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Returning Fire: Interventions in Video Game Culture 2011

The sophistication of video games like Modern Warfare, America's Army, Medal of Honor, and Battlefield is undeniable, offering users a stunningly realistic experience of ground combat and a glimpse into the increasingly virtual world of long-distance, push-button warfare. Far less clear, though, is what these games are doing to users, our political culture, and our capacity to empathize with people directly affected by the actual trauma of war. For the culture-jamming activists featured in this film, these uncertainties were a call to action. In three separate vignettes, we see how Anne-Marie Schleiner, Wafaa Bilal, and Joseph Delappe moved dissent from the streets to our screens, infiltrating war games in an attempt to break the hypnotic spell of "militainment." Their work forces all of us -- gamers and non-gamers alike -- to think critically about what it means when the clinical tools of real-world killing become forms of consumer play.

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