While video games have been around for some time now, they have emerged, in recent years, as a major player on the profit scene. Indeed, for the past two years, the video game market has made more money than the motion picture business. Perhaps that's why filmmakers often release video game versions of their films months before theatrical release – in order to heat up the marketplace for their film.
The latest trend in video games, such as the Medal of Honor series, the Battlefield series, and America's Army, is to be especially "realistic." Such games proudly transport the gamer into immersive, gut wrenching virtual battlefields. They persuade the gamer that, in an echo of WWII-era journalism, "You Are There" – on the beaches of Normandy, in the jungles of Vietnam, in modern military hotspots.
Upon examination, this now-common claim raises other key questions. First, and perhaps most obviously: To what degree is this claim to realism justified? In other words, are the games truly as historically accurate as their makers and players claim? Answering that question raises a series of more significant and telling questions: What do these games signify? Being war games, why are they so popular now? Who benefits from this popularity, and how?
The games that most stridently and persuasively claim to be realistic, and therefore those games on which I will focus, are first-person shooters (FPSs) which purport to recreate full-scale real-world battles. For the uninitiated, the phrase "first-person" in "first-person shooters" refers to the player's point of view: onscreen appears a pair of forearms and hands aiming a weapon forward "into" the screen. The hands are "you." That gun is "your" gun. Players use controls (keyboard, mouse, and/or game controller) to virtually look up, down, and around onscreen, and the result looks and feels like brandishing a weapon. The word "shooter" in "first-person shooter" refers to what the player does: move around a "map" (virtual battlefield) and deploy an arsenal of weapons against virtual enemies.
Unreal Tournament provides clear examples of standard FPS conventions. One key convention is that weapons, ammunition, armor, and first-aid kits regularly and frequently "spawn," that is, suddenly appear out of nowhere. Simply running over them onscreen confers their benefits immediately; there is almost no time wasted simulating using the first-aid kits, or reloading the weapons. Second, all FPS players die a lot, even when they're winning. The goal is to rack up the most "frags," or kills, so how often they die is really irrelevant. Dead players immediately respawn at a semi-random spot on the map, then get right back to killing. Finally, FPSs revel in offering ungenteel, gore-intensive gameplay. Players can be slimed, shot, sniped, razored, exploded, or chainsawed to death onscreen. Bodies hit just right, with the right weapon, fly apart into bloody chunks of flesh.
Realistic war games are recent specialized offshoots of the broader FPS genre. The first FPS was Wolfenstein; Medal of Honor, published a decade later, is probably the first realistic war game. This genealogical relationship – realistic war games' direct descent from FPSs – becomes apparent with close scrutiny. This genealogical relationship also means that while realistic war games are generally more realistic than other FPSs, they still retain significant unrealistic qualities.
One key unrealistic quality of putatively realistic war games might be called "self-assessment." Players have onscreen at all times thorough, accessible-at-a-glance information regarding their condition. They can see the status of their armor, their physical health expressed as a precise percentage, and their ammunition stores for every single weapon. Obviously, this level of self-knowledge is unavailable in real life. We may have a fairly keen sense of how healthy or unhealthy we feel, and if we have just had a blood or other test we may even be able to express this feeling with some precision. But this precision never approaches that in a FPS: we could never say, "I'm 81% healthy, and my clothes are providing 34% protection." Thus, for a simulation of war truly to be realistic, such information would have to remain vague or difficult to obtain. Yet there it is, right onscreen constantly in all of the new war games – just as in unashamedly unrealistic other FPSs.
Surprisingly, another FPS convention preserved by the realistic war games is respawning. For example, in the Medal of Honor games, when players die they are magically transported back to the beginning of the scenario, with all their original weapons and health restored, to try again. This makes sense not only from a games-history perspective, but also from an entertainment perspective: it's no fun if dying onscreen means the game is over. Players want to get right back up and fight some more. Obviously, though, real life does not work this way. Death tends to be final – but not in war video games.
