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[- Hollywood meets Pentagon...?
By TreborScholz, Section question corner
Posted on Tue Feb 17th, 2004 at 10:48:45 PM EURODISCORDIA TIME
A while ago we had a thread on the computer game Escape from Woomera here on Discordia. Each time I'm in a lecture on games or if I play a game myself I feel simultaneously excited and exasperated'.


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There is the definite WOW!--effect in the audience and I do enjoy the ride into worlds like Second Life. But this green excitement also pushes to the side some questions. Students who play these games on a daily basis get shiny eyes over the hip coolness and are excited about job prospects. In the US departments for the new medium jump up all over the academic landscape and the art world welcomes the medium. The wide-spread cliches of prevalent violence and nerdy superficiality of video games make some defenders quite defensive. But less and less so, the arguments are coming through in hard cash, billions dollars a year are made on video games in the United States with profits being even larger in Asia. Billboards from the Bay Area to New York City are now covered with ads for the new version of Grand Theft Auto.
Tim Lenoir, professor at Stanford University, presents well-researched texts on the military-entertainment complex currently focusing on the online game "America's Army" which was designed by the US Army as a recruitment tool. Lenoir records the development and workings of this first-person-shooter game which is wildly popular without questioning the normalizing of the idea of army in society. Lenoir writes that: "The game holds and espouses values central to the Army: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage."
From January to April 2004 the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco shows the exhibition Game Scenes in conjunction with the Stanford Humanities Laboratory and the Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University. The Center presents an exhibition that addresses "the pervasive influence of the virtual reality gaming industry."

There is the main stream Hollywood-style video game, the indy-game, the recruitment game, or the art game. The latter can be less violent, surprisingly idiosyncratic, social and creative, and inventive in content and structure. Where are critical media critics, historians, and technology geeks that write about games? Looking through some popular video gaming sites- it is quite obvious that they are commercially driven. And the theory websites about games that do exist don't seem to engage in criticality either. There seem to be only few review sites that go beyond critique of violence, or the design of the interface.
Will video games become a more immersive type of television that will make us forget, just more effectively? What do our games prepare us for?

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