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Research Article Open Access

Why We Still Fight: Adolescents, America's Army, and the Government-Gaming Nexus

Abstract

This paper uses a political economic (Bettig & Hall, 2003; McChesney, 2000; 2004; 2008; Meehan, 2005, Mosco, 2009; Wasko, 2005) lens to examine the U.S. government’s video game, America’s Army. America’s Army is a first-person shooter game available for free online that has military recruitment as its primary goal. The U.S. Army launched America’s Army on July 4, 2002; it has been downloaded more than 42 million times and has a virtual Army comprised of 519,472 “soldiers.” This paper studies the history of the government production of America’s Army and uses industry and government records to explore the current ties between the public sector and transindustrial gaming conglomerates. The issue of the video game and its intended youth audience becomes even more problematic when one considers how the government combines its strength with powerful corporate interests to disseminate violent media to adolescents with military enlistment and commodification as primary goals. As a result, this paper conceptualizes the “government-gaming nexus” to explain the relationship between the U.S. government and private transindustrial media organizations to better understand how that structure functions in society. Praxis strategies focus on ratings, education, and regulation.

Margot A. Susca

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