My last trip home to Chicago, I asked my parents about their genealogy research. On my dad’s side, the story I always heard was that theBartlettsmarried into the Carrolls; my grandfather and father were then given the name Bartlett Carroll. I ended up as Bart Carroll on my birth certificate, and later changed it to Bartlett Carroll, as it was always supposed to be (it was written, incorrectly, as Bart Carroll III).

Looking back through the Bartlettside of the family, I came across a reference to the Bartletots—a wonderfully old-school version of the family name, I thought—along with some connection to the court of Charlemagne.

One quick internet search later, and I came to the following:

The Bartlett family owes its beginning to King Pepin and Queen Bertha of France. The parents of King Charles I (aka Charlemagne) and his sister Bertha. Now Bertha married Milo, Duke of Aigiant and they are the parents of theBartlettline. Their son, christened by the name of Berthaelot (a diminutive of Bertha) became the favorite of his uncle (Charlemagne) who watched over him.

On one occasion, during the Festivale of Pentecost, at the Great Court and Tournament, an important event relating to the Bartlett Coat-of-Arms occurred.

It seems that a son of the Duke of Aymon, named Raynard, ventured into the chambers of the King demanding a payment in gold for the death of his uncle Bevis. Charlemagne, enraged by the insolence, removed the glove from his left hand and threw it into Raynard’s face, thus creating a challenge to which Raynard chose to withdraw. Berthelot retrieved the glove from the floor returning it to Charlemagne.

Among other things, Berthelot was a master of chess. History says that, Sir Gordon, known as the mischief-maker, coursed Barthelot to challenge Raynard in a game of chess. After playing six games, tempers rose and the meet erupted with words and blows upon which Raynard picked up the heavy gold chess board and brought it down on the head of Berthelot sending him to the floor. Where upon Raynard drew his sword and brought it down splitting Berthelot’s head leaving him dead on the ground. Charlemagne hearing of the death of his nephew decreed that the Berthelot family would be recognized by three left-handed gloves with gold tassels to be emblazoned upon its Coat-of-Arms.

So there you have it. A Bartlett in Charlemagne’s court. Killed after a blow by a golden chessboard.

So, here’s my book report on Mockingjay—the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy. At least, my take-away impression, not so much of the heroine, Katniss, but on expressions of being a heroine.

For anyone that hasn’t read the book—spoilers, dead ahead!

Katniss, in this conclusion to the trilogy, has escaped the namesake Hunger Games and been taken in by the mysterious District 13—thought long dead and destroyed by the Capitol. As figurehead to the resistance, Katniss works to help overthrow the Capitol government and President Snow, only to realize along the way that District 13’s leader, Coin (not my favorite name for this series, but an excellent name for a thief in some other fantasy series), is no better. Even Gale, her lifelong friend and potential love interest is thought to have helped devise a deathtrap responsible for the death of Katniss’s sister along with an entire city block full of children. Yech.

In the end, Katniss manages to kill both President Snow and new President Coin, essentially with a single arrow. (Amazing, I know). But it’s a pyrrhic victory. Katniss is left broken and disillusioned; and between her potential suitors, she’s left with Peeta, equally damaged beyond repair.

It’s a fine series; and while even the last book felt the weakest of the three—the military strike through the Capitol wasn’t quite the same as a third Hunger Game competition, although the author tried to set it up as such—it still had me tearing through it. I can’t remember the last series that had me so excited to keep turning its pages.

However, my main complaint was with the nature of being its heroine. Katniss is tortured throughout the entire series—physically, mentally, emotionally; by the third book, she’s in and out of the hospital, taking medication just to cope with her nightmares, and at times is sunken into one hell of a bleak depression for a YA novel (granted, it’s not the bleakest element of all considering the series revolves around a children’s death match). But clearly, it’s no fun to be the “hero” in the Hunger Games.

That seems to have been a common trait in other series, as well. Harry Potter comes to mind; in the early books, the dark dangers of the story are tempered with his delight in Hogwarts and everything he discovers there. By the end of the series, this magical world is a dreary, oppressed one indeed, and it’s all Harry can do to keep as many of his friends alive as possible.

Perhaps even more so, Frodo in Lord of the Rings experiences extremely little joy along his journey. He does meet up with Bilbo for a brief respite in Rivendell (and even that’s spoiled by the ring), and then it’s a brutal slog through Middle Earth and Morder, with Samwise having to physically haul his broken ass up a mountainside by the end of it.

