Security Dialogue Digitized Virtuosity: Video War Games and Post-9/11 Cyber-Deterrence
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(this article cites 6 articles hosted on the SAGE Journals Online and HighWire Press platforms): 2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

Special Issue on Securitization, Militarization and Visual Culture in the Worlds of Post-9/11 Digitized Virtuosity: Video War Games and Post-9/11 Cyber-Deterrence Department of Geography, University of Durham, UK In post-9/11 America, digital war games have increasingly come toprovide a space of cyber-deterrence where Americans are able to ‘playthrough' the anxieties that attend uncertain times and new configura-tions of power. This article seeks to examine the increasingly closerelationship between the US military and the digital-game industry,along with the geographies of militarism that this has produced.
Focusing on the contribution that digital war games make to a cultureof perpetual war and in the manufacture of consent for US domesticand foreign policy, the Pentagon's mobilization and deployment ofdigital games as an attempt to create a modern version of the noblewar fantasy is critically examined. With particular reference toAmerica's Army, the official US Army game, the article seeks to exam-ine the influence of digital war games in the militarization of popularculture and in shaping popular understandings of geopolitics.
digital war games • simulation • geopolitics Introduction: ‘I Got My Kills, I'm Coming Down' Sergeant Anyett didn't want to wait. . A dozen loud booms rattle the sky and smokerose as mortars rained down on the co-ordinates the sergeant had given. ‘Battle DamageAssessment – nothing. Building's gone. I got my kills, I'm coming down. I just love myjob' . . Lt. Jack Farley, a US Marines officer, sauntered over to compare notes with the[US Army] Phantoms. ‘You guys get to do all the fun stuff. It's like a video game' (citedin Harnden, 2004: 1).
MANY OF THE NEWS REPORTS compiled by embedded reporters during Gulf War II contain stories of US troops referring to theirexperience of combat as ‘like a video game'. In the quotation above, from a story written in November 2004 by a Daily Telegraph journalist 2007 PRIO, SAGE Publications, Vol. 38(2): 271–288, DOI: 10.1177/0967010607078552 2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
Security Dialogue vol. 38, no. 2, June 2007 watching the destruction of Fallujah, Lieutenant Farley bemoans the fact thatthe Marines didn't get to do ‘the fun stuff', while Sergeant Anyett of the USArmy Phantoms sounds as if he has just stepped out of a game: ‘I got my kills,I'm coming down'. The war-as-game motif is obviously a very old idea (Stahl,2004), but what is new are the digital games1 themselves, the ‘virtual experi-ences' of distant combat theatres they promise and the kind of stories they tellabout the USA, its technologies and its ‘others'. Games are now beginning tofilter down through the ranks to the lowest levels of infantry soldiers, whilethe broader vision that is being contemplated for digital games at the highestlevels of the Pentagon is also unprecedented (Harmon, 2003).
Today, a walk through the aisles of any digital games retailer ‘can seem like a visit to your local military academy' (Kane, 2005: 1), offering a range of‘grittily realistic' games that seek to represent and celebrate the arts of war. Abig part of the appeal of such games is that most seek to ‘proudly transportthe gamer into immersive, gut wrenching virtual battlefields. They persuadethe gamer that, in an echo of WWII era journalism, "you are there" – on thebeaches of Normandy, in the jungles of Vietnam, in modern military hotspots[like the deserts of Iraq]' (Cowlishaw, 2005: 1). Such games, in a fashion similar to wartime newsreels from World War II, provide a real world hookby offering privileged glimpses from the front lines, and some of the back-grounds in these games are lifted directly from video footage of landscapesin which the US military has recently been engaged (Halter, 2002, 2006).
Since 9/11, a critical analysis of virtual war has become increasingly impor- tant given that many video war-game releases have exhibited a growingdesire to mirror ‘real' world conflict scenarios, particularly the recent US military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thus, game developers oftenturn to the national enemy de jour for ideas. Almost as soon as a new ‘rogue'nation has been identified in Washington, a combat game appears ‘to exploitthe thrilling potential of slaughtering its people' (Deck, 2004: 12). Kuma: War,for example, a tactical first- and third-person episodic shooter game, comesas a set of online PC ‘missions' including ‘Fallujah: Operation al Fajr' and‘Uday and Qusay's Last Stand'. Kuma Reality Games, set up in 2004 by a groupof retired military officers, currently offers 74 missions through a subscrip-tion website and is intended as a reporting as well as a recruiting tool. website also allows for messages of support to be left for thetroops in Iraq, and even invites serving US troops to submit their ownaccounts of gunfights, ambushes and rescues as the basis of future missions.
Although such games are often a valorization of past US military conflicts, their plots have sometimes come to parallel contemporary American geo-politics in ‘rather disturbing ways' (Allen, 2005: 2). The games in question 1 Kerr (2006) suggests that the term ‘digital games' is preferable to ‘video games' since it refers to the entire field and embraces arcade, computer, console and mobile games in all their diversity.
