PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Ciută: Playing Video Games with IR

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The latest issue of Milennium 44, 2 (January 2016) has an article by Felix Ciută (University College London) entitled “Call of Duty: Playing Video Games with IR,” in which he explores recent scholarship on videogames and international relations:

This article attempts to further develop the IR research agenda on video games. The argument starts with a critique of the narrow focus on war-themed blockbuster games of current IR work on video games. I argue that this narrow view of IR and of video games is unsustainable and counterproductive, and has led to the positioning of IR as a regime of value with an unwarranted focus on the ideological effects of video games, and also to a paradoxical closing off of its research agenda. In the second half of the article I attempt to sketch two directions of research that could help overcome these initial limitations. The first outlines the potential for the IR study of the global aesthetic economy of video games, and the differentiated distribution of its regimes of value. The second encourages the study of game-worlds as practical-theoretical spaces where a particular relationship between academic subjectivity and its objects is constituted. The significance of this argument transcends IR video games research: it has relevance for cross-disciplinary issues regarding the status of academic moral-aesthetic judgements about cultural artfacts and practices; the relationship between academic and ‘popular’ knowledge; and the potential for political mobilisation at the interface of entertainment and social critique.

While non-specialist readers may find the article rather more opaquely written than necessary, he raises some important points about both an excessive focus on military-themed games, and about scholarship on popular culture and international relations more broadly.

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