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Title: Answering the Call of Duty : the popular geopolitics of military-themed videogames
Authors: Bos, Daniel
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This research is based on a detailed empirical case study of the popular videogame series Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Drawing primarily on the field of popular geopolitics, the analysis reveals how imaginations of global politics are represented, consumed and enacted through the virtual worlds of the Modern Warfare series. In noting the fixation within popular geopolitics on representation and discourse, however, I argue that popular geopolitics needs to attend to the complex relationships between text, audience, and production, what I define as popular geopolitics 3.0. This approach directly responds to calls to examine the connections between popular geopolitics and everyday life, whilst maintaining an understanding of the importance of analysing the visual and discursive ways in which dominant geopolitical imaginaries are constructed and articulated. The thesis proceeds in three sections. First, by focusing on the videogames themselves I demonstrate the ways the virtual landscapes mirror and reflect contemporary geopolitics and the geographies of military violence. The research thesis reveals the techniques and specificities of the Modern Warfare series, in articulating geopolitical discourses. Second, the thesis adopts a ‘player-based’ approach which explores the often prosaic ways in which these geopolitical and militaristic virtual worlds are interacted with, understood, and experienced. I draw on in-depth qualitative data, including interviews and video ethnography, and show how cultural and (geo) political attitudes, subjectivities, and identities are shaped through the act of playing Modern Warfare. Third, the thesis explores the practices of production and marketing which influence the ‘final’ geopolitical scripting and meaning. Using documentary sources, I trace the processes of production exposing the wider political economic structures, alongside the everyday social and material relations, which govern and structure the geopolitical narratives told. Allied with this, the marketing, advertisement and promotion of the series are investigated. This reveals the practices which are manifest ‘beyond the screen’, and which shape the geopolitical meaning of the game world. iii Overall, the thesis provides an important conceptual and methodological contribution to the understanding of the cultural production, circulation and consumption of geopolitical sensibilities. Moreover, in dismissing the populist cliché ‘it’s just a game’, the thesis demonstrates the indivisible relationship between military-themed videogames and geopolitical discourse and practice.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

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