From Sun Tzu to Xbox

War and Videogames


Oct 21 at Other Cinema, SF CA!
See for details.

Press / Reviews


The Village Voice
"Steeped in a deep history of gaming and simulation, Halter's expert tome is primarily about a long-standing American obsession with technology, which he illustrates by examining the adoption of video-game culture by the military. The U.S. military is enthusiastic for things which are transformational, such as tactics and training billed as capable of making it over into something it isn't: an instrument for winning wars without fuss...[Halter] describes how America's Army was an online blockbuster, a thrilling experience for its makers and gamers, unattached to the reality of the war on terror."

Time Out New York
"Outraged parents have been complaining for decades that video games turn kids into numbed killing machines; according to Ed Halter's far-ranging sociological exploration of the medium's military-themed entries, it's something that the armed forces are counting on...But Halter is after a bigger philosophical picture befitting of the subject's moral grey area, and he tackles the queasy coupling of the entertainment industry and Warfare Inc. with impressive intellectual rigor"

Tom Moody
"After exploring the intertwined histories of combat and play, from chess to modern 'war game' exercises, Halter probes the nexus among the US military, academia, Hollywood, and the gaming industries that led to the development and promotion of such popular games as Full Spectrum Warrior and America's Army. I almost wrote 'unholy nexus' but that's probably not the phrase Halter would use. He has a deceptively calm 'just the facts ma'am' style that lays out all the information and leaves it to readers' heads to explode."

Filmmaker Magazine
"Erudite and entertaining...Exploring games from Halo to Bad Dudes vs. Bin Laden--and battles from our current Iraq invasion to future combats existing now only in Pentagon simulations--Halter unveils the deep, dark ways in which our most profitable form of entertainment gets us ready for war."

The Escapist
"A richly detailed, fascinating history of war and gaming, filled with analysis for the pundits as well as tidbits that delight the military historian and videogamer both."

GameCulture Journal
"Ed Halter’s From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games is something of a minor miracle. He has written a well argued, in-depth study meant for mass consumption that never feels watered-down...Should not be missed!"

"An estimable work, a milestone of research in videogame studies, that should be even more useful contributing to fill the lack of awareness in the current media-induced absence of distinction between wars appearing on the screen and wars taking place in reality."

"Deserves a place on the politically-aware gamer’s bookshelf...Those who follow the political hurly burly on GamePolitics may be surprised to learn that game controversies are nothing new...Such is the hidden brilliance of From Sun Tzu to Xbox."

Rochester City News
"Although Halter asks tough questions that have few answers, From Sun Tzu to Xbox is no radical diatribe against the evils of the military machine. Instead, the book is a thoughtful, measured approach to one of today's most intriguing political and philosophical quandaries: where does war end and entertainment begin?"

"An extremely engaging, well researched and fascinating treatise bursting with intriguing ideas about war and gaming in general. It is a scholarly book and Halter obviously knows his shit. But his writing is punctuated by just the right amount of irreverence."

Evergreen Review
"Halter draws attention to many of the corporate entertainment/military alliances that currently interlace the game world, noting, surprisingly, that it is often the military that demands the most cutting edge technological innovations...Halter doesn't give us much to look forward to, but he is to be applauded for opening our eyes to this grim future in his sober and sobering account."

Interviews & Features

Firing Squad


Washington Post

KPFA Berkeley (audio)

KPFK Los Angeles (audio)

Book talk with Tom Moody (audio)

Small World Podcast (audio)

The Alex Jones Show (video) (audio)

Itaú Culural (Portuguese)

Pre-release chatter

Rhizome announces the party
...and NEWSgrist blogs it

...and Eyebeam re-blogs it

More notice from Gamesetwatch
...and Kotaku
...and Techdirt
...and GamePolitics
...and Joystiq
...and Instapundit

The War Games lecture:

From Sun Tzu to Xbox evolved from a multimedia-enhanced lecture Ed Halter gave at various spots in 2003 and 2004 at venues like Images, Cinematexas, Impakt, and Ocularis. Some responses to the talk:

Meer TV interviews Ed in Utrecht (video)

Liam O'Donnell reviews the Toronto talk

Aphra Kerr at reviews the Dublin talk

More to Come!


Press Release

Author Photo (credit: Kevin Jerome Everson)
Cover Art