Thursday, September 30, 2010

Morozov: Virtual vs. Real Protests or, Dream on Public Diplomacy 2.0

NYT Virtual vs. Real Protests - Evgeny Morozov, New York Times
Updated September 29, 2010, 08:10 PM

Evgeny Morozov is a visiting scholar at Stanford University, a Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation and the author of the forthcoming "The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom."

The impact of the Internet on activism is twofold. First, the Internet affects conventional activism, usually by making it more affordable and accessible. Second, it gives rise to brand new unconventional “digital activism,” which may eventually displace the older type.

We should not confuse mobilization with organization -- someone still needs to direct the long-term strategy. Social movements – spearheaded mostly by non-governmental organizations – have engaged in activism long before the Internet. Call them “civil society 1.0.” Most such movements are centralized; they have hierarchical organizational structures, pursue well-defined strategic goals, and are run as bureaucracies (even when led by very charismatic leaders.)

For many such organizations, the Internet, with its ability to reach and involve millions of people, is a godsend. Obama's electoral juggernaut is a good example of how a rigid and highly centralized campaign managed to leverage the highly decentralized nature of the Internet to its great advantage.

However, this new ability to mobilize the public around certain issues does not automatically enhance democratic life; had Facebook and Twitter been around in the early 1960s, the Ku Klux Klan would have made great use of them as well. (In the context of non-democratic states, there are many other risks as well: any online campaign to topple an authoritarian government is likely to attract the attention of the secret police, who would be quick to write down the names of all such "digital revolutionaries.”)

Much of the current excitement about the power of the Internet can be explained by its promise to bypass the hierarchies and rigidities associated with the older model of activism and usher in what Hillary Clinton has dubbed “civil society 2.0”: initiatives that are leaderless, decentralized, and not bound by any organizational structures. “The young people who ... have a URL or a Website instead of an office, [who] have followers and members instead of a paid staff, and [who] use open-source platforms instead of having a robust budget," is how another State Department official described these new actors.

It's not clear how effective these new initiatives will prove to be in toppling undemocratic governments or defending human rights. Many of the supposed gains of this new model -- the “Twitter Revolutions” in Moldova or Iran – are illusory and are based on wishful thinking rather than concrete evidence.

From a policy perspective, the question is: do we want to push traditional organizations to make better use of the digital tools or do we want to spend more resources on nurturing new kinds of virtual movements?

If one believes that effective social change, especially in tough authoritarian conditions, can't succeed without getting citizens to participate in old-school political processes – showing up to political marches, risking one's life defying the police, getting beaten up and thrown in jail – then the ability to sign online petitions and retweet links to news articles may not seem impressive. In fact, it may even give the young people living in those countries the wrong impression that politics driven by virtual rather than real protest is actually preferable to the mundane and often corrupt world of traditional oppositional movements.

But we should not confuse mobilizing with organizing. The Internet excels at mobilizing people to rally behind political causes (obviously, not all of them democratic) – but someone still needs to engage in long-term strategic organization.

As Angela Davis puts it, “The Internet is an incredible tool, but it may also encourage us to think that we can produce instantaneous movements, movements modeled after fast food delivery.” And she's right: effective social change requires more than just purchasing cool URLs – someone does need to show up at the office after all.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Propaganda, Rhetoric, and Public Diplomacy

From the thought-provoking book by Evonne Levy, Propaganda and the Jesuit Baroque (2004), Chapter 2, "Rhetoric Versus Propaganda," (passim, pp. 42-71) [highlights by JB]:

[Begin citation] I am compelled to ask the question. Why use propaganda, a distinctly modern category of persuasion, rather than rhetoric, the classical form of persuasion . ...

Rhetoric first appeared as an art of public speaking in the fifth century B.C.E., in the context of the expectation in the Greek city states that a free male citizen be able to speak in the public domain on his own behalf. Throughout antiquity rhetoric remained a civic tool, indivorcible from the vicissitudes of public life ... .

Plato attacked rhetoric in the Gorgias. This dialogue, together with the Phaedrus, gave canonical status in Western philosophy to the opposition between distracting and entertaining rhetoric (which Plato banned from his Republic, along with painting and poetry) and a logocentric philosophy that strives toward truth. ... For Plato, the Socratic dialogue -- spoken one-on-one -- was the only way to arrive at truth. ...

Aristotle (and later Cicero, Quintillian, and the Renaissance humanists) rescued the art of oratory from Plato's adjudication of sophistry as empty and misleading by emphasizing the ethical and logical bases of its practice. ...

[I]n the last three decades of the nineteenth century social scientists and psychologists turned their attention to the susceptibility of the audience in the new study of crowd psychology. This scientific turn to the audience displaced the old psychology of the passions, providing a new psychological foundation for the modern form of persuasion in the offing, propaganda. It also ... laid the ground for propaganda to replace rhetoric as the dominant theory of persuasion. ... For the era of the crowd a new category of persuasion had to be invented that was different from previous forms of persuasion because of the conditions of modernity. ...

There are two strains in the history of the rejection of rhetoric. First is the philosophical rejection of rhetoric that dates back to Plato's time and which resurfaced periodically up to and during the nineteenth century. In the face of all challenges, rhetoric remained firmly at the center of philosophical discourse. Second is the actual rejection of rhetoric, its elimination from school curricula in the late nineteeenth and early twentieth centuries. Here Plato's wish was granted. Or was it? ...

[R]hetoric played an indispensable role in the [ancient Greek] polis: as the supplement, rhetoric was critical to the definition of the polis itself. And thus we are left with two questions. At the end of the nineteenth century has the polis sufficiently redefined itself that rhetoric is no longer necessary? To this one could answer that it is striking that it was precisely the democratic societies of the nineteenth century, which for the first time most closely approximated the ideal of the Greek city-state, that saw rhetoric as a threat. It is equally striking that rhetoric's demise was immediately followed by the emergence of an alternative form of persuasion: namely, propaganda.

What to make of this emergence? With rhetoric now cast out of schools, where the formation of the nation was taking place, what message did this send to the educated classes about how to communicate in the public realm? Is it possible that this public, no longer trained in rhetoric, was left more vulnerable to a new form of communication that had persuasion as its principal role? ...

And here is where the crux of the matter lies: while all propaganda, as a particular strain of persuasion, can be said to be rhetorical ... the same cannot be said in reverse: not all rhetoric is propaganda. ...

While propaganda has taken over from rhetoric ..., it is not simply a modern form of rhetoric. For the rhetorical tradition was far more complex, aligned at times with logic and also encompassing a poetics. ... Propaganda keeps its eye on its primary role: efficacious persuasion. And it does so without recourse to a legitimating discourse of either logic or poetics. [End citation]


See also, in connection with these citations, John Brown, "Two Ways of Looking at Propaganda," USC Center on Public Diplomacy (2006); "Public Diplomacy and Propaganda: Their Differences," American Diplomacy (2008); "Public Diplomacy: The World Should Be Teaching Us, Mr. Kristof," (Huffington Post, 2010)

Cultural diplomacy best wins hearts, minds

Cultural diplomacy best wins hearts, minds Source: Global Times [22:19 September 20 2010] Comments

By Harvey Dzodin

Earlier this year at the National People's Congress, Premier Wen Jiabao stated in his government work report that China will attach more importance to cultural development to enhance the international influence of Chinese culture.

This is just the latest confirmation that China recognizes that it has to enhance its global image by the exercise of soft power.

Soft power is what a nation can exercise to make itself loved, as opposed to hard power, which is about making itself feared, think military. The concept was first developed in 1990 by Joseph Nye, a former Dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, who I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago.

Reports in the Chinese press suggest that a major salvo in China's soft power initiative is about to be launched at any moment. China has asked a group of 50 Chinese opinion leaders including the omnipresent Yao Ming, Lang Lang and Jackie Chan, to make 30-second image commercials, together with one 15-minute commercial to, according to the State Council, present an image of "prosperity, democracy, openness, peace and harmony" as a counterweight to neutralize negative stereotypes coming from foreign media.

These may be good to show in embassy waiting rooms and at public events, but as a media campaign they will have about the same effect as the recent "Made in China" campaign, which barely made a ripple worldwide. In any case, they are worth a try.

I also think that the massive spending in upgrading CCTV News and CRI will bear little fruit as most of the public see them as sources of propaganda, rather than information. Maybe 10 years ago this might have been an investment well made but in today's world of unlimited Internet, there are so many other news sources that are more trusted. Xinhua News may however have a better shot at being successful. With their vast resources, they have the possibility of being as effective as, say, Russia Today or Al-Jazeera if they are seen as reporting the news objectively.

I believe that cultural diplomacy will best win hearts and minds. Take the Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an who are serving China better today as softpower ambassadors than they ever served the first emperor of China,Qin Shihuang, as hard power soldiers in the afterlife 2,300 years ago. They have conquered record-breaking crowds and created positive buzz everywhere they have marched.

In 2007, they caused a sensation at the British Museum. Despite staying open until almost midnight, the museum had to lock its gates and turn away overflow crowds. When the warriors returned home the following spring, they had drawn a record 850,000 visitors.

I remember going to the National Gallery of Art in 1976 in Washington and seeing the exhibition Treasures of Tutankhamun which amassed an audience of 836,000 people over 117 days. This phenomenon was nothing new. When the King Tut relics went on display in the 1920s, they caused a sensation and even upended the fashion world in Europe and North America.

Another tool that will pay huge dividends are Chinese film productions and co-productions.

Hollywood loves one thing: other people's money. And in China there is lots of it. In turn Hollywood can share its century of successful production, marketing and distribution.

Other elements of cultural diplomacy that I believe will be successful are the ever-growing number of Confucius Institutes worldwide. Care, however, must be exercised in academic settings where some may charge that they are propaganda sources, not learning tools.

Also, audiences love live performances, including superstars like Lang Lang. This includes wushu from the Shaolin Temple and elsewhere, Chinese acrobats, circus performers and gymnasts. I believe audiences would thrill to master classes, lessons and just meeting these ambassadors of good will if they could be scheduled accordingly.

Finally, though it's decidedly low cost and low tech, good old fashioned pen pals via Internet or snail mail can make a huge impact. I remember the excitement of having a pen pal in Sweden and in the Congo, as well as the frustration of waiting months for a reply.

Now replies travel at the speed of light.

The author is former director and vice president at ABC Television.

Sound Advice

Advice for freshmen from the people who actually grade their papers and lead their class discussions , New York Times:

Devices have become security blankets. Take the time to wean yourself.

Start by scheduling a few Internet-free hours each day, with your phone turned off. It’s the only way you’ll be able to read anything seriously, whether it’s Plato or Derrida on Plato. (And remember, you’ll get more out of reading Derrida on Plato if you read Plato first.) This will also have the benefit of making you harder to reach, and thus more mysterious and fascinating to new friends and acquaintances.

When you leave your room for class, leave the laptop behind. In a lecture, you’ll only waste your time and your parents’ money, disrespect your professor and annoy whomever is trying to pay attention around you by spending the whole hour on Facebook.

You don’t need a computer to take notes — good note-taking is not transcribing. All that clack, clack, clacking ... you’re a student, not a court reporter. And in seminar or discussion sections, get used to being around a table with a dozen other humans, a few books and your ideas. After all, you have the rest of your life to hide behind a screen during meetings.

—CHRISTINE SMALLWOOD, Ph.D. student in English and American literature at Columbia

Friday, September 24, 2010

Important Article on Public Diplomacy: Ras - My Dirty Hands Problem

17 a.m.
Useful bits on telling stories
Friday, September 24, 2010
Ras: My Dirty Hands Problem

 “To have a sound moral code, a leader needs to engage in an open and ongoing way the moral and practical life that surrounds him.” Joseph L. Badaracco Jr.

In the aftermath of World War II Jean-Paul Sartre wrote a play called Les Main Sales (Dirty Hands) in which the protagonist, a true believer in his cause, sets out to assassinate a duplicitous political leader in a fictional country for what seem excellent reasons. Things turn out to be not so simple, however. For one thing the would-be assassin discovers when he gets up close as secretary to the politico that the target is a pretty good guy. This situation, in which morality seems to belong to opposing sides of an issue, has become known in philosophy as a “dirty hands problem.”

With Banned Books Week arriving September 25, it occurs to me that book banning is essentially a dirty hands problem. Let me explain. It’s easy to feel righteous in opposing the banning of books. Who in America ever uses the word “censorship” in a positive way? In fact, one subtextual meaning of Banned Books Week is clearly National Librarians’ Feel Good Week.

But maybe things are not as simple as Censorship Bad, Open Stacks Good. Should libraries make all books available to readers of all ages? Should 10-year-old lads, for example, be able to sign out Fanny Hill? Perhaps lines need to be drawn, principles articulated, and tough calls made. Perhaps the role of public institutions in providing content to the masses is inherently different from what we’d expect from private institutions.

These thoughts are rattling around in my brain as I recall a time when I found myself playing the role of censor, one that doesn’t suit me at all. Still, I learned to eat my spinach and liver as a boy, and sometimes you just do what you have to do.

Here’s the background: I was once head of a State Department public-diplomacy office that published books about the USA for foreign audiences. Let’s not use the word “propaganda,” but just say that all our content was designed to create a positive perception of this country. One of the ways we’d done that for many years was to repurpose content from the private sector; we selected the best of what was being thought and said in America and published it overseas – or so I liked to think.

My troubles arose just after we’d produced an acclaimed book called Writers on America. For this project we’d commissioned 15 big names (the likes of Richard Ford, Julia Alvarez, Billy Collins, Michael Chabon) to write an essay on what it means to be an American author. It was such a hit that five years after publication a pirated Chinese edition was a top ten best-seller in China. The State Department’s field posts that distributed the books – embassies, consulates, information resource centers – clamored for more like this. In the afterglow, my staff and I conceived an ambitious project, an anthology of poetry, essays, and fiction by the best young American writers. It would have been a kind of 20 under 40 project, years before the New Yorker editors cooked up the idea conglomerating the best fiction by writers under age 40.

We solicited writers’ names from experts, hired readers to recommend suitable selections, and filled a filing cabinet with potential content. Excellent stuff in my view. We were just about ready to proceed with buying copyrights to the works we wanted when I pulled the plug. Why?

There was one big problem. About half the pieces we were considering contained more profanity or graphic sex than I was comfortable with. Let me distinguish here between me as myself (virtually unshockable, tolerant of free speech to a fault) and me as a publisher working for the U.S. government in the Bush administration.

As I was pondering the profanity problem, a Bush appointee in the Department of Health and Human Services took away a grant to a Vermont public television station that had done a show on the book Heather Has Two Mommies. Karen Hughes, an Under Secretary of State at the time and my boss if you went three levels up, had just declined to continue funding Hi magazine, a State Department magazine aimed at young Arabs. I was not privy to her reasoning on why this project had to end, but I know that it did not help Hi's chances that the first month Hughes arrived on the job, there had been a fusillade of conservative-columnist outrage at an article about “metrosexuals” that the magazine’s hip young New York-based editor had run.

We did consider bowdlerizing the pieces for our anthology in various ways. But somehow a story with lots of bleeps and blankety-blanks did not do it for me. The profanity and the sex in most cases seemed integral to the literary effects. And what kind of free country would the USA be if our most avant-garde literature were peppered with asterisks?

So I did what all good bureaucrats do: I put the project on hold. Which so far as I know – I’ve moved on to other things since then – is where it sits today.

Analyzing this decision afterward, a decision I still do not feel good about, I realized that while the Bush appointees set a framework for decision-making that influenced me, it wasn’t really an ideological approach to culture that governed here. When the Obamaites arrived years later with a new set of mantras, I did not rush to the filing cabinet to revive our pet project. No, by then I knew that no administration could be expected to attempt to explain the value of book like this once Rush Limbaugh started ranting about it on the air. In retrospect, I can see that Sophocles might say the whole idea for this project is permeated with hubris.

Years later I read a book by Harvard Business School professor Joseph L. Badarraco Jr. titled Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose Between Right and Right, and I began to understand the situation I’d groped my way through. Badaracco is big on what he calls “right versus right decisions.” He plumbs the wisdom of Aristotle, Machiavelli, Nietzsche, and other big thinkers to help leaders analyze the thickets of these kinds of decisions.

Machiavelli was the most helpful. The leader of an organization has a responsibility above all, says Machiavelli, to keep the organization alive. Therefore he does not have the luxury of simply applying his own moral principles, whatever they may be. He needs to analyze the decision from all angles and weigh the interests of all parties and consider the paramount goal – organizational survival. That's what I did. I only wish knowing that Machiavelli would approve made me feel better.
Posted by RasoirJ at 9:41 AM

Friday, September 17, 2010

Response to Matt Armstrong on the Purpose of Public Diplomacy

Comment on Matt Armstrong's latest blog, "Demonstration of sincerity matters in public diplomacy"

"Hi Matt,

As always a pleasure to read your blog.

Regarding your eye spasm caused by the statement that 'sincerity is what matters most in public diplomacy,' perhaps this aphorism by de La Rochefoucauld could be an at least temporary cure for what ails you: 'hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.'

Re your '[t]he purpose of public diplomacy is to highlight the incongruities in the adversary’s words and deeds,' I would only comment that this definition is somewhat too narrowly focused, and is only a minor element (in my view as a former PD practitioner), of truthfully telling the world about America and expanding international understanding. May I refer to the article you were kind enough to mention in your blog, 'Public Diplomacy and Propaganda: Their Differences.'

Thank you for all you are doing to highlight the importance of public diplomacy in international relations.

Best wishes, John"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Cultural Diplomacy survey

Message from American University

A Cultural Diplomacy survey!

We would like to invite you to participate in a brief survey on cultural diplomacy. Found here, the survey is open-ended and should not take more than a few minutes to complete.

This is an exploratory survey, with the purpose of inviting past, present, and future professionals in the field of cultural diplomacy, both active and retired, to briefly reflect on some key dimensions of diplomatic practice, as they understand it, with particular concern for the role of "culture" in this work.

The survey is a follow-up to the rich discussion of a conference held in Washington, D.C. last November, called “Culture’s Purpose and the Work of Cultural Diplomacy.” Organized for the International Communication Program of American University's School of International Service by professor Robert Albro and colleagues Craig Hayden and Ambassador Anthony Quainton, and with the support of the Public Diplomacy Council and the MountainRunner Institute, this conference examined the role of the culture concept in the work of cultural diplomacy.

Further details, as well as a complete conference podcast and full texts of presentations, are available for download here.

The survey is also part of our preparations for a second conference, on cultural diplomacy as a listening project, to be held at American University, November 8, 2010.

Your answers to this brief survey will be integral to planning for this year’s event, and will help to inform the broader discussion we seek to maintain with respect to this important form of engagement. We hope you might take a few moments to add your wisdom and insights to this critical conversation. If you have any questions about the survey, please do not hesitate to contact professor Albro at:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Iraq, Propaganda and Public Diplomacy: A View from Africa

Troop withdrawal mere propaganda - Sam Makinda, Business Daily Africa: "Whatever the spin, propaganda or public diplomacy, as it is sometimes called, people of good conscience will always regard the invasion of Iraq seven years ago as an unnecessary war that has left the country ruined, millions of its innocent citizens killed, maimed or displaced, and a large number of American and British families mourning or living with relatives who have been physically, emotionally and mentally destroyed."

Towards An Interactive Goebbels: Can Propaganda Videogames Be Made More Effective And Is Resistance Futile?

JB note: Found on the web: This interesting, but somewhat troubling, essay, with implications for public diplomacy.

Towards An Interactive Goebbels: Can Propaganda Videogames Be Made More Effective And Is Resistance Futile?

By Gamasutra [08.31.10]

"Obviously, there's plenty of room for abuse here, and the relative opacity of the designer's assumptions and biases (compared with print) could make computer games a greater source of mischief than enlightenment. Goebbels was so frightening because he had a pretty good grip on how to use modern media for propaganda purposes. Right now, we're all too dumb to figure it out. Someday we'll have our interactive Goebbels."

Chris Crawford (Peabody, 1997)

"The German Jews were reasonably well tolerated in 1920 but within a few years they came to be not merely abused by the Nazi regime, but despised by much of the German population" (Sutherland, 2009:52). It is probable that this came about due to some of the psychological characteristics of groups. "In the terms of the psychologist's trade, any group to which a person belongs is an in-group, those to which he does not belong are out-groups" (Sutherland, 2009:44). There is a recognised "tendency for attitudes within a group to go to extremes and [for] the development of prejudice towards out-groups. Such prejudice has probably caused more misery throughout human history than any other factor. It was partly responsible for the last world war: at the very least Hitler's in-group slogan 'Herrenvolk' helped to get the German people behind him and to support the Anschluss" (Sutherland, 2009:54). The notion of the superiority of the in-group defined as the Germanic people and the implicit inferiority of other groups such as Jews was a vital part of the consolidation of power under the Nazis. How were the German people led to consider themselves as part of this in group and lead to believe that the prevailing opinion was in favour of Nazism and all the evils it led to? The answer to this question and to that of Hitler's baffling rise to office is that they were led by the power of propaganda. In Nazi Germany, no man wielded propaganda more effectively than Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda.

This essay will only cover propaganda videogames, not propaganda efforts in other mediums. A brief overview of propaganda is given in Appendix 1. It may seem that propaganda videogames are a trifling thing, an academic curio with no potential to affect thought in "a skeptical, propaganda-weary world" (White, 1952:539). Those that would dismiss the potential impact of propaganda would do well to remember that, although the world has changed since the dark days of the Second World War, we are still in many respects the same people as our ancestors were. Sutherland speculates that "because of a lack of evolutionary pressure to increase rationality, the sophistication of our technology has far outrun the evolution of our brains" (Sutherland, 2009:231). It is self-evident that information communication technology currently evolves much more quickly than human minds and cultures do. It is precisely the fact "that people are very much less rational than is commonly thought" (Sutherland, 2009:231) that allows propaganda to work. Given that Goebbels work created the conditions which lead to the death of tens of millions, Crawford's prophecy is not to be taken lightly. The intentions of this essay are as follows:

To give an overview of propaganda and current propaganda videogames
To provide a heuristic that can be used to detect propaganda videogames
To consider what could be done to make propaganda videogames more effective
To discuss whether resistance is possible and whether any such resistance is futile
In discussing these matters, it seems sensible to start with a brief overview of what propaganda is and the role it has played throughout history.

Propaganda has been defined variously as "the art of persuasion" (Loar, 1990:53), "a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group" (Bernays, 1928:52), "an expression of opinion or action by individuals or groups, deliberately designed to influence opinions or actions of other individuals or groups with reference to pre-determined ends" (Miller, 1939:13). There are certainly commonalities between all three of these definitions. For the purpose of this essay, the definition used will be based on that given by Baruch Hazan in his 1982 work, Olympic Sports and Propaganda Games: "Propaganda is the carefully planned, systematically conducted, centrally coordinated and synchronized process of manipulating symbols, aimed at alerting human response and engendering uniform behaviour of large social groups, behavior expected to produce immediate and effective results, compatible with the specific political interests and goals of the propaganda source" (Hazan, 1982:8). However, there are a few necessary alterations that must be made to reflect the current state of propaganda.

Since the publication of Olympic Sports and Propaganda Games in 1982, the world has changed. The price of electronic goods has fallen dramatically, meaning that almost anyone with enough spare time can create professional quality media products. The number of Internet users has increased exponentially, meaning that a large global audience can be reached with minimal effort and outlay of capital via the World Wide Web. The rise of Al-Qa'ida has shown that organisations with decentralised leadership models are viable political forces. In light of these factors, propaganda efforts in favour of a cause need no longer be centrally coordinated or synchronised. That the behaviour expected as a result of propaganda occurs immediately is not necessarily true either. In fact Hazan directly contradicts this point when he states that "sometimes results are expected to be of a long-term nature. This is the realm of impregnational propaganda" (Hazan, 1982:11). Finally, while it is probably correct that effective propaganda is carefully planned and systematically conducted, it is not necessarily true that all propaganda is. Even if "the bulk of propaganda activity is carefully planned and preconceived" (Hazan, 1982:9) this does not mean that all of it must be. The resulting definition is as follows: "Propaganda is the ... process of manipulating symbols, aimed at alerting human response and engendering uniform behaviour of large social groups, behavior expected to produce ... effective results, compatible with the specific political interests and goals of the propaganda source" (Hazan, 1982:8).

It has been said that propaganda has existed since prehistoric times, "perhaps as far back as cave paintings, with their spiritual intent in relation to the hunt" (Loar, 1990:53). Almost any object, event or statement can be used for propaganda purposes provided that the propagandist is successfully able to present it so that an audience perceives it in the desired way. Every extant field of human endeavours has been used for propaganda purposes, with science, art and industry all taking centre stage in propaganda efforts at one time or another. "Drawing up a list of propaganda instruments seems an impossible task, simply because everything and anything can be used as an instrument of propaganda" (Hazan, 1982:10).

It is possible to categorise propaganda in any number of ways, for example via the political goal, the choice of medium or the audience targeted. Each of these approaches has advantages and disadvantages. I believe that when the study of propaganda is the goal, the best method of categorisation is comprised of the function the propaganda is intended to fulfil and the accreditation of the propaganda. Broadly speaking, propaganda can either reinforce the status quo, disrupt the status quo or counter other pieces of propaganda that disrupt the status quo. The terms, white-, grey- and black-propaganda are used to denote whether the source of the piece is identified, absent or falsely purported to be one other than it is (Herz, 1949:483). The advantage of this approach over others is that it allows equal comparison of output aimed to further any socio-political notion, across any media, towards any audience and produced in any period, while remaining relatively impartial. This base form can easily be displayed visually as a graph, given as it consists of only two components, and can easily be expanded by the inclusion of a Z axis, for example the time scale the propaganda is designed to act within. It should be noted that while the status quo alters depending on the time and place of exposure to the propaganda in question the accreditation of the source generally does not. If we take the example of modern day Britain, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion would be considered to be a piece of disruptive black propaganda. In the case of Nazi Germany, where it was made a mandatory piece of reading for students, it would be considered to be reinforcing black propaganda.

While it may seem absurd, propaganda does work. It draws much of its power from irrationality and attempts to "appeal to our emotions rather than to our reason" (Miller, 1939:27). The modern forms of propaganda are particularly successful and were pioneered by George Creel. In 1916, prior to the entry of the United States of America into the First World War, Creel worked as an electoral agent for the incumbent candidate, president Woodrow Wilson. Wilson achieved a narrow victory, running under the campaign slogan "He kept us out of the war". When the USA entered the war in April 1916 Creel persuaded Wilson of the necessity of founding a propaganda bureau, The Committee on Public Information. By the close of the war, two and a half years later, American support for the war was resolute and widespread. (Axelrod, 2009:ix - x) Following the war, many CPI members oversaw the birth of the modern advertising and public relations industries. "Hitler's propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels used the CPI as a model for guiding his propaganda efforts before and during [the Second World War]" (Axelrod, 2009:218). In more recent times, the 2003 Invasion of Iraq was justified by propaganda statements, "I have made it clear that the purpose of any action should be the disarmament of Iraq. ... Regime change in Iraq would be a wonderful thing. That is not the purpose of our action; our purpose is to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction" (Blair, 2002). Even in the 21st century, propaganda retains immense power to shape opinion and reality

Propaganda holds sinister connotations in the public mind and is commonly associated with authoritarian dictatorships, warfare and deception. While it is true that "propaganda is associated with conflict" (Miller 1939:15), this can just as easily be a conflict of ideas as a physical conflict. Propaganda is in itself a neutral tool of communication, although as it relies on mass dissemination it could be considered to favour the powerful and the populist. Some commentators put forward the notion that "propaganda, the organized dissemination of information and ideas for the purpose of influencing attitudes and behavior, is vital to the proper functioning of democracy" (Carlebach, 1988:11) and others go as far as to say that in a democracy it is inherently positive as some "[pieces of propaganda] represent new thought. Out of new thought come better ways of living and working together" (Miller, 1939:22). That propaganda is vital to a healthy democracy is debatable. On the one hand, if a democracy is a state governed by the consent of the people then it is necessary to guide actions via persuasion, not coercion, this being the role of propaganda. On the other hand, is government by consent really possible when voters can not access information which is not mediated by powerful vested interests? As Axelrod puts it, our choice of leaders is "strongly influenced by what can only be called propaganda, and we are therefore left to contemplate whether self-government is only an illusion and democracy, in any real sense, actually impossible" (Axelrod, 2009:225).

There is frequently an understandable confusion between propaganda and both advertising and education. There are, on the face of it, similarities. The public relations and advertising industry stems directly from the CPI, with many CPI members acting as its pioneers after the First World War. However, propaganda is persuasive speech designed to further political goals, whereas the intention of advertising is to sell a product or service. One is created to cause actions to further political goals and the other is created to cause actions that result in financial benefits. As for education, "it is useful to maintain a difference between education and schooling. Simply, schooling is a process of moulding and fashioning minds and behaviour according to the interests and beliefs of some particular group. Education may be defined in terms of its potential to challenge and to suspend all such vested interests, and beliefs" (Schostak, 2008). In short, schooling can be propaganda and education can not.

If we consider that "anything capable of influencing a person's emotions and behavior can be used as a vehicle of the propaganda message" (Hazan, 1982:13) it comes as no surprise to find that games and play have been used propagandistically since antiquity. Some play forms exist as a pure propaganda form, for example the Kwakiutl potlatch, which is "a great solemn feast, during which one of two groups, with much pomp and ceremony, makes gifts on a large scale to the other group for the express purpose of showing its superiority" (Huizinga, 1955:58). Roman gladiatorial games acted as an affirmation of the state and the gods (Huizinga, 1955:74) and "in Ancient Greece, the stadium games [illustrated] the ideal of the city and [contributed] to its fulfillment" (Caillois, 1961:66). More recently The Landlord's Game (Magie Phillips, 1924) was a propaganda game designed to expose the way in which landlords unscrupulously profited from tenants. The Soviets went to great lengths to secure and promote the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. It was hoped that they would be a propaganda "instrument capable of evoking admiration for the winners and the social system that [had] produced them, and promoting further interest in other facets of this system" (Hazan, 1982, 18), which led to events being fixed and cases of blatant cheating being ignored. The Landlord's Game and the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games share a common point. Both were failures as pieces of propaganda, with negative effects on the causes they were meant to assist. The Landlord's Game inspired Monopoly (Darrow, 1935), the game of naked greed and insatiable capitalism, which went on to reach a much larger audience than its predecessor. The Moscow Games started in humiliation for the USSR, with a number of countries boycotting them, ostensibly in reaction to the 1979 Invasion of Afghanistan, and ended in ignominy, when television cameras caught several athletes cheating.

I have previously taken inspiration from Bernard Suits and defined videogames as sequences of unnecessary virtual obstacles, deliberately created for players to voluntarily attempt to overcome (Suits, 2005:55). This is accurate, in so much as it is what videogames necessarily are, but it is also reductive and ignores many other elements of videogames, which may well be partially responsible for their popularity and success. Propaganda videogames in particular showcase the limitations of this kind of reductive approach. These non-gameplay elements convey a good deal of context and emotional content that are key to propaganda. They provide a good number of the symbols which are manipulated to impress a position upon players. Further, as videogames are interactive, the way they frame information they transmit to the player is bound to influence the player's response and therefore the interaction cycle. Therefore, it is much more useful, for the purposes of this essay, to consider videogames as a gestalt containing, but not limited to, interactive, audiovisual, ergonomic and narrative elements.

Some commentators seem determined to cast all videogames as propaganda, arguing that "video games represent a powerful instrument of hegemony, eliciting ideological consent through a spectrum of white supremacist projects" (Leonard, 2003:1) and that "video games, in disseminating stereotypes, in offering bodies and spaces of color as sites of play, and in affirming dominant ideas about poverty, unemployment, crime, and war, contribute to the consolidation of white supremacist power" (Leonard, 2003:6). Mass media could be considered to present a modern mythology. In the case of one-sided propagandist film productions co-funded by political entities, such as the United States Department Of Defense, it is no doubt true that certain groups, particularly Arabs, are often dehumanised and depicted in degrading manners (Jhally, S., 2006:00:26:09-00:31:16). This does not mean, however, that all films produced in the United States consolidate anti-Arab sentiment. Leonard's argument is weakened by its tendentious nature; his decision to focus on sports which are disproportionately popular in the USA, such as American football, baseball and basketball, while ignoring the global situation, where association football dominates; and the desire of fans to play as their real-world sporting heroes, regardless of their ethnicity. While the notion of the entire canon of video games being devoted to the promotion of white supremacy is clearly risible, it is certainly true that games have the potential to be "a powerful medium to disseminate ideologies" (Leonard, 2003:8).

At some level, videogames do unavoidably represent a viewpoint. "Even if a game designer does not intentionally control the philosophy behind the game, one will exist anyway, just as in film" (Konzack, 2009:34). However, this does not make a videogame a piece of propaganda, as propaganda is created with the intention of influencing political situations and few videogames are designed to do this. At some point, due to the way videogames function, a bias must exist. Videogames run on computers and the programming languages used to operate computers do not allow for ambiguity, meaning that videogames must at some point have certain definite elements or properties. This does not mean videogames are monosemous, as they can still be interpreted differently by different audiences, just that certain parts of them are of a fixed, non-negotiable nature. Of course, propagandists might consider the unavoidable inclusion of bias as an attractive mask to hide their intentions behind.

Propaganda videogames have existed for some time but they have never really achieved much mainstream success. The one exception, is America's Army (US Army, 2002), which is considered by some to be "first and foremost meant as an advergame ... A dimension of AA closely related to AA as a strategic communication tool is the notion of AA as a propagame. This dimension may be arbitrary to some and refers more to the propagation of Army values, mostly derived from the advergame dimension, than to the political connotation of propaganda" (Nieborg, 2004:5). Although America's Army does function in a manner akin to traditional military recruitment techniques, what is forgotten here is that these 'advertisements' are really propaganda of one sort or another. In my opinion, America's Army is an example of reinforcing white propaganda, which has achieved moderate success. Partly this is due to its mainstream appeal and its free availability online. "By November 2003 it already had 2.3 million users; by November 2006 the number had increased to over 6.7 million and it was the fifth most used computer game on a global scale at the time" (Ottosen, 2008:33). Partly this is due to it being well targeted at a specific, appropriate demographic, "young people who use few news articles and television news" (Ottosen, 2008:34) and who are therefore susceptible to "a one-sided, militaristic and propagandistic presentation of world events" (Ottosen, 2008:34). Whatever the reasons for its popularity, the project has been a success."In a survey given to youths aged 16 to 21, 29% said that ‘America's Army' was the most effective method of generating interest (Petemeyer, 2004)" (Ottosen, 2008:33). It seems reasonable to assume that the success of America's Army raised an interest in the use of propaganda videogames among powerful groups around the world.

Not all propaganda games are as easy to identify as America's Army. It is commonly claimed that "we are fooled by propaganda chiefly because we don't recognize it when we see it" (Miller, 1939:26) but there are points which stand counter to this argument. According to some studies, "attitudes of individuals who are well informed regarding the character and purpose of propaganda and who may at the same time approach it analytically can, nevertheless, be positively influenced by the materials studied ... [and] the inhibitory quality of the kind of insight with which these subjects approached the propaganda has apparently been overrated in the past" (Collier, 1944:16). This is not entirely surprising. In relation to media effects, Anderson, Gentile and Buckley make the point that "adults all "know" that advertisements are fake,yet they still work" (Anderson, Gentile and Buckley, 2007:52). While being able to detect and analyse propaganda does not inoculate an audience to its effects, it still seems to go at least some way to helping them to resist it. This is not the only reason it is useful to be able to determine whether a specific videogame is a propaganda game or not. This is also a useful ability for both those who want to make propaganda videogames and those who want to study them.

It should be stated clearly in advance that it is almost impossible to determine for certain whether a videogame is propaganda. Some videogames might be considered propaganda by some persons and not others. Indeed, as noted above, some commentators even believe all videogames to be propaganda. This problem is exacerbated by the existence of grey and black propaganda. A piece of white propaganda is often easily discovered by the simple expedient of considering if the creator might have a political interest in the player reacting to the artefact in a certain way. Grey and black propaganda make this harder by a huge amount by occluding the providence of an artefact. Unless it can be determined who is responsible for the work then it can be difficult to tell if it has been deliberately constructed with the intention of being used as a piece of propaganda or not. Propagandists desire that rather than opposing or negotiating with a text players will come to the preferred reading, "[they are] very much concerned about how a specific solution is to be evoked and "put over"" (Lasswell, 1927:628). By analysing the structure of a videogame and the way various elements are deployed within it we can make a reasonable estimate as to whether or not it has been created for propaganda reasons.

Before proceeding, it is important to offer a brief caveat about underlying messages in games. It is possible to mistakenly reach the conclusion that a game contains a message, if we are determined to find one, and to construct a coherent argument from noise, if we are so minded. One might claim that Quake II (iD Software, 1998) is a piece of propaganda designed to dissuade players from purchasing animal products. The Strogg keep captured humans in tiny enclosures which drive them insane; the humans are transported by train to various parts of Stroggos as needed; medical experiments are carried out on humans for the benefit of the Stroggs; humans are slaughtered systematically and their corpses mechanically processed for nutrients and materials, which also leads to industrial pollution; certain enemies wear flayed human skin; the final enemy, the Makron, is even seen to wear a fur based outfit; player armour is produced from non-organic materials; the level of gore shown throughout the game might be in place to put players off red meat; the one-man-army nature of the player character might be intended to symbolise that the player's individual choices vis-a-vis animal products mattered and could make a difference. Almost all of these statements could be inverted, or marginally altered, to justify the notion of Quake II as a piece of propaganda designed to promote the use of animal products. Of course, the game could also be designed to appear to give one message but to cleverly subvert it in service of the other. In reality, the film The Guns Of Navarone (Thompson, 1961) inspired the game (Kushner, 2003:238). Whether the example I have given is convincing or not, the point stands. If there is not a message immediately apparent in a videogame, it does not mean there is not one there and that no further analysis should be undertaken but, equally, it is of no use to attempt to discover a message at all costs, where none may exist. Little credence should be given to those who seek to exploit videogames for their own propagandistic purposes, by forcing their favourite rhetoric into their analysis regardless of how appropriate it is.

It is sometimes considered that scientific study may help us to determine whether we are faced with propaganda, particularly that which is not explicit in or expressed as if it is the product of deliberation. "The deliberative attitude is capable of being separated from the propagandist attitude. Deliberation implies the search for the solution of a besetting problem with no desire to prejudice a particular solution in advance. ... And though the most subtle propaganda closely resembles disinterested deliberation, there is no difficulty in distinguishing the extremes" (Lasswell, 1927:628). While it is true that a scientific comparison of a video game and the reality it portrays is unlikely to appeal to propagandists, who"often ... [do] not want careful scrutiny and criticism"(Miller, 1939:22), it is not particularly useful beyond the initial stages of analysis. It is unreasonable to expect entertainment games to be subordinate to reality and to be designed with accurate representations considered to be more important than players enjoyment. It could even be argued that videogames should follow the logic of stories and drama rather than that of everyday life. In some respects, including as many aspects of quotidian reality as possible might cause players to believe they have a greater degree of agency within a game and believe that a game mirrors reality closely. This could potentially make them more likely to believe a propaganda message that a videogame contained.

Videogames are not created in a vacuum. Designers are normal, imperfect humans and can base their decisions on incorrect information or even propaganda. If, as some claim, "journalistic neutrality exists only in the minds of reporters, rather than in actual practice" (Dimaggio, 2008:53), then it is unreasonable to judge designers for reflecting the reality conveyed to them by other media sources. A high level of academic education does not seem likely to prevent the absorption of misguided views; "Doctors [were] active participants in the Nazi project, and joined Hitler's National Socialist Party in greater numbers than any other profession (45 percent of them were party members, compared with 20 per cent of teachers)" (Goldacre, 2008:218). Further, a videogame might just be accidentally designed so that it can easily be interpreted as putting across a distasteful message when none is intended, as with the hyperbole fuelled furore surrounding Resident Evil 5 (Capcom, 2009). All people are liable to make mistakes, to be naïve, to act irrationally and to carry the weakness of prejudging others. It seems unlikely that behaviours that have dogged humanity for millennia are likely to disappear soon. We should not vilify designers for their fallibility. "He that is without sin among [us], let him first cast a stone at [them]" (John 7:53-8:11, King James Version). Instead, we should ask how we can learn from their mistakes and avoid unintentionally passing our prejudices on to others.

With the necessary warnings and clarifications dispensed with, we can now begin to attempt to determine how we can recognise if a videogame is a piece of propaganda. It is my contention that by trying to answer the following series of questions in the order they are presented we have a reasonable chance of identifying propaganda videogames.

1. Does the game contain any explicit underlying messages? This has to be considered in terms of what might be transmitted by ludic elements, such as the lusory goals and the implementation of score systems, the way objectives are given, the deployment of aesthetic elements and even the degree of agency a player has. It would perhaps be wise at this point to briefly examine whether or not areas of the game correspond with factual accounts given by objective sources. For example, in the controversial trailer for Resident Evil 5 the ethnicity of the majority of the characters accurately reflected the region the game was set in (Tarver, 1996:5).

2. Is the message expressed coherently throughout the game? It seems that a propaganda videogame will be more likely to express any underlying message coherently, whereas a videogame that has not been designed to convey an underlying message will be more likely to contain points which jar with the message.

3. Do the various elements which carry the message have to be the way they are? It is important to separate out which elements that carry the message are there due to intentional design decisions and which are there due to genre conventions or technical constraints. This requires a firm grasp of the technical aspects of the production of videogames. This may seem elitist but it is entirely necessary. "An understanding of technology and its development is needed to understand why games look and play as they do, and have developed as they have ... How artistic decisions are shaped by technological compromises needs to be understood by game researchers before assumptions regarding game design can be made" (Perron and Wolf, 2009:12).

4. How are various groups and ideas presented? If a specific group is constantly portrayed in either a negative or positive way then it is possible that we are faced with a propaganda videogame. If the portrayal of the group in question is manifestly untrue or overtly racist then the likelihood that the text is a piece of propaganda is higher.

5.Who has commisioned the game? This information may of course not always be available or reliable, as in the case of grey and black propaganda. Where accurate information is available, it greatly aids categorisation. Of course it can not be relied upon as a sole method of judgement. For example, a political group could release a non-propaganda videogame with the intention of amassing capital to help further their general aims.

6. To what extent do they stand to gain from players absorbing the underlying messages? What would be the net benefit to the commissioner if changes or actions advocated by the videogame were enacted? The more likely the commissioner is to benefit directly from the changes a game advocates, the more likely it is that the game is a propaganda videogame. This has to be considered from the perspective of the commissioner, regardless of whether it is accurate or not. A propaganda videogame that opposed immigration to the United Kingdom would be considered to benefit those who espouse anti-immigration views, even though the prevention of such immigration would remove an amount of the healthcare provision available to such persons (Butler, 2008). It should also be noted that this line of enquiry would prevent subversive propaganda messages inserted by disgruntled members of the development team leading to an entire videogame being incorrectly considered as propaganda. SimCopter (Maxis, 1996) did not become a propaganda videogame when Jacques Servin included his infamous Easter egg. Servin felt that the game presented a heterosexist image of the world, so he decided to counter this by secretly including semi-clad Adonii who embraced and kissed each other. However, the raison d'etre of the game was still to make money, not to act as a piece of propaganda, so it should not be considered a propaganda game.

7. Does the message make sense in this context? If the message does not make sense in the context of the commissioner's political goals then it seems likely that it is an accidental inclusion rather than a deliberate propaganda statement.

8. If the commissioner is not accurately identifiable, does the message act as political speech in favour of or against a recognisable viewpoint? If it is impossible to determine the commissioner then it may be necessary to rely on matching the message to a recognisable viewpoint. This is not an entirely accurate process but it may at least yield some clues as to whether a specific videogame is likely to be a propaganda message and who has arranged for it to be created. While it is possible that a propaganda videogame could be made that reflected the views of such a small group it was near-impossible to fit the message to a commonly recognisable viewpoint, this seems statistically unlikely. Of course, the less extreme a viewpoint is, the more possible culprits will exist, so a reliable and exact determination of the author of black and grey propaganda remains unlikely.

9. Is the message expressed using time-honoured propaganda techniques? This, if anything, is likely to be the 'smoking gun' when trying to determine if we are faced by a piece of propaganda. If we encounter a political message expressed using such techniques it seems reasonable to assume it is a piece of propaganda.

Although heuristics like the one given above can never be perfectly accurate they often work well enough for everyday use. Determining propaganda from non-propaganda is a difficult task given that propagandists often like to play down their persuasive intentions and even disassociate themselves from their creations, as in grey and black propaganda. However, if propaganda videogames are so difficult to detect compared to propaganda produced in other mediums, why has this medium not been successfully targeted more by propagandists?

Briefly, propaganda works as follows. Each person is equipped with an absorption screen, "a finely tuned mechanism for distinguishing and classifying information, including propaganda messages. This mechanism represents an abstract reflection of one's personality and immediate environment and serves as a filter determining whether the propaganda ... is to be immediately rejected ... or absorbed and processed" (Hazan, 1982:14). For propaganda to be effective, "penetration of the absorption screen is a precondition (but not a guarantee) [of success]. Conditioning the audience's outlook ... is an important aspect of propaganda and a factor improving its chances of success. This activity may be defined as impregnational propaganda ... Impregnational propaganda aims at conditioning the audience's absorption screen for succesful penetration by operational propaganda messages" (Hazan, 1982:15). If the propaganda message can get past the absorption screen it then encounters the personality screen. "This is the laboratory producing the propaganda output - opinions and actions. There is mutual interdependence and influence between the propaganda message and the personality screen. While the personality screen rearranges, simplifies and classifies the message ... and incorporates it into its value system (or completely discards it), the message itself may weaken or strengthen the personality screen components ... and sometimes even rearrange the entire structure of the personality screen" (Hazan, 1982:16). When propaganda succesfully alters an opinion, "the opinion conditioned by propaganda may either be that prescribed by the propagandist or combine some of the message's elements with the personality screen's components. In both cases the opinion produced is of little value to the propagandist unless it leads to the anticipated behavior ... A side effect sought by the propagandist is conditioning of the audience's personality screen so that its response to operational propaganda may be foreseen, easily stimulated, and effectively directed" (Hazan, 1982:16-17).

Current propaganda videogames do not tend to be particularly effective compared to historical propaganda in other mediums. In part this is perhaps because they have not reached a large enough audience. The most probable inspiration for future propaganda games, America's Army, can be considered an exceptional success because it has reached a global mass market, widely disseminating the messages the game carries. It would also be reasonable to suggest that the relative youth of the medium is partly responsible for the lack of success of current propaganda videogames. Games could be considered to have a low source credibility for most of the population. They are not generally considered to be a window on reality or a source of unbiased information in the way that documentary films are, even by the young people who Ottosen claims draw their "knowledge about the world ... from entertainment in movies and games" (Ottosen, 2008:34). What needs to be remembered is that "in the 1930s, documentary [photography] was associated with a certain approach to subject matter [and] ... an intention to ... influence public policy. Objectivity was not the goal of the documentary movement in the thirties; in fact, interpretation and comment were understood to be essential to the act of photographing" (Carlebach, 1988:12). All three of these problems seem likely to recede with time. Current propaganda videogames are, however, generally flawed, in that they ignore both time honoured propaganda techniques and accepted game design principles. If the primary goal of the architect of a propaganda videogame is to create effective propaganda, then it might be a sensible idea to design the game around the techniques that have historically made propaganda successful.

It is my contention that it is quite easily possible to improve propaganda games and alter them to make propaganda intake more effective. Obviously, propaganda games should use all appropriate elements of game design as effectively as they possibly can. "Simulations can express messages in ways that narrative simply cannot, and vice versa" (Frasca, 2003:225). However, it is equally important to avoid making mistakes which are detrimental to a propaganda message. For example, in terms of their effects, neo-Nazi games such as Ethnic Cleansing (Resistance Records, 2002) are, at best, likely to confirm racist belief. "The game does, on the other hand, state that racism is about murdering innocent people, and in that respect, the game unintentionally serves as a warning against this ideology" (Konzack, 2009). Further, the fact that the game is crude, deeply ignorant, poorly designed, aesthetically lacking and technologically backwards, inadvertently pours scorn on the neo-Nazi notion that its creators are highly intelligent supermen due to their inheritance of the finest genetic stock. Most people regard neo-Nazis as fools and Ethnic Cleansing will only confirm this opinion. Propaganda games that are badly designed not only risk failing, they also risk failing spectacularly in public and drawing negative attention to a position. Below are collected some methods and notes about design that I think could be used to make propaganda games more effective. They are not intended to form an exhaustive list, rather they are a collection of what I believe to be salient suggestions.

The most important factor that is missing from many existing propaganda videogames is enjoyment. Audiences are not attracted to media they find "boringly repetitious, obviously propagandistic, and therefore dull" (White, 1952:541). If audiences are not attracted to propaganda or if they are not exposed to it long enough for it to have an effect then its creation has been in vain. The cardinal sin of propaganda videogames is poor game design. A well designed game is likely to lead to a greater number and length of play sessions. In the case of Chinese propaganda posters it has been claimed that "most people liked the posters for their composition and visual content, and did not pay too much attention to the slogans printed underneath. This allowed the political message of the posters to be passed on in an almost subconscious manner" (Landsberger, 2008:16). It seems unlikely that the message of neo-Nazi games such as ZOG's Nightmare (Ramm, 2006) will be given any audience beyond those who are already ardent believers. Most people will be deterred from playing the game by its obvious message of hatred. Even if they were not, it seems that if they were to play the game they would be unlikely to do so for long, due to its exceptionally low quality.

Incredibly enough, ZOG's Nightmare was followed by a sequel, the imaginatively titled ZOG's Nightmare II (Ramm, 2008). The content of the game shows a similar paucity of imagination, repeating the themes and content of its predecessor. Were ZOG to be a real entity, as opposed to a paranoid delusion, one would presume that it would remain untroubled by these Nightmares. Potentially, Ramm could have recognised the short comings of his first game and altered the design to make it a more effective propaganda device. The first step would have been to remove all explicit links to Nazism and racism, including the title, so as to reach a wider audience. Ramm could then design game based around racist beliefs, without arousing the suspicion of many players. For example, if Ramm had designed a squad based tactical game, akin to the X-Com series, he could have programmed the game so that attributes of recruits were always in line with his racist beliefs. Even if the attributes that players could see did not appear to follow a pattern, it would be possible to allot an invisible 'Luck' bonus, depending on the degree to which Ramm approved, or disapproved, of a group. Thankfully, the reserves of ignorance that Ramm possesses proved amply capable of extending beyond genetics, encompassing game design as well.

Repeated extended play should be considered as a must for games designed to work as impregnational propaganda. Of course the ability to generate repeat play sessions could be augmented by morally dubious methods, such as designing games so players would become addicted to them. There is such a wealth of literature on addiction and video game techniques designed to maximise both repeat plays and 'coin drop' on arcade games that further discussion of this matter is beyond the scope of this essay.

One game design technique which increases the pleasure of players and may have benefits for propagandists is the inclusion of an adaptive difficulty system. Adaptive difficulty "is likely to improve the experience that any game gives and to prevent the player becoming frustrated with a game" (McClure, 2009a). It also has the advantage of increasing the likelihood of a 'flow state' occurring (McClure, 2009a). I would speculatively put forward that players might be more receptive to a propaganda message while in a trance-like flow state, as with the results of experiments involving post-hypnotic suggestion (Remmers, 1938:203).

Propaganda games should be designed so that they will be received well by a large but specific audience. This may essentially mean that a popular style of game is generally a better choice as more people are likely to want to play it. It is important to alter, localise and target different groups as necessary. "Every cultural group has its vested values. ... An object toward which it is hoped to arouse hostility must be presented as a menace to as many of these values as possible. ... If the plan is to draw out positive attitudes toward an object, it must be presented, not as a menace and an obstruction, nor as despicable or absurd, but as a protector of our values, a champion of our dreams, and a model of virtue and propriety" (Lasswell, 1927:630). It is especially important groups with high numbers of potential converts are targeted appropriately. "The marginal man in propaganda is the man who does not believe every-thing we say, but who is interested in our message because he does not believe everything our opponents say either. In war, he is the man who distrusts us and has reasons for fighting, but who also has good reasons for not fighting. He is the potential waverer. ... The concept of the marginal propaganda man may be a useful one for peacetime propaganda also. Too much output may be addressed to persons who already agree with us" (Herz, 1949:475). Herz states that "It is an axiom of all propaganda of the written word, of course, that the language must be truly that of the recipient and that any queerness of idiom severely detracts from the effectiveness of the message" (Herz, 1949:478). Certainly, a message put across in a manner or register alien to its intended target is likely to be either overlooked, ignored or mocked.

One aspect of videogames which holds enormous propaganda potential is the use of simulations. Simulations consist of three main elements: "the source system, the model and the simulator. Let's use the example of a boat simulation. The source system is ... the Titanic. The experimental frame is the "set of conditions under which the system is observed or experimented with". For example, if our simulation was performed in order to understand how the Titanic worked, the experimental frame would focus on the characteristics of the boat as a machine ... For this purpose, some characteristics, such as the price of a first class cabin or the number of eggs in the kitchen, would be excluded" (Frasca, 2001:22-23). When users encounter the simulation they interpret it to derive meaning from it. "Different interpretations are caused by the particular experience that each player had with the model. Interpretation not only depends of the idea that the observer has from the source system, but also from the idea that the observer has from the model" (Frasca, 2001:31).

Of course, if the simulation is weighted in such way as to make certain outcomes more likely then, if these outcomes are unopposed, certain interpretations are more likely. Simulations designed in this way could be considered as a particularly good example of what Frasca's collaborator Ian Bogost refers to as procedural rhetorics. "Procedural rhetoric is a general term for the practice of authoring arguments through processes" (Bogost, 2007:28-29). Bogost posits that "In the case of procedural rhetoric, it is useful to consider interactivity in relation to the Aristotelian enthymeme. The enthymeme ... is the technique in which a proposition in a syllogism is omitted; [the audience] is expected to fill in the missing proposition and complete the claim. Sophisticated interactivity can produce an effective procedural enthymeme" (Bogost, 2007:43). If a propaganda videogame can position an audience member in such a way as for them to believe they have arrived at a conclusion about a source system by themselves then it is likely to prove effective. If a large swathe of the audience come to hold such a belief and it is thus reinforced and internalised as 'common sense' then the propaganda will be extremely effective. Perhaps one way in which sex education classes could be reinforced would be to increase the effect, number and necessity of protective and preventative items in videogames, making their use become 'common sense'. It could be argued that September 12 (Frasca, 2003) attempts the feat of using an enthymemic argument to lead players into believing they have reached a conclusion for themselves. Players fire missiles, civilians die and terrorists are created by civilian deaths. In the game, using force directly creates more terrorists. The player is positioned so as to consider it better not to shoot. If Frasca did not intend players to reach a predefined conclusion, then he could be criticised for the fact that his experimental frame is so limited as to make the result of the simulation almost inevitable. However, even if Frasca refers to his work as a 'news' game, it is quite clear that the intention of the game is to foist one opinion upon players, not to report facts and events. 'Newsgame', in this case, appears to be a euphemistic way of saying 'propaganda game'.

