Is there a relationship between video games and violence in the "real world?" And if there is no relationship between first-person shooting games such as Call of Duty: Ghost and gun violence, then why do militaries around the world use like computer games to train their soldiers?
This is a controversial issue--one that is frequently returned to by the news media after mass shooting events in the United States. In the newest installment of the podcast series at my main site We Are Respectable Negroes, I discuss these and other related matters about video games, digital media, and the military with Corey Mead, author of the new book War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict.
He is also an Assistant Professor of English, specializing in literacy studies, composition, rhetoric, and creative writing at Baruch College University of New York.
In this podcast, we cover many topics including the development of video games in the United States and their early origins as the result of collaborative efforts between the military and university researchers during the Cold War, the rise of the "military-entertainment" complex, and the moral panics that follow mass shooting events.
Every interview teaches me something new. As a ghetto nerd and military grognard, Corey helped me to understand how little I actually knew about the collaborative processes which created video game culture in the United States, and the role of the U.S. military as a first adopter of many of the technologies we take for granted in the 21st and 20th centuries. This was a great conversation, one which I am sure that will enrich the listeners of the podcast series here on We Are Respectable Negroes.
2:00 How did your research on video games and the military come into being?
4:37 Video games as a new type of literacy.
7:07 The Washington Navy Yard shooting and the limited public space for a nuanced conversation about video games and gun violence.
9:30 Beginning the research on the military's role in shaping education and technological development, archival work, and discovering the personalities who helped to create the first video games.
12:40 Military funding for the early age of video game and computer sciences.
17:51 The video game "Space War" and young engineers exploring the limits of technology.
20:30 Are military simulations actually a type of "game?" How do gamer-soldiers try to "break" the military video game simulations?
25:35 The evolution of military training from live action role-playing to video games and virtual warfare. How did the "traditionalists" respond to the "innovators?"
29:55 How well do video games "mirror" the real world for the purposes of military training? How do players learn to "break" military simulations in training?
32:11 Art imitating art imitating life. How are your engineers and scientists who grew up on science fiction and video games influencing the future of the military?
35:03 In your research did you come upon any stories about military technology and "technological solutionism" during the Cold War and the present which frightened or disturbed you?
38:22 The video games, the military-entertainment complex, and recruiting young people for the military. A compelling conspiracy theory that the public should be concerned about? Or a simple solution to the real problem of creating the future soldier?
40:24 The military identifies public schools as spaces to recruit young people in a competition with other consumer products for "brain space".
42:42 Is there any evidence from independent research that video games are effective as training devices for the military?
45:56 You are a researcher of video games and digital culture. What is your personal relationship to video games? Do you still play them? How do you relate video games to pedagogy and teaching?
49:00 What are your thoughts on the limits of using video games to teach about historical matters such slavery in the United States?
53:26 Video games and moral panics. As an expert how would you summarize the relationship (or not) between video games and gun violence?
55:29 Future projects and the potential for a book on "the new experience of war".