Release party for From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games

Part of the Celebrating New Media Scholarship series

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The New Museum Store
556 W 22nd Street
New York, NY 10011
Phone: (212) 343-0460

The New Museum of Contemporary Art and Rhizome are pleased to present a reception for Ed Halter's pioneering new book From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games. The first book by this leading media and culture critic, From Sun Tzu to Xbox provides a definitive history of the longstanding relationship between games and military culture.

Beginning with wargaming's roots in ancient civilizations, Halter traces the relationship between simulation and military strategy up through the Cold War-era development of computing for battle to a recent crop of Pentagon-funded shoot-'em-ups and commercial video games based on real wars. With their high-tech weapons, gung-ho desert soldiers, and terrorist scenarios ripped from the headlines, these ultra-realistic video games have moved to the forefront of the militarization of popular culture. At the same time, new possibilities have emerged to use video games for anti-war activism and critique. Halter explores the governmental, social and psychological aspects of contemporary gaming -- a pastime that has come to rival Hollywood in popularity.

Examining US military projects like America's Army and Full Spectrum Warrior, commercial games from Battlezone to Conflict: Desert Storm, as well as mods, artworks, and homebrewed games, From Sun Tzu to Xbox offers the first political history of the video game and a powerful argument of its role in the way Americans have come to think about war.

Critic and curator Ed Halter writes about film and media for The Village Voice and other publications. From 1995 to 2005, he oversaw the New York Underground Film Festival, one of the most important events for alternative and experimental cinema in the US, and has curated for venues such as the Museum of Modern Art, Eyebeam, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Flaherty Film Seminar, and Cinematexas. He is a visiting lecturer in Film and Electronic Arts at Bard College.

Advance praise for From Sun Tzu to Xbox:

Ed Halter has written the definitive account of the military entertainment complex. This book is essential for anyone interested in the future of games, computers, media, culture, war -- and peace.
--McKenzie Wark, author of A Hacker Manifesto
Yes, just when you thought American political culture could not get any more bizarre, Ed Halter drops the bomb. This superb book is more than just a weird riff on the limp machismo, hero worship, and couch potato patriotism of combat themed game culture. These pages are shot through with original and important ideas, each of which could easily be spun off in to whole dissertations. You must read this book.
--Christian Parenti, author of The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq