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Analyzing the Rhetorical Situation of Video Games

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Alyson Welker

on 2 April 2015

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Transcript of Analyzing the Rhetorical Situation of Video Games

Analyzing the Rhetorical Situation When You Play a Video Game
America's Army: Based on the description, who do you think the intended audience/player is?
American's Army: Reach
"Since the Army released the game in July 2002, it has proved to be a low-cost advertising jackpot. The game has been downloaded more than 16 million times, and the Army estimates that nearly a third of all young people of prime recruitment age have been exposed to it" (Jim Downing, Seattle Times, 2004).
In this presentation we will analyze the rhetorical situation of a specific video game according to Lloyd Bitzer's five elements: text, reader, author, constraints, and exigence.

T: text
R: reader/audience
A: author
C: constraints
E: exigence
The 5 Elements of the Rhetorical Situation
Consider the various limitations imposed upon the creator of the game (the author of the argument):

Given what you can discern about target audience/players, what limitations does that audience impose on the creator (the US Military)?
How does the military’s background knowledge and experience limit the argument?
How does the military’s character and values limit the argument?
How does the larger context (historical, social, political, and economic context) of the argument constrain the creator of the game?

Discuss the motivations the military has for creating this game:

What seems to have prompted the creator to present this argument (call for recruits)?
What, if any, is the creator’s history of work with this topic?
What event might have prompted the creator?
What values might have sparked this conversation?

Further Context: Purpose
“Part of the new campaign, helping the post-9/11 recruiting bump, was the free video game America’s Army. Since its release, different versions of the war game have been downloaded more than 40 million times, enough to put it in the Guinness book of world records. According to a 2008 study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ‘the game had more impact on recruits than all other forms of Army advertising combine’” (Global Research).

Video Games as Agents of Communication
Video games are a form of communication. Whether their goal is to translate an artist’s alternate reality, simulate life as another, or convey a message of conscious or unconscious matter, video games consider various rhetorical features throughout their design.

Answer the following prompts in order to analyze the author/creator of America's Army:

What do you know about the creator of this game (the US military)?
What specific qualifications does the creator present to build credibility with the target audience?
What appeals to the US Military's character are found within this game?
In what way does the military identify with the audience/player?
Does this level of player connection help the message? How?

American Army
] Operations, is a multiplayer first-person shooter [game] inspired by the popular game
. Players log on through the Internet, take on the roles of United States soldiers and team up to battle terrorists" (Brian Kennedy,
New York Time
s, 2002).

The game is designed to give the players a simulated experience of what it would be like to be in the Army.
The Rhetorical Situation
Here you will get a glimpse of what it's like to play the video game. As you watch, consider the images, debate, and style within the video. How do the elements lend to the persuasive aspects within the game; the argument being: to join the army. Clip from YouTube.
Let's take a look at how the game is played, and listen to some of the conversations being had as a result of its introduction into society. We will then apply this game to the five elements within the Rhetorical Situation:

1. Text
2. Reader
3. Author
4. Constraints
5. Exigence
The following questions will help you to consider the text (image, debate) element of America's Army.
What features of this game seem most crucial to understand—the claim, the arrangement of arguments, the supporting evidence, the appeals, the style?
What features of the game make it more convincing or persuasive?
What part of the game is most difficult to understand? Why?
What parts are most appealing? Why?

Consider the following questions when analyzing the intended audience for this game:

Can you define the probable player in terms of age, gender, occupation, education, position of power?
What values do target audiences share with the author?
What range of positions might target readers hold before reading/viewing?
The Rhetorical Situation of
America's Army
After viewing information regarding this game, and having had the opportunity to view how the game is played, you will have enough evidence to discuss the rhetorical situation found within this video game.

Using a video game to discuss the elements within the rhetorical situation will provide you with new context for which to write about and understand this important composition tool.

"America's Army Four Game Play Beta." (2013). MrDxGames. You Tube. Retrieved 5 March 2014.

Downing, Jim (2002). "Army to potential recruits: Wanna play?". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 5 March 2014.

Gee, James Paul (2009). "Waging War- A New Generation." PBS. YouTube. Retrieved 6 March 2014.

“Government Pushes Propaganda Through Video Games: Military Recruits Young People Through

Kennedy, Brian (2002-07-11). "Uncle Sam Wants You (To Play This Game)". New York Times. Retrieved 5 March 2014.

Misleading Games.” (2013). Center for Research on Globalization. GlobalResearch.org. Retrieved 5 March 2014.

Analyzing the rhetorical situation is an important critical thinking strategy to help you gain a better understanding of the reading and composing practices within an argument.
The Video Game to Analyze:
America's Army
America's Army
was created in 2002,
as a type of advertisement for gaining recruits to the military.
The game provides players with a simulated experience of combat. The rules of the game encourage players to learn about the various roles, requirements, and tools necessary for survival in a war environment.
Game Description:
James Paul Gee is a professor at Arizona State University. His discussion of America's Army may help us to define the constraints and exigence of the game. Video clip from YouTube.
This is the argument:

The game is trying to persuade players to join the military.
Full transcript