Before I used to be 18-years-old, I had lower brief – just about – hundreds of lives. Feared all through a pixelated world of battle, ‘terrorists’ quaked at my seeming invincibility and inconceivable kill depend. What would the United Kingdom and United States militaries do with out me? In the digital realm of war-based videogames, that is an expertise shared amongst hundreds of thousands. As the preferred style of videogame all through the ‘Western’ world, army themed first-person shooters (FPS) are set in worlds of pixelated warfare, considered by way of the eyes of an avatar that essentially brandishes a weapon (Gough, 2019). Beloved on this class of computer-generated violence is the Call of Duty collection.

Described by one Iraq battle veteran as providing the “ultimate first-person shooter experiences” attributable to their “violent”, “chaotic” but “beautiful” portrayal of actual life fight (Witchalls, 2017), Call of Duty titles have been constantly praised for his or her immersive gameplay, however criticised for his or her controversial political content material (Stuart, 2019). Grounded in a distorted post-Cold War setting, the constructed political setting in Call of Duty is considerably acquainted. Nevertheless, wildly exaggerated violence, a binary of ‘good’ and ‘evil’, a reliance on racial stereotypes and a gross Euro-American bias to depictions of worldwide relations, has condemned the collection to a caricature of ‘Western’ propaganda in important evaluations. Even the restricted tutorial scholarship on the implications of economic war-based FPSs to worldwide politics has highlighted Call of Duty as a collection too implausible to be thought-about related to evaluation (Gagnon, 2010). Attempting to shed this fame, Call of Duty has adopted a extra refined strategy in its newest launch, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Swapping slaughter for stealth and relinquishing the bipartite portrayal of battle for a barely extra nuanced narrative, Modern Warfare has been promoted as a truthful depiction of latest counter-insurgency. However, by counting on Orientalist caricatures, tendentious perceptions of violence and an overarching narrative of ‘Western’ righteousness, Modern Warfare is an insidious extension of earlier Call of Duty titles.

In the next article I’ll apply Edward Said’s traditional Orientalism to ‘Just War’ worldwide relations idea for example the development of a binary between the ‘Western’ sphere and ‘Islamic civilisation’; central to the legitimisation of United States and United Kingdom-led counter-insurgency within the ‘Middle East’. In doing this, I’ll draw parallels between narratives in Modern Warfare and mainstream media and political discourses concerning the ‘altruism’ of army intervention within the area. I’m conscious that through the use of the phrases ‘West’ and ‘Middle East’ I’m reifying and homogenizing each socio-geographical constructs (al-Azm, 1980). Howbeit, the operation of Modern Warfare and wider commentaries inside this dichotomous framework requires referencing the 2 entities on this means so as to stage an in accordance critique. I may also tie Modern Warfare to the military-entertainment complicated, making this text one of many first to ahead the sport as a piece of consumable leisure that advantages the armies of the UK and US by way of its reliance on Orientalist stereotypes and ‘Just War’ predilections. Following this, I’ll look at the function of war-games, of which Modern Warfare is part, within the justification and proliferation of drone fight within the ‘Middle East’. Lastly, by highlighting pro-‘Western’ perversions of historic and up to date army occasions in Modern Warfare, I’ll reveal the influence of the sport in manipulating previous and current accounts of army intervention within the area.

Modern Warfare

Marketed as probably the most ‘realistic’ of the Call of Duty collection, Modern Warfare was launched in October 2019. Set within the fictional ‘Middle Eastern’ state of Urzikstan, the Modern Warfare marketing campaign depicts the endeavors of a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, British Special Air Service forces (SAS) and native rebels, the Urzikstan Liberation Force (ULF), of their wrestle to ‘free’ the state of the conquering Russian army. Led by the brutal General Roman Barkov, and aided by the ‘Islamic terrorist organisation’ Al-Qatala, the Russians invaded Urzikstan in 1999, ostensibly searching for to convey peace and stability to the area. However, by creating and deploying a deadly chemical fuel to pacify and bloodbath native civilians, in addition to forcing Urzikstani’s into slave labour, General Barkov provoked a world battle, fuelled by the intervention of ‘Western’-aligned powers, specifically the United States and United Kingdom, additional destabilising the state. Twenty years later, when Modern Warfare is ready, battle continues to rage. It is the mission of the video games protagonists, from the CIA, SAS and ULF, to terminate the Barkov regime and quash the affect of Al-Qatala, thus establishing an period of liberal-democratic outlined ‘freedom’ for the ‘Middle Eastern’ state.

Modern Warfare was met with nice important acclaim within the gaming world. It was rated 4.5/5 by PCMAG and was usually praised for trying to maneuver away from the overblown violence and wildly unrealistic depiction of battle that had come to characterise earlier titles within the collection. The important success of Modern Warfare was accompanied by monetary reward. Within the primary 3 days of its launch Modern Warfare generated over $600 million in gross sales and surpassed the $1 billion mark in underneath 2 months (Strickland, 2019). To put this in to perspective, the best grossing battle movie ever made, American Sniper, has generated simply $547 million in field workplace and streaming gross sales up till 2020 (Rico, 2020). This suggests battle video games as an leisure medium are far more worthwhile than battle movies. The attain of Modern Warfare has additionally been huge. Aided by constantly updating on-line sport sorts, such because the vastly widespread ‘War Zone’, Modern Warfare has develop into probably the most performed sport of this console technology. As of May 2020, over 47.5 million players have performed Modern Warfare on the Playstation 4 alone. Of these 42% are from North America, 35% from Western and Northern Europe and solely 3% from the ‘Middle East’ (Gamestat, 2020), indicating Modern Warfare is certainly a sport made for, and performed by, a ‘Western’ viewers.

Defining the military-entertainment complicated, Orientalism and ‘Just War’

The important, business and sweeping success of Modern Warfare intimately entwines the sport with the military-entertainment complicated. Defined by Sebastian Kaempf because the stretching of the world of battle additional than bodily battlefields, the military-entertainment complicated entails the lively collusion of the army with producers of tradition for mutual profit (Kaempf, 2019). Initially cooperation between the United States and United Kingdom’s militaries was confined to battle motion pictures, literature, documentaries and tv collection. Yet the twenty first century’s monetary and cultural capital out there in an ever-expanding gaming market, has inspired the Pentagon, and different ‘Western’ states safety apparatuses, to more and more spend money on army centered FPSs creating titles reminiscent of America’s Army (Kaempf, 2019). Modern Warfare, then again, isn’t straight developed by the US and UK’s militaries. Yet each armies nonetheless acquire economically from its manufacturing. In their pursuit of ‘realism’, Activision, the builders of Modern Warfare, should pay the US and UK militaries a big license charge for utilizing official weaponry and tools within the sport (Parkin, 2019), establishing an extra income for the armies, in addition to premium promoting for ‘Western’ produced gadgetry.
This give attention to ‘genuineness’ in Modern Warfare produces different ties with the US and UK militaries. As was broadly publicized earlier than the discharge of the sport, Activision consulted retired Navy SEALs within the manufacturing course of and even reproduced the SEALs actions by way of movement seize recording. This additional elevated the “authenticity”, and thus legitimacy, of Modern Warfare within the eyes of potential customers (Hume, 2019). Members of the Modern Warfare sport improvement group are additionally recognized to have intimate hyperlinks with the worldwide safety coverage of the United States. For instance, in 2014 Dave Anthony – a author and video games designer for Call of Duty – was recruited by Steve Grundman, a former Pentagon official, to the Atlantic Council, a world affairs suppose tank based mostly in Washington DC. His function is to ahead and consider non-traditional safety eventualities which are potential threats to the soundness of the United States. His assessments are then forwarded on to senior officers throughout the US army (Piesing, 2015). Clearly the hyperlinks between the producers of Modern Warfare and the US and UK militaries run deep, offering a mutually helpful relationship. The sport receives authentication by way of the inclusion of branded weaponry and official techniques, whereas the militaries acquire income, within the sphere of coverage design and seminally by way of the socialization of battle, which would be the principal focus of this essay.

Perhaps probably the most helpful factor of this relationship to the United States and United Kingdoms’ armed forces is the legitimization of ‘Western’ army intervention within the ‘Middle East’ in Modern Warfare. As beforehand famous, Modern Warfare is an extremely prolific FPS with a majority of its players residing in North America and Europe. By taking part in a sport that lauds the need of ‘Western’ international intervention within the ‘Middle East’, members within the marketing campaign of the sport internalise discourses and misrepresentations of warfare that assist the presence of the US and UK militaries within the area. Driving the endorsement of ‘Western’ army presence within the ‘Middle East’ in Modern Warfare are Orientalist depictions of the area. This relies on a polarized imagining of the ‘West’ and the ‘East’ during which ‘Western’ states embark on a ‘Just War’ towards ‘Islamic terror’, aligning with wider pro-‘Western’ portrayals of warfare within the area current in each media and political narratives.

Orientalism, as described by Edward Said, is a “’Western’ style for dominating, restructuring and having authority over the ‘Orient’” (1978:3). Rather than current as an actual geographical area, the ‘Orient’, just like the ‘Middle East’ and the ‘West’, is “an idea that has a history and tradition of thought, imagery and vocabulary that have given it reality and presence in and for the ‘West’” (1978:5). A colonial continuation, Orientalism produces and reproduces imperial logics and motion in all tiers of ‘Western’ society, together with mainstream tutorial scholarship, political and media discourses and past, legitimising domineering state practices in a area the place the geographical boundaries shift with ‘Western’ desire. Imagined because the antithesis to the affordable and righteous ‘West’, the ‘Orient’, or the ‘Middle East’, and its inhabitants are homogenised and depicted as ‘Islamic’, irrational, backward and inherently violent. Such a dichotomy authorises the presence of ‘Western’ militaries within the ‘Middle East’ to ship ‘freedom’, ‘stability’ and ‘democracy’, albeit of a ‘Western’ liberal-democratic form, to a area that will in any other case fall in to tyranny (1978). Modern Warfare presents a contemporary manifestation of this Orientalist rationale.

Since 9/11, and the following US and UK-led ‘War on Terror’, Orientalist discourses and ensuing state motion within the ‘Middle East’ has more and more relied on the linking of a homogenised ‘Islam’ with ‘terrorism’. Islamic ideas, reminiscent of martyrdom, jihad, and the unification of faith with politics, have been misconstrued and manipulated in ‘Western’ scholarship and by political elites to assemble and current an “Islamic culture of death” (Asad, 2007). Clichéd Orientalist tropes of premodernity, irrationality and an innate tendency in direction of violence have been utilized to Islam and the ‘Middle East’, the imagined coronary heart of the faith, to justify ‘Western’ imperial motion within the area (Asad, 2010:3). US and UK-led counter-insurgencies that fall outdoors the parameters of worldwide legislation have been excused and offered as each important and ethical in quelling the ‘threat’ of ‘Islamic terrorism’. Rooted in medieval Christian idea, the ‘Just War’ paradigm, during which the ‘War on Terror’ is framed, exonerates ‘Western’ worldwide and extrajudicial violence within the ‘Middle East’ by way of a lens of necessity and virtuosity (Asad, 2010). Margaret Denike has expanded on the above by claiming the ‘Just’ ‘War on Terror’, and the accompanying invasion of states within the ‘Middle East’, has been validated by the supposed provision of ‘Western’-defined worldwide human rights. Human rights abuses within the ‘Middle East’ are “invoked as an ethical justification, or ‘just cause’ for states to resort to military force against those that threaten them” (Denike, 2008:96). However, by invading states within the ‘Middle East’ within the identify of human rights provision, ‘Western’ states usually undermine their purported goal by violating the rights they search to instil (Denike, 2008). Again, Modern Warfare is saturated with rights-based vindications for UK and US army intervention within the ‘Middle East’.

The subsequent part will look at using Orientalist constructions and pro-‘Western’ discourses in Modern Warfare. It can be asserted that this discourse frames US and UK-led counter-insurgencies within the ‘Middle East’ as ‘Just’. Consequentially, the narrative throughout the sport feeds the military-entertainment complicated, whereby Modern Warfare is an instrument of propaganda that validates the presence of the UK and US armed forces within the ‘Middle East’.

Orientalist dichotomies in Modern Warfare

Constructing digital area in Modern Warfare

Crucial to the vilification of the ‘Middle East’ in Modern Warfare is the development of digital area throughout the sport. Starting with the manufacturing of territorial nation-states, Modern Warfare depends on Orientalist dichotomies that solidify distorted conceptions of cultural, social and political content material within the ‘West’ and ‘Middle East’.

Contrary to the inclusion of ‘Western’ states and their militaries as entities that mirror, albeit favourably, international locations that exist in actuality, Modern Warfare manufactures an imagined ‘Middle Eastern’ state within the type of Urzikstan. Conforming to an more and more prevalent development in ‘Western’ leisure media, whereby states within the ‘Middle East’ are excluded from content material to “eliminate the potential for offensiveness” (Alsultany, 2012:26), the fictionalisation of Urzikstan was justified by Jacob Minkoff, the one participant design director of Modern Warfare, to keep away from getting “wrapped up in the politics of any specific real world country” (Hall, 2019). The choice to exclude ‘Middle Eastern’ states while together with ‘Western’ states within the sport is inherently political. Proudly parading the flags of the United States and the United Kingdom in a quest for digital ‘freedom’, Modern Warfare naturalises the existence of the UK and US. Such naturalisation is juxtaposed towards the development of an imagined ‘Islamic’ ‘terrorist’ state. The fictionalisation of Urzikstan undermines realities of battle and struggling for the precise inhabitants of the focused area.

A dry, arid and wilting wasteland, the geographical building of Urzikstan epitomises a ‘Western’ custom of representing the ‘Middle East’ as a timeless cultural vacuum. According to James Morris Blaut, such Orientalist depictions of a abandoned ‘Middle East’ have been distinguished because the 18th century and serve to assemble the area as inherently despotic. By portraying the ‘Middle East’ as a geographical void, an accompanying political and cultural timelessness is assumed. Blaut contends that this has allowed Orientalist students and ‘Western’ political elites to hyperlink the stagnant area to that of the Orient within the Old Testament. The area is presumed to not have ‘developed’ in millennia and energy relations are thought-about everlasting. ‘Western’ powers, previous and current, have rationalised their imperial growth within the area, promising ‘freedom’ and a metamorphosis of autocratic energy relations, but embody this type of tyranny by way of their invasion (Blaut, 1993)(Said, 1978).

Depictions of city life in Urzikstan additional reinforce Orientalist tropes concerning place by way of the medium of digital area. In line with representations of ‘Middle Eastern’ cities in wider ‘Western’ media, the conurbations of Urzikstan are bombed-out shells, devoid of life aside from ‘Islamic terrorist’ exercise and battle. Sparse, formless and desolate, the cities of Urzikstan act as searching grounds for gamers to bloodbath lots of of Al-Qatala fighters with virtually no regard for his or her wider environment. Similar to the US and UK-led assault on Fallujah in Iraq between 2003-2004, during which the town was offered as a “terrorist nest” that relied on an historical “impenetrability and structurelessness” for its defence, gamers in Modern Warfare are inspired to “shoot anything that moves and anything that doesn’t move” of their assault on Urzikstani cities (Graham, 2005:5). With no regard for worldwide legislation, as is widespread in ‘Western’-led counter-insurgencies within the ‘Middle East’, the protagonists of Modern Warfare use their “technologised mastery” to convey a “legitimate” and “rational” type of ‘civilisation’ to the city areas of Urzikstan (Graham, 2005:5). Incidentally, the one scenes of bizarre civilian life inside Urzikstan happen within the US embassy, which falls sufferer to an assault by Al-Qatala. Presented as an area of forms and organisation, the embassy embodies the imagined ‘rationality’ of the ‘West’, as conceptualised by Said (1978), while the assault emphasises the violence and ‘irrationality’ of ‘Islamic terror’. Simultaneously, by solely together with moments of civilian life in a site of the US, gamers of Modern Warfare are prevented from recognising humanity that falls outdoors the boundaries of ‘Western’ nation-states.

Necessary for the Orientalisation of ‘Middle Eastern’ area in Modern Warfare is the oppositional illustration of ‘Western’ geography. Whilst Urzikstan is constructed as a dehumanised zone of ‘terrorist’ violence, ‘Western’ cities within the sport are true to life representations. In the second mission of the marketing campaign, Al-Qatala ‘terrorists’ set off bombs and gun down civilians within the coronary heart of London. Red submit packing containers, telephone packing containers, tube stations and the blazing indicators of Piccadilly Circus point out the motion is going down in England’s capital. These markers of place concretise the ‘threat’ of ‘terrorism’ to the ‘West’ by demonstrating a digital however conceivable state of affairs whereby ‘Islamic terrorists’ assault a recognisable location. Heroic civilians and valiant policemen assist gamers in heading off the ‘terrorists’, humanising the ‘West’ and giving company, denied to these within the ‘Middle East’, to its residents. Sergeant Crowley, a member of the Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms unit, directs the participant all through the mission and remarks upon its conclusion, “fucking hell, look what they did to our home”. At no level in Urzikstan are the results of the ‘War on Terror’ for the civilian inhabitants remarked upon, normalising violence within the ‘Middle East’, while establishing “our home”, or ‘the West’, as a secure haven the place violence is outstanding. Furthermore, by selecting London, and particularly central London, a ‘multicultural’ homeland of capitalist and liberal-democratic ideology, as the situation for the assault, Modern Warfare actively juxtaposes the ‘irrational’ violence of the homogenised ‘Islamic terrorist’ with the imagined epitomisation of ‘civilized’ ‘Western’ society.

Racialised and gendered stereotypes in Modern Warfare

Reflecting their related geographies, the combatants of the ‘Middle East’ embody a monolithic and distorted illustration of Islam, while the UK and US militaries are digital incarnations of a glorified multi-ethnic and gender-equal liberal superb.

In a classically Orientalist method, the Al-Qatala militants are constructed as uniquely Arab and Muslim. Reflecting a development in ‘Western’ media and widespread tradition, emphasised since 9/11, of representing “all Muslims as Arab and all Arabs as terrorists” (Merskin, 2004), Modern Warfare condemns inhabitants of the ‘Middle East’ to an affiliation with violence. Bypassing the precise sectarian affiliations and ethnic heterogeneity of actual ‘Islamic terror’ organisations reminiscent of Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and Islamic State, Modern Warfare manufactures a monolithic and racialised ‘Islam’ because the worldwide ‘enemy’, legitimising ‘Western’ violence towards non-combatants within the area.

Gendered Orientalist tropes in Modern Warfare additional reinforce a notion of the ‘Islamic Middle East’ as a violent and patriarchal entity, justifying UK and US army intervention within the area. When featured within the sport, the wives of Al-Qatala members are held in captivity by their militant husbands and plead for a cessation to the violence surrounding them. During a SAS raid on an Al-Qatala ‘trap house’ in Camden, one girl cries, “don’t shoot they were going to kill me” – in reference to her male captors – while one other protects herself by presenting her child. By using stereotypes of female passivity, fragility and motherhood, Modern Warfare entrenches Orientalist conceptions of Muslim girls as “veiled, oppressed and in need of rescue” (Alsultany, 2012:71) and their male counterparts as inherently patriarchal, violent and controlling.

In actuality, this gendered stereotype of Muslim girls, and Islam as a complete, has countenanced UK and US army intervention within the ‘Middle East’. Lila Abu-Lughod contends the imposition of ‘universal human rights’ have been championed by the liberal-democratic ‘West’ to justify “moral crusades”, or ‘Just War’, within the ‘Islamic world’. In a quest to “save brown women” from the assumed violence of “brown men”, the ‘West’ has utilised notions of ‘gender equality’ to invade numerous states within the ‘Middle East’ (Spivak, 1988; Abu-Lughod, 2013). For occasion, by linking the “fight against terrorism” to a “fight for the dignity and rights for women”, former first woman Laura Bush forwarded a gender-based precedent for the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 (Berry, 2003:137). However, regardless of being the longest battle in US historical past, with over $2 trillion spent on the invasion and at the least 157,000 deaths, 43,000 of which have been civilians, Afghanistan remains to be ranked by Amnesty International because the worst place on this planet to be a girl (Amnesty International, 2020; Crawford, 2020). Clearly the rights-based, ‘Just War’ rationale for intervention in Afghanistan is an instance of Denike’s critique of the UK and US militaries, whereby invasion is legitimised by way of a rhetoric of ‘universal freedoms’ but in actuality undermines and violates these ‘rights’ (Denike, 2008).

Contrary to the monolithic, racialised and gendered presentation of ‘Islamic terror’ organisations, is the multi-ethnic and gender equal portrayal of the UK and US militaries in Modern Warfare. Kyle Garrick, the primary protagonist of the sport, is a black Londoner serving within the SAS. Non-white characters within the CIA embody a number of African-Americans, Dominique Tam and Daniel Shinoda, each of ‘East-Asian’ heritage and Alexia Valenzuela, of Mexican heritage. In reality, over half of the ‘Western’ troopers in Modern Warfare are non-white, presenting a glorified liberal superb of ethnic variety and equality within the UK and US militaries. However, there aren’t any characters within the CIA or SAS from a ‘Middle Eastern’ background in Modern Warfare, imposing a subliminal racial othering. These exemptions of the ‘Middle Eastern’ topic from the imagining of nationwide id ostracises residents of the area and enhances conceptions of an ‘Islamic enemy’.

Women are additionally given a major function within the ‘Western’ militaries of Modern Warfare. Kate Laswell, a Station Chief of the CIA, is without doubt one of the video games most perspicacious characters, providing clever perception to help finishing every mission, while Charlotte Johnstone, a Scottish member of the SAS, is a valiant fighter with a formidable success price in her missions. Just two of the a number of feminine characters in Modern Warfare, these girls break gendered stereotypes of femininity that shackle ‘Middle Eastern’ girls within the sport. The prominence of those feminine characters in Modern Warfare has come in-line with a current recruitment drive for girls in each the CIA and SAS, furthering the case that the army and the leisure business harbour symbiotic connections. Since 2018, the SAS has actively tried to recruit girls to match obligations underneath the Public Sector Equality Duty, while the CIA had its prime 3 directorates stuffed by girls in 2019 (Martin, 2020)(Newburger, 2019). Though gender equality is admirable, the push for feminine illustration within the UK and US militaries ought to be seen as a part of the “self-declared emancipatory feminist project” (Khalili, 2011:21), whereby ‘Western’ armed forces actively place themselves towards their patriarchal ‘Islamic’ enemies. Again, it’s price emphasising {that a} rights-based discourse has been used to legitimise counter-insurgency within the ‘Middle East’.

Orientalist depictions of violence in Modern Warfare

Contrasting targets, language, techniques, skill and modes of violence between Al-Qatala militants and ‘Western’-aligned combatants in Modern Warfare additional entrenches a ‘Clash of Civilisations’ (Huntington, 1993) understanding within the ‘Western’ imaginary. Whilst ‘Islamic terrorism’ is depicted as inherently irrational, brutal and evil, the violence of the US and UK militaries is put ahead as vital and ‘Just’.

A digital manifestation of the ‘new terrorism’ thesis, widespread in mainstream ‘Western’ political and media discourse, the Al-Qatala fighters of Modern Warfare are motivated by “hatred, fanaticism and extremism rather than political ideology” (Jackson, 2007:408). As with the development of the goals of Al-Qaeda and different militant ‘Islamic’ organisations working within the ‘Middle East’, the antagonists of Al-Qatala make use of a “murderous and irrational” violence to “rectify humiliation” introduced on by the ‘West’, with “no possibility of negotiation, compromise or appeasement” (Jackson, 2007:409). During a raid on his underground bunker the aptly named, shadowy chief of Al-Qatala, ‘the Wolf’, declares, “to wage war without sympathy, that is the only way to become a true soldier” and “to shed blood in revenge is always a victory”. Never are the complicated theological, social, financial and political doctrines that drive ‘Islamic terror’ organisations mentioned in Modern Warfare. Even the identify of the group, which roughly interprets to ‘The Slayers’, condenses all goals in to an overarching goal of irrational violence.

In distinction to the slim and villainous targets of Al-Qatala, is the ‘Just’ rationale of the UK and US militaries for battle. Siding with the ULF, labelled ‘freedom fighters’ quite than ‘terrorists’, ‘Western’-aligned troopers in Modern Warfare search solely to ‘liberate’ Urzikstan from the menace posed by Russian forces and Al-Qatala. No wider geopolitical motivations for intervention are raised, suggesting ‘Western’ army presence within the ‘Middle East’ is an inherently altruistic enterprise that can unquestionably convey advantages to the occupied territory and its inhabitants, quite than for positive aspects in international energy and the management of assets (Khalili, 2011)(Hinnebusch, 2007).

Language additionally serves a dichotomous function in Modern Warfare. Al-Qatala militants persistently use non secular, violent and casual speech throughout fight, imparting a notion of disorganisation and irrationality. Invoking Allah while spraying bullets from an AK-47, the ‘terrorists’ tie a particularly ‘Islamic’ religiosity to their violence and appear pushed by irrationality – religion, emotion and evil – quite than sensibility. Again, reinforcing Orientalist conceptions of ‘Islamic terrorists’ and ‘Middle Eastern’ folks.

In opposition to the unreasoned speech of Al-Qatala fighters is the rational – formalised, technical, indifferent – language of the US and UK militaries. Enemies are ‘tangos’, while an space rid of ‘hostiles’ is ‘secure’, separating the participant from the carnage of battle and lack of life by way of the medium of impersonal and unemotional army lingo. Consistent use of the phonetic alphabet additional reinforces the organisational capability of ‘Western’ militaries. By coordinating their actions by way of a practiced tongue of effectivity, the protagonists of Modern Warfare lend an air of construction, and thus respectability, to their violence. Moreover, the inflexible language of the US and UK militaries serves as a metaphor for the purported construction an imposed liberal-democracy will convey to the lives of civilians within the ‘Middle East’.

Associated with the disjunction of language between Al-Qatala fighters and the UK and US militaries is their contrasting techniques in Modern Warfare. Rather than the complicated guerrilla operational warfare employed by militant ‘Islamic’ organisations within the ‘Middle East’ (Bunker, 2007), Al-Qatala fighters make use of strategies inconceivable in the actual world of fight. For occasion the Al-Qaeda tactic of ‘swarming’, whereby “five or more autonomous units” converge on a goal after which “scatter for defensive purposes” (Bunker, 2007:325), has been manipulated to painting the Al-Qatala fighters as inept and irrational. In the sport, as a substitute of retreating to guard their lives, the militants stand their floor, decided of their quest to die for the trigger. Activision have misrepresented martyrdom, connecting irrationality and incompetence with a will to sacrifice life within the identify of God. Moreover, the ineptitude of the Al-Qatala fighters lends an inevitability to every mission, whereby ‘terrorism’ can solely be defeated when confronted by ‘Western’ dominance.

The UK and US army technique is offered as superior in Modern Warfare. ‘Western’ troopers hardly ever die within the sport, whereas one participant can bloodbath actually lots of of Al-Qatala members. Furthermore, as beforehand talked about, the modelling of gameplay round actual strategies employed by the Navy SEALs entails a complexity to ‘Western’ fight not afforded to the Orientalised enemy. Players utilise the most recent licensed superior weaponry and tools, together with hand-held drones, night-vision goggles, numerous grenades, fight knives and motion-sensor radars, to systematically remove the enemy in an array of scientific approaches unavailable to the ‘uncivilised’ ‘terrorist’.

The solely weapons know-how constantly utilized by Al-Qatala militants is the bomb. Beginning the sport, gamers are transported right into a van stuffed with ‘terrorists’ able to set off explosives strapped to their chests. The theme of ‘suicide terrorism’ runs all through Modern Warfare, culminating within the execution of ‘the Wolf’ to thwart his self-detonation. Given the ‘Western’ obsession with ‘Islamic suicide terrorism’ since 9/11 (Asad, 2007), the primacy of the bomb in Modern Warfare is unsurprising. According to Talal Asad, ‘Western’ horror invoked by ‘suicide terrorism’ stems from the uncontrollability of the strike, in addition to its inherent opposition to ‘Western’ liberal-rational norms. An act of true freedom that essentially breaches a states’ monopoly on violence, ‘suicide terrorism’ can’t be confined or sanctified by the nation-state. It is the last word seen protest towards unjust state follow within the identify of a believed increased energy. The naturalised authority of the nation-state is outdated by a perception within the divine, while perpetrators elude the ‘justice’ of a legislation courtroom, a bulwark of liberal-democratic legitimacy and order (Asad, 2007). Instead God is left to evaluate the topic, robbing the state of its energy to dispense justice .The promotion in worth of the non-material above the nation-state, the embodiment of ‘Western’ rational authority, positions ‘Islamic suicide terrorism’ because the antithesis of ‘Western’ energy.

Comparatively, the full devastation of ‘suicide terrorism’ cements the act as ‘irrational’ within the ‘Western’ imaginary. Rather than taking life to save lots of life, a typical justification of liberal-democratic battle, ‘suicide terrorism’ requires a momentary sacrifice of bodily mortality for the next trigger. Such forfeiting of fabric existence violates the secular and Judeo-Christian custom that emphasises the salience of bodily mortality (Asad, 2007). As such, ‘Western’ logic rejects the notion that the immaterial self can ever take priority over the fabric physique. Therefore, ‘suicide terrorism’ has come to symbolise violence motivated by reasoning incomprehensible to secular ‘Western’ rationale. By constantly invoking ‘suicide terrorism’ as a know-how of the Al-Qatala militants, Modern Warfare reinforces pre-existing Orientalist narratives during which Islam is demonised as an unintelligible ideology that produces a violence that too can’t be understood, exacerbating the gamers concern of ‘Islamic terror’.

The use of chemical weapons by Russian and Al-Qatala forces in Modern Warfare additional divides the ‘Just’ UK and US militaries from their ‘uncivilised’ enemies. Prohibited by worldwide legislation, the supposed utilisation of chemical weapons by ‘rogue’ states and their ‘terrorist’ allies has constantly been used as a justification for army intervention within the ‘Middle East’ all through the ‘War on Terror’ (Price, 1995). For occasion, Iraq, Libya and Syria, all topic to UK and US-led counter-insurgency operations since 9/11, have been linked to creating chemical weaponry. Branded as “weapons of the weak”, chemical weapons have been constructed as “cruel and treacherous” by ‘Western’ technological powers that govern the boundaries of acceptable ‘civilised warfare’ (Price, 1995:98). Contrary to the sanctioned proliferation of nuclear weapons as “tools of legitimate diplomacy” by authorised international powers, chemical weapons have develop into a “symbol of unacceptable violence” within the ‘Western’ dominated worldwide sphere, demonstrating a Foucauldian “interpretive reversal” whereby highly effective worldwide actors set the boundaries of permissible motion and discourse to keep up hegemony (Price, 1995:99). By delegitimising chemical weapons, the UK and US can concurrently proceed creating and utilizing massively harmful typical weapons within the ‘War on Terror’ and past with out concern of a world outcry, while positing their adversaries as inferior and barbaric. Furthermore, as ‘Islamic terrorists’ have been constructed as morally unrestrained and irrational within the “lethality and indiscriminate nature” of their violence they might inflict, it’s subsequently assumed they’re “more likely to use weapons of mass destruction” (Jackson, 2007:409).

This Orientalising narrative of ‘Islamic incivility’ has justified controversial UK and US army ventures within the ‘Middle East’. Rationalised on this means was the unlawful invasion of Iraq in 2003, whereby UK and US government-led myths of collusion between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda to fabricate weapons of mass destruction vindicated an basically financial army enterprise within the ‘Middle Eastern’ state (Ahmed, 2014). The centrality of chemical weapons improvement by Al-Qatala to the storyline of Modern Warfare concurrently serves to bolster conceptions of ‘Islamic terrorist’ violence as inferior, illegitimate and inhumane, while justifying the presence, and violence, of ‘Western’ armed forces within the ‘Middle East’ by way of a framework of worldwide legislation.

Suicide bombing and chemical weapons deployments will not be the one instruments of violence that actively distinguish ‘enemies’ of the ‘West’ from the UK and US militaries in Modern Warfare. Explicit acts of torture carried out by the ‘enemy’ enhances the dichotomy between the ‘barbaric’ and ‘uncivilised’ violence of the ‘non-West’ versus the ‘Just’ and vital technique of the UK and US militaries. At the beginning of the “Captive” mission, gamers are held in an underground dungeon and should endure scenes of mock executions, ruthless beatings and waterboarding to advance within the sport. Intensified by the sounds of screaming prisoners and systematic homicide, this deeply disturbing part of Modern Warfare is a reminder of the abundance of prisoner abuse that has accompanied the ‘War on Terror’. ‘Islamic’ militants have undeniably enacted a part of this prisoner abuse since 9/11. The notorious ‘Beatles’ torture squad of Islamic State pummelled, water boarded, electrocuted and beheaded ‘Western’ captives in a jail in Syria (Sommerville, 2018). Additionally, a 2014 report by Amnesty International entitled Escape From Hell – subtly implying a hyperlink between the ‘Middle East’ and the Abrahamic underworld – reported crimes towards humanity by Islamic State in Iraq, together with torture, systematic rape and sexual slavery (Amnesty International, 2014). In this case Modern Warfare doesn’t overemphasise the brutality of ‘Islamic terror’ organisations within the ‘Middle East’.