Not only is death in this way banished from the games, but significantly, so is bodily dismemberment. Game makers systematically exclude it, much in the way Paul Fussell shows it was excluded from images and accounts of World War II. He observes that in such accounts, with very few exceptions, "the bodies of the dead, if inert, are intact. Bloody, sometimes, and sprawled in awkward positions, but except for the absence of life, plausible and acceptable simulacra of the people they once were. . . . American bodies (decently clothed) are occasionally in evidence, but they are notably intact." The famous photographic collection Life Goes to War, for example, shows only three dismembered bodies – specifically, heads. It is significant that they are not American but Asian heads. They are displayed as trophies of our soldiers' prowess. Always showing American bodies intact directly counters real-world facts and probabilities: as Fussell points out, it was "as likely for the man next to you to be shot through the eye, ear, testicles, or brain as (the way the cinema does it) through the shoulder. A shell is as likely to blow his whole face off as to lodge a fragment in some mentionable and unvital tissue." In fact, it was also quite common for a soldier to be wounded or killed not by a bullet or shell but by a flying body part – a foot, a skull, a ribcage.
Obviously, game makers could include such graphic details
if they wanted to: Unreal Tournament, five years
old at this writing, which is a dinosaur in computer time,
displays gore galore. The technology for depicting dismemberment
convincingly onscreen is quite capable nowadays, so clearly
war game makers choose not to do it. They do in war video
games what wartime journalists such as Ernie Pyle did in writing:
purposely, systematically remove gory details so as to make
the war more palatable – as opposed to more truly realistic.
One of Pyle’s best-known stories involves the return
of the body of one Captain Henry T. Waskow “of Belton,
Texas,” to his grieving company. One of the men reportedly
sat by the body for a long time, holding the captain’s
hand and looking into his face; then he “reached over
and gently straightened the points of the captain’s
shirt collar, and then he sort of arranged the tattered edges
of the uniform around the wound.” As Fussell points
out, Pyle’s geographical and behavioral precision calls
attention to the essential information that he glosses over:
1. What killed Captain Waskow? Bullet, shell fragments, a
mine, or what?
2. Where was his wound? How large was it? He implies that
it was in the traditional noble place, the chest. Was it?
Was it a little hole, or was it a great red missing place?
Was it perhaps in the crotch, or in the testicles, or in the
belly? Were his entrails extruded, or in any way visible?
3. How much blood was there? Was the captain’s uniform
bloody? Did the faithful soldier wash off his hands after
toying with those “tattered edges”? Were the captain’s
eyes open? Did his face look happy? Surprised? Satisfied?
Like wartime press reports, war video games carefully elide
this most basic fact of wartime: bodily damage.
The most plainly unrealistic element of the war games is the
existence of the games themselves. That is, players always
remain inescapably aware of two very important facts. First,
the war is never finally real. Players are not, in fact, dashing
around a battlefield but rather sitting in a comfortable chair.
They grip a controller, or keyboard and mouse, not a Garand
rifle. There is no actual danger of being killed, or physically
harmed beyond getting stiff and fat from playing video games
too long. No matter how immersive or even realistic the game,
one can never forget that it is “just a game.”
Second, players may play the game, but in an important sense
the game plays them. There is always a “proper”
outcome, a pre-scripted story one must complete correctly,
especially when the game pits the player against the computer
rather than against other flesh-and-blood players. There is
always a specific task to carry out, such as to storm Normandy
Beach and rout the Germans from their bunkers; the ideal for
game programmers is to make such tasks challenging but possible.
Players’ job, then, is to find the correct solution
to a puzzle someone else constructed; they are in a significant
sense acted upon rather than acting. In life, of course, we
can choose badly or well, but we can choose. This rat-in-a-maze
aspect, together with the game’s inescapable “game-ness,”
reminds players every moment that games fundamentally differ
from real life; playing a game is inherently unrealistic.
Nevertheless, talk abounds regarding how realistic the current
war video games are. Official Xbox Magazine’s
comments on Full Spectrum Warrior are typical of
the glee with which players and critics greet the newly “realistic”
war games. The magazine effuses, “Now when you send
your troops into a slaughter in Full Spectrum Warrior,
you’ll have to look in their eyes and hear their screams.”
Apparently this is a good thing. OXM also raves,
“with [its] 5:1 [sound] it really feels like you are
in the middle of a combat zone (turn it up loud enough and
your neighbors might think so as well).” One fan anticipating
Battlefield: Vietnam’s release on EBGames.com
writes, “this will alow a more real taste of the war
[sic].” Another, purporting to speak for all of us,
claims, “U know how u always wanted to know what the
Vietnam War was like [sic]. I think this game will show you.”
