Small Wars Journal

What Do Video Games Say About the American Experience with War?

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 7:58am

In an essay at The Atlantic, Michael Vlahos, a Naval War College professor, argues that the state-waged long war has brought a hint of defeat and self-destruction to popular culture - particularly Modern Warfare 3.  Many may roll their eyes at the linkage, but the essay is smart, short, and if nothing else, brings some pretty unfamiliar references (Zouave regiments, Prussian pickelhaube, a late Roman adoption of Gothic trousers) to The Atlantic's entertainment page.  I highly recommend clicking through to his reference on "The Culture of Defeat."  An excerpt from Vlahos' essay follows.  Read it all here.


Like German Stoßtruppen remade in fire, our warrior-heroes find identity and realization in the firefight. Battle itself is meaning; battle is pure; battle becomes the only reality—and as it was for Junger, compared to the venality and corruption and aimlessness of modern life, its destruction is cleansing.

MW3 reveals how this long war reaches back to seize us in ways we can only sense. ...

[Young gamers] are connecting at the gut level. Yet it is there that allegiances are made. They do not want to be Muslim Ghazi, but they do want to be American Ghazi. They want to fight like Ghazi and if necessary, die like Ghazi. In their deepest dreams, think Beowulf. Think berserker.

These dreams mean something. Something the Washington political realm might yet wish to see before it is too late. This world might wish to reflect on how a war fought solely by and for government and its military has placed our larger national identity at risk. In the original Call of Duty, players relived an American way of war now forgotten: where people and their government fought as one for sacred goals like freedom and democracy. MW3 shows us what the U.S. government's long war has brought: instead of straight-up defeat, a more corrosive loss of self.

Categories: Iraq - defeat - culture - Afghanistan



Tue, 01/03/2023 - 4:51am

Video games are one of the many products that reflect our American culture. We are providing you rarbg for your games. Video games have been used for various purposes for decades, but video games often reflect contemporary society and how we view ourselves in general. In this article, I will introduce the ways in which video games reflect our relationship with war by naming some of the most common examples using modern and popular video games (whether they are right or wrong) to illustrate my points.


Wed, 10/26/2022 - 6:52am

If you want to earn some cash while playing amazing slot games you can try slot kakek zeus which is one of the most famous online slot games in the world. This is because this one game provides an enormous jackpot to its players and also often gives megawins.


Wed, 10/26/2022 - 6:50am

For those of you who want to play online slot games using real money which can give you a myriad of advantages. Then you can try to play in the slot pragmatic168 because it has been proven to provide many wins for players who have played it.


Wed, 10/26/2022 - 6:48am

For all of you who love to play slot games. Now we introduce you a very profitable website to play slot zeus pragmatic which is the official site for online slot games that use real money that you can play from your smartphone, either Android or IOS. You can download the apk by visiting our official website.


Wed, 10/26/2022 - 6:46am

FIFA World Cup 2022 is coming, grab this chances to make millions rupiah of profit with Bet Bola88 is the official site for those of you who place trusted soccer betss with many bonuses and promotions that you can use to achieve maximum profits.


Wed, 10/26/2022 - 6:43am

The only proved site for you slot lover who are looking for profit making by playing slotjp88 has a lot of online games that can give you real money just by playing without any term or conditions


Wed, 10/26/2022 - 6:40am

ahead of the 2022 world cup, the sbobet88 mobile site is holding a goal guessing event that all players can participate in. You can participate in this 100 million goal guessing event by joining this best agent.


Wed, 10/26/2022 - 6:37am

If you are kee to play the best casino88 mobile game, the only site that provide you with such as a good quality of thousand experience is live casino88 provides various types of games that can make money for players. With a collection of the most famous providers from various countries. you will certainly get an extraordinary experience while playing on this trusted site.


Wed, 10/26/2022 - 6:27am

One of the slot games that has been proven to provide great benefits for players is sensational88 which is a site that provides online game games that can provide benefits for you. Playing sensational88 can use smartphones both android and ios.