Now, obviously these are dramatic stories and the odds are supposed to be stacked heavily against the hero so that It’s all the more incredible when he or she ultimately succeeds.

Still, I suppose my take-away from The Hunger Games at least is that I tend to enjoy stories where the hero gets to enjoy, at least for part of the time, being a hero. Han Solo seemed to have a blast. Likewise, characters in The Princess Bride. Fafhard and the Grey Mouser. Iron Man (especially after seeing The Avengers this weekend… great movie, but you really don’t have to stay through the end of the credits on this one). And—as a child of the 80’s—Arnold Schwarzenegger, throwing off as many one-liners as he was grenades/knives/circular saw blades in the middle of the action.

To some extent, it should be rewarding in its own right to be a hero. You shouldn’t have to survive being a hero just to ultimately win some peace in the end. To me it’s the equivalent of Cape Fear movies and all their kind, where the protagonist is tormented up until the end, when they finally overcome.

I much rather the hero enjoy themselves along the way.

My only knowledge of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’s original script came from a piece of trivia in its IMDB listing (I love picking through IMDB’s trivia section). It mentioned Joel and Clementine originally written to have erased each other multiple times, into their old age, pointing to the doomed nature of their relationship.

This past week, I read through the script. It made an outstanding companion to the film—to see what Charlie Kaufman originally envisioned. As written, Joel was not the most sympathetic character. In the movie, he mentions already having a live-in girlfriend (Naomi) when he meets Clementine. In the script, Naomi has a much larger role—she’s there when Joel returns from the beach house, and although he’s bored in their relationship (which is why he’s drawn to Clementine’s excitement), she’s not a bad person. But he quickly dumps her to be with Clementine. Then after he’s erased Clementine, he immediately reconnect with Naomi and sleeps with her, only to push her away again the next day (after meeting Clementine again for the first time).

I can see why they edited her out. Naomi seems to work as a counterpart to Patrick, for the people Joel and Clementine turn to. But Joel’s conflicted enough. And she makes him much less sympathetic. The movie’s about his break-up with Clementine, not with Naomi as well.

There’s also more to Mary and her doomed relationship with Walter, the doctor in charge of Lacuna Industries. In the film, we know she had an affair with Walter, a memory she learns she had erased. In the script, not only did she have an affair but also an abortion as a result—the pain of not remembering drives her to mail back all of the patients’ files. It explains her actions in the film (in the script, she argues—as much as the audience no doubt does—that memories, however painful, still need to be remembered). Kaufman still challenges us on this point though, asking in the script, what about memories of the horrors of war? What about memories of rape?

And, there are two lovely bits of poetry that the movie choose not to include (or could not for legal reasons, who knows). The beach house has special significance to Joel and Clementine, in part because they find it while discovering they both love the same poem:

CLEMENTINE
Do you know her poem that starts “Seaside gusts of wind,/And a house in which we don’t live…

JOEL
Yeah, yeah. It goes “Perhaps there is someone in this world to whom I could send all these lines”?

The beach house becomes their house in which they don’t live. The poem (named “Erased” appropriately enough, goes on: Well then!/Let the lips smile bitterlyAnd a tremor touch the heart again.)

The second lovely bit comes in a scene when they are intimate in bed. In the movie, Clementine is talking about an ugly doll she had as a kid, that she yelled at to be pretty—she thought if she could change the doll, then she could be pretty, too. It makes her vulnerable, and Joel loves the bonding between them, especially when she’s so aggressive around him the rest of the time.

In the script, her speech instead references the Velveteen Rabbit:

CLEMENTINE
It’s my favorite book. Since I was a kid. It’s about these toys.  There’s  this part where the skin Horse tells the rabbit what it means to be real.

(crying) I can’t believe I’m crying already. He says, “It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally by  the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

It’s a much more important speech. It’s not just about her, but about their relationship, about how people truly in love look past all flaws and faults in one another; they don’t, in fact, even see them.

For Joel and Clementine, that’s the crux of the movie. They do see each other’s flaws, to the point where they break-up catastrophically—and Joel, looking back, finally realizes that he didn’t understand. It’s the point in the script where he decides he doesn’t want to forget Clementine after all—he changes his mind, he yells out that he wants to stop. But by then of course it’s all too late.

I forgot how much I love Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, however sad it makes me feel. It’s one of my favorite movies, weirdly personal concerning past relationships—and having watched it again this past weekend, I enjoyed again how well crafted, well written, well acted it is. All of its scenes fit together so beautifully…

Even more importantly is how much the movie resonates with me emotionally (and a great many other people, I imagine, who’ve ever suffered through either side of a break-up). It is, after all, far more a story about the agonies of a failed relationship than it is about that relationship being resurrected at the end. Forget the mildly science-fiction element of memory-erasing. The movie chronicles the very real psychologies of Joel and Clementine as they take the terrifyingly step of ending things permanently.

They cannot do so without looking back at the start of their relationship (the focus of the movie), which makes the finality of it all the more agonizing. Their break-up means the end of everything—no more fights, no more frustrations and disappointments with one another, but also everything else that led up to that point, good or bad. Through the conceit of memory-erasing, if Joel and Clementine break-up, they’ll not only be out of each other’s lives forever, but will have never existed to one another—and the knowledge of that shakes them completely.

And ultimately, they can’t go through with it.

At the end (or rather, the beginning) of the movie, Joel and Clementine reunite. Although their memories of one another have been erased, they are nevertheless drawn back together. And despite knowing what they’ll eventually think of each other, all the faults they’ll find, they nevertheless decide to give their relationship another chance.

It’s still a heartbreaking ending. Although they ultimately return to their relationship, it remains doomed. They haven’t worked through any of their problems, they’ve only temporarily “reset” things to the beginning. The original script had Clementine unknowingly having her memory erased again and again—meaning, although they keep reconciling, their relationship ultimate fails, again and again, unavoidably.

This last time I watched the movie, however, I found another ending I almost preferred—at least, for how I connected with the movie.

Near the end, Joel remembers meeting Clementine for the very first time, at a party on the beach. Later that night, they run off into an empty house where Clementine almost convinces Joel to spend the night with her. It’s the last memory he has of her. And before it’s erased, she asks him to spend the night again—to stay this time, and make a new memory. But he can’t. That’s not how it works; he didn’t stay the first time, he ran off, embarrassed, and confused, and smitten—but he ran off. So he can’t remember staying with her this time.

She at least asks him to say goodbye, and that he can do. In a way, it’s the break-up that they should have given one another and moved on. They say their goodbyes as the beach house, and their memory of it, falls down around them.

How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!

The world forgetting, by the world forgot.

Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!

Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d…

Sledgehammer

Posted: April 13, 2012 in General
Tags: , , ,

The other day, I mentioned hunting dictionaries for words. I tend to do the same with wikipedia, for factoids. I imagine a good many people do as well; I wonder who many wikipedia searches are specifically directed, and how many are just from wandering curiosity.

Today I was poking around wikipedia, looking up “mattock” and “maul.” The old Dungeon Master’s Guide had these two magic items in it, the maul and mattock of the titans, I believe. I was curious where the names of these tools derived.

From there, I stumbled on sledgehammer (the modern version of a maul, really). “Sledge,” I learned, came from the Anglo-Saxon “slaegan,” meaning to strike violently, and from where we also get the word “slay”. Thus an old passage in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (which came up with a Google search of the word) about a group of French soldiers that “slew some monks to death,” is not oddly redundant.

A few nights ago, I was out to dinner with my wife and friends, and the discussion of character names in The Hunger Games came up. Some people hated “Peeta” as a name, as a weird corruption of Peter (or, as someone pointed out, a play on “pita,” as the character happened to be a baker. I didn’t mind it; The Hunger Games has a light sci-fi, near future setting, and names adjusted one click to the right of our modern names felt appropriate to me as a reader.

Character names in sci-fi and fantasy names is tricky business. But I will say that “Slaegan” would make for a heck of a good fantasy warrior name.

The Joy of Words

Posted: April 11, 2012 in Gaming, General

I used to love flipping through the dictionary to find new words. Not all of them were useable—at least not in everyday conversation—but still interesting to come across.

For example, I remember finding “snickersnee” and thinking it about the greatest word ever—the sound of it, the definition (the art of fighting with knives), the etymology (from the Dutch “steken of snijden,” meaning: “stick or snee,” to cut and thrust in fighting with a knife). How cool is that? If Dickens had a prize knife-fighter for a character, he assuredly would’ve been named Mr. Snickersnee.

Today, an article revision came in from a writer (one I’m thrilled to be able to publish on the D&D website; I’ve been a fan of his blog for several years) that contained another fine word, one I’d never heard of before:

Sesquipedalian.

