The above link is to a Salon article about how ISIS and other jihadist groups are using video games for propaganda. As someone that just got a video game console for my birthday from my girlfriend, video games are on my mind. Over the years I have played video games on and off. There are some like Final Fantasy X, one of my all time favorites, which are really incredible works of art. If you haven’t played many games you would be surprised to know that there are some which are emotional experiences with stories rivaling good movies. There are also some where the amount of artistry and creativity that goes into them has to be seen to be believed. Some have so much detail that just looking at the background can be like looking at a fantastic landscape painting.
However, this Salon article got me thinking about how are own video games are subject to propaganda. This is not a new subject, but simply one I have never addressed here. If you read the article you will see that certain games are designed in conjunction with the US Military. There is one game they provide a link to that even includes General Petraeus. (seen above) It’s probably not surprising to many of you, even those of you that don’t play games, that there are games where players portray soldiers fighting generic Middle Eastern bad guys.
Earlier this year I read a book which talked about how the the military and CIA manipulated Hollywood to put propaganda in movies and television. It is no different in video games or really any form of entertainment. Entertainment is one way in which the Military Industrial Complex can shape the views of citizens.
I am no fan of censorship of any kind. I am also aware that violence in video games has been linked to all kinds of societal ills which are really more complex. Often video games get scapegoated because we don’t want to look at how we treat the mentally ill in our country, among other things. However, when someone is playing a game, just like if you are watching a movie or reading a book, one must ask oneself what message it is trying to get across. Also, much more than just violence, I think parents should be concerned at the propaganda that their kids might be consuming. We must always be taught to think and to question.