There is some justification for these claims to realism. Sound
is one area in which the new war games truly do reproduce
wartime accurately. Sound effects are as accurate and inclusive
as visual representations are sanitized and edited. The realistic
war games – for example, America’s Army,
the Battlefield series, and the Medal of Honor
series – reproduce all of the rumbling machinery, gunfire,
artillery, explosions, footsteps, splats, ricochets, shouted
orders, swearing, and wounded cries one would hear in a real
war. And current computer/television sound technology –
now standardized at seven points in the room – reproduces
all these sounds with perfect clarity at 100+ decibels.
In addition to sound, the war games also reproduce historical
circumstances with comparative accuracy. The games do allow
players to virtually fight in battles that really did occur
– famous ones such as the Normandy invasion, Pearl Harbor,
and the Tet Offensive. In-game soldiers use weapons that look
and perform more or less like real weapons that real soldiers
used. In-game soldiers dress, look, and speak like real soldiers
did. The games may not be completely historically faithful
in these elements, but they certainly are more so than other,
older FPSs. The genealogical relationship makes the newer
war games seem more realistic than they are.
Compare any current realistic war game, for example, with
Unreal Tournament. In UT, the voices and
character models (“skins”) are a self-consciously
over-the-top assortment of idealized macho warriors and ridiculous
comic figures. In addition to the macho grunts, my copy features
the downloaded voices of Fat Bastard (from the Austin Powers
movies), Eric Cartman (from South Park), and Homer
Simpson (from The Simpsons). Players can choose UT
deathmatchers’ appearances: onscreen fighters can be
assigned any skin from a giant, scary lizardman, to a stereotypical
macho male (or female), to Captain America, to Dr. Frankenfurter
(from The Rocky Horror Picture Show). Any voice can
be assigned to any skin: one might arrange a Dr. Frankenfurter
with Cartman’s voice, or a skull-faced badass who talks
like Homer Simpson. These zany characters’ weapons similarly
aim for entertaining gameplay rather than factual accuracy.
UT features rocket launchers, handheld frag cannons,
plasma rifles, and sludge guns. The battles in which these
crazy weapons are used take place on obviously artificial,
nonreferential staging grounds. That is, the in-game battle
sites are not intended to reproduce historical locations.
They clearly exist solely so that players can virtually blast
the hell out of each other in visually interesting, strategically
challenging settings – and the more fantastic, the better.
References to real-world locales tend to be ironic, humorous:
“Hey look, here’s a map like a football field!”
“Here’s one set on a cruise ship!” I certainly
hope real deathmatches never take place in such locales. Classic
FPSs, as opposed to realistic war games, are judged by how
intense a deathmatch they can produce, not by how accurately
they reproduce “the real Normandy.”
Overall “presentation,” too, proves comparatively
realistic in the new war games. “Presentation”
refers to the way a game is laid out for the player in terms
of menu choices, art, and sound; we might call it “atmosphere.”
In Medal of Honor: Frontline, for example, menu choices
take the form of file folders stamped with the (now-defunct)
Office of Strategic Services logo. All in-game fonts look
typewritten by period typewriters. “Your” portrait
in the menu file appears attached by low-tech paper clip.
Selecting a menu option produces a gunshot or file-rustling
sound. In the America’s Army game, menu headings
use terminology lifted from the real-world America’s
Army: “Personnel Jacket,” “Training Missions,”
“Deployment,” and so on. This kind of attention
to making the presentation realistic enhances the overall
impression that the game accurately recreates history. Compared
to the three-ring FPS circus that is their origin, the new
realistic war games appear positively photographic in their
historical fidelity. Even gamers, disposed by nature to find
all flaws, perceive them as faithful to what the games purport
So far, I have discussed two fairly black-and-white categories,
“realistic” and “unrealistic,” so
that I can make descriptions clearly. But the truth is, the
issue is much more complicated than that binary choice. It’s
more accurate to say that the games blur the boundaries between
real and virtual, or mix elements of the one in among the
other, so thoroughly that players finally cannot tell where
reality ends and virtual reality begins.
One telling example appears in the required marksman-training
mission that begins America’s Army. The player
must hit a specified number of targets within a time limit.
After passing the test, the player receives hearty applause
from the drill sergeant: “Congratulations, soldier!
You have just qualified as a marksman in the United States
Army!” I must admit: the first time I passed this test,
I became moderately alarmed – he did mean I virtually
qualified, right? So many other kinds of transactions take
place online nowadays; why not real-life recruitment and qualification?
The idea that by playing a realistic war game for a few minutes
I may have inadvertently enlisted is not as outlandish as
it may seem out of context. Consider: the real-world America’s
Army created, programmed, and distributed, for free online,
the game called America’s Army, specifically
for the purpose of recruitment. Anyone can download it for
free, right now, at americasarmy.com. The real army counts
on people, mostly young men ripe for recruitment, to download
the game, enjoy it, think to themselves, “Hey, you know,
I should do this for real,” and then go enlist. Apparently
the strategy is working very effectively. In late March 2004,
the CBS Evening News reported on a huge America’s
Army gaming tournament. Hundreds of thousands of dollars
in prize money and computer equipment were at stake. Several
recruiters sat in the competition room. Hundreds of players
walked directly from their round of competition over to sign
up with recruiters. CBS reported that since the game was released
in 2002, recruitment has spiked; the video game is the most
effective recruitment tool since the Uncle Sam “I Want
You” posters during World War II.
This video game recruitment strategy meshes very neatly with
the Army’s recent advertising campaign. The Army shows
images of underage kids essentially playing games –
flying a remote-controlled plane in one, and actually playing
a video game in another. Then the same people (presumably)
are shown as young adults doing pretty much the same activities
in the Army: the model plane flyer pilots a decoy drone plane,
and the video gamer efficiently directs real tanks and troops
around a battlefield. The clear message is: “You should
join the real Army because we will pay you to play pretty
much the same games you play for fun right now. You were born
Full Spectrum Warrior blurs reality and gaming perhaps
even more thoroughly. Like America’s Army,
this game was produced by the real U.S. Army. In fact, it’s
not entirely clear that the end result was the choice of the
game’s original developer, William Stahl. In an interview
with Official Xbox Magazine, Stahl describes how
the game got made: "Three years ago, I was pitching a
. . . game for the PC. Representatives of the Army were looking
for a developer to create a training simulation on a videogame
console. They got ahold of those early documents and thought
the concept was right in line with what they wanted to achieve.
. . . This game was developed in conjunction with the Army.
They were essentially our publisher, and as such, they had
the final say on what they wanted in the game, how it looked,
etc." This statement raises worrisome questions:
1. How did the Army get "ahold" of those early documents”?
2. How much choice of publisher did Stahl and company actually
In any case, the Army ultimately made two versions, one of
which is being used right now by real American soldiers for
training, and a very similar version being sold in stores.
Real soldiers and couch bound warriors alike learn battle
tactics by playing a video game. Thus, the real and the virtual
become indistinguishable. The U.S. Army recruits real soldiers
by appealing to them through video games and suggests that
video gamers’ virtual prowess and enjoyment translate
directly into real-world Army suitability and success.
In one important sense, the first-person-shooter genre itself
contributes to this fusion of the real and the virtual. In
recent years, in-game instructions have become standard parts
of all FPSs and most video games in general; James Paul Gee
explains in detail, in his book What Video Games Have
to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy, how they help
the player learn to “read” and understand the
game, to figure out what to do in the game world. So, for
example, in America’s Army, the sergeant character
gives the player basic directions to get started. He gives
commands like, “Press <G> to fix jammed weapon,”
“Press <T> to bring up sights,” and “Press
<B> to reload.” In doing so, he merges the player’s
onscreen and real-life identities. The sergeant is onscreen,
talking to the player’s onscreen representation, but
he’s giving directions that only the real-world person
can carry out. The onscreen representation doesn’t have
a G, T, or B button to push – it’s the real-world
person doing that. Similarly, in Medal of Honor: Frontline
the player is to “press Select to get hints from HQ,”
and “press Start to review mission objectives.”
In-game, players are spoken to as their real-world self and
their onscreen self simultaneously and without differentiation,
which means those identities merge.
With the real and the virtual mingling so thoroughly in war
video games, perhaps it’s only natural that both players
and game makers reproduce and perpetuate this fusion in the
way they talk. It’s not some kind of schizophrenia or
delusion, it’s the ordinary, proper response to the
postmodern facts. For example, imagining someone playing Full
Spectrum Warrior with guns blazing rather than cautiously
and strategically, William Stahl predicts, “His men
will die. Mothers will lose their son, wives will lose their
husbands, and children will lose their fathers.” OXM
also warns, “Don’t press [the Action] button [in
this game] until you’ve assessed the situation and made
the right plan or it’ll be the last button you press.”