When addressing the response of audiences to simulations, Frasca discusses the role perspective plays, drawing on Roland Barthes to give an example based around a book. "While the book itself will remain the same as a physical object, two readers will have a different exposure to the text if one of them systematically skips certain chunks. ... What happens is that the idea (interpretamen) that they have of the text is different. ... Thus, both share the same representamen (the book), but different interpretamens (the text as crafted by their different readings). The interpretant (their personal interpretation) could be the same or different - but it is likely that the more their interpretamen differs, the more different will be their interpretant" (Frasca, 2001:40-41). Frasca then gives an example related to painting. "The cathedral in the French city of Rouen is famous for having been painted by Monet at different times of the day and the year, each one of them being different in color and shades. If somebody sees the cathedral in a single photography, her interpretamen will be different -and narrower- than Monet's, who was able to perceive the same object under various lightning conditions. The cathedral (representamen) is still the same, what changes is the way light reflects on it and its perception by different observers." (Frasca, 2001:41) However, this is not strictly accurate. A person who has spent enough time in Normandy will be able to use their experiences and memories to construct a reasonably accurate mental image of the cathedral under any weather conditions and at any time of day. More intriguingly, as Rouen cathedral faces South, someone who approaches the paintings of the cathedral with a mental image based on the English model where "churches are nearly always oriented so that the main altar is at the east end of the church, facing Jerusalem" (Ross, 2010) could assume that Monet had not accurately captured the play of light. It is often considered that "propaganda must always reflect reality" (Landsberger, 2008:17) but this is not so much true as that propaganda must always reflect reality as its intended audience conceives of it, if it is not to be rejected. This explains why audiences in Nazi Germany reacted favourably when "Hitler's fifty-first birthday was celebrated with a stamp which showed the Fuhrer patting a little girl's cheek in the kindly peace-loving, and avuncular manner often emphasized by his propagandists" (Lauritzen, 1988:71). In the interpretamen of the intended audience, Hitler was a noble protector of an embattled Germanic people who had always desired peace. "Historical data indicate that the German people wanted peace, and that Hitler was therefore being realistic as a propagandist when he started, in 1933, his heavy verbal emphasis on peace. He could still effectively prepare them to support a war of aggression by firmly establishing in their minds a dichotomous, "paranoid" world-picture. This strategy was effective for three reasons, the chief of which was that it predetermined the way in which a believing Nazi would perceive any ambiguous crisis-situation" (White, 1949:174). This is true even when the truth is more favourable to an argument than the belief of an intended audience. "Although it was true that prisoners in American POW camps received eggs for breakfast ... this notion was so preposterous to the Germans on the other side of the firing line that they simply laughed at the idea. Since this discredited the balance of [the] message, it became [a] favorable truth which [the Americans] learned to suppress" (Herz, 1949:472). In fact, disruptive propaganda should aim to begin at a point of common ground between the two opposing beliefs, wherever this may be found. "In order to find any common ground at all, to find a point of departure for the psychological manipulation of the enemy, it may even be necessary to select a point of his own creed on which to register agreement" (Herz, 1949:480). If a game is intended to persuade its audience to a specific viewpoint then, as stated above, it is necessary to 'speak' to them in their own 'language' and to begin from a point that they can agree with and believe in.

Propagandists generally have a desire to push players away from an oppositional reading and towards the preferred reading of a text, or if this is not possible, towards a negotiated reading. (Chandler, 2001). It has been argued that "the player and not the designer who decides how to use a toy, a game, or a videogame. The designer might suggest a set of rules, but the player has always the final decision" (Frasca, 2001:14). In the most literal sense of things, this is true. Within the limits of what it is physically possible for them to do, a player can choose any goal or activity for the use of a toy or game, or indeed any object. In practice though, Frasca has downplayed the power of the designer's suggestions. I might very well choose to act in defiance of the designer of a carving knife by gripping hold of the blade and using it as a hammer but I am unlikely to enjoy this. Game designers can push players towards certain activities by designing alternatives to be dull, unrewarding and even, in the case of button bashing, physically painful. Often this would be seen as a poor use of development resources and a pointless addition to a game. Why deliberately include unenjoyable content that players will avoid unless they have no choice in the matter? However, in the case of propaganda games this is likely to be an extremely useful technique. Players can be given a large amount of agency and the choice of acting in a manner directly contrary to the message the game is designed to push on to them. They will find that they do not enjoy acting in such a way, subtly reinforcing the negative connotations of such activities while pushing players towards the preferred reading.

If a propaganda game allows players insufficient agency or includes seemingly arbitrary events then they are likely to reject it. In Oiligarchy (Molle Industria, ca2008), players take on the role of the CEO of an oil company. Players are not allowed to diversify into renewable energy sources, as many such companies are doing. If players do not use up all the oil in the world by a certain point but still manage to generate enough energy to avoid game ending penalties, the game ends arbitrarily, effectively forcing a loss on players. The net result of this is that the game comes across as being laughably one-sided, leading to players rejecting it outright.

Historically, propaganda has tended to work in part by inflaming and appealing to the emotions of its audience. There is no reason such techniques can not be used in propaganda videogames. In fact, it could be considered that due to players' desire to achieve certain goals and avoid certain penalties gameplay "is instilled with emotions, from fierce to mild in their intensity" (Jarvinen, 86). Propaganda games designed with the intention of creating a desired emotional response may be more effective than those where no such response is considered. For example, "John Baldrica of UCLA suggested that agency creates the opportunity for regret, an emotion that can only be achieved through personal culpability" (Pearce, 2005:3). Regret, remorse and guilt are extremely powerful and long lasting emotions that can motivate corrective actions. If such emotions can be evoked by a propaganda videogame they seem likely to be particularly effective. A person who strongly regrets his actions and inactions might become determined not to repeat such mistakes and thus more likely to be active than passive.

Classic videogame elements such as the pursuit of a high score, score multipliers, lives and ludic goals are all easily manipulated to carry a message. In a game, any condition or action which leads to the player's overall success is considered a desirable action (Frasca, 2001:48-49). For the player, actions which result in penalties are to be avoided and actions which result in rewards pursued. The nature of these rewards can construct a moral position with great ease. Consider an imaginary game where players take on the role of American UAV operators and compete to receive a high score by eliminating insurgents in Afghanistan. The position on a global high score in this game represents the player's military rank. By altering the result of civilian deaths we can express a position about the American operation in Afghanistan and the role of these weapons in this campaign. Penalising such actions suggests that American forces would try to avoid killing civilians, which is almost certainly true. However, the magnitude of this penalty in relation to penalties for failing in other goals, for example failing to protect American ground forces, allows the presentation of much more subtle and persuasive propaganda messages. If one American soldier's life is worth that of fifty civilians then players will become much more likely to fire before confirming they are legitimate targets than if the two lives are given equal value. A similar approach could be given to the victory conditions in a real time strategy game. For example, victory could be determined by the accrual of points, the quantity of which would alter depending on the side the player chose to play as. This would reflect the value attached to casualties and the stances taken regarding them by the news media of various countries.

An advantage of using 'old-school' arcade games as a model is that they are often quite hectic. The results of one study found that "distraction increased yielding to propaganda by inhibiting counterarguing. The major result was independent of the extent of threat conveyed by the communication and of perceived personal influence with respect to the communication issue" (Osterhouse and Brock, 1970:344). If a game can be used to distract a player while they are being indoctrinated, it seems more likely that the indoctrination will be successful.

In summary, it seems that there are a number of immediately apparent steps available to be taken that will increase the effectiveness of propaganda games.

Propaganda games should appeal to their desired audience in terms they can understand, believe and agree with. Widely known facts should not be ignored and arbitrary conditions should not be forced upon players, for fear that they will reject the work outright.
Propaganda games should be made more enjoyable, and perhaps even addictive, so that they receive prolonged and repeated viewings.
The potential of players emotional responses should not be ignored.
Propaganda should be included subtly and made to appear to be a natural part of a game.
Game mechanics, particularly rewards, penalties and ludic goals, should be used to drive players towards specific, desired behaviours.
The way in which game mechanics are contextualised should be used to both express a position openly and to enhance any message they are designed to convey.
Games should be designed to discourage oppositional readings.
Wherever possible, propaganda messages should be encoded as an enthymeme in the gameplay itself, rather than as an additional message tacked on in the form of narrative.
All possible elements of the game should be used to increase the likelihood of provoking the desired response in players.
Videogames are already a mainstream mass media (Appendix 1). If videogames continue to grow in popularity then it seems likely we will see many more propaganda games in future. "As research continues, we should keep our eyes on the horizon for the first video-game propaganda masterpiece. ... Although one has not yet emerged, it is helpful to remember that 34 years lapsed between the invention of the Kinetoscope and Serge Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin (1925). When such a game is created, we can only hope that it looks more like Casablanca (1941) than Triumph of the Will (1934)" (Delwiche, 2007:105-106). Given the potential of videogames as powerful pieces of propaganda the arrival of this game seems inevitable. Can anything be done to resist this game, its predecessors, and its potential ancestors? Is any such resistance futile?

Two strategies appear to be available to those who wish to resist a specific propaganda videogame. The first is to create a counter-propaganda game. This would require them to create a propaganda videogame designed to be more effective than an opponent's game and to then disseminate it more widely than the game it was designed to oppose. The second is to mount denunciation campaigns. This would require a large scale campaign to expose the opponent's game as a piece of propaganda designed to influence the player's actions. This might involve making any number of public appeals targeted individually at "the intelligent citizen [who] does not want propagandists to utilize his emotions, even to the attainment of "good" ends, without knowing what is going on" (Miller, 1939:31), at the sceptic and her sister the cynic, and even at the narcissist receptive to a hysterical approach centred on the desire of others to prevent his free will from being exercised. One option would be to release a document that combined a walkthrough and a critical analysis that detailed the propaganda techniques at work in the opponent's game and explained how symbols had been manipulated in the attempt to influence players' actions.

