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Theorising Schmitt's friend-enemy through Deleuzian folding and first-person shooters.

The friend-enemy distinction is one of the most influential concepts of modern politics. It dominates both theory and practice in international relations and conditions the imaginations of political leaders and those they lead. For realists, friend-enemy manifests an individual disposition writ large, as they project a Hobbesian conception of the state of nature onto an international level. War, for Hobbes, "is first and foremost a de facto condition of human nature," and is a result of "the passions of human beings" (Thivet 2008, 702, 705). For realists, "states are motivated by a survival instinct ..." (Maoz, Terris, Kuperman, and Talmud 2007, 101). Schmitt's importance, in this context, is as "the forerunner of political realista, as exemplified in the work of Hans Morgenthau, E. H. Carr and Hedley Bull" (Chandler 2008, 45). Indeed, unlike the approach of the Greeks of the classical era, who "did not place friendship directly into a relation to war ...[,] the modern notion of 'the friend' already includes this relation in the opposition between 'the friend' and 'the enemy', as Schmitt has already argued in The Concept of the Political ..." (Lambert 2008, 44).

Schmitt's views on the nature of friend-enemy, however, can also be read against the background of Deleuze's work, and this gives them a different character. In this article, Schmitt's notion of the autonomy of the political will be read in terms of Deleuze's concepts of fold, vinculum, strata, and plateau. Rather than treat friend-enemy as an existential, ethical, economic, or psychological distinction, it will be read as a distinction constituted through the folds of the political.

While Schmitt was sometimes unable to maintain the separateness of the political, by insisting that friend-enemy belongs to the political and to no other stratum or plateau, Schmitt provides an opportunity for theorising this distinction in Deleuzian terms. In short, friend-enemy is a monad produced through the folds that constitute the political. Crucially, the political is a stratum or plateau that is at a distance from, and has minimal contact with, other strata or plateaus. Some of the implications of this are explained through a discussion of friend-enemy as it is enfolded in first-person shooters (FPSs), with particular reference to the other folds that some gamers seek to enfold with those of FPS gaming.

This article is in four parts. The first presents Schmitt's ideas concerning friend-enemy and the political. Deleuze's ideas concerning enfolding are then introduced. The third part reconceives Schmitt's ideas concerning the political in a Deleuzian manner. Two sections comprise the fourth, and final, part, in which the understanding of friend-enemy presented is applied to FPSs. The first of these sections outlines of the characteristics of FPSs. The second is a demonstration of the ways that FPSs express Schmitt's friend-enemy as understood through Deleuze's concept of enfolding.

Schmitt's Friend-Enemy Distinction and the Political

Friend-enemy is, for Schmitt, at the very heart of the political. "The ... political can be understood only in the context of the ever present possibility of the friend-and-enemy grouping ..." (Schmitt 1996, 35). Indeed, "the possibility which underlies every political idea [is] ... the distinction of friend and enemy" (35). While other bases for constituting like and unlike exist, it is only when they produce the friend-enemy effect that they express and instantiate the political. Thus, "every religious, moral, economic, ethical, or other antithesis transforms into a political one if it is sufficiently strong to group human beings effectively according to friend and enemy" (37). For Schmitt, "an enemy exists only when ... one fighting collectivity of people confronts a similar collectivity. The enemy is solely the public enemy ..." (28). For "a private person has no political enemies" (51).

Individuals do not determine friend-enemy; this is the role of the state. "In its entirety the state as an organized political entity decides for itself the friend-enemy distinction" (29-30). For Schmitt, friend-enemy must be understood in a "concrete and existential sense" and not "in a private-individualistic sense as a psychological expression of private emotions and tendencies" (27-28). Those who act for the state might seek to extract the necessary energies from citizens by bringing them to see the enemy as "evil and ugly ... [but] the inherently objective nature and autonomy of the political becomes evident by virtue of its being able to treat, distinguish, and comprehend the friend-enemy antithesis independently of other antitheses" (27).

For Schmitt, the enemy is the enemy because the enemy is a threat that must be met with violence. "We" may not be at war, but the idea of the enemy is one that contains the possibility of warfare. Thus, for Schmitt, "to the enemy concept belongs the ever present possibility of combat" (32). And to the idea of combat belongs the possibility, some might suggest necessity, for killing. "The friend, enemy, and combat concepts receive their real meaning precisely because they refer to the real possibility of physical killing" (33). The enemy, then, is an enemy because it is a threat to "our" existence. An "interpretation of Schmitt that center on his alleged "occasional" belligerence remain plausible because of the stress he places on the threat of physical death implicit in the encounter with the enemy" (Norris 1998, 71).

The autonomy of the political is expressed in Schmitt's view "that aggressive war should not (and could not) be made an enforceable crime" and his opposition "to any liberal legal formalism, which could only be a moral judgement on the operation of power relations" (Chandler 2008, 45). As Schmitt put it, "justice does not belong to the concept of war ..." (1996, 49). The moral and the political must be disconnected. His "critique of universal claims was not based on a moral critique of power or of sovereignty ..." (Chandler 2008, 42). Instead, he "continually highlights the problematic and divisive nature of inter-imperialist rivalry, sharpened by clashes over universal moral claims...." The problem was that such claims "made it impossible to legitimize a working arrangement. His call for a restoration of the political is for an honest 'pact amongst thieves' focused on clarity of interest in maintaining world order ..." (38).

Schmitt sought to disconnect politics and law, at least "law" conceived of law as expressing some abstract conception of "justice." Law, for Schmitt, was an expression of the political and not the moral. This is why, as Chandler pointed out, he rejected the use of universal principles to justify humanitarian interventions that overrode national sovereignty. In the end, it comes down to the position that "once politics returns, 'humanity' disappears; by definition: 'Humanity is not a political concept'" (Chandler 2008, 41). If there is some 'ethics' that might be associated with the political, as Odysseos pointed out, "the 'ethics' ... can be seen as an 'ethos of survival.'" In adopting this position, political realists engaged in "a parallel framing of the relationship between IR and ethics, that is, a framing which reflects IR as the self and ethics as the enemy of IR." Thus, it is "the realist ground on which some IR theories rest, and the ethos of survival that it generates, [that] is largely accountable for sustaining the separateness of ethics and IR ..." (404).

Once the political has produced the friend-enemy distinction, it is up to the soldiers to develop effective military strategies and whatever else is required for dealing with the enemy. "In wars the adversaries most often confront each other openly; normally they are identifiable by a uniform, and the distinction of friend and enemy is therefore no longer a political problem which the fighting soldier has to solve" (Schmitt 1996, 34). Once politics has done its job, soldiers can concentrate on functioning as part of a military.

Deleuze on Folds, Vincula, Strata, and Plateaus

Deleuze's The Fold : Leibniz and the Baroque presented a theory of enfolding that is a framework for reconceiving Schmitt's friend-enemy and to understand FPS gaming. Following Leibniz, Deleuze represented all phenomena as enfoldings within a space that contains all possible enfoldings. The virtual, then, are those potential actuals that had not become actual. Thus, "actuality is unfolded from potentiality ... [and is] that which has been effected from potentiality" (Colebrook 2005, 10). For Deleuze, there is no outside that is not a reflection or refraction of an inside. All effects emerge from effects within. The principal effect is that of the enfolding of monads, which could range from elementary particles to social structures, though the latter are more likely to be described as vincula, strata, or plateaus.

Leibniz first drew attention to fact that "the monad as absolute interiority, as an inner surface with only one side, nonetheless has another side, or a minimum of outside, a strictly complementary form of Outside." This other side, however, was not "exterior to the monad, but [w]as the exterior or outside of its own interiority: a partition, a supple and adherent membrane coextensive with everything inside. Such is the vinculum, the unlocalizable primary link that borders the absolute interior" (Deleuze 1993, 111).

When it comes to enfolding, then, it is "as if the equation of the world had to be inscribed twice, once in the minds that conceive it more or less distinctly, and a second time in a Nature that makes it possible in the form of two calculi" (101-02). As Laerke suggested, for "Leibniz, extension is only given in the perception of each individual monad, and does not have objective reality" (2001, 106). Thus, "the time and space in which extended things are situated, are only derivative functions of the relative positions between extended things and pure beings of the imagination" (107). Following Leibniz, Deleuze and Guattari argued that "a multiplicity is defined not by the elements that compose it in extension, not by the characteristics that compose it in comprehension, but by the lines and dimensions it encompasses in 'intension'" (2004, 253).

This holding together to form monads is taken up in vincula, strata, and plateaus that form and hold together selected monads. Deleuze introduced the notion of "a Superposition of planes to describe how a stratification gains the consistency through which it succeeds to hold together the intensities it organizes ..." (Laerke 2001, 111-12). For Deleuze and Guattari, as Harris points out, aggregates are produced through intercalated elements, intervals and articulations of superposition. "[I]ntercalcalated elements imply that there is no beginning from which linear sequence would derive; intervals dictate that consolidation occurs through arrangement and distribution; and articulations of superposition entail that consolidation entails disparