“Videogames Saved My Life”: Everyday Resistance and Ludic Recovery among US Military Veterans

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Abstract

While the explosion of videogames as a global entertainment medium has been explored in International Relations (IR) and associated fields in some detail in recent years, the proliferation of games in military settings remains under-researched. This paper examines the uses to which US military veterans put videogames following service, showing that they play an important role in healing and rehabilitation processes through community building, therapeutic relief, and suicide prevention. Drawing in detail on interviews conducted with veterans and support workers between 2017 and 2019, the paper shows that grassroots gaming groups promote forms of communication, connectivity, and community which the military's stigmatizing reintegration and mental health programs often do not. The core argument developed is that while they do not embrace an antimilitarist ethos, through their promotion of mental and physical recovery, veterans’ gaming groups can be read as important sites of everyday resistance to the violences enacted by the US military on its personnel. Unsettling critical scholarly assumptions about what resistance looks like, and where it takes place, the paper ultimately demonstrates that it is possible to challenge the embodied alienations of militarism from within.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-503
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Political Sociology
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Games, Videogames, Veterans, Resistance, Healing, US Military

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