It appears that any strategies aimed at opposing specific propaganda videogames may be inherently flawed. "Experiments concerning events in contemporary politics ... show that corrective information ... may fail to reduce misperceptions and can sometimes increase them for the ideological [groups] most likely to hold those misperceptions" (Nyhand and Reifler, 2010). Nyhand and Reifler found that experimental subjects were "less likely to accept contradictory information than information that reinforces their existing beliefs" (ibid). This is perhaps related to the confirmation bias, which comes about as "people tend to seek confirmation of their current hypothesis, whereas they should be trying to disconfirm it" (Sutherland, 2009:100). Research has also shown that, given the choice, " individuals whose confidence in a belief has been shaken by exposure to propaganda opposing their beliefs prefer to hear arguments from their own side in order to bolster their confidence and ... that given opportunity to participate in a free discussion group after the exposure, these individuals tend to listen preferentially to persons who agree with them and to ignore the arguments of their opponents, with the consequence that their confidence in their opinion tends to return toward its initial level" (Brodbeck, 1956:170). "Propaganda is essentially an offensive weapon" (Herz, 1949:475), and, in the case of effective propaganda, a strong first-strike is a massive advantage that is extremely difficult for opponents to nullify. ""Whoever speaks the first word to the world is always right," Goebbels stated flatly"(Doob, 1950:435)."Ineffective enemy claims [require] no reply, since a refutation would either give them more currency or else be a waste of propaganda energy" (Doob, 1950:430) Some go further, claiming that nearly all direct rebuttal is worthless, regardless of the nature of the opponent's work, as "in general, to deny a lie disseminated by the enemy is in most cases merely to give it additional circulation ... every denial of a flagrant lie lends it a certain dignity that it did not possess before" (Herz, 1949:474). Such denials may even act as a trigger to what is commonly called the "Streisand effect", "a primarily online phenomenon in which an attempt to censor or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of causing the information to be publicized widely and to a greater extent than would have occurred if no censorship had been attempted" (Wikipedia, 2010).

To some extent, it can appear that properly constructed propaganda is unassailable. "A convincing one-sided communication presenting only positive arguments will tend to sway many members of the audience farther in the direction advocated by the communicator. However, when these persons subsequently hear the opposite point of view, also supported by cogent-sounding arguments, their opinions tend to be swayed back in the negative direction ... But if the initial communication is, instead, a two-sided one it will already have taken into account both the positive and negative arguments and still have reached the positive conclusion. [The] listener is then subsequently ... less likely to be influenced by [counterpropaganda]" (Lumsdaine and Janis, 1953).

Given that resistance to individual propaganda videogames seems to be a difficult, if not impossible, task, perhaps those that wish to resist propaganda games would be well served by resisting all propaganda games, which seems, perversely, an easier task. Of course, many of those who have an interest in resisting specific propaganda games will also have a vested interest in the continual existence of effective propaganda games, so they will no doubt reject such a notion. Perhaps though, for those who intensely dislike propaganda or worry about its potential outcomes, it is possible to prevent the rise of our hypothetical interactive Goebbels by pre-emptively working to make the production of effective propaganda videogames much more difficult. I believe there are a number of ways that this is possible. Whether this is desirable is another matter, as is whether it is ultimately futile.

In his widely read thesis, Videogames Of The Oppressed, Gonzalo Frasca proposes that by allowing more users to create and modify videogames and by explicitly showing them the workings of games it would be possible to create "a new way of experiencing simulations ... where the goal of the player would be to analyze, contest and revise the model's rules according to his personal ideas and beliefs" (Frasca, 2001:113). It seems reasonable to suggest that Frasca's proposal might act in some ways to make videogames less potent as a medium of propaganda. Historically, "the culture of information was a pyramid, with propaganda originating at the top and flowing down in a widening cascade from a single source. At least since the proliferation of the Internet and all that is associated with it beginning in the early 1990s, the culture of information has been collapsing, the pyramid flattening out. In the future it will increasingly approach the intellectual geometry of a perfect plane ... and in a flat world, propaganda ... will finally become impossible because all information will be available to everyone at all times" (Axelrod, 2009:226). If we consider access to technology and the ability to use it in place of information then we can see that Frasca's proposal might lead videogame development in a similar direction.

However, such open access does not solve the problem of propaganda videogames. It may even intensify it to some extent. Although the simulation literacy that such a project might imbue participants with would no doubt be useful, it would not immunise them to the effects of propaganda. Almost all adults in Britain are capable of writing, yet virtuoso authors are still rare. Not everyone can write stories well, so why would we expect everyone to be able to design games well when they arguably involve many more potential elements? If we accept the axiomatic truth that some people would be better at designing games than others then an uncomfortable series of conclusions follows. In a meritocratic system, those who were best able to design games would be the most likely to attract an audience. As referred to previously, it is possible to be influenced by a piece of propaganda even though we are aware that it is a piece of propaganda. Therefore, enormous power could be granted to an ideological bloc that was able to influence the best game designers to create games proselytising for it, whether by payment, persuasion or even coercion. Black propaganda would be less conspicuous and all propaganda would be more easily hidden behind the seemingly democratic nature of videogame production. If a self-regarding, self-perpetuating and highly nepotistic elite emerged in games design, as seems likely given the way such an elite already exists in other fields such as journalism (Gogarty, 2008), then they might well use their status to promote the work of the members and associates of their group to the exclusion of other voices. Even if there is open access to the creation of videogames, it seems unlikely that the all important channels of distribution and promotion will become truly open and equal.

Another way in which propaganda videogames could be resisted is in the promotion of critical thinking and rational thought among the target audience of such games. I would propose that instead of following the route Frasca proposes, of creating games and game authoring tools designed to foster critical thinking through discussion, it would be possible to design videogames in which the use of critical thinking was necessary, either to achieve success or to achieve optimal results in terms of both success and enjoyment. This could be coupled with an approach in which it was made clear that while we must rely on and aid others, we can not always trust them, even if they do not seem to prevent a risk.

In the past I have proposed that future videogames should be designed to require the use of what was previously called 'social intelligence'. More precisely, I wrote that when dealing with non-player characters it should be imperative for the player to have to consider the following: "Is the information I am being given correct at its most basic level? What is the character's motive for giving me this information? Is the character lying to me, equivocating or telling me the truth to the best of their knowledge? Is the character's culture or the position they are in altering what they tell me?" (McClure, 2009b). The error of this piece was its narrow focus on the player's interactions with virtual characters. Instead, the player should have to question every information source in the game, particularly those whose accuracy and authority we blindly take for granted in everyday life. This would hopefully make players more effective at assessing evidence by giving them ample time to practice this skill. It would also hopefully lead them to them questioning the content of games, the veracity of sources of information and the motives of others as a learned response. It is an interesting coincidence that games designed purely around the use of 'social intelligence' seem to also be suited to the work of resisting propaganda. I believe such games might also prevent players lowering their absorption screen during the safe activity of play as they would come to associate videogames with trickery. Further research and the conduction of rigorous experiments related to this hypothesis might prove fruitful.

A number of academics and designers seem to possess a desire to create videogames that are not just powerfully expressive but that also represent "factual realities by laying bare the logic of a core system" (Bogost and Poremba, 2010:8). In Bogost and Poremba's paper Can Games get Real? A Closer Look at "Documentary" Digital Games they argue that games are as valid a documentary medium as any other. "What you see in a documentary is not the subject itself, but a representation of the way the subject is constituted, the experiences available and foreclosed to the subject. Even if the end product is presented as non-fictional, the subject in a documentary is nevertheless different from the actual referent being documented" (Bogost and Poremba, 2010:8). "Further, we must also examine the implications of such games in relation to the cultural position of games as entertainment media: devoid of serious consideration, and thus inappropriate by their very nature for actual subjects" (Bogost and Poremba, 2010:18). However, if the push to gain popular acceptance of documentary games is successful then it seems likely that the popular conception of the videogame as a non-serious entertainment medium will alter. Bogost and Poremba do recognise the spectre of propaganda explicitly, stating that one issue with documentary games "is the potential for propaganda; an unsurprising effect of the rule-set as a substitute for the narrator qua voice of God: the Under the Siege/Under the Ash series has been criticized for a biased ruleset of the real events it portrays in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, even as it defends its games as taken from media accounts and primary research (Sisler). But all procedural documentary games need not be propagandist. The procedural frame could be used as a tool to expose and question the game's logic as an ideology of the society the game seeks to expose or critique" (Bogost and Poremba, 2010:13). The paper closes with an argument in favour of documentary videogames and what appears to be a call for more of them to be constructed. "Can we substantiate the argument towards the value of these works: that documentary games reveal new knowledge about the world by exposing underlying systems and embedding participants; that they are naturally reflexive and can build media literacy and cultural critique. Digital games are a popular and powerful medium with a potential yet to be fully explored, and one in which actuality and documentary might still find a place. But to enjoy further success, it must move beyond the mere instantiation of "documentary" as a legacy, and work to define the properties endemic to the genre in digital game form." (Bogost and Poremba, 2010:19-20). Of course, if such documentary games do become wide spread and well respected then they will effectively multiply the effectiveness of propaganda videogames several times over, as people will rely on games as a source of information about the world.

If propaganda videogames become commonplace, it may seem reasonable to presume that game design will benefit. An influx of capital and an increase in the number of games being produced may lead to innovative solutions to seemingly intractable problems and rapid advances in the overall design of games. The field of space exploration leapt ahead rapidly when it became the focus of propaganda battles between the USA and the USSR. Only 26 years after the construction of the V2 rocket, men had landed on the moon. Potentially, advances in technique could be uncovered and popularised by propagandists. In film, the montage theory of Eisenstein was partly disseminated and popularised by the international acclaim of Battleship Potemkin. However, should research uncover valuable truths in the service of a distasteful ideology then it may well be discarded out of hand and potentially 'lost' for decades. "Two researchers, Schairer and Schöniger, published their own case-control study in 1943, demonstrating a relationship between smoking and lung cancer almost a decade before any researchers elsewhere. ... Nazi scientific and medical research was bound up with the horrors of cold-blooded mass murder, and the strange puritanical ideologies of Nazism. It was almost universally disregarded" (Goldacre, 2008:218).

To conclude, we can say that propaganda games have a bright future ahead of them. Consider the following:

Videogames are now a mass media, allowing communication with millions
Propaganda videogames have had some success already, with the release of America's Army. There is no requirement to be the first to risk capital investment in a test project.
Propaganda is particularly difficult to detect in videogames.
Videogames have a largely untapped potential to be extremely effective pieces of propaganda that players engage with for long periods and can even become addicted to. They require a limited investment of time and capital for a potentially infinite return of audience attention.
Propaganda videogames are just as difficult to resist as other propaganda mediums.
Videogames will potentially be legitimised as a factual medium in future, increasing public trust in them.
If we put ourselves in the shoes of propagandists, there are a good number of reasons to invest in propaganda videogames. Effective propaganda has existed in all fields and in all mediums, including videogames. If videogames can be so powerful in the service of propaganda then it seems likely that they can be equally powerful when used against it. However, the propagandists often work under the aegis of powerful backers who seek to influence the public opinion and are able to arrange the widespread dissemination and promotion of propaganda materials. Even in the face of the power of such groups resistance is possible. Perhaps propagandists can not be stopped, but if their influence can be checked and their advances slowed until the information culture becomes more open then this resistance will not have been futile.

Towards An Interactive Goebbels - References

Works Referenced

Anderson, C.A., Gentile, D.A., and Buckley, K.E., 2007. Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Axelrod, A., 2009. Selling The Great War. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Battleship Potemkin, 1925. [Film] Directed by Serge Eisenstein. USSR: Mosfilm. Referenced in Delwiche, A., 2007. From The Green Berets To America's Army: Video Games As A Vehicle For Political Propaganda. In Williams, J.P., and Smith, J.H., ed. The Players' Realm. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc. Ch. 5.

Bernays, E.L., 1928. Propaganda. New York: H. Liveright.

Blair, T. 2002. Debate. 24th September 2002. Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 6th series, vol. 390, col. 17.