Er, they do mean in-game...right? Thus, it’s not so
outlandish for the magazine to call Full Spectrum Warrior
“The Game That Captured Saddam.” OXM
explains, “This game was made to train the US Army infantry...they’re
the ones who dug Saddam out of his hole. So technically this
game caught Saddam.” Nor is it as insane as it might
first appear when one gamer writes in anticipation of playing
Battlefield: Vietnam, “The Vietnam War was
said to be a draw, but when this game comes out everyone will
see that the U.S.A. is the best army in the world.”
His comment suggests that an alleged misperception of history
– namely, that the U.S. did not decisively win that
war – will be corrected by people’s playing the
game. He’s epistemologically assuming, and rhetorically
suggesting, that not only do video games refer to and simulate
real-world battles, but because this is so, they also provide
players an accurate recreative picture of history. In this
understanding, war games not only borrow from history, they
also teach it.
Many veterans’ and historical organizations have bestowed
awards on games such as the Medal of Honor series
for their educational value. Medal of Honor: Frontline’s
official sales copy at EBGames.com boasts, “Authentic
WWII content with the assistance of the Smithsonian’s
. . . expert Russ Lee and renowned technical consultant Capt.
Dale Dye,” and, “The MOH team continues to work
closely with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society to ensure
the ideals and integrity of this prestigious commendation.”
Not incidentally, that game awards the Congressional Medal
of Honor for especially meritorious military action –
in-game. If players complete a given mission quickly enough
and safely enough, they win a virtual medal. MOH: Frontline
also unlocks documentary movie clips and historical speech
excerpts as rewards for good performance in the game, and
it mixes game elements, such as the game’s logo and
menus, and historical elements, such as documentary film clips
and an exhortative speech by Dwight D. Eisenhower, without
any differentiation of importance or validity. They all “feel
real.” Current war video games have blended and blurred
the real and the virtual.
Because that is so, the games’ romanticizing of war
becomes all the more seductive and powerful. Any truly realistic
recreation of war would cast some doubt on the idea that war
is cool and enjoyable, and that, as in sports, all one has
to do is “step up” and become an instant hero.
But the titles alone hint at how current war video games support
this old myth: Call of Duty, Full Spectrum Warrior,
Medal of Honor. Players can almost taste the medals,
just reading the game box. In-game, it immediately becomes
clear that the war effort would never get off the ground without
the player’s personal, constant heroics. What the U.
S. Army claims in its current advertising slogan is absolutely
true: the player really is “An Army of One.” Never
mind the Army’s famous unwieldy, illogical bureaucracy
made famous in works such as Catch-22 and M*A*S*H*.
Never mind the fact that boot camp is famously designed to
tear down the individual to replace that entity with a small
cog in a giant machine. Contrary to common-sense facts, the
war game player is always “An Army of One.” Medal
of Honor: Frontline’s first mission provides a
brilliant example of this. During this mission, “you”
are ordered onscreen to storm the beach at Normandy under
heavy machine-gun and rifle fire, provide covering fire for
three soldiers widely separated along the beach, run lengthwise
down the beach to an engineer then cover his run all the way
back, cross a minefield, storm a machine-gun nest and take
it over, mow down a wave of advancing German soldiers with
that machine-gun, and finally snipe two far-off machine-gunners
while still under fire. And that’s just the first mission!
What must the odds be that any individual would a) be present
at D-Day; b) be asked to personally complete every single
necessary task at that battle; and c) survive to complete
them all successfully, thus winning that battle singlehandedly?
The whole game continues like that: the player is assigned
all the work at all the key European battles, eventually bringing
about V-E Day completely solo.
This begins to answer the important question, “Why would
someone want to realistically recreate the experience of war?
Isn’t it just common sense to avoid being there?”
One game magazine editor raises exactly this question when
he writes, “With the new wave of games pushing the envelope
of realism it begs the question: how real do we want it? Do
we want games that’ll simulate war to such a degree
that it’s possible to suffer from post-game-atic syndrome?”