Ironically, it’s a word that itself means tending to use long words, or polysyllabic. Just as good, the etymology from Latin means “a foot-and-a-half” (that’s the “ped” component, as in “pedestrian,” or one who walks by foot). A “foot-and-a-half” word. I love that. The ancient equivalent of a “fifty cent” word, I suppose.

The context for it came from the language appearing in the 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks—where, as the writer noted in his article, a good many of us readers picked up a new word or two:

For me, portcullis, stalagmite, and stalactite come instantly to my mind.

It comes as no surprise that last week I watched The Hunger Games. So did everyone else in the world, plus a few citizens of the moon. And for good reason—it’s a well executed, faithful adaptation of the book, which itself was a fairly well written page turner.

The most legitimate complaints I’ve heard so far about The Hunger Games (the first book/movie; I haven’t read the rest of the series) is, first, that it’s a little too convenient. For starters, we follow the protagonist, Katniss, throughout—so we’re entirely certain that she’ll not only survive but go on to win the Hunger Games competition. No surprise there (a more original novel would have had her dying off at some point, but none comes to mind where the protagonist that we’re following suddenly dies partway in… excepting, perhaps, the Cohen Brothers version No Country For Old Men).

Throughout the competition, the sympathetic characters are killed off by the villainous competitors (the spoiled rich ones; it’s a given that the hero of the story is an underdog—at least in terms of her background, if not her skills; here’s a great article, btw, on how movies trick you into rooting for the hero.). Katniss herself only directly kills one competitor, and that’s after he stabs a 7-year old girl—so, clearly, he has it coming. (It’s akin to Arnold Schwarzenegger explaining to his wife in True Lies, that yes he’s killed people, but they were all bad.) Even at the end, Katniss’s partner, Peeta, is also allowed to live through a twist in the rules.

It’s not an entirely rosy ending. The first novel concludes with its unresolved love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale; and, although she’s won this competition, her defiance has made her a target of President Snow. Still, for a story about a murderous battle royale between children, the heroine gets to keep her hands remarkably clean of any morally ambiguous bloodshed. The good guys wear their white hats throughout, and the order of the killings naturally leaves our heroes to duke it out in the end with the main villain. Tidy!

The other complaint is that The Hunger Games is fairly derivative. The story about a deathmatch competition is nothing new, and Hunger Games’ more recent cousins include The Running Man (more Arnold Schwarzenegger), The Long Walk (and hey, more Stephen King)—and, as Amazon.com recently figured out and added to their rental queue, the Japanese film, Battle Royale.

The concept of derivative stories just happened to bite me in the ass this weekend. I’ve been working on my own writing, most recently on a chapter involving one of the main characters—the brawler—being arrested and thrown in prison. It’s the revision to an earlier version where the brawler is involved with underground fighting and is then arrested at one of his fights, but I thought it would be more compelling if the arrest came first—and the brawler is then forced to fight in prison. This alone is already derivative.

Add to that, I happened to be watching an episode of G.I. Joe: Renegades. (It’s a great cartoon that has fun with introducing old characters in new ways, and I’m a sucker for all things G.I. Joe*). They had a prison break episode, and I wanted to see how they wrote the escape.

The escape itself was nothing novel (Snake Eyes codename should really be deus ex machine, as he perpetually turns up out of nowhere to save the day). Worse (for me), the prison itself made use of the very same concept I was exploring—the heroes were made to fight, organized by the warden in order to gamble on the fights as sport. The entire concept, I realized, was enough of a trope that it’s now cliché—a gladiatorial arena in prison—that I’ll need to rewrite much of the chapter.

I have some thoughts on it, and may end up leaving it in. In a revised version, the hero may not need to fight for the warden’s entertainment or gambling. Instead, there may be an element of competition to it. This prison houses the worst of the city’s criminals, and to ever be paroled, the prisoners can only earn years off their sentence by defeating other prisoners (and earning whatever parole their opponents have accumulated).

*As a side note, boing boing recently posted a link to a Toy Fair article that effectively summed up my feelings on G.I. Joe. The author is a little cynical about what she sees there, until she comes to the Breyer horse exhibit—her favorite toys as a little girl:

“I’m going to get a little nostalgic for a moment, so bear with me, but do you remember your favorite toys as a child? And maybe you wondered why adults didn’t seem as enchanted with your toys as you were? I used to swear I’d never lose interest in my figurines and dolls, I feared it would mean losing my entire sense of self. But of course I grew older and started leaving those beloved things behind.

“I can pick up a Breyer horse, admire the smooth plastic and artful details, but … that’s it. I’m not going to sit on the floor with it for hours, making it talk to other toys, acting out my latest conflicts and fantasies, forming pretend relationships. I wish I could enjoy toys on that level again.”

Just a final thought on Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken (from my previous post), that she presents wonderful thoughts on the use of games—or, on the efforts spent playing games to be put toward solving societal problems.

However, one of her fundamental positions that I can’t agree with tends to be her convenient positioning of games as “better” than reality. It’s there in the title of her book, and chapter after chapter explaining why gamers are drawn to games because they offer a better, more rewarding, more satisfying experience than reality itself. As McGonigal writes:

“Compared with games, reality is trivial. Games make us a part of something bigger and give epic meaning to our actions.”

As she goes on, games are able to provide that sense of “awe” often lacking in reality. Awe, or “the orgasm of positive emotions,” as it’s referred to, is a wonderful, powerful sensation… but I reject her pitch that games are better able to instill awe within us than can reality. Or that reality is too banal to ever compete with the environments, interaction, and risk/reward systems found within games.

Again, I find it simply too convenient for McGonigal to take this position. Her book posits that games are more compelling than reality, so why not leverage them to better reality.

However, I feel, that’s just one side of the Einsteinian equation—that “there are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.”

Saccharine, trite, I’ll grant, but I still adhere to the opposite side of this equation, that “The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

My current class in the MCDM program is titled, “Gaming, Virtual Worlds and Communication.” It’s rewarding—where else I can I learn about the rate of fire in Halo 2’s sniper rifle as part of a discussion on game balance? Or test out the Kinect during a look at usability?

It also gave me a chance to read Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken—a book I was interested in picking up already, and was now assigned.

The premise of the book is pragmatic optimism—essentially, that the combined effort of gamers can be beneficially applied to personal or communal needs for the betterment of our society. Which is a good thing.

The book entered our class discussion, as we looked at “serious games.” That’s the somewhat unfortunate (or at least dry) moniker for games with a practical point: Learning games (the much beloved Oregon Trail, for example). Games that raise awareness (Dying for Darfur) or for charity. Commercial games played intrinsically for fun sell far better than serious games; yet, as McGonigal proselytizes, we need to better harness the power of games to further our society.

There’s a slight disconnect here, but one that I think can be breached. Serious games have a reputation for being boring, even preachy. Deservedly so or not, their gameplay is simply not compelling enough to draw sufficient players. These players are instead playing Call of Duty, Angry Birds, or—as the example in her book, Halo 3; their gameplay is essentially untapped effort (as compared to serious games).

The trap is thinking that a serious game can ever be built from scratch with the express purpose of becoming a blockbuster. Instead, I believe that agents of good (charities, local governments, etc.) need to look toward already successful games to then connect with societal benefits.

In the book, Halo 3 is a cited example, of players finally reaching a combined 10 billion enemy kills. And that’s with millions of players; what if all 6 billion people in the world worked together, one player asked—imagine how many kills they could achieve then! McGonigal instead asks, imagine if those millions of gamers worked together, but instead of pursuing kills were putting their efforts toward something greater (fighting cancer, or the like—I’m taking liberties with her exact examples, but in the spirit of her message).

Again, I don’t feel that commercial games and serious games these need to be mutually exclusive. Halo 3 players revel in their accomplishments, and they are mighty in number. But these same players are not likely to switch over to a serious game and expend their same efforts there, not even with a greater real-world goal. So why not take a successful game like Halo and find a way for player efforts already underway, such as kills, etc., applied toward real world goals? (The “how” this is accomplished remains undefined here, admittedly rendering my idea mere optimism.)

This would harness the players’ efforts in a realistic way, and work to continue the longevity and popularity of a game—if the players understood their efforts now had both in-game and real-world significance.

(Continued from Part 2.)

Creating a Compelling Training Tool

So far we’ve looked at America’s Army mainly as a recruiting tool. Additionally, the game serves a secondary function, made possible due to its intentional design as a highly realistic military experience: that of an effective training tool for active military.

Once players complete basic training, they are able to participate in highly realistic, multiplayer scenarios meant to simulate actual combat missions (securing and defending areas, retrieving lost diplomatic material, and—my personal favorite in the game—locating and destroying enemy weapons caches, etc.). Players are even organized in their units according to role, and armed appropriately.