2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
Marcus Power Video War Games and Post-9/11 Cyber-Deterrence involve simulations of guns, explosions, enemies and death. Virtual recruitsdo battle with ‘enemies' from the past or present including communists, terrorists and other assorted ‘evil-doers'. Yet, these (racialized) enemies areportrayed as groups that exist in the ‘real' world, with the Iraqi army in particular very easy to find here, resurrecting the idea of the Iraqi enemy inthe popular imagination of American gamers. As such, American civilianscan enlist and fight in a ‘virtual Iraq' (Stahl, 2004) without ever leaving thecouch. There is a metaphor peculiar to this new crop of war-themed videogames then: ‘that to play is to be a virtual recruit in a war consumed' (Stahl,2004: 151).
Digital games are worthy of critical attention for a number of reasons, not the least of which is their growing popularity and commercial lucrativeness(Berger, 2002). It has been estimated that 75% of US households play digitalgames, with 228 million digital games sold in 2005 alone, effectively twogames for every household (Elkus, 2006). Popular console releases often rivalHollywood films in terms of earnings. Globally, the games industry was saidto be worth $23.2 billion in 2003, which is predicted to rise to $33.4 billion in2008 (DFC Intelligence, 2004). Aside from their profitability, digital wargames represent a powerful medium to explore the ways in which visual culture can be used to elicit consent for the US military and to enable theexpression of militaristic fantasies.
Many games like America's Army (the official US Army game) exist as virtual advertisements for the present and future glory of the US ArmedForces in ways that Frank Kapra, director of the Why We Fight series of sevenWorld War II propaganda films funded by the War Department, could onlyhave dreamt of. As Barron & Huntemann (2004: 3) have argued, currentgames focused on militarism and warfare are similar to the Why We Fightfilms ‘except they've morphed into "how we fight" video games which takesaway from a lot of the other "why" questions, and all the moral questionsthat are connected to that'. Such games, besides primarily serving as anincreasingly effective military recruitment tool and as the ‘next generation ofwartime propaganda' (Halter, 2002: 1) are a kind of ‘shock and awe'2 displayof what the US military is capable of ‘without the consequences of context'(Barron & Huntemann, 2004: 2).
This article seeks to examine the increasingly close relationship between the US military and the video-game industry, and the contribution this has madeto the militarization of US popular culture. In particular, the article exploresthe geographies of militarism that digital war games produce and the rolesthey play in the ‘shaping of civilian space and social relations by militaryobjectives, rationales and structures' (Woodward, 2005: 4). Tracing the con-nections and networks produced by the entanglement between the military 2 As if to underscore this point, console manufacturers Sony controversially tried and failed to register a trademark for ‘Shock and Awe' as the Iraq war was still ongoing.
2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
Security Dialogue vol. 38, no. 2, June 2007 and the digital-games industry enables us to pay more attention to ‘the small,the unremarkable, the commonplace things that military activities and mili-tarism make and do' (Woodward, 2005: 14), and also offers a different pointof entry into thinking about popular, everyday understandings of geopoli-tics. Also of concern here are the cultural geographies of military representa-tion constructed in digital games and the ways in which those gameslegitimize and justify US military interventions or are implicated in the pro-duction of geopolitical discourses of war and security. My aim is to criticallyinterrogate the ‘visual economy' (Poole, 1997) of post-9/11 digital war-gamereleases and the ways in which such games are imbricated in wider militarynetworks of materials, technologies, markets and geopolitical contexts.
Crandall argues that militarization, with its own logic of ordering the world,runs on a productive economy of fear (the fear of an omnipresent enemy whocould be anywhere), but also on an economy of desire, often oriented aroundconsumer products like video games: [Militarization is] tied into the media and entertainment industries and very much aplayer in the youth-driven field of video game culture. It's a powerful rhetorical frameand a machine of territorialisation, indoctrination and recruitment (Crandall, 2005: 20).
In this sense, it is important to bring militaristic issues down to the ‘home-front', dealing with ‘ground level practices of subjectivisation' (Crandall,2005: 18). Digital war games invite Americans to ‘participate in a militarismof consumption and pleasure' (Stahl, 2004: 21), and they do so by presentinga clean, sanitized and enjoyable version of war for popular consumption,obscuring the ‘realities', contexts and consequences of war.
Weapons of Mass Distraction: Towards a Model of ‘Hands Off Killing' All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing – war. (Benjamin, 1968: 241) When we talk about military power in the context of the visual economy ofvideo games, it is necessary to situate this historically (Crandall, 2005). AsDeleuze & Guattari (1987) remind us, a weapon is nothing outside of thecombat organization with which it is bound up. Here, then, it is important totrace the rise of digital war games within what Der Derian (2001) calls themilitary-industrial-media-entertainment network, the post-industrial cousinof the military-industrial complex. Militarism and play have a long history,while war games have taken many forms ranging from large-scale battlefieldexercises to abstract strategy games played with maps, counters and minia-tures (Lenoir & Lowood, 2003). War has been a mainstay of commercialvideo-game culture from the very beginning, and similarly war films have 2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
Marcus Power Video War Games and Post-9/11 Cyber-Deterrence consistently portrayed battle in terms of a heroic and exhilarating game. Inexploring the symbiosis of the relationship between the military and media,Der Derian (2001) outlines the parameters of ‘virtuous war', by which ismeant the virtual (the disembodied simulation) and virtuous (war as clean,good, as surgical, abstract and bloodless). Similarly, Virilio (1997) exploresthe goal of ‘pure war', a dream of a clean, surgical war between disembodiedtechnologies. While the military has concluded that there is no direct correla-tion between video games and an increased urge to kill, games are increas-ingly being used as effective training tools to preach a particular model of‘hands off killing' (Chaplin & Ruby, 2005: 210). Technologies for waging war,then, have undergone vast changes since World War II, while late 20th-century advances in communication technology have also vastly trans-formed the appearance of war (Stahl, 2004).
The video-game industry was born during an era when President Eisen- hower was warning of the dangerous influence of the military-industrialcomplex and of the potential ‘addiction' to military technology and weaponsthat this could produce. The video-game industry grew out of the soil that theUS military began tending in the 1940s when it sought to pump money into‘computational devices' in an effort to improve code-breaking and theartillery-table calculating skills needed during World War II (Chaplin &Ruby, 2005: 202). According to Manuel de Landa (1991), after 1945 Command,Control and Communications (C3) was transferred from the military to theRAND Corporation, which employed John Van Neumann and his game theory to model nuclear dissuasion during the Cold War. Thus, the USnuclear strategy was itself partly defined using war games. During the ColdWar, some of the earliest games like Missile Command presented a ‘proto-realist anxiety narrative about living under the threat of nuclear annihilation'(Galloway, 2006: 73).
The history of video games is complex and multifaceted, while pinpointing the ‘first' computer game is a contested issue centred upon questions of definition and chronology (Kirriemuir, 2006). Many accounts focus on theHingham Institute, sponsored by the Study Group on Space Warfare, whichproduced the game Spacewar in 1962 that quickly spread across the USA like a‘benign virus' (Poole, 2000: 17). The first commercial home video console wasthe Magnavox Odyssey, launched in 1972, developed at Sanders Associates (amilitary contracting firm) and selling over 100,000 units within its first year(Kirriemuir, 2006: 23). The emergence of programmable machines or consolesin the 1970s created a flexible division of labour between hardware and soft-ware (Haddon, 1993; Johns, 2006), allowing a distinct software industry to emerge once the video-games cartridge manufacturers could sell gamesseparately from the hardware they were played on.
The games and the entertainment industry they spawned would provide a forum for the naturalization and incorporation of military technology into 2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
Security Dialogue vol. 38, no. 2, June 2007 everyday life. As Hall (2006: 10) puts it, ‘integrating computer technologyinto entertainment helped fuel consumers' economic and social support forthe arms industry'. In 1972, the games company Atari was established inSilicon Valley near a Lockheed Martin missile installation, prompting onegame critic to wonder whether Lockheed Martin was a test site for Atari'simagination or the other way round (Sudnow, 1983: 90). The Army later collaborated with Atari to retool the 1980 arcade game Battlezone for use in training tank pilots. The digital games industry has thus been ‘heavilyentangled' with military industries for many years now and from the earliestdays of the space programme (Hall, 2006: 9).
The US Department of Defense (DoD) has been the primary exponent of war-game design since the 1950s, yet commercial game designers have pro-duced many of the ideas shaping the design of military simulations bothbefore and after the advent of digital games (Lenoir & Lowood, 2003). TheDoD defines a war game as ‘a simulation, by whatever means, of a militaryoperation involving two or more opposing forces, using rules, data and procedures designed to depict an actual or assumed real life situation' (JointChiefs of Staff, 1997: 393). This notion of the war game as simulation, as animitation of combat, preceded the use of computer-based models for encod-ing rules, data and procedures (Lenoir & Lowood, 2003). Often using histori-cal reconstructions and imagined scenarios, war games allow militaryplanners to rehearse and test their strategies by staging a performance involv-ing people, systems and technology. Military officials, however, have availedthemselves of strategic simulations at least since Chess and Go and the 19th-century development of Kriegspiel (Allen, 2002). Kriegspiel was a 19th-centuryPrussian strategy game that featured toy soldiers, cannons and otheremplacements on a table-top map.
By the early 1960s, however, much more sophisticated war-game designs had been developed in the commercial sector (beginning with the founding ofthe Avalon Game Company in 1958), games that shifted the emphasis of game design from abstract strategy and chance to historical realism andsimulation defined by rules and data. Within the US Army, Lt. Col. RayMacedonia sought to invigorate military war gaming by reviving the war college system through the use of the latest commercial design advances andthe modelling of historical simulations (Perla, 1990). Macedonia reintroducedwar gaming for staff officer training at the Army War College in Pennsylvaniaand was an important part of the military's first attempts to tap the potential ofcomputer-based war gaming. Along with Macedonia, the US Army led inpushing for more detailed simulations in the early 1980s, leading to the estab-lishment of the Naval War Game System (1979) and the National TrainingCenter (1980). In 1982, the National Defense University created a war-gamingcentre, and as the 1980s wore on the increasing expense of traditional live military exercises highlighted the resource efficiency of digital simulations.