Sat, 10/22/2022 - 12:18am

The most complete 4D lottery site in Indonesia is an online lottery  site that is so gacor and very complete. Where you can play the best and most complete online lottery betting game so young. And here is the place for the lottery  game that is so gacor and definitely makes the bettors cuan. Which there will be a security that is so sophisticated and the latest appearance with a website system using the new version of HTML5. So that it will make bettors more comfortable and comfortable when they are and bet on the most complete 4d lottery official website in Indonesia.

Visit my web :


Sat, 10/22/2022 - 12:18am

This Receh Maxwin slot is an official online  site that has been proven to provide many benefits to members. And when you play on our official  site, it will be easy for you to get money. Because only this site has many easy-to-win games that you can play with real money bets

Visit my web :


Sat, 10/22/2022 - 12:17am

This NAGABET88 is a High RTP 88 Cash Slot Link Site with the most complete and easy-to-money games. Where you can play this trusted and most complete online slot  game by only using our best access. And here you will be able to use a lot of login access to be able to play online games that are gacor. Well, you can use all of the access, all you need is 1 registered account

Visit my web :


Mon, 09/19/2022 - 9:41pm

Fantastic read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I discovered it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!  바카라사이트


Thu, 09/15/2022 - 1:55am

Video games are a fun and exciting way of spending time, or being able to immerse yourself in another world. However, they have a history that goes way back, and we can see the influence these games have had on us as players and creators. You need to check this 카지노사이트 and get more new tips for casino games. From the early first-person shooters like Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Duke Nukem 3D to the more modern-day World Of Warcraft and Call Of Duty; video games have their own way of representing war both in terms of gameplay and narrative.

Steve Blair

Mon, 07/02/2012 - 1:47pm

In reply to by Scott Kinner

I agree, but with the note that it's important to understand and acknowledge the forces within the industry that can drive content. Gaming of this sort is a culture all its own, with both creative and financial drives that need to be understood when writing about it. I didn't see that level of understanding in the article, honestly.

Scott Kinner

Mon, 07/02/2012 - 11:48am

Understand the concerns and issues with assigning too much importance to individual things in the realm of popular culture.

However - I would offer that truly, the stories and entertainments associated with a culture say a lot about that culture. There is a tendency, in the present, to "poo-poo" such concerns because, frankly, we in the present are far more interested in doing what we want to do, and living the lives we want to live, than with introspection.

But where would our understanding be of ancient cultures and societies without examining the stories they told and held dear, the entertainment they provided themselves...and yes, the games they played?


Steve Blair

Thu, 06/28/2012 - 4:50pm

You shouldn't write something like this without being aware of the development and culture of the gaming community as a whole. MW3 is designed to compete with CoD. They are NOT the same franchise. The last CoD game (Black Ops, which was very successful) took a Cold War setting and turned it into something like the X-Files (by having the main character a victim of Soviet mind control experiments and a counter-program overlaid by a fellow prisoner in his even fight Nazis and recover an "ultimate weapon" in the form of a quick-acting nerve agent supposedly developed by the SS near the end of Word War II). And all have been influenced to some degree by the Grand Theft Auto franchise and its portrait of America as it could be if we were really like our popular culture image. Halo got slagged for having stalwart space marines gunning down aliens (and was to a degree parodied in "Republican Space Rangers," a "TV" show created for GTA4...which created its own popular culture within the popular culture background of the game itself).

Interesting article, I suppose, but without the vital gaming community framework bits it turns into an unfocused socio-political rant piece.


Mon, 06/25/2012 - 10:35am

Agree with Ken completely. I half expected something about the dehumanizing effects of Ozzy Osborne lyrics.

Ken White

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 9:36am

Consider my eyes indeed rolled. Pessimists are amazing and armchair psychology is always rather droll...

FWIW, Phil Sheridan pointed out in the 1880s that we Americans tended to adopt the headgear of winners of European wars. I believe that and our current Beret say more about lack of original thought and the copycat effect then and now than does MW3 which is, after all a <i>game</i>...

Games have all sorts of attributes. Reality is not one of them.