Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Stewart Hoover

Second Advisor

Michele Jackson

Third Advisor

Polly McLean

Fourth Advisor

Janice Peck

Fifth Advisor

Lynn Schofield-Clark

Abstract

Over the last decade, critical scholars have pointed to the acceleration of the cultural, aesthetic, technological and political economic ties between the military and entertainment industries, noting both its synergistic nature and the purported effects of militarism on an already masculinized, technophilic culture of gaming. This may have deleterious effects on society, where videogame players may be trained to think like soldiers—both in terms of combat performance and hegemonic military masculinity. Utilizing game studies methods of textual analysis and cyberethnography, and drawing on critical work concerning war and masculinity, this dissertation argues that while it is true that games such as these are imbued with problematic ideological content, the "training" that players receive is not primarily on these terms. Rather, players are disciplined to adhere to gamic norms of performance—efficiency, proficiency, and masculine performativity—which are inculcated by ludic structures and largely understood on terms which originate within the social ecology of gaming, transcending local social realities. This dissertation concludes that the performance required of players challenges traditional notions of the requirements of military masculinity, and that a critical challenge of the military entertainment complex is not that society becomes more militaristic, but rather that warfare, and performances within it, become more game-like.

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