This project investigates the impact of DEFCON, a critically acclaimed nuclear war strategy game, on university students’ attitudes toward nuclear weapons. DEFCON is a game which gives users an “in the bunker at NORAD” experience–as a grim soundtrack plays and sirens wail, players must make decisions about how best to use their nation’s nuclear arsenal as well as attempt to defend against incoming strikes. As the game’s tagline–“Everybody dies”–indicates, playing DEFCON implies reckoning with the terrifying power of nuclear weapons, and video game ethicists have consequently theorized that DEFCON is an especially promising game in terms of getting users to reflect upon the world outside the game. Our project has been putting this hypothesis to the test, and early results have been promising.
Games and Public Engagement