“Interactive Enemy”: American Video Games of the 1980s аs a Positioning Resource of the “Soviet Alien”
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“Interactive Enemy”: American Video Games of the 1980s аs a Positioning Resource of the “Soviet Alien”
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Sergey Belov 
Herzen University
Lomonosov Moscow State University
Address: Russian Federation, Saint Petersburg; Moscow

The present study is devoted to the study of the practice of displaying the image of the “Soviet side” in American video games of the 1980s. The empirical base of the study is formed by two clusters of cybernarrative — games in which the image of the enemy is set in the context of current geopolitics and historical military strategies dedicated to the events of World War II. The work methodology is built on the basis of a combination of elements of structural, comparative and descriptive analysis. The author comes to the conclusion that video games inscribed in the current political context are characterized by a differentiated positioning of the “Russians”. It ranged from an existential threat and a stronghold of authoritarian expansion to a “symmetrical adversary” that did not differ much from the United States in terms of methods to achieve the goal. However, unequivocally or at least conditionally positive (or humanized) representatives of the Soviet side were absent in American video games. Historical strategies did not use the direct positioning of the Soviet side. But the perception of “Russians” was set indirectly: the nomenclature of playable factions and the possibility of choosing between them pushed the player to develop a moral argument that justified his identification on the playing field with Nazi Germany. Under these conditions, he was probably forced either to equate the USSR and the “Third Reich”, or to view the Soviet Union in an even more negative way than Nazi Germany. What was largely facilitated by the general context of American popular culture in the 1980s.

Cold War, video games, USSR, USA, enemy image, alien image, positioning
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This work was supported by the Russian Science Foundation under Grant [№ 22-18-00305 https://rscf.ru/en/project/22-18-00305/, ‘‘The images of enemy in Cold War popular culture: their content, contemporary reception and usage in Russian and U.S. symbolic politics’’.
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