Opinions and Culture

Video Games: Brain Gain or Drain?

Jayne Gackenbach Ph.D.

Video Games: Brain Gain or Drain? – Culture-jamming activists in video games

This show is a conversation with Dr. Roger Stahl who is an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Communication Studies at the University of Georgia. Dr. Stahl has just produced a film about how political activism is occurring inside video games. His film, Returning Fire: Interventions in Video Game Culture, he points out that, “Video games like Modern Warfare, America’s Army, Medal of Honor, and Battlefield are part of an exploding market of war games whose revenues now far outpace even the biggest Hollywood blockbusters. The sophistication of these games is undeniable, offering users a stunningly realistic experience of ground combat and a glimpse into the increasingly virtual world of long-distance, push-button warfare. Far less clear, though, is what these games are doing to users, our political culture, and our capacity to empathize with people directly affected by the actual trauma of war. For the culture-jamming activists featured in this film, these uncertainties were a call to action.” These compelling activities documented in his film point out that “Their work forces all of us — gamers and non-gamers alike — to think critically about what it means when the clinical tools of real-world killing become forms of consumer play.” You can find out more about these issues in his latest book, Militainment, Inc.: War, Media, and Popular Culture, has just been released by Routledge Press.