Bogost, I., 2007. Persuasive Games. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Bogost, I., and Poremba, C., 2010. Can Games Get Real? A Closer Look at "Documentary" Digital Games [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 17 April 2010]

Brodbeck, M., 1956. The Role Of Small Groups In Mediating The Effects Of Propaganda. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 52, pp.166-170.

Butler,P., 2008. How migrants helped make the NHS. Society Guardian, [Online] 18 June. Available from: [Accessed 17 April 2010]

Caillois, R., 1961. Man, Play and Games. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. Trans. by Barash, M. from (1958) Les jeux et les hommes. Paris: Librairie Gallimard.

Capcom, 2009. Resident Evil 5. [DISC] Multiplatform: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox360. Japan: Capcom.

Carlebach, M.L., 1988. Documentary and Propaganda: The Photographs of the Farm Security Administration. The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, 8, pp. 6-25.

Casablanca, 1941. [Film] Directed by Michael Curtiz. USA: Warner Brothers. Referenced in Delwiche, A., 2007. From The Green Berets To America's Army: Video Games As A Vehicle For Political Propaganda. In Williams, J.P., and Smith, J.H., ed. The Players' Realm. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc. Ch. 5.

Chandler, D., 2001. Semiotics for Beginners: Encoding/Decoding [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 17 April 2010]

Collier, R.M., 1944. The Effect Of Propaganda Upon Attitude Following A Critical Examination Of The Propaganda Itself. The Journal of Social Psychology, 20, pp. 3-17.

Darrow, C., 1935. Monopoly. [BOARDGAME] USA: Parker Brothers.

Delwiche, A., 2007. From The Green Berets To America's Army: Video Games As A Vehicle For Political Propaganda. In Williams, J.P., and Smith, J.H., ed. The Players' Realm. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc. Ch. 5.

Doob, L.W., 1950. Goebbels' Principles of Propaganda. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 14 (3), pp. 419-442.

Dimaggio, A.R., 2008. Mass Media, Mass Propaganda. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Frasca, G., 2001. Videogames Of The Oppressed: Videogames As A Means For Critical Thinking And Debate. M.S. Atlanta: Georgia Institute of Technology.

Frasca, G., 2003. September 12th. [ONLINE] PC. North America:

Frasca, G. 2003. Simulation versus Narrative. In Wolf, M.J.P., and Perron, B, ed. The Video Game Theory Reader. New York, Routledge. Ch. 10.

Gogarty, M., 2008. Max, 19, hits the road [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 18 April 2010].

Goldacre, B., 2008. Bad Science. London: Fourth Estate

Hazan, B., 1982. Olympic Sports And Propaganda Games. New Brunswick: Transaction, Inc.

Herz, M.F., 1949. Some Psychological Lessons From Leaflet Propaganda in World War II. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 13 (3), pp. 471-486

Huizinga, J. (1955) Homo Ludens. Boston: The Beacon Press.

id Software, 1997. Quake II. [DISC] PC. North America: Activision.

Jarvinen, A. Understanding Video Games As Emotional Experiences. In Perron, B., and Wolf, M.J.P., ed. The Video Game Theory Reader 2. Abingdon: Routledge. Ch. 5

Konzack, L., 2009. Philosophical Game Design. In Perron, B., and Wolf, M.J.P., ed. The Video Game Theory Reader 2. Abingdon: Routledge. Ch. 2.

Kushner, D., 2003. Masters Of Doom. London: Piatkus.

Lasswell, H.D., 1927. The Theory of Political Propaganda. The American Political Science Review, 21 (3), pp. 627-631.

Leonard, D., 2003. "Live in Your World, Play in Ours": Race, Video Games, and Consuming the Other. Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education, 3 (4), pp. 1-9.

Landsberger, S.R., 2008. The Rise And Fall Of The Chinese Propaganda Poster. In Taschen, B., ed. Chinese Propaganda Posters.Köln: Taschen GmbH.

Lauritzen, F., 1988. Propaganda Art in the Postage Stamps of the Third Reich. The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, 10, pp. 62-79.

Loar, P.A., 1990. Pondering the Products of Propaganda: Art and Thought on the Periphery. The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, 16, pp. 41-53.

Lumsdaine, A.A., and Janis, I.L., 1953. Resistance to "Counterpropaganda" Produced by One-Sided and Two-Sided "Propaganda" Presentations. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 17(3), pp. 311-318.

Magie Phillips, 1924. The Landlord's Game. [BOARDGAME] New York: Economic Game Company.

Maxis, 1996. Simcopter. [DISC] PC. North America: Electronic Arts.

McClure, D., 2009a. Adaptive Difficulty [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 18 April 2010]

McClure, D., 2009b. Improving NPC Dialogue: the Rashomon Effect and Social Networks [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 18 April 2010].

Miller, C.R.,1939. How To Detect And Analyze Propaganda. New York: The Town Hall, Inc.)

Molle Industria, ca2008. Oiligarchy. [BROWSER] PC. Italy: Molle Industria.

Nieborg, D. (2004) America's Army: More Than A Game?. In Eberle, T., and Kriz, W.C, ed. Transforming Knowledge into Action through Gaming and Simulation Munich: SAGSAGA.

Nyhand, B. and Reifler, J., 2010. When Corrections Fail: The Persistence of Political Misperceptions [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 19 April 2010]

Osterhouse, R.A. and Brock, T.C., 1970. Distraction Increases Yielding To Propaganda By Inhibiting Counterarguing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 15 (4), pp. 344-358.

Ottosen, R., 2008. Targeting the Audience: Video Games as War Propaganda in Entertainment and News, BODHI: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2 (1), pp. 14-41.

Peabody, S., 1997. Interview with Chris Crawford [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 15 April 2010]

Pearce, C. (2005) Theory Wars: An Argument Against Arguments in the so-called Ludology/Narratology Debate. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 19 April 2010]

Petemeyer, K., 2004. Online Army Recruiting Reaches Top 5 List. Army News Service. Referenced in Ottosen, R., 2008. Targeting the Audience: Video Games as War Propaganda in Entertainment and News, BODHI: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 2 (1), pp. 14-41.

Perron, B., and Wolf, M.J.P., 2009. The Video Game Theory Reader 2. Abingdon: Routledge.

Reel Bad Arabs., 2006. [video] Jhally, S. USA: The Media Education Foundation. (Based on the book by Dr Jack Shaheen)

Ramm, J., 2006. ZOG's Nightmare. [DISC] PC. North America.

Ramm, J., 2006. ZOG's Nightmare II. [DISC] PC. North America.

Resistance Records, 2002. Ethnic Cleansing. [DISC] PC. North America: Resistance Records.

Remmers, H.H., 1938. Propaganda in the Schools - Do the Effects Last?. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 2 (2), pp. 197-210.

Ross, D., 2010. English parish churches [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 17 April 2010]

Schostak, J., 2008. Dialogue, Schooling and Education. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 18 April 2010].

Sisler, V., 2005. "Videogames and Politics" Entermultimediale 2, Prague, Czech Republic, 9-12 May 2005. Referenced in Bogost, I., and Poremba, C., 2010. Can Games Get Real? A Closer Look at "Documentary" Digital Games [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 17 April 2010]

Suits, B., 2005. The Grasshopper. Peterborough: Broadview Press.

Sutherland, S., 2009. Irrationality. London: Pinter & Martin.

Tarver, J.D., 1996. The Demography Of Africa. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.

The Guns Of Navarone, 1961. [Film] Directed by J. Lee Thompson. USA: Columbia Pictures. Referenced in Kushner, D., 2003. Masters Of Doom. London: Piatkus.

Triumph of the Will, 1935. [Film] Directed by Leni Riefenstahl. Germany: Reichsparteitag-Film. Delwiche, A., 2007. From The Green Berets To America's Army: Video Games As A Vehicle For Political Propaganda. In Williams, J.P., and Smith, J.H., ed. The Players' Realm. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc. Ch. 5.

US Army, 2002. America's Army. [DOWNLOAD] PC. North America: US Army.

White, R.K., 1949. Hitler, Roosevelt, And The Nature Of War. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 44, pp. 157-174.

White, R.K., 1952. The New Resistance to International Propaganda. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 16 (4), pp. 539-551.

Wikipedia, 2010. Streisand effect [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 19 April 2010].

Additional Works Consulted

Bowlt, J.E., 2002. Stalin as Isis and Ra: Socialist Realism and the Art of Design. The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, 24, pp. 35-63.

Eldersveld, S.J., 1956. Experimental Propaganda Techniques and Voting Behavior. The American Political Science Review,50 (1), pp. 154-165

Frasca, G., 2003. Ludologists love stories, too: notes from a debate that never took place.[Online]. Available from: [Accessed 19 April 2010].

Harris, M.E., 2007. Inside North Korea. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.

Lobanov-Rostovsky, N., 1989. Soviet Propaganda Porcelain. The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, 11, pp. 126-141.

Row, T., 2002. Mobilizing the Nation: Italian Propaganda in the Great War. The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts, 24, pp. 141-169.

Schanck, R.L., and Goodman, C., 1939. Reactions to Propaganda on Both Sides of a Controversial Issue. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 3 (1), pp. 107-112.

Takahashi, D., 2004. Ethics of Game Design [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 19 April 2010]

Appendix 2

Videogames As A Mainstream Mass Media

Videogames have enormous reach. "40 percent of Europeans ... play[videogames for] between six and 14 hours a week" (Alexander, 2008). To date, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Infinity Ward, 2009) has made over one billion US dollars worth of sales (Parfitt, 2010), sold over 14 million copies worldwide (Crowther, 2010) and was "the biggest entertainment hit of [2009]" (BBC, 2010) in the United Kingdom, where it sold 2.9 million copies.

Popularity of Modern Warfare 2 in the United Kingdom

Adherents of various religions in the United Kingdom (2001 census (OFNS, 2003))

Worldwide sales of Modern Warfare (2 November 14th 2009 - 13th January 2010) vs Nominal gross domestic product of various countries (2009 IMF list (IMF, 2010))

In January 2010 Infinity Ward consisted of approximately 110 employees. If the developer was a country, it would have a nominal per capita gross domestic product of over 9 000 000 US Dollars.

The highest per capita nominal gross domestic product in the 2009 IMF list (IMF, 2010) was that of Luxembourg, 104 512 US Dollars.

The figure per Infinity Ward employee is almost five times that of the nominal per capita GDP of all 180 countries in the IMF list added together.

Videogames As Mainstream Mass Media - References

Alexander, L., 2008. Study: Video Games "Mainstream Entertainment" In Europe - Study - Kotaku [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 16 April 2010].

BBC, 2010. BBC News - Music sales 'held firm in 2009' [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 16 April 2010].

Crowther, J., 2010. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is UK's second bestselling game ever [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 16 April 2010].

Infinity Ward, 2009. Modern Warfare 2. [DISC] Multiplatform: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox360. North America: Activision.

International Monetary Fund, 2010. World Economic Outlook Database April 2010 [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 16 April 2010].

Office for National Statistics, 2003. National Statistics Online - Religion In The UK [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 16 April 2010].

Parfitt, B., 2010. Modern Warfare 2 sales hit $1bn Games Industry MCV [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 16 April 2010].