2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
Marcus Power Video War Games and Post-9/11 Cyber-Deterrence One of the key players in providing the Pentagon with high-tech games is DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), founded in 1958,in the wake of the USSR's Sputnik launch. The biggest boost to military wargaming came from the construction of the DARPA-funded SIMNET (from1982), the military's ‘distributed simulator networking project', which soughtto explore more cost-effective forms of simulation and began to look for theseoutside the DoD, turning to the computer and video-games industry in particular. SIMNET was made operational in January 1990 and was trialledby General Norman Schwarzkopf, who prepared his staff at the US CentralMilitary Command in Florida for a potential conflict in the Middle East byplaying scenarios of the war game Operation Internal Look, which incorpo-rated enormous amounts of data on Kuwait and Iraq and helped shape thedefensive strategy for Operation Desert Shield. As Schwarzkopf (1992: 66)recalls in his memoirs: ‘As the exercise got under way, the movement ofIraq's real-world ground and air forces eerily paralleled the imagined scenario of the game'.
The beginning of the 1990s saw a greater emphasis being placed on running a fiscally efficient military built on sound business practices (Lenoir &Lowood, 2003), with military planners beginning to work more closely withcommercial partners as ‘teams' sharing information and resources. The GulfWar provided an additional stimulus to this, leading to further DARPA-supported research and development efforts and the founding of the Army'sSimulation Training and Instrumentation Command (STRICOM) to helpmanage and direct the simulation effort. STRICOM's motto is ‘All but war issimulation'. By 1998, the total budget for modelling and simulation pro-grammes had reached in excess of $2.5 billion – funds that, despite being farshort of the computer industry's own R&D efforts, played a critical role inaccelerating the development and dissemination of modelling and simula-tion technologies, and in promoting the mutually beneficial synergy betweenthe military and entertainments industries (Lenoir & Lowood, 2003). Therehas also been a significant amount of movement and exchanges of staff (inboth directions) between military organizations and commercial gamingcompanies like Atari, Avalon and Sega.
The adoption of the popular and influential PC ‘first-person-shooter'3 (FPS) game Doom by the US Marines in the late 1990s took this a stage further. Thegame Marine Doom was modified and adopted as a fire-team simulation, and,instead of fantasy weapons being employed in confrontations with monster-like characters in a labyrinthine castle, real-world images (e.g. of bunkers and‘friendly fire') were scanned into the game's graphics engine along with 3 ‘First-person-shooter' (FPS) games purport to recreate full-scale real-world battles. The phrase ‘first person' refers to the player's point of view – players use controls (keyboard, mouse or game controller) tolook up, down and around on screen, and often the image that appears onscreen is a pair of forearms andhands aiming a weapon forward ‘into' the screen.
2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
Security Dialogue vol. 38, no. 2, June 2007 images of weapons in use at that time. The games could be configured forspecific missions immediately prior to engagement, as well as being used ingeneral training for various combat scenarios. The Marines engaged in fur-ther discussions with MÄK technologies, a commercial game manufacturerspecializing in the use of network simulation tools, leading to the design oftactical operations training games that could also be sold commercially, suchas Spearhead, an online game released in mid-1998 (Lenoir & Lowood, 2003).
The contracts awarded by the Marines to MÄK envisioned a vast, shared virtual reality, with the use of massive multiplayer online games for the military, again involving simultaneous releases destined for the commercialmarket. The establishment in 1999 of the $45-million Institute for CreativeTechnologies (ICT) at the University of Southern California meant that thecrossovers between military simulations and the entertainment industriesbecame much less opportunistic and spontaneous. The ICT was set up toadvance military simulations yet further (enlisting Hollywood and video-game designers in this process) and is based on the premise that althoughmilitary simulations are very good at modelling hardware components andcan train soldiers in how to use their equipment, Hollywood and even videogames are much better at conveying the uncertainty, the surprises, the experience and fear of battle.
Uncle Sam Wants You! (To Play These Games) There has never been, in history, a crop of young soldiers who were so pre-stuffed on somuch realistic-but-not-real war-like-but-not-war material (Seal, 2003: 2).
In charting the geographies of militarism that video war games produce, it isuseful to consider the cultural geographies of military representation con-structed in video war games and the ways in which they legitimize and justify US military interventions. Arguably, such interventions have becomepart of a ‘cyclical economic machine' (Deck, 2004: 1) ‘greased' by media prod-ucts (including digital games) that endorse any war that can be made toappear necessary. Digital war games put a friendly, hospitable face on themilitary, manufacturing consent and complicity among consumers for mili-tary programmes, missions and weapons. By ‘mystifying the relationshipsbetween consumers, institutions and economies of violence' (Hall, 2006: 13),representations of war and combat in digital games help to suture con-sumerism to citizenship ‘within a militarised ideology' (Hall, 2000: 1). Forsome critics, this helps to ‘perform, practice and consume a militarised, tech-nologically based form of citizenship training' (Hall, 2000: 3). Further, war-themed video games offer a discourse that ‘displaces the citizen with the virtual soldier' (Stahl, 2004: 131), a virtual displacement that (re)presents a 2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
Marcus Power Video War Games and Post-9/11 Cyber-Deterrence version of war (sanitized and enjoyable) that is increasingly designed foreasy, popular consumption.