Again, commercial first-person shooters have the advantage of offering a glamorized version of military combat (although most such games also pride themselves in creating a realistic experience as well). By America’s Army opting for a strictly realistic experience (at the expense of a more fantastical, story-driven one), it can also be used by active military personnel to practice and play through various situations. In some ways, it is similar to sports figures (notably NBA and NFL players) known to thoroughly enjoy playing sports titles—especially as themselves.

As one soldier commented on the message boards [4], America’s Army is the “(n)ext best thing for those of us that do not have units nearby. Mainly this game is intended to teach tactics and teamwork…. By the way, you the taxpayer paid for this game for the Army to use, and if it’s good enough for them, why not us?”

In this case, the soldier is mistaking the game as a training simulator first and foremost, believing its function as a free game for civilians to try is entirely secondary.

By having actual soldiers playing the game, this also serves as a further positive feedback loop for marketing purposes. Positioned as a realistic (in fact, officially presented) military experience as a draw for hardcore gamers, this is further supported by having military personnel actively playing the game.

Drawbacks to a Realistic Experience

However realistic America’s Army may be in creating a military experience, one area in which it fails in verisimilitude is with mission settings. For political sensitivities, the game sets its missions in fictitious proto-European nations (with the unspecific and unpronounceable names of Travnizeme and Czervenian).

In commercial games, players are able to immerse themselves in (and vicariously thrill to experience) combat against real and historical wartime enemies: Nazis, Soviets, Middle Eastern terrorists…. America’s Army, however, cannot depict missions against actual counties, since such an official representation could be construed as demonstrating U.S. aggression against these countries. Imagine, for example, if the game were set along the border of Iran; while its missions might be useful training for potential military action, it would present a dangerous statement of U.S. military intent against unfriendly nations. Such activities would also present a danger for U.S. citizens abroad. Amir Hekmati, an American-Iranian citizen, was arrested in Iran under allegations of spying; evidence against him included his creation of an anti-Iranian video game [5]. Conversely, China has developed its own version of the game, Glorious Missions, in which the enemy soldiers are American [6].

Concluding Remarks

In choosing to discuss America’s Army, my initial assumptions were that its gameplay would prove irreverent to its purpose. After all, here was a clear marketing tool, freely distributed, with the explicit goal of promoting the U.S. Military, and the implied purpose of fostering recruitment. It was not being promoted simply for its qualities as a game. And yet in examining the game—especially as marketing tool for a hardcore audience—it became apparent that demonstrating effective gameplay was absolutely essential to its success.

America’s Army first chose to build on a standard, high-quality gaming engine universally recognized and appreciated by hardcore gamers. Furthermore, its strict adherence to a realistic military depiction—from training through its missions—set the game apart from other, commercial military titles; especially reinforced through the endorsement of military personnel promoted on the game’s website and by soldiers playing the game.

To some extent, America’s Army is not trying to further recruitment through creating the perfect military-style shooter. It would certainly have failed in that regard; there will always be a new first-person shooter hitting the market, advancing the field and pulling away audience share. Instead, America’s Army manages to achieve a good measure of success as a military simulation—presenting life as an active duty soldier and challenging its audience to transition from the risk/reward system of the game to that of actual military service.

References

[1] Stuart, Keith (November 18, 2011). Modern Warfare 3 Smashes Records: $775m in Sales in Five Days. Guardian.co.uk (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/nov/18/modern-warfare-2-records-775m).

[2] Game Politics (January 5, 2010). CSM: America’s Army Distorts Impressions of War. Gamepolitics.com (http://gamepolitics.com/2010/01/05/csm-america%E2%80%99s-army-distorts-impressions-war).

[3] Koster, Raph (2005). A Theory of Fun, pg. 82.Scottsdale,AZ: Paraglyph Press.

[4] CorpsVet71 (August 24, 2009). Using AA3 as a Training Tool. Unitedstatesmilitia.com (https://www.unitedstatesmilitia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1202).

[5] Doctorow, Corey (January 14, 2012). Was American Arrested for Spying in Iran Producing “Propaganda Games” for CIA? Boingboing.net (http://boingboing.net/2012/01/14/was-american-arrested-for-spyi.html).

[6] Praetorius, Dean (May 17, 2011). ‘Glorious Mission,’ Chinese Video Game Targets U.S. Troops. huffingtonpost.com (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/17/glorious-mission-chinese-video-game_n_863166.html).