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Panel Discussion

WAR GAMES

COUCH.CLUB

30 October 2004
20:00 — 22:00


Location: Filmtheater ‘t Hoogt
Hall 1

In the couch.club, the IMPAKT Festival pays attention to the backgrounds of the programme. Artists are giving presentations and explaining their ideas. There will also be a room for ‘sneak previews’ of new works. In this session, the artists and the audience are going to engage in a discussion on the works that are shown.

 

About the Programme

 

The US military is not just about high-tech battle-gear any more. lt is also about high-tech entertainment. Since 2002, millions of players have downloaded America’s Army, a cutting-edge, ultra-realistic video game available for free from the Army’s recruitment website. In Summer 2004, the Army and its corporate partners released Full Spectrum Warrior, a modified version of an Army training simulation that takes place in a fictional Middle Eastern setting. The American Marines are currently readying a similar modified trainer for commercial distribution, Close Combat: First to Fight. Within the military itself, scores of videogame­-based training systems are used today, from the highest levels of command to the lowliest entry­-level recruits. Retired generals consult commercial game developers on titles based on real wars, while civilian military enthusiasts home-brew their own lifelike bootleg battlers.

Part of an industry that now earns more yearly than the Hollywood box office, video games have entered the forefront of the militarization of popular culture. How did this once-innocent pastime become a key player in America’s entry into global warfare? And is this blurring of reality changing the way we think about war? Stretching from 3000 BC to today, War Games investigates how military cultures and the evolution of games have been closely linked. Halter discusses how war fantasies were played out from the early arcade years to the rise of online gaming. He shows us how the military began working with companies like Nintendo, Atari and Microsoft to pro­duce training devices, and how today’s generals hope to sell recruitment to a new generation of joystick warriors.


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