So how, then, can video games, as powerful rhetorical frames, be consid- ered part of a ‘machine of territorialisation, indoctrination and recruitment'(Crandall, 2005: 20)? The official US Army game America's Army (released on4 July 2002) is not directly concerned with mirroring ‘real' world conflict scenarios in Afghanistan and Iraq but has been deployed by the Army as arecruiting tool, one that has had more success than any US military-recruit-ment campaign since the Uncle Sam I Want You ads in World War II(Cowlishaw, 2005), with nearly eight million people registered to play world-wide as of January 2007 (America's Army, 2007). The use of such games asrecruitment tools suggests that video gamers' virtual prowess and enjoymenttranslate directly into real-world Army suitability and success (Cowlishaw,2005). The game was first developed at the Naval Postgraduate School inCalifornia through an initiative called Operation Star Fighter (after the 1984movie The Last Starfighter, a film about a teenager who is recruited by aliensto fight in an intergalactic war after getting a perfect score on his local arcademachine). The US military has invested millions of tax dollars4 in developingthe game, with a view to enabling players to virtually explore and ‘experi-ence' the Army from basic training through to deployment and live situa-tions that might be found in the so-called Global War on Terrorism (seeFigure 1), creating ‘surrogate soldiers' along the way (Schiesel, 2005: 3).
Developed by the US Army and seeking to model US Army experiences, the game can claim a ‘real material referent' (Galloway, 2006: 79) in ways thatother war games like Conflict: Desert Storm or SOCOM: US Navy Seals simplycannot. This remains however a ‘simulation of a simulation of a soldier's life'(Kumar, 2004: 6). When first released for the PC, the game originally featuredtwo parts, one a training simulator called Soldiers (which includes boot camp)and another more traditional FPS called Operations, in which players worktogether in teams to carry out missions. In late 2003, a new version – SpecialForces – was released, which had more than 200,000 people playing in the firstweek (Stahl, 2004: 157). In 2005, a console version of the game (subtitled Riseof a Soldier) was released for the Playstation 2. The PC game can be legallydownloaded by gamers as young as 13 and is often bundled together withgaming magazines and given away at stock-car racing (NASCAR) events andstate fairs.
4 This is not the only military-funded game available to the public. PC games like Real War and Real War: Rogue States are modified versions of the Joint Force Employment, a trainer developed by the DoD thatpits US forces against a global terrorist threat (Halter, 2002). Joint Force Employment was produced forthe Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1997 by the defence contractor OC Inc., and the game's commercial release wasprophetically set for 11 September 2001, under the name Real War, but was delayed until 27 September2001 (Stahl, 2004).
2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.

Security Dialogue vol. 38, no. 2, June 2007 Figure 1. A selection of screenshots from the game America's Army.
Army Game Project. Used by permission.
The game lets gamers play at soldiers online, banding together with other Internet warriors to battle national enemies, and on a typical day more than30,000 people log on to the Army's official servers (which originally cost justunder $1 million a year to maintain), while the game has proven so popularthat the Army's civilian developers now release updates every few months(Schiesel, 2005). The Army even sends soldiers and returning veterans toadvise civilian game developers, but the developers also get to play at wargames for a few days each year in what the Army calls ‘green up' events heldin Wyoming. In March 2004, a huge America's Army gaming tournament washeld, offering hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money and com-puter equipment (Cowlishaw, 2005). Game tournaments are also held atArmy recruiting offices and high schools (Stahl, 2004).
The latest version of America's Army is based on actual soldiers' experiences (including brief in-game biographies), and players can now take control ofone of nine ‘real' US soldiers who have been actively engaged in recent USinterventions and whose likenesses appear in the game (with these hyper-masculine soldiers also immortalized as accompanying action figures)(Silverstein, 2006). Some missions involve defending or capturing prisoners 2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
Marcus Power Video War Games and Post-9/11 Cyber-Deterrence of war, but players can also do battle with ‘terrorists'. One mission in the ini-tial release of Operations was modelled after a raid conducted in Afghanistan(Kennedy, 2002), and the games are scattered with references to the Afghanlandscape. One ‘insurgent camp' is described as ‘high desert rolling withsand dunes and Wadis' (where Wadi is Arabic for ‘valley'). While the subjectthe gamer is mapped onto is always American, there is a refusal to name theenemy here, constructing a space where the ‘enemy is irrelevant and tech-nology provides a virtual cure for a global insecurity' (Kumar, 2004: 14). Theequipment and uniforms in the game are designed with maximum ‘realism'in mind, but death and injury are treated differently. As Schiesel (2005: 3)points out, ‘limbs are never blown off. Instead, wounds are marked by a puffof red smoke. Injured foes never writhe and scream in agony'. The deliberatecensorship of explicit violence in this game further mimics the US govern-ment and media censorship of images of dead US soldiers and coffins – in thegame bodies vanish after being killed (Allen, 2005). No matter how manywaves of enemy troops come at the virtual solider, body counts do not pileup visually (Hall, 2000). The game as such is a ‘bold and brutal reinforcementof current American society and its positive moral perspective on militaryintervention, be it the war on terrorism or "shock and awe" in Iraq'(Galloway, 2006: 79).
