Who are the enemies?: The visual framing of enemies in digital games

Valeriano, B. and Habel, P. (2016) Who are the enemies?: The visual framing of enemies in digital games. International Studies Review, 18(3), pp. 462-486. (doi: 10.1093/isr/viv007)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


Digital games are among the most popular forms of entertainment media. Despite their ubiquity, the fields of political science, International Relations, and political communication have generally overlooked the study of digital games. We take up this void by examining the international enemies depicted in combat games – specifically, first-person shooter (FPS) games – which can speak to the process in the construction of international threats in society. Our review of framing the enemy gleans perspectives from multiple disciplines including International Relations, political communication, and digital gaming. Our empirical analysis traces the evolution of images in digital games from 2001 to 2013 to reveal the identity of the enemies and protagonists and to examine the context of the game – including the setting where each game takes place. We find that Russians are a popular form of enemy in FPS games even after considering terrorists as a broad category. Our review of the literature and our empirical analysis together present a foundation for the future study of digital games as a process of framing of enemies and transmission of threats.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Habel, Dr Philip and Valeriano, Dr Brandon
Authors: Valeriano, B., and Habel, P.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:International Studies Review
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN (Online):1468-2486
Published Online:05 March 2016

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record