The Unreal Enemy of America’s Army

New entry in Digiplay games research bibliography:

This paper explores the characterizations of enemies in military-themed video games, with special attention given to the games Conflict: Desert Storm and America’s Army. I demonstrate how the public enemy of America’s Army is one not confined to any nationality, ethnicity, or political agenda. This marks a significant departure from games such as Conflict: Desert Storm. I argue that the production of this abstract enemy—what I call the ‘‘unreal enemy’’—is significantly shaped by a biopolitical system that intertwines the military and electronic entertainment industries. This arrangement delocalizes power, distributing it through a network of institutions and subjects. Throughout, I use ethnographic examples that explore how this abstract enemy has been constructed and juxtaposed against more concrete and personal figures, such as the America’s Army Real Heroes, individuals upheld as the embodiment of personal achievement in the U.S. Army. I conclude by asserting that the unreal enemy of America’s Army is, ultimately, an enemy that is not exclusive to a video game, but one that exists as an anonymous specter, ever present in the militarized American cultural imaginary.

The Nintendo Entertainment System and the 10NES Chip: Carving the Video Game Industry in Silicon

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This essay makes the argument that the numerous ‘‘networks’’ or ‘‘inter/intranetworks’’ that structure the video game industry have lived local effects for those involved in the production of video games. In particular, this is most visible in the realm of console video game development but is visible in many other contexts as well. It uses the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) as an index into this complex and highly structured world that frequently disappears from developers perception. The essay uses largely historical data drawn from patent filings, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, and court cases to analyze these networks. The essay argues that these inter/intranetworks, as constructed, have been instrumental in the way that the game industry now finds itself structured and that as the industry has ‘‘matured,’’ the networks have become less accessible and less interoperable.

Introduction: The Social Science Study of Video Games

New entry in Digiplay games research bibliography:

This introduction is a short survey of social science literature on video games. It is not meant as a comprehensive review. Instead its goal is to present some of the themes and questions that prompted us to bring the articles in this issue together. The essay begins by outlining some of the recent contributions from the social sciences to video game studies—with a particular emphasis on distinct forms of video game interactivity—and concludes with suggestions for possible future directions for this research.

Imagined Commodities: Video Game Localization and Mythologies of Cultural Difference

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Broadly interested in the agents and institutions that structure social imaginations and subjectivities by mediating which images are available to what audiences to imagine through, this paper specifically considers the power at play when intermediaries—in this case, video game localizers—filter the images and narratives that are sold and marketed to global consumers, and the way these mediating processes in turn are both produced by, and productive of, (cultural) imaginings. This paper also discusses the way that localization practices—while often framed by a discourse that positions cultural differences as both incommensurable and easily and discretely bounded by the borders of nation-states—typically involve a nuanced negotiation of contradictions, dilemmas and interests.

Learning Real-Life Lessons From Online Games

New entry in Digiplay games research bibliography:

Games have received increased scholarly attention due to the economic value they generate. Yet, some studies still conceptualize games as ‘‘virtual’’ realms that are theoretically distinct from ‘‘real world’’ experiences. Based on an ethnographic investigation of two online, text-based gaming environments, this study analyzes dynamics such as technical acculturation, access to technical knowledge, and opportunities for self-expression by studying social interaction that occurred in non-revenue-generating games. Frameworks that focus on dynamics such as in-game conversation in broader game-centric domains or ecologies should be considered to accommodate a wider variety of gaming forms and related interdisciplinary research questions. Different games have different consequences, and it is important to understand the varying consequential contexts that games afford. Whether or not the consequences may be measured economically, it is nevertheless important to consider how social interactions may complicate forms of self-expression in ways that impact the human spirit.

Video Games Make People Violent—Well, Maybe Not That Game: Effects of Content and Person Abstraction on Perceptions of Violent Video Games' Effects and Support of Censorship

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This study explores whether people's perceptions of violent video games' potential for negatively affecting others and their support for censoring such games are influenced by whether people consider specific or abstract content and persons. In a 2 (content abstraction) 3 (person abstraction) between-subjects experiment, 122 undergraduate students from two eastern U.S. universities estimated effects of either a specific violent game or violent games in general on a specific person, others on their campus, or others in the United States, then rated their support for censoring violent video games. Findings indicate that content abstraction influences perceived effects and censorship support.

You Can't Take It with You? Effects of Handheld Portable Media Consoles on Physiological and Psychological Responses to Video Game and Movie Content

New entry in Digiplay games research bibliography:

Portable media consoles are becoming extremely popular devices for viewing a number of different types of media content, both for entertainment and for educational purposes. Given the increasingly heavy use of portable consoles as an alternative to traditional television-style monitors, it is important to investigate how physiological and psychological effects of portable consoles may differ from those of television-based consoles, because such differences in physiological and psychological responses may precipitate differences in the delivered content's effectiveness. Because portable consoles are popular as a delivery system for multiple types of media content, such as movies and video games, it is also important to investigate whether differences between the effects of portable and television-based consoles are consistent across multiple types of media. This article reports a 2×2 (console: portable or television-based×medium: video game or movie) mixed factorial design experiment with physiological arousal and self-reported flow experience as dependent variables, designed to explore whether console type affects media experiences and whether these effects are consistent across different media. Results indicate that portable media consoles evoke lower levels of physiological arousal and flow experience and that this effect is consistent for both video games and movies. These findings suggest that even though portable media consoles are often convenient compared to television-based consoles, the convenience may come at a cost in terms of the user experience.

Good clean fun? A content analysis of profanity in video games and its prevalence across game systems and ratings.

New entry in Digiplay games research bibliography:

Although violent video game content and its effects have been examined extensively by empirical research, verbal aggression in the form of profanity has received less attention. Building on preliminary findings from previous studies, an extensive content analysis of profanity in video games was conducted using a sample of the 150 top-selling video games across all popular game platforms (including home consoles, portable consoles, and personal computers). The frequency of profanity, both in general and across three profanity categories, was measured and compared to games' ratings, sales, and platforms. Generally, profanity was found in about one in five games and appeared primarily in games rated for teenagers or above. Games containing profanity, however, tended to contain it frequently. Profanity was not found to be related to games' sales or platforms.

Still a Man's Game: Gender Representation in Online Reviews of Video Games

New entry in Digiplay games research bibliography:

Despite the rising popularity of video games, the majority of the medium's audience continues to be male. One reason may be that character representations in video games are geared toward male players. This content analysis used video game reviews from a heavily trafficked Internet site to investigate the prevalence and portrayal of male and female video game characters. Consistent with the findings of previous studies, female characters were found to be underrepresented and proportionally more often sexualized in comparison to their male counterparts. In addition to these findings, the study's innovative method-the use of online video game reviews as an indirect measure of video game content-shows promise as a tool for future content analyses of video games.

The “S” in social network games: Initiating, maintaining, and enhancing relationships

New entry in Digiplay games research bibliography:

Social network games embedded within social network sites (SNSs) such as Facebook facilitate play with “Friends” within the SNS. In this study, we look at different dimensions of how game play contributes to relationship initiation and development using qualitative data collected from adult Facebook users (N=18). Our data suggest that interpersonal motivations are a primary driver of initial game play and that while game play doesn’t facilitate direct social interaction, participants perceive indirect interaction and sharing game-based content as useful in maintaining and even enhancing relationships.

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