2017: The War on Games

Quelle:  The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 15 | Issue 23 | Number 5 | Nov 20, 2017
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Japan Focus.

The War on Games
Sabine Frühstück

2017 and talk of war games is all around us. When The New York Times reported on 10 July of this year that India, the U.S. and Japan had begun “war games,” surely very few readers thought of these war games as actual games. After all, they were designed to have submarines slide unannounced into the deep waters of the Indian Ocean in order to silently take positions near the Indian coastline. When, about a month later, according to The People’s Liberation Army Daily China’s army commanders declared that the mobile phone game Honor of Kings endangered national defense, they were not joking either. They appeared convinced that the game had infiltrated soldiers’ and officers’ daily lives and that their addiction to the game would undermine their combat readiness. Around the world, many similar, and often contradictory pronouncements are made daily.

Roll back about one hundred years. Until the end of the Asia-Pacific War, in Japan at least, “war games” or “heitai gokko” more often than not referred to a range of war games played by children. In such games and pictures, Here, I tell the story of how Japanese children learned to conceive of war as play and how, in the words of a war game manual of 1913, “children’s little wars” connected and interacted with the “grand game”—a term that over the years has referred to both the annual grand maneuvers of the Imperial Army and Japan’s wars in Asia. I describe various modalities of and debates about children’s war play and its rules and regularities in the hills and along the rivers of nineteenth-century rural Japan to the killing fields of the twentieth century. Throughout, children’s war games have shared the qualities of instruction, training, and disciplining, thus embodying the modern notion of “continuous war” that has dramatically gained currency with the centralization of the power to make war, the rise of the nation-state, and the simultaneous marginalization of war to national borders. ....

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