Video Games, Violence & the Culture of Militarism
For years, there's been widespread speculation about the relationship between violent video games and violence in the real world. Joystick Warriors
provides the clearest account yet of the latest research on this issue. Drawing on the insights of media scholars, military analysts, combat veterans, and gamers themselves, the film trains its sights on the wildly popular genre of first-person shooter games, exploring how the immersive experience they offer links up with the larger stories we tell ourselves as a culture about violence, militarism, guns, and manhood. Along the way, it examines the game industry's longstanding working relationship with the U.S. military and
the American gun industry, and offers a riveting examination of the games themselves -- showing how they work to sanitize, glamorize, and normalize violence while cultivating dangerously regressive attitudes and ideas about masculinity and militarism.
Features Leigh Alexander, Craig Anderson, Andrew Bacevich, Nina Huntemann, Sut Jhally, Elizabeth Losh, Matt Payne, Clive Thompson, and others.
Viewer Discretion Advised: Contains Graphic Violence
A Media Education Foundation Production.
Director, Producer & Editor: Roger Sorkin
Executive Producer: Sut Jhally
Associate Producer: Nina Huntemann
Praise for the Film
"Smart, engaging, and thought-provoking, Joystick Warriors
delivers the latest research on video games and brings much-needed attention to what happens when people regularly engage in virtual killing. It could not be more timely or important."
- Nancy Carlsson-Paige | Professor Emerita at Lesley University | Author of The War Play Dilemma
really nails the perennial question of violence and video games. With a diverse array of commentators from academe, the game industry, and the military, the film refreshingly bypasses the usual tired and distracting debates about whether games cause murder. What we get is a nuanced picture of how large swaths of commercial gaming culture normalize violence, a trend that has implications that range from a loss of everyday empathy to acceptance of an increasingly militarized world. I know of no other film that takes on these issues so expertly, directly, and artfully. After watching only the first ten minutes, I had already changed my plans to use it in class this semester."
- Roger Stahl | Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Georgia | Co-curator of TheVisionMachine.com
"Essential viewing for all. Makes a significant contribution to the urgent discussion about the impact violent entertainment has on society."
- Jo Comerford | Executive Director of the National Priorities Project
"A vivid and sometimes startling journey into gaming worlds and their most violent extremes, this film leaves little doubt about the imbrication of empire and masculinity driving the bodily habituations that video games demand. Shifting our attention from the fatigued debates about the reproduction of violence to the vaster and more damning implications entailed in the normalization of perpetual war, the film demonstrates that these forms of entertainment do not simplistically create violent users. Rather they reflect back to us the already present saturation of violence we might rather not be forced to acknowledge."
- Jasbir Puar | Associate Professor of Women's & Gender Studies at Rutgers University | Author of Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times
is sobering, articulate, and willing to ask questions and seek answers beyond the overly-reductive, blame-game red herrings of whether or not video games cause violence or create violent people. Instead, the film reveals the imbricated relationships between games, the commodification and aestheticization of violence, the fantasies of control and interactivity, the military-industrial-entertainment complex, as well as race, gender, class, and nation. In short, Joystick Warriors
takes seriously video games -- from developers to players to politicians -- as participants in and producers of cultures of violence, militarism, and fear. A must see for classroom, community, and gamers especially."
- Edmond Chang | Assistant Professor of English at Drew University
offers a visually stunning, highly insightful and very provocative critical exploration of the immensely popular FPS genre of video games and their connections to contemporary narrations of militarism and masculinity. This is a fabulous resource for teaching about the geopolitics of video games and makes a very timely and valuable contribution to the emerging debates around video games and popular culture."
- Marcus Power | Professor of Geography at Durham University | Editor of Cinema and Popular Geo-Politics
is an informed, balanced, and nuanced film that challenges how we view video games and violence -- perfect for teaching or public engagement."
- Mark Salter | Professor of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa | Author of Barbarians and Civilization in International Relations
is an excellent and fair presentation of the issues surrounding video game violence, in particular first person shooter games. The film does an excellent job in presenting the research in a fair manner. Joystick Warriors
is a "must-see" for educators and others who want an overall view of the violent video game controversy. For both high school and college students this is a film which would lead to a good deal of classroom discussion."
- Ed Donnerstein, PhD | Professor of Communication & Dean Emeritus of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences | University of Arizona
presents a much more nuanced and productive discussion of violent video games and their effects than the traditional question of whether violent game exposure increases aggression. This film does an excellent job of presenting those very important issues."
- Bruce D. Bartholow | Associate Professor of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri
is a worthy and in-depth meditation on videogames and the militarized culture that both produces and consumes them."
- Dr. David Clearwater | Faculty of Fine Arts & New Media at the University of Lethbridge
"As a media literacy educator, Joystick Warriors
is a necessity for my classroom. Using powerful examples and expert analysis, the movie weaves through a detailed critical analysis of the videogame industry and their products."
- Alexis Ladd, MPH | Instructor at Wheelock College | Co-founder of the Massachusetts Media Literacy Consortium
combines incredible insightfulness with accessibility. Even as someone who devotes my career to studying the normalization of violence and the gendered dynamics of that normalization, I found this video strikingly original and deeply engaging. It analyzes the ways in which cultures of militarism and war are entrenched by virtualizations, intentionally and unintentionally. Whether or not video games encourage violence, they normalize violence and glorify tough masculinity - and this video shows how, even to doubters."
- Dr. Laura Sjoberg | Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida | Author of Gender, Justice, and the Wars in Iraq
"By recognizing that video games are the latest medium to rely on violence, Joystick Warriors
asks us not just do video games make us more violent but, perhaps more importantly, what purposes the interaction with and commodification of violence serves in our society."
- Randy Nichols | Assistant Professor of Media Studies at Bentley University
"This documentary offers a more nuanced perspective on violent games that goes beyond the now stale discussions of addiction and aggression."
- Dr. David Nieborg | Department of Media & Culture Studies at the University of Amsterdam