Nevertheless, by neglecting the extent of organised torture enacted by the US and UK militaries in the course of the ‘War on Terror’, Modern Warfare actively disregards human rights abuses carried out by ‘Western’ forces within the ‘Middle East’. In its quest for gritty ‘realism’, Modern Warfare features a scene of torture carried out by the SAS troopers Captain Price and Kyle Garrick. However, the abuse is justified, sanitised and individualised. Detecting Kyle’s discomfort with the ‘interrogation’, Price defends his actions by stating, “if we get dirty the world stays clean”, bolstering the ‘Just War’ narrative and condoning extrajudicial violence that runs all through the sport. Furthermore, the ‘interrogation’, in comparison with that enacted by ‘the enemy’, is comparatively benign, with virtually no pressure exerted to extract the mandatory data, deepening the notion of ‘Western’ violence as ‘civilised’. Lastly, by declaring the one act of torture an unauthorised “rogue” endeavour, Captain Price divorces the questionable morality of the act from the broader establishments of the UK and US militaries and their commanding governments. These parts mix to current ‘interrogation’ as rare but often unavoidable within the ‘Just War’ towards ‘Islamic terror’.

In actuality, the UK and US militaries have often used malicious government-sanctioned torture methods all through the ‘War on Terror’. Ruth Blakely has demonstrated “beyond reasonable doubt” that the UK has assisted the US in systematic prisoner abuse and torture since 9/11. The CIA and SAS have been accused of “drowning prisoners to the point of unconsciousness, repeated beatings, the use of ice baths and hoses to induce hypothermia, sleep deprivation for more than a week at a time, prolonged confinement in extremely small boxes and sexual assault”, together with “forced feeding through the rectum” (Blakely, 2017:246). Elaborating on the above, Laleh Khalili has recounted the particularly Islamophobic nature of prisoner abuse that occurred in Guantánamo Bay in the course of the early years of the ‘War on Terror’. In one significantly gruelling report a former guard explains the sexualised abuse of Muslim captives, whereby a feminine guard would rub her breasts on the inmate after which unfold (faux) menstrual blood on his face (Khalili, 2011:13). Exploiting the prohibition of extramarital sexual activity outlined within the hadith of Anas Ibn Malik, this type of torture forces a sense of sexual deviance onto the Muslim prisoner. By purposefully attacking the dignity, piety and humanity of the inmate with a malevolent and base act of gendered violence, the ‘civilised’ and rights-based legitimacy of ‘Western’ militaries is undermined. Government-sanctioned use of torture by the UK and US militaries since 9/11 straight contradicts these states dedication to Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which explicitly prohibits “torture” or “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” (UN General Assembly). By unambiguously violating the UDHR, a bulwark of liberal-democratic legitimacy, the UK and US militaries additional elucidate the paradox of ‘Just War’ within the ‘Middle East’, whereby the ‘need’ for ‘international rights’ justifies international invasion but concurrently undermines their provision.

The affect of Modern Warfare on drone fight within the ‘War on Terror’

Integral to the positioning of the UK and US militaries as extra ‘advanced’ and ‘civilised’ than their Al-Qatala enemies is the inclusion of drones in Modern Warfare. Players can use an enormous vary of licensed Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAVs) deployed in real-world battle within the ‘Middle East’. Recon drones, EMP drones, assault drones, MQ-1 Predator drones and VTOL drones are however a couple of of the distant managed weapons {that a} participant can equip to clinically dispatch ‘terrorist’ enemies. Lethal and impersonal, UAV’s are basic to finishing a major proportion of Modern Warfare’s Urzikstan-based missions. By incorporating drones into gameplay, Activision economically bolsters the US and UK militaries by way of the cost of the mandatory licensing charge, thus strengthening the military-entertainment complicated. Further consolidating the hyperlink between Modern Warfare and the UK and US armed forces is the situating of drones as a type of ‘civilised’, or ‘Just’ violence, in addition to the lively recruitment of players by ‘Western’ militaries to fly UAVs.

Increased deployment and weaponisation of drones occurred virtually instantly after 9/11, binding their use to the ‘War on Terror’. The US was the primary state to make use of armed drones in lively warfare, with an aerial strike on Kandahar Province, Afghanistan in 2001. Since then, the US has develop into the chief worldwide consumer and exporter of fight UAVs, searching for to broaden its artillery with 1,000 extra weaponised drones by 2029. The UK army additionally plans to extend its drone use, aiming to purchase 16 next-generation Protector drones by 2023. With the overwhelming majority of drone strikes occurring in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in addition to Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria, the ‘Middle East’ is clearly the testing floor for this newest type of ‘clinical’ warfare (Sabbagh, 2019).

Defended by the UK and US militaries as being according to International Humanitarian Law (IHL), UAVs are stated to fall throughout the moral pointers of a ‘Just War’ attributable to their adherence to the ideas of ‘distinction’ and ‘proportionality’ (Kreps & Kaag, 2012). Despite the moral and authorized complexities of figuring out a combatant from an harmless civilian in asymmetrical warfare (‘distinction’), and discerning the commensurate response to violence of the adversary (‘proportionality’), UK and US drone strikes clearly violate each commitments to IHL. Though figures for casualties attributable to drone assaults are tough to accumulate, more and more so after Donald Trump banned reporting on drone casualty particulars in March 2019, a 2014 Reprieve report discovered that “in an attempt to kill 41 individuals, the US killed as many as 1,147 other people” when utilizing drones within the ‘Middle East’ (Sabbagh, 2019). Therefore ‘proportionality’ and ‘distinction’ legitimise using fight UAVs within the ‘Middle East’, but their violence breaches each ideas of IHL, reinforcing the paradox of ‘Just War’ within the area whereby ‘universal rights’ are used to enact violence that basically infringes on these liberties.

Opposed to using chemical weapons and suicide bombing, categorised as ‘barbaric’ within the ‘Western’ worldwide imaginary, drones strikes have been constructed as a ‘civilised’ type of violence. Characterised as ‘rational’, attributable to their lack of emotional vulnerabilities, ‘humane’, due to their purported exact lethality and ‘modern’, owing to their technological complexity, fight drones have been constituted because the antithesis to the tempestuous, remorseless and ‘backward’ violence of ‘Islamic terrorists’ (Espinoza, 2018). Given the excessive variety of civilian casualties ensuing from UK and US drone strikes within the ‘Middle East’ (Sabbagh, 2019), and the bloody nature of explosive killing that fight UAVs inevitably produce, this assertion may be categorically rebuked. Furthermore, as drones and their operators “align with the Orientalist bias of colonial (and neo-colonial) knowledge” by concentrating on Muslim or ‘Middle Eastern’ males presumed to be ‘terrorists’ (Espinoza, 2018:381), UAVs exacerbate a dependence on ‘othering’ that has been essential to the legitimisation of the ‘War on Terror’.

