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Palestine in Pixels: The Holy Land, Arab-Israeli Conflict, and Reality Construction in Video Games

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This article explores the ways in which Palestine is envisioned, and its representation constructed, in contemporary video games. At the same time, capitalizing on Bogost's notion of "procedurality", this article discusses the potential and limitations of various game genres for modeling complex historical, social, and political realities. It focuses particularly on the ways in which the Arab-Israeli conflict is mediated and its perception and evaluation subsequently shaped by these games. By doing so, this article analyzes how the (re)constructions of reality as provided by the video games' graphical, textual, and procedural logic, serve parallel – albeit contradictory – political and ideological interpretations of real-world events. Essentially, this article argues that the procedural forms, i.e. the common models of user interaction as utilized by particular video game genres, fundamentally shape and limit the ways in which reality is communicated to the players. Therefore, on a more general level, this article aims to further develop the game genres' critique by focusing on two contrasting, but equally significant and simultaneous, aspects of video games – the persuasive power of procedurality and the inherent limitations thereof.

10.1163/187398509X12476683126509
/content/journals/10.1163/187398509x12476683126509
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/content/journals/10.1163/187398509x12476683126509
2009-09-01
2016-12-04

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