Judging by the state of the games now, the answer for both
gamers and game makers is a resounding “No.” For
all their attention to accurately recreating sounds, weapons,
locales, and uniforms, and for all their visual drama and
flair, the new “realistic” war video games do
not, in fact, reproduce the real conditions of war. They still
play too much like other FPSs, and significantly, like goreless
FPSs. Although players see soldiers being blown into the air
by mines, riddled with machine-gun fire, and sniped from all
directions, they never see blood or a flying body part, ever.
Thus, I would argue, what the new war games are is not realistic,
but cinematic. They don’t reproduce the real world experience
of war; they do reproduce the theatrical experience of war.
Games use all of the same techniques as movies for framing
shots, editing, pacing, and narration. Playing one of the
new war video games is very much like starring in a war movie.
For example, the MOH: Frontline opening mission is
a rather accurate, if condensed, version of the first thirty
minutes of Saving Private Ryan, even down to individual
camera shots: bullets whizzing along underwater past slowly
sinking soldiers, and the company’s seeking cover under
a low hill while the engineer blows away the barbed wire barrier.
Medal of Honor: Rising Sun similarly steals heavily
from the much less well-made movie Pearl Harbor. H. L. Mencken
once described art as “life with all the boring parts
taken out.” War has been described as 99 percent boredom
punctuated by short bursts of abject terror. No one in their
right mind would want to reproduce that, and, in recent war
video games, no one does. Instead, the games are, in essence,
interactive movies about war with all the boring parts taken
out. But the boring parts were already pretty much taken out
by the movies, so in the games, all that’s left is action,
action, action – the player winning a war single handedly.
The war games make players heroes, in a bloodless, risk-free
environment where they can show off their “mad skillz.”
As it turns out, then, logical answers do exist for the question,
“Why in the world would anyone want to recreate the
experience of war?” First, the games don’t do
quite that; rather, they recreate movies about the experience
of war. The additional remove is key. Playing the games provides
an entertaining, cinematic experience, rather than the horrible
one a true recreation would give. Even if the imagery is not
pleasing, it certainly is immersive. And as Miroslaw Filiciak
points out, we value the experience of immersion in itself.
We intentionally overlook unconvincing elements of the experience
so as to become more fully immersed: “We desire the
experience of immersion, so we use our intelligence to reinforce
rather than to question the reality of the experience.”
In short, it doesn’t really matter that the war games
aren’t fully realistic; gamers enjoy them for what they
are, interactive movies that temporarily immerse us in the
games’ battles. The second answer to the question, “Why
would anyone want to recreate the experience of war?”
is to play the hero, in a cinematically intense experience
in which we can play an active part rather than just settling
passively down into our couches and watching as movies force
us to do. And third, we get to see ourselves onscreen playing
the hero. Filiciak observes: "Contemporary people have
a fascination with electronic media, something we cannot define,
something that escapes our rationalizations. . . . We make
the screen a fetish; we desire it, not only do we want to
watch the screen but also to 'be seen' on it . . . being on
the screen ennobles. All the time we have the feeling (more
or less true) that others are watching us. The existence of
an audience is an absolute necessity." We can see “ourselves”
onscreen in any video game, but in online war games such as
America’s Army and Battlefield: Vietnam,
we can also be seen by other players. We can show off our
skills, and brag about our victories, to others who have just
witnessed them. We can enact the electronic equivalent of
dancing in the end zone.
The reasons for making the new war video games are even more
obvious than those for playing them. Foremost, there’s
the money. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article,
Americans now spend more money on video games than on movies.
Games are huge business, and they’re steadily getting
huger. One key game maker, the real-world U.S. Army –
and by extension, the other service branches and the federal
government as a whole – reaps huge benefits from the
games’ popularity. Not only does the current hawkish
regime gain flesh-and-blood recruits for the armed services,
it also gains general credibility and support as the games
work their propagandist magic. By hiding ugly realities and
producing cinematic cotton candy, the games make real war
seem exciting, heroic, even fun. And so hawkish political
candidates seem not bellicose, but reasonable. Rapidly escalating
defense costs look not wasteful, but common-sensical. Thus
our two-front war rolls on and on and on.
From Brian Cowlishaw, Assistant Professor of English at Northeastern
(He would like to extend special thanks to NSU’s Living
Literature Program, for which this study was originally begun.)