The official site for the game consistently denies that players can learn the basics of using weapons from gameplay. Rhetorically, then, the military hasdistanced itself from the violence of other video games, reinforcing a sensethat it has a legitimate monopoly on violence (Allen, 2005). The games are,however, ‘seductive' to potential recruits and may suppress an aversion tokilling. According to Anthony Swofford's (2003) best-selling memoir, Jarhead,soldiers in the Gulf War used scenes from antiwar movie Apocalypse Now tohype themselves up for combat. Perhaps in Gulf War II, video games likeAmerica's Army offered an alternative means of pre-stuffing the troops andgetting them ‘pumped' for combat? Gulf War I veteran Mary Spio (now theeditor of the US popular culture magazine One2one) has argued that ‘what wesaw in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was the tip of the iceberg – it was aglimpse of a generation of war gamers coming of age. Video games that allowplayers to kill real human beings are desensitizing generations of Americansociety' (cited in Elkus, 2006: 3). There is an important body of literature onthe desensitization of killers in 20th-century warfare (Bourke, 1999; Marshall,2000), but a focus on video war games might help to extend these debates innew directions.
Seal (2003) is also concerned with the impacts on soldiers who have trained extensively on approved military simulations (where they are encouraged to‘shoot at anything that moves') and with the impact of exposure to suchgames on men enlisted in ‘missions involving real weapons and real lives'(Seal, 2003: 1). As Seal puts it, ‘once in the field . . these soldiers may become 2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
Security Dialogue vol. 38, no. 2, June 2007 "charged" in the same way stimulated by the games and with lethal results,thanks to the "disconnect" between 3-D flesh and blood and 2-D pixel people'. Within the ‘hyper adrenalised disconnect' that US soldiers exhibit,any consideration of consequences is lost. Seal (2003: 2) recommends the useof pre-discharge support groups for troops, facilitated by older vets fromVietnam or Gulf War I as a way of preventing ‘smouldering PTSD [PostTraumatic Stress Disorder] from gaining an upper hand'.
In 2005, the ICT initiated just such a project together with the Office of Naval Research (ONR): an initiative that is creating an immersive virtualreality system for the treatment of Iraq war veterans diagnosed with combat-related PTSD. The treatment approach involves recycling and adding to thevirtual assets that were initially built into the combat tactical simulationincorporated in the commercially available Xbox game Full Spectrum Warrior(Rizzo & Pair, 2006). The version created is designed to resemble a MiddleEastern city and outlying village and desert spaces, and it offers the clinicianthe chance to monitor the patient's behaviour and customize the therapyexperience. Full Spectrum Warrior is another game originally produced in1999 by the US Army in two versions, one for military training and one forcommercial release. The Army intended Full Spectrum Warrior to help re-inforce the values troops learned about in their training and offered a real-time strategy game that combined a highly rendered street-level perspectivewith proven Army tactics in the art of urban warfare or MOUT (MilitaryOperations in Urban Terrain) (Loftus, 2004). The game was set in the fictionalcountry of ‘Zekistan',5 but for all the dusty alleyways, mosques and Arab villages the setting could easily be Iraq or Afghanistan. OXM gaming maga-zine referred to Full Spectrum Warrior as the ‘game that captured Saddam', inthat the game was made to train the US army infantry and ‘they were theones who dug Saddam out of his hole' (cited in Cowlishaw, 2005: 5).With theinitiation of the ICT ‘virtual therapy' project, then, we seem to have come fullcircle. Not only are video games now used to recruit for the US armed forcesand to train and prepare troops after they have enlisted, but they are alsoplayed by US troops during a tour of duty and are even now being used totreat the consequences of combat engagement in the form of PTSD ‘virtualtherapy'.
It is important, however, to remember that games are often used in ways not intended or anticipated by their developers and military sponsors. Gamedata, rules and codes can be modified to produce different narratives, characters and outcomes. In May 2006, DoD public diplomacy specialist DanDevlin (speaking to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence)warned the US Congress that the makers of combat video games have unwit- 5 Most combat video games, as Deck (2004) reminds us, do not portray the streets of US towns and cities but rather places that look like the most recent war zones visited by US troops.
2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
Marcus Power Video War Games and Post-9/11 Cyber-Deterrence tingly become part of a global propaganda campaign by Islamic militants toexhort Muslim youths to take up arms against the USA (Morgan, 2006). TheDoD warned that ‘tech-savvy' militants from al-Qaeda and other groupshave modified video war games so that US troops play the role of bad guysin running gunfights against heavily armed Islamic radical heroes, and thatchildren as young as seven can play at being troop-killing urban guerrillas ifthey register with the site's sponsors. One of the most popular games, Devlinsaid, was Battlefield 2, which had been the subject of considerable softwaremodification. The game's publishers, Electronic Arts, claimed they had nocontrol of the many game modifications that existed around the world,describing the process of modification as like ‘drawing a moustache on a picture' (cited in Morgan, 2006). The game Battlefield 2 ordinarily shows UStroops engaging forces in China or a united Middle East coalition, but modi-fied versions depict a man in Arab headdress carrying an automatic weaponinto combat with US invaders.
