War Games: Memory, Militarism and the Subject of Play

New Book. Editors: Philip Hammond, Holger Pötzsch

Published by Bloomsbury

About War Games

Many of today’s most commercially successful videogames, from Call of Duty to Company of Heroes, are war-themed titles that play out in what are framed as authentic real-world settings inspired by recent news headlines or drawn from history. While such games are marketed as authentic representations of war, they often provide a selective form of realism that eschews problematic, yet salient aspects of war. In addition, changes in the way Western states wage and frame actual wars makes contemporary conflicts increasingly resemble videogames when perceived from the vantage point of Western audiences.

This interdisciplinary volume brings together scholars from games studies, media and cultural studies, politics and international relations, and related fields to examine the complex relationships between military-themed videogames and real-world conflict, and to consider how videogames might deal with history, memory, and conflict in alternative ways. It asks: What is the role of videogames in the formation and negotiation of cultural memory of past wars? How do game narratives and designs position the gaming subject in relation to history, war and militarism? And how far do critical, anti-war/peace games offer an alternative or challenge to mainstream commercial titles?


Table of contents

Introduction: Studying War and Games: Philip Hammond (London South Bank University, UK) and Holger Pötzsch (UiT – The Arctic University of Norway)

I: Militarism and the Gaming Subject

  • Reality Check: Videogames as Propaganda for Inauthentic War: Philip Hammond (London South Bank University, UK)
  • Playing in the End Times: Wargames, Resilience and the Art of Failure: Kevin McSorley (University of Portsmouth, UK)
  • The Political Economy of Wargames: The Production of History and Memory in Military Video Games: Emil Lundedal Hammar (UiT – The Arctic University of Norway) and Jamie Woodcock (University of Oxford, UK)
  • Understanding War Game Experiences: Applying Multiple Player Perspectives to Game Analysis: Kristine Jørgensen (University of Bergen, Norway)

II: Playing War, History, and Memory

  • Playing the Historical Fantastic: Zombies, Mecha-Nazis and Making Meaning about the Past Through Metaphor: Adam Chapman (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)
  • Machine(s) of Narrative Security: Mnemonic Hegemony and Polish Games about Violent Conflicts: Piotr Sterczewski (Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland)
  • National Memories and the First World War: The Many Sides of Battlefield 1: Chris Kempshall (the Imperial War Museum, UK)
  • Let’s Play War: Cultural Memory, Celebrities and Appropriations of the Past: Stephanie de Smale (Utrecht University, the Netherlands)

III: Wargames/Peacegames

  • The Wargame Legacy: How Wargames Shaped the Roleplaying Experience from Tabletop to Digital Games: Dimitra Nikolaidou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
  • Critical War Game Development: Lessons Learned from Attentat 1942: Vít Šisler (Charles University, Czech Republic)
  • Simulating War Dynamics: A Case Study of the Game-based Learning Exercise Mission Z: One Last Chance: Joakim Arnøy (Narvik War and Peace Centre, Norway)
  • Positioning Players as Political Subjects: Forms of Estrangement and the Presentation of War in This War of Mine and Spec Ops: The Line: Holger Pötzsch (UiT – The Arctic University of Norway)

Afterword: War/Game: Matthew Thomas Payne (University of Notre Dame, USA)

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