Videogames, Persuasion and the War on Terror: Escaping or Embedding the Military–Entertainment Complex?



This article presents a call for political scientists to look seriously at videogames. Beginning with a demonstration of their growing importance, the article then sets out the existing game-related literature which demonstrates their persuasive potential. The importance of games for political studies is illustrated through an in-depth discussion of the link between videogames and the militarisation of politics and society: exploration of the role of the military–entertainment complex, felt in particular through the militarisation of the content of games, suggests that this complex is influencing the militarisation of society. Finally, the article explores some of the ways in which such militarisation is being challenged through the use of games for political activism, centred on protests within game spaces and the development of ‘critical’ games. While the article as a whole concludes that the forces that serve to legitimate the military–entertainment complex are considerably greater than those which challenge it, and that the potential of games for activism is at present relatively limited, this does not mean that they are not worthy of study. Games retain considerable scope for both learning (with games offering vital potential to embed real social critique in players) and as potential sources for political activism, which is only likely to grow in the future.