In a strange and surprising parallel with games like America's Army, Islamic militants, Devlin claimed, were using video games to train recruits and tocondition young people to attack US-led coalition forces in Iraq. The manu-facture and distribution of the first Arab 3D digital war game, Under Ash(later renamed Under Siege), occurred in 2002 and was released by Syrianpublisher Dar Al-Fikr. Finding that no US company would sell them the basicgraphics engine required, the game designers built their own, and Under Ashis seen as a direct response to games that encourage players to bomb Arabcities. Game players take the form of Ahmad, a young Palestinian, who hasdecided to resist and join the intifada (Stahl, 2004). There is also Special Force,published by the Central Internet Bureau of Hizbullah, an FPS based on thearmed Islamic movement in South Lebanon, where the central character is aholy warrior fighting against Israeli occupation. The ideological opposite ofAmerica's Army, these two FPS games are played from the perspective of ayoung Palestinian participating in the Islamic jihad, and although they contain similar militaristic representations to US-made shooters and have asimilar look and feel, the narratives are very different.
The existence of such games and the culture of game modification reminds us, then, that we should be attentive to the nascent counter-movement in the gaming sector and should look beyond the ‘blood 'n' guts' marketing ofcombat video games, avoiding the assumption that a product's narrativescannot be read in different ways just because it bears a military title (Kane,2005). Nonetheless, repeated rehearsing of the will to power and exertion ofglobal domination and the experience of death within controlled and renew-able parameters creates a false sense of power and invincibility amongAmerican consumer-citizens, which in turn ‘contributes to US imperial arrogance' (Hall, 2006: 15).
2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
Security Dialogue vol. 38, no. 2, June 2007 Conclusions: A Therapeutic ‘Virtual Revenge' for 21st-Century Angst? Virtuous war requires a critical awakening if we are not to sleepwalk through the manifold travesties of war (Der Derian, 2001: xvii).
If, as Baudrillard (1991: 28) suggests, ‘we prefer the exile of the virtual', thenscholars of video games need to explore the ways in which ‘virtual wars' feedour willingness to ‘unleash the real world' (Baudrillard, 1991: 27–29). Digitalwar-game simulations do not represent pre-existing reality, yet they are real,existing as quasi-objects, as hybrid entities. It is also important to attend tothe roles that digital games have as affective assemblages through whichgeopolitical sensibilities emerge and are amplified in order to explore thekinds of affective resonances that digital games create among gamers.
Arguably, the integration of military technology into the world of entertain-ment ‘trains' consumers to take on a militarized, aggressive stance and ‘dis-rupts connections to self, body, sensation, and history' (Hall, 2006: 12),inviting consumers to embody the force, conformity and power of the milita-rized state (Hall, 2006).
Often accompanied by ‘thrash metal' soundtracks, video war games offer ‘an alternative posture for US Americans – that of being wronged and right-eous' (Warner, 1992: 677). If the power of militarism is ‘to naturalise andlegitimate military action and to obscure its effects' (Woodward, 2005: 14),then digital war games have an important role to play in making US mili-tarism appear benign. Hall (2006) suggests that consumers hunger for benignversions of spectacles of power that offer a sense of security and trust in astate that seems increasingly distant, unresponsive and disconnected. Manypost-9/11 video war games offer a ‘therapeutic way to work out 21st centuryangst by battling the bad guys' (Loftus, 2004: 4). Games like America's Army,then, can be read as forms of what Der Derian (2001: 114) calls the ‘simulationof digitised superiority' or ‘cyberdeterrence', taken like prozac and serving asa ‘technopharmacological fix for all the organic anxieties that attend uncer-tain times and new configurations of power'. Games offer the possibility of getting back control, of overcoming fear, and are fantastical and temporary:‘for 45 minutes you can pretend you have some sense of agency, some con-trol, or at the very least some part in trying to make the world a better place'(Barron & Huntemann, 2003: 5).
As Deck (2004: 1) points out, ‘the entertainment industry has assumed a posture of cooperation toward a culture of perpetual war'. Games can alsoproduce a moral and ethical distance between players and history (particu-larly where that history may be painful and still a little raw), allowing players to experience violence cleanly (gone in a puff of red smoke) andencouraging them to accept the role of perpetrators who bear no moral or 2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
Marcus Power Video War Games and Post-9/11 Cyber-Deterrence ethical culpability for their actions carried out in a just/virtuous crusadeagainst evil (Hall, 2006). In disseminating ideologies of hegemony (Leonard,2004), games thus propagate an image of war as bloodless play, which con-solidates an ethos of militarization, making US safety and security seem ofparamount importance. Games can reinforce the image of a clean war withclean battle lines, no moral questions posed and no consideration given to thereality of taking a life. Death and bodily dismemberment are often banishedfrom games (in much the same way images of death were excluded fromimages and accounts of World War II), so that war becomes more palatable asthe ‘mud of battle' is pasteurized.
Many recent video war-game releases are not so much ‘realistic' but cinematic, in that they reproduce not the real-world experience of war but thetheatrical experience of war (Cowlishaw, 2005: 6). So, playing a game becomeslike starring in a war movie, since games use all of the same techniques asmovies for framing shots, editing, pacing and narration (Poole, 2000; Murphy,2004). Digital games, then, represent not one medium, but many differentmedia. For some, they can be understood as ‘interactive movies about warwith all the boring parts taken out' (Cowlishaw, 2005: 6). As immersive/inter-active movies about the experience of war, they permit gamers to see them-selves on screen as the noble hero, in the Pentagon's latest version of the noblewar fantasy. Here, the player of the game is the story. With each new combatsimulation celebrated as the ‘most realistic ever', and contemporary warfare‘increasingly like science fiction' (Deck, 2004: 1), there is a certain inevitabilityabout the associations people make between digital war games and cinematicwarfare. Given that the mediated violence is contextualized in narrative ways within video games, the techniques employed by propagandists, gamedevelopers, writers and filmmakers regularly overlap (Deck, 2004: 10).
For some gamers, virtual war offers the chance to correct misperceptions of history through gameplay, and its appeal partly comes from its perceivedability to teach history and not just represent it (Cowlishaw, 2005). A range ofvideo war games offer precisely this possibility of reworking historical battles for modern-day virtuous play, from WWII battles to Vietnam andSomalia, offering players the chance to seek ‘virtual revenge for Americanlosses' (Halter, 2002: 2). Others seek to restage past military engagements inways that have a direct bearing on present-day confrontations. Games alsoenable the military to rewrite history such that the complexity and geopoliti-cal ‘messiness' of a conflict is edited out and will not register with gamers:‘They will remember military conflicts as pure contests of strategy and force,with none of the external political, moral, historical, ideological and humani-tarian factors involved' (Elkus, 2006: 3). What are important here, then, arethe ways in which games produce ‘an electronically induced amnesia. .
Video games do not teach the wrong ethics, they teach that ethics are super-fluous: only the game counts and the game can be started over and over 2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.
Security Dialogue vol. 38, no. 2, June 2007 again' (Schroeder, 1996: 153). The power of many digital war games lies notsolely in the ability of players to occupy and conquer foreign lands, nor in themass carnage gamers can effect through carpet bombing, but in the ability totranspose fear into historically based combat scenarios (Stallabras, 1993) withclear battle lines, in a war that is safe and winnable.
Games also offer a (cinematic) romanticization of war that is both seductive and powerful, and they can provide a (heroic) experience of winning a war single-handedly. For Deck (2004: 5), game producers ‘call forth a cult ofultra-patriotic xenophobes whose greatest joy is to destroy, regardless of howracist, imperialistic and flimsy the rationale'. Here, the simplification of cultures and history is itself a form of violence. As video games and immer-sive simulations become increasingly significant forms of representation, thepredominance of narratives that construct the USA as an indomitable forcebecomes more problematic and increasingly in need of critical attention.
* Marcus Power is Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Durham. Hisresearch interests centre on questions of visual culture and popular geopolitics, and he isthe co-editor (with Andrew Crampton) of Cinema and Geopolitics (Routledge, 2007).
Other key publications include (with Andrew Crampton) ‘Frames of Reference on theGeopolitical Stage: Saving Private Ryan and the Second World War/Second Gulf WarIntertext', Geopolitics 10(2): 244–265; and ‘Geopolitics and the Representation ofPortugal's African Colonial Wars: Examining the Limits of Vietnam Syndrome', PoliticalGeography 20: 461–491.
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2007 International Peace Research Institute, Oslo. All rights reserved. Not for commercial use or unauthorized distribution.


Prospects of Malaria Control in Northeastern India with Particular Reference to Assam V.P. Sharma, Vas Dev Malaria is endemic in the entire northeastern region comprising of 7 states. P. falciparumis the most predominant species. P. falciparum has become resistant to chloroquine(CQ) and sulphadoxine pyremethamine (SP) drugs. The principal vectors viz. An. baimaii(formerly species D of An. dirus complex), An. minimus and An. fluviatilis are highlyefficient in malaria transmission with exophilic and exophagic behavior, and maintainstable malaria in the region. Problems in malaria control and way forward in achievingsustainable malaria control are described.

Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 2010; 40(4): 287–304 Critical Reviews in Toxicology Pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment: A critical review of the evidence for health effects in fish Jenna Corcoran1, Matthew J� Winter2, and Charles R� Tyler1 1Environmental and Molecular Fish Biology, School of Biosciences, The Hatherly Laboratories, University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon, UK, and 2AstraZeneca Safety, Health and Environment, Brixham Environmental Laboratory, Freshwater Quarry, Brixham, UK