Media Illiteracy and the SonicJihad Debacle

Quick recap: a year and half ago, Reuters reported on a congressional briefing in which modders had turned Battlefield 2 into a terrorist training game. The report confused a lot of people, including Kotaku, because most of the details were incorrect. The truth was, the mod wasn't even a game, it was a satirical send-up that used footage from Battlefield and soundtrack dubs from Team America: World Police. As a participant in the field of game studies, I like to try to evangelise the scholarly pursuit of games as a worthwhile intellectual pursuit. I think this is true not only for scholars in search of publication and tenure, but also for the general public. If we do our job well, we will help games achieve broader recognition and . With that in mind, I want to take advantage of the time I have here this week to share some recent work in the field of game studies. Here's the first, an article by Elizabeth Losh on the Sonic Jihad snafu.

Losh's article analyses the way both consultants SAIC and Congress failed to understand both the technology and their own relationship with it as they investigated the possible threat.

While SonicJihad initially joined his fellow gamers in ridiculing the mainstream media, he also expressed astonishment and outrage about a larger politics of reception. In one interview he argued that the media illiteracy of Reuters potentially enabled a whole series of category errors, in which harmless gamers could be demonised as terrorists.

Artificial Intelligence: Media Illiteracy and the SonicJihad Debacle in Congress [M/C: A Journal of Media and Culture, via Gameology]


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