[Chinese DiGRA 2015] Philip Lin on Contextualizing Cyber-Soldier in the East:A Reflection on the Colonized War Game Experience of Taiwanese Gamers

Philip Lin, Providence University

In the last 15 years, the first-person-shooter (FPS) genre has grown to be the most recognizable genre of digital games and happened to produce several most-wanted war-themed games played by millions of global gamers. Especially after 9/11, the popular FPS game titles, e.g. the America’s Army (AA), Call of Duty (COD), Medal of Honour (MOD) and Battlefield series based on World War II stories or contemporary world conflicts were constantly monitored, supported or partly sponsored by the U.S. military authorities. With both commercial and ideological interests, the Pentagon and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) already had enormous budgets invested in various game simulation projects, which directly encourage talented game developers/programmers to continue creating realistic virtual war simulation and producing the gaming scenarios and experiences closed to real combat-situations. Historically speaking, games of this kind bring more attention to Western gamers, who were normally defined as closely attached to crime, shooter and sport game genres. (see Kent 2004). However, recent reports have shown the number of FPS gamers and communities in the East Asian countries, such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan is increasing very intensively. This strongly reflects that, through the power of gaming, Pentagon’s ‘perception management campaigns’ begin to pay off overseas and bring more about foreign audiences’ interests in role-playing soldiers.

In this regard, this study organized several interviews with Taiwanese gamers. From examining their self-reflected experiences, it is evident that Hollywood war movies bring great influences in Taiwanese gamers’ war imagination. The war-themed FPS gamers in Taiwan construct their virtual and transnational belongings by projecting and carrying forward their previous war TV/film-viewing experience into their gaming process. Playing the war-themed FPS games, as one interviewee (Samuel Chuang, 31-year-old male sales executive) described, provides a perfect escape trajectory that “finds somewhere to let out one’s boiling emotions and feelings after watching HBO’s Band of Brother…just like the feeling you have to do something after watching porn.”

Author info

Philip Lin is Assistant Professor at the Department of Mass Communication, Providence University

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