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Gaming at War: Military Aesthetics and Videogame Culture

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Robert Dorschel.

Our second session of this term is coming up. Join us for a talk by Nathaniel Zetter from Queens College, Cambridge.

What’s it gonna be about? The videogame industry is (to misquote Friedrich Kittler) an abuse of army equipment. The roots of videogames tangle both technically and epistemically with Cold War missile systems and military computing. This intimacy of games and the military still lurks within many zones of the global entertainment industry that videogames now represent, including within its remarkable innovation of ‘e-sports’—communal, competitive videogaming. This talk theorises the intersection of the military and gaming while side-stepping the presently ubiquitous notion of an all-encompassing ‘military-entertainment complex’. I examine the ways in which aesthetics from weapons technology are embedded in the formal structure of games. This entrenchment of military vision has formed a particular ‘scopic regime’—a distribution of vision and action specific to its coincidence of technology and culture. I also analyse the structure of some recent e-sports competitions, claiming that the scopic regime of gaming not only articulates their lingering military intimacies, but in fact makes possible their competitive form as such.

Nathaniel Zetter is a Teaching Associate in English at Queens’ College, Cambridge. He is currently at work on his first monograph, which traces the intersection of war and sport in twentieth-century cultural history.

Everybody is welcome!

This talk is part of the Cambridge Technology & New Media Research Cluster series.

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