18 photographs, 1 glossary, index
America’s Digital Army is an ethnographic study of the link between interactive entertainment and military power, drawing on Robertson Allen’s fieldwork observing video game developers, military strategists, U.S. Army marketing agencies, and an array of defense contracting companies that worked to produce the official U.S. Army video game, America’s Army. Allen uncovers the methods by which gaming technologies such as America’s Army, with military funding and themes, engage in a militarization of American society that constructs everyone, even nonplayers of games, as virtual soldiers available for deployment.
America’s Digital Army examines the army’s desire for “talented” soldiers capable of high-tech work; beliefs about America’s enemies as reflected in the game’s virtual combatants; tensions over best practices in military recruiting; and the sometimes overlapping cultures of gamers, game developers, and soldiers.
Allen reveals how binary categorizations such as soldier versus civilian, war versus game, work versus play, and virtual versus real become blurred—if not broken down entirely—through games and interactive media that reflect the U.S. military’s ludic imagination of future wars, enemies, and soldiers.
List of Illustrations
1. America’s Digital Army
2. The Art of Persuasion and the Science of Manpower
3. The Artifice of the Virtual and the Real
4. The Full-Spectrum Soft Sell of the Army Experience
5. Complicating the Military Entertainment Complex
6. The Labor of Virtual Soldiers