Returning Fire

Bogost (2006) argues: “Commercial games may be less deliberate in their rhetoric but they are not necessarily free from ideological framing” (p. 175). Comment on this statement, please in light of the arguments presented in the documentary “Returning Fire: Interventions in Video Game Culture”(Media Education Foundation, 2011).


Bogost, Ian. (2006). “Videogames and Ideological Frames”. Popular Communication, 4(3), 165–183. (Available online at: )

Stahl, R. (2011). Returning Fire: Interventions in Video Game Culture. Media Education Foundation. Northampton, MA.


2 thoughts on “Returning Fire

  1. I believe the objective of the first project featured in the film (dead_in_iraqi) achieved its objective as polarizing as it was, because it was optional to read the text in America’s Army. Giving the player the choice to read and consider the statements the author was writing while not ruining the core functions of the game.

    The second project featured in the film (Velvet Strike) fail it’s objective for several reasons. The activists used spray paint in the game Counter Strike: Source to place provocative images to draw awareness of the glamorization of war , however these fail as most players were focused on the game and the images wear away after each round. Another reason the project failed was because the activists were ruining the game for everyone else by not playing it properly and griefing by spray painting and spamming chat, this causes most people to hate them right away and not listen as they have no respect for the game. This tactic of causing anarchy to send a message usually doesn’t work in most competitive games as the players are looking to have fun not be told that playing a game makes them morally guilty, however in casual games such as Battlefield, Call Of Duty, or even other genres of games it might work better as they are in most cases playing the game because of the cinematics and immersion and not as concerned about the outcome of the match leading to a more open and relaxed mindset.


  2. When I first read Ian Boost’s quote, I felt I agree with it. A great many games have some sort of ideology; underlying or otherwise. Counterstrike has its classification o terrorists and counter terrorists yet both are made to resemble that of traditional guerilla warfare soldiers of the middle east and are both trying to plant bombs. In the games in the Grand Theft Auto franchise, a different ideology can take place. Players of GTA games often go around smashing cars into people, shooting pedestrians and other players as well as doing heist mission. These actions show the underlying ideology of cold murderous criminals and paint the games world in that of a stereotyped manner. I find game do have an affect on people and their attitudes. I’m not saying video games make murderous out of 15 year olds playing GTA or COD, but there is a mindset and general attitude players of those games get into. ‘Killing is fun and I can kill whoever, oh you got to kill more people to be the best.’ Call of Duty has the tendency to paint a certain faction our country as the clear oppressor in a fictional war. China, North Korea, Middle Eastern Countries, Russia, just to name a few. It also paints the player or ‘good guys’ as the Americans. Always doing what is ‘right’ and ‘justified’ in the games. To state these games are the only shooters where this occurs is an understatement. Most games paint acts of violence as acceptable, and/or paint a certain faction as the clear ‘villain’ or ‘enemy’. I found it interesting when this issue was shown in the documentary Returning Fire. When I saw how some of the players were reacting to the soldiers KIA dates being posted in the chat, it made me feel bad as a member of the online gaming community. Even though I have never played those styles of games. The closest thing I have played is Halo. It just is sad to see the younger generation of people react so disrespectfully to the deaths of soldiers that fought for there right to be able to play games at all. I also found it interesting in the comparison of America’s Army to real life soldiers. I had heard that the military was using games to train children I actually thought it was a myth, but I guess its fact. The way that they compared the blank expressions the soldiers made when ‘flying’ a drone to the teens and kids playing the game, shocked me. How a highly skilled man/woman of service with years of training compares to the reaction of children playing a game. Both are made out to be brain washed killers.


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