The politics of consuming war: video games, the military-entertainment complex and the spectacle of violence

Godfrey, Richard (2021). The politics of consuming war: video games, the military-entertainment complex and the spectacle of violence. Journal of Marketing Management (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2021.1995025

Abstract

Drawing on Debord’s the society of the spectacle and Evans and Giroux’s notion of the spectacle of violence, this paper argues that a discourse on war, organised violence, and global politics has been disseminated through a military-entertainment complex that has commodified militarism into a practice of consumption. Drawing on first-person shooter (FPS) video games as a context, the paper considers the market for these games, the conditions of their creation, and the way they are marketed. The paper discusses three ways in which FPS games function as part of a contemporary spectacle of violence: through their intertextual connections to other forms of military entertainment; through the immersive experience they offer; and through the geopolitical position they establish. The paper concludes by establishing FPS games as complex, sophisticated cultural artefacts that both draw on and shape wider discourses on war and the military, in the age of the spectacle of violence.

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