of casualties on the Palestinian side. Likewise, Gaza Defense Force pits a handful of rock throwers against tanks and planes in an utterly hopeless battle. These games were put together quickly, using simple Flash programming and a lack of any real plot development. This is old-school electronic warfare, the kind that is controlled with arrow keys, the space bar and a few well-timed left-clicks on the mouse. At the same time, though, these games are becoming a new front in the Israeli-Arab conflict - a battle for hearts and minds that is anything but fun and games.

Infovore has an interesting essay about what our gamer-politicians of the future may be like, or at least what they may have learned from their experiences as players. Some of it is pretty grim, like learning about resource scarcity by playing survival horror games (ah,...

I'm sure readers here are pretty familiar with what America's Army is so I'll skip most of the article, but there are some salient details that were new to me.

via: Truthout


What the game's "realism" is attempting to do is to mask the violent reality of combat, and military experience in general, for very specific purposes. At a minimum, the Army hopes "America's Army" will act as "strategic communication" to expose "kids who are college bound and technologically savvy" to positive messaging about the Army. Phase one of the propaganda effort is to expose children to "Army values" and make service look as attractive as possible. The next phase is direct recruiting. According to Colonel Wardynski, who originally thought up selling the Army to children through video games, "a well executed game would put the Army within the immediate decision-making environment of young Americans. It would thereby increase the likelihood that these Americans would include Soldiering in their set of career alternatives." To make the connection between the game and recruitment explicit, the "America's Army" web site links directly to the Army's recruitment page. And gamers can explore a virtual recruitment center through the "America's Army Real Heroes" program. Local recruiters also use the game to draw in high school children for recruitment opportunities. Recruiters stage area tournaments with free pizza and sodas; winners receive Xbox game consoles, free copies of "America's Army" and iPods. Game centers are also set up at state fairs and public festivals with replica Humvees and .50 caliber machine guns, where children as young as 13 can test out the life-sized equipment.

This article is kind of confusing, and I haven't found any others that offer a clearer explanation. I'm imagining that the Thai government is just being reactionary here and there is no clear justification for banning the game. They say the boy murdered the taxi driver because he wanted to see if it was as easy in real life as in the game. Then they say he needed money so he could play the game more. So first the danger is that the game is a bad influence on kids, then the danger is that it's addictive and we could see gamers like crack addicts robbing bodegas to buy the latest first person shooter. Finally, in an AFP article, a police officer claims the game is being banned because of obscene content. Obscene content? The country with one of the biggest sex tourism economies in the world is fretting over naughty language, guns, and digital strip clubs? No, GTA is no worse than an Ong Bak movie. Games are just convenient scapegoats.

via: BBC

The 18-year-old high school student is accused of stabbing the cab driver to death by trying to copy a scene from the game. The biggest video game publisher in the south-east Asian country, New Era Interactive Media, has told retailers to stop selling GTA IV. It is due to be replaced by another video game title.

gmc.jpg via: Grassroots Media Coalition The Mainstream Media is a propaganda mind control operation owned by an elite cartel for the benefit of the global oligarchy. I wish that were hyperbole, but it isn’t. Luckily, alternative media, independent media, is going strong and growing every year. The annual Grassroots Media Conference is a chance for media activists to come together, compare notes, and stratagize. It’s always worth attending. This year, Tiltfactor Lab will be facilitating a game design workshop to help participants better understand how to analyze existing games and consciously embed values in their own games.
Gamasutra has an interview with Craig Allen, CEO of Spark Unlimited, about the company’s new release. The game is called Turning Point, and it takes a “what-if” scenario. As it asks what might have happened had the Nazis invaded the U.S. in WWII, the game seems to ponder on the nature of war.
I am a nube. In Second Life, I spend a good deal of time standing in one place awkwardly moving my mouse and clicking, desperately spinning my scroll wheel trying to get my view back centered on myself. Somehow, I’m looking down from the clouds, and then in the next instant I’m zoomed in to the side of a bank examining the wood grain of digital shiplap from an inch away. When I’m inside buildings and I try to look around at the audience, somehow I end up outside, stuck staring at the party through tinted windows. Everything’s dim as I watch the other figures gyrate and flex with their programmatic perfect, looping dance moves (someone’s got the Chicken Noodle Soup dance activated in their inventory!) I am the watcher on the outside, frustrated and ashamed as my avatar stands as still as Chief Bromden.