Fuelling the Orientalist logic that authorises the extrajudicial homicide of ‘Islamic terrorists’ and civilians within the ‘Middle East’ are videogames reminiscent of Modern Warfare. By dehumanising the inhabitants of the area, war-based videogames create remoteness from the ache and violence that drone warfare entails. However, this isn’t the only real function of Modern Warfare in augmenting drone-based violence within the area. In what Joseph Pugliese describes because the “gamification of war”, Modern Warfare and different war-based videogames are more and more getting used to coach and recruit members of the US army and the British navy concerned in drone fight (Pugliese, 2016), strengthening the connection between army videogames and ‘Western’ armed forces. Furthermore, UAV working methods are progressively starting to resemble laptop sport applied sciences with some drones manoeuvred with Playstation or Xbox controllers (Broersma, 2015; Wintour, 2016; Pugliese, 2016). Removed from the violence of the bodily battlefield, with many US pilots stationed on the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, drone operators drop bombs on ‘terrorists’ and within the ‘Middle East’ by way of the medium of a display screen, reproducing abilities learnt on video games reminiscent of Modern Warfare (Pugliese, 2016). Such proof bolsters Rochelle Davis’ declare that “counterterrorism relies on targeted attacks and assassination by drones and robots operated by people in control rooms who have never had to interact with other cultures, languages or even people” (Davis, 2012:25). Desensitised to violence and coerced into subordinating the worth of life within the ‘Middle East’ by way of taking part in Orientalist war-based videogames reminiscent of Modern Warfare, drone operators replicate a violence learnt in a digital sphere with most effectivity in the actual world. Considering the detachment of ‘Western’ army personnel from a violence that has been engineered as ‘Just’ by way of media, leisure and worldwide political discourse, the proliferation of drone fight within the ‘Middle East’ is alarming.

Rewriting historical past and subverting the current

Not solely do battle videogames reminiscent of Modern Warfare assemble enemies and acceptable types of violence within the worldwide imaginary. They additionally manipulate historical past and subvert up to date political narratives by lending a pro-‘Western’ bias to battle within the ‘Middle East’.

Upon its launch, Modern Warfare obtained widespread criticism from each most of the people and the media for its unfavourable depiction of the Russian state and army. Continuing a practice of anti-Russian sentiment within the Call of Duty collection, Modern Warfare was particularly criticised for modifying historical past in its ‘Highway of Death’ mission. Stranded alongside the ‘Highway’, gamers management Alex, a CIA officer who should slaughter waves of Russian troopers to flee an ambush set by the enemy.

In actuality the ‘Highway of Death’ is the identify given to a stretch of street that leads from Kuwait City northwest to the border with Iraq. On the twenty sixth February 1991 within the remaining phases of the Gulf War, notably labelled a ‘video-game’ battle due to the frequent use of “precision bombing and night-vision equipment” lending a perceived “humanity to the violence”, hundreds of automobiles carrying Iraqi army personnel had been ordered by Baghdad to “withdraw immediately and unconditionally” in compliance with UN Resolution 660 (DeGhett, 2014). Though Iraqi forces had been retreating from fight, US plane together with helicopter gunships and A-10 Warthogs, each out there as playable automobiles in Modern Warfare, trapped the convoy by disabling automobiles at the back and front. One marine basic has described the following violence as a “turkey shoot”. Throughout day and night time, bullets and missiles rained down, destroying roughly 2,000 automobiles and killing an unknown variety of Iraqi troopers, in addition to their households, international staff and refugees (Patowary, 2016). US General Norman Schwarzkopf justified the unprovoked bloodbath, clearly in breach of IHL and the Geneva Convention on Human Rights, as essential to remove the “rapists, murderers and thugs” that made up the convoy (Whalen, 2019). Firstly, legitimised in Orientalist phrases the bloodbath of the ‘Highway of Death’ is a blatant instance of a battle crime dedicated by the US army that has been excused due to the sanitised and indifferent nature of aerial bombardment. Secondly, by actively altering the content material of an actual army occasion within the ‘Middle East’, Modern Warfare continues a development in US produced leisure media and war-based videogames of shifting the accountability for ‘uncivilised’ violence that contravenes worldwide legislation away from the ‘Just’ militaries of the ‘West’ and onto their adversaries. Indeed, distortions of the ‘Highway of Death’ have appeared in different battle video games, together with widespread titles reminiscent of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction and Battlefield 3, suggesting this type of biased historic rendering is commonplace within the digital sphere.

Citing the ‘Highway of Death’ mission and an notorious mission in a earlier title within the collection, during which gamers management Russian ultranationalists to perpetrate a mass capturing in a Moscow airport, Ilya Davydov, an influential Russian gamer, accused Activision of presenting “Russians as war criminals”, thus backing out of a take care of the developer. Rossiya 24, a state owned tv channel, levelled the same allegation and bodily copies of Modern Warfare are now not out there to buy in Russia (Horton, 2019).

Condemnation of Modern Warfare for portraying the Russian army as battle criminals is justified, significantly as Activision has knowingly shifted the culpability of crimes dedicated by the US and UK militaries within the ‘Middle East’ onto their worldwide adversaries by way of a digital rewriting of historical past.

Distorting portrayals of battle within the ‘Middle East’ isn’t consigned to previous conflicts in Modern Warfare. Although Taylor Kurosaki, the narrative director of the sport, claimed he was “heavily inspired” by present “events in Iraq and Syria” to lend “authenticity” to Modern Warfare (Stuart, 2019), the sport misrepresents up to date conflicts within the ‘Middle East’ by lending a pro-‘Western’, reductive and Orientalised bias to occasions within the area.

Drawing closely from the Kurdish Yekîneyên Parastina Jin, or ‘Womens Protection Units’ (YPJ) that primarily function in northern Syria, Activision constructed the Urzikstan Liberation Force (ULF): the native ‘freedom fighters’ that help the CIA and SAS all through the Modern Warfare marketing campaign. Lauded by the ‘Western’ press for his or her ‘progressive’ stance on feminine army participation, the YPJ have develop into an emblem of acceptable native resistance within the Syrian battle and obtain provides, armed help and capital from each the US and UK (Knapp, 2016). Continuing this rights-based discourse by reflecting ‘Western’ interpretations of the YPJ, Modern Warfare presents the ULF as a company intent on liberating their nation from international, which means Russian, subjugation and defeating the presence of ‘Islamic terrorism’. Led by Farah Karim, the one girl of the three playable protagonists in Modern Warfare, the group needs to revive order to their nation and “modernise” Urzikstan by “freeing its people from old fashioned ways” (Activision, 2019).

A clearly Orientalist and reductionist rendering of the motivations of ‘freedom fighters’ within the ‘Middle East’, Modern Warfare assumes the area to be ‘backward’ and people who battle for liberation to be impressed by ‘Western’ notions of ‘development’. Furthermore, by linking the targets of the ULF to these of the CIA and SAS in Modern Warfare the destiny of the native militia is inherently tied to that of the ‘West’, replicating a traditional Orientalist trope whereby the actions of the inhabitants of the ‘Middle East’ can solely exist in relation to the ‘West’ (Said, 1978). Similar to ‘Western’ depictions of the YPJ, assumed to have arisen to defeat Islamic State and stripped of a revolutionary context born out of colonialism and historic oppression (Azeez, 2019), the ULF exist as an extension of US and UK army energy, robbed of their company and consigned to a footnote within the domination of the ‘Middle East’ by the ‘West’.

The girls that battle within the ULF, although digital, are exceptionally lovely, exacerbating one other Orientalist trope whereby ‘Middle Eastern’ girls are solely seen when sexualised and fetishised (Said, 1978). Indeed, the actress that performs Farah, Claudia Doumit, has appeared in a number of American tv collection as a seductive love curiosity, undermining her credibility as a battle-hardened ‘freedom fighter’. The sexualisation of ‘virtuous’ ‘Middle Eastern’ girls in Modern Warfare displays mainstream ‘Western’ media depictions of the YPJ. For occasion the loss of life of Asia Antar, a YPJ fighter likened to ‘Western beauties’ reminiscent of Angelina Jolie and Penelope Cruz due to her purported attractiveness, garnered considerably extra media consideration than the passing of hundreds of different YPJ members of their quest for liberation (Azeez, 2019). Clearly, Modern Warfare acts as an extension of ‘Western’ Orientalist media and leisure whereby girls from the ‘Middle East’ are solely ‘virtuous’ in the event that they conform to ‘Western’ requirements of magnificence and promote liberal-democratic beliefs.

Lastly, Modern Warfare misrepresents the connection between ‘progressive’ ‘resistance fighters’ within the ‘Middle East’ and the UK and US militaries. Rather than the robust relationship constructed on mutual respectability and belief, as depicted in Modern Warfare, the fact is extra tenuous. For occasion, in 2019 President Donald Trump withdrew his troops from northern Syria, leaving the YPJ and native Kurdish civilians susceptible to a bloodbath by advancing Turkish troopers (Borger, 2019). By abandoning their former allies, the US army has offered one other instance of their acquisitive curiosity within the area, undermining ‘Western’ media depictions, of which Modern Warfare is part, that current US and UK army intervention within the ‘Middle East’ as by some means ‘Just’ or ‘necessary’.


Attempting to maneuver away from the quixotic illustration of counter-insurgency within the ‘Middle East’ that has come to outline earlier titles within the Call of Duty collection, Modern Warfare has positioned itself as probably the most ‘realistic’ war-game in the marketplace. However, Modern Warfare presents related warped shows of army intervention within the area, albeit in a barely subtler method, lending it a pro-‘Western’ bias that advocates the ‘War on Terror’ within the ‘Middle East’. Therefore, Modern Warfare conforms to wider media and political depictions of counter-insurgency within the area that current ‘Western’ intervention as ‘Just’, and binds the sport to the military-entertainment complexes of the United Kingdom and United States by appearing as an instrument of unofficial propaganda.

In a digital replication of the 1916 Sykes-Picot settlement, during which arbitrary boundaries had been drawn by ‘Western’ powers to divide the ‘Middle East’ in to nation-states (Mather, 2014), Modern Warfare creates its personal fictionalised, homogenised and Orientalised ‘Middle Eastern’ state within the type of Urzikstan. A geographical and cultural desert, Urzikstan epitomizes Orientalist conceptions of the ‘Middle East’ as a timeless vacuum, riddled with ‘Islamic terrorist’ violence. Opposed to the exact, dynamic and agentic portrayal of ‘Western’ geographies, encapsulated within the metropolis of London, the conurbations of Urzikstan are amorphous, harmful, devoid of civilians and subsequently in want of a ‘civilising’ interposition from the UK and US militaries.

The US and UK militaries are assuredly represented as ‘civilised’ in Modern Warfare. Encapsulating liberal-democratic beliefs of multi-ethnic and gender equality that replicate army discourses current in actuality, the ‘Western’ armed forces of Modern Warfare bolster the legitimacy of the particular UK and US militaries by way of their rights-based illustration. In opposition, and vital for the dichotomous distinction that Orientalism requires, is the presentation of the Al-Qatala militants. Uniquely Arab, male and adherent to an unspecified and monolithic ‘Islam’, the ‘terrorist’ enemy is subordinated to an inherently violent, fervently non secular, patriarchal and finally ‘irrational’ enemy, pushed by a thirst for cruelty quite than ideology. This is according to wider narratives which have justified the ‘War on Terror’ and army intervention within the ‘Middle East’.

Modern Warfare, as with broader ‘Western’ political and media discourses, delegitimises the violence of ‘Islamic terrorism’. Reliant on applied sciences of violence that contravene worldwide legislation, specifically chemical weapons deployment and torture, the Al-Qatala fighters are offered as fighters incapable of conforming to worldwide norms of warfare that grant the ‘West’ legitimacy within the ‘War on Terror’. Furthermore, a persistent use of suicide bombing by the militants entrench conceptions of ‘Islamic terrorism’ as inherently ‘irrational’, violent and thus ‘uncivilised’. Contrary to the illegitimate modes of violence of Al-Qatala is the portrayal of ‘Western’ militarism as ‘humane’ and vital. Sanitised depictions of torture and a technologised superiority in tools and weaponry serve to excuse unlawful violence of the UK and US militaries, while establishing their violence as ‘Just’, ‘civilised’ and ‘necessary’.

In line with a ‘Western’-centric worldwide authorized framework, and significantly distinguished to the portrayal of ‘Western’ violence within the ‘Middle East’ as ‘humane’, is the condoning of drone fight by the UK and US militaries in Modern Warfare. Conferred as a ‘clinical’ and ‘rational’ know-how of violence, the endorsement of weaponised UAVs in Modern Warfare aligns with precise ‘Western’ army discourses that posit drone warfare as ‘civilised’. Moreover, the elevated reliance of the UK and US militaries on recruiting players, desensitised to violence and skilled on war-based videogames reminiscent of Modern Warfare, to function drones within the ‘Middle East’, strengthens the connection between ‘Western’ militaries and video leisure industries, thus bolstering the military-entertainment complicated. Given the ever-expanding videogame market, in addition to the US militaries current choice to take a position $50 million into videogame improvement (Thompson, 2019), the importance of war-based video games, reminiscent of Modern Warfare, in producing troopers for ‘Western’ armies, subjugating ‘Middle Eastern’ populations by way of Orientalist representations and rewriting historic and up to date political narratives of battle within the ‘Middle East’, shouldn’t be understated. As a consequence, extra analysis ought to be undertaken to analyse the impact of war-based videogames on the psyche of troopers and potential combatants, significantly in gentle of the rising relationship between videogames and the deadly, and more and more widespread, mode of violence that’s drone warfare.


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Witchalls, Clint (2017) ‘How the US military is using “violent, chaotic, beautiful” videogames to train soldiers’, The dialog. Available at: [Accessed 11th June 2020].

Written at: SOAS University of London
Written for: Arshin Adib-Moghaddam
Date written: June 2020

Further Reading on E-International Relations