Next week, Wednesday, July 19, I'll be guest moderating a talk at the Brooklyn bookstore BookCourt; the featured speaker is Ed Halter, Village Voice critic and author of the just-published book From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games (Thunder's Mouth Press/Avalon, 2006). The announcement for the event is a here, on the book's blog.

After exploring the intertwined histories of combat and play, from chess to modern "war game" exercises, Halter probes the nexus among the US military, academia, Hollywood, and the gaming industries that led to the development and promotion of such popular games as Full Spectrum Warrior and America's Army. I almost wrote "unholy nexus" but that's probably not the phrase Halter would use. He has a deceptively calm "just the facts ma'am" style that lays out all the information and leaves it to readers' heads to explode. As in, how sick is it that these "fun" games are both a recruiting tool aimed at the poor and impressionable and a trainer of hardened killers to be sent into the Iraq/Afghanistan meat grinder? How ridiculous is it that our tax money is paying for laboratories that explore "subtle effects of light" that heighten a game's realism? The book then ends with descriptions of projects by creative types with a bit more leftist, activist slant. I'm just starting the last chapter and taking notes as I go--doubtless I'll have additional placid thoughts up on the blog as next Wednesday approaches.

- tom moody 7-13-2006 11:01 pm

I know in the Grand Theft Auto games you can have sex with prostitutes, which raises your health level, and then kill them afterwards and steal your money back from them.
In the America's Army game, is it possible to rape and kill families?
It would add that special realistic touch.
I hope that points are docked from the final score if that is the case.
- Thor Johnson (guest) 7-14-2006 3:08 am

Points are docked only if insurgents take revenge on other members of your platoon.
- mark 7-14-2006 3:11 am