|Title||Global gamers, transnational play, imaginary battlefield: encountering the gameplay experience in the war-themed first-person-shooter,Call of Duty|
During the post-9/11 era we have witnessed the rise of war-themed digital games,
which are increasingly produced and distributed on a massive global scale. This new
form of 'militainment' re-formulates ‘the military-entertainment complex’ industrial
model, and by repeatedly simulating historical/present/fictional war events and
adopting militaristic stories, creates an adrenaline-pumping interactive gaming
experience that the global gamers find very difficult to resist. Before 2011 the most
iconic war-themed first-person-shooter (FPS) digital game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
2, achieved a new milestone of more than 20 million copies sold globally. After the
release of Call of Duty: Black Ops, the Facebook COD group became one of the top 20
fastest growing Facebook communities in 2010. At the time of writing this thesis, this
network community had already attracted more than 10 million fans worldwide.
Besides the well-known Call of Duty series, other FPS titles like Medal of Honor, Fallout,
and Battlefield series are all fed into the global gamers’ growing appetite for this
so-called ‘shoot’em’all’ genre.
Within academia, scholars from different research disciplines also realized the
importance of gaming and have been trying to approach this conflict-based digital
game culture from various angles. The war-themed genre FPS is frequently challenged
by people’s negative impression towards its unpleasant essence and content;
questioning its embedded political ideologies, the violent sequences involved in the
gameplay and its socio-cultural influences/effects to individual and community etc.
However, the wide range of critical debates in this field has reflected the growing
interest of scholars in the complex political relationship between military and
entertainment sectors and industries, and the embedded P.R. network that is running
behind the games’ industrial structure and cultural production (see Wark 1996, Herz
1997, Derian 2001, Stockwell and Muir 2003, Lenoir and Lowood 2005, Leonard 2007,
Turse 2008, Ottosen 2009). Despite widespread academic interests in the subject, few
researchers have paid attention to the gamers who are the ones truly engaged
themselves to this genre. If we look at the research within game studies today, less
analysis is primarily focused on this unique shooter-gamer culture. In this regard, this
research adopts qualitative research methods to explore the gamers’ feelings, attitudes, and their
experiences in the war-themed FPS genre.
In terms of the research methods used, an online questionnaire was launched to
collect responses from 433 gamers across different countries, and 11 in-depth
face-to-face interviews with a community of COD gamers were also conducted in Taiwan between 2010 and 2011. The data which has emerged from the two research
methods reveals gamers’ perceptions about war games’ time narrative and realism.
Based on the interviews, the research analyses East Asian gamers’ construction of
meanings in this ‘western genre’ and provides some theoretical reflections about their
transnational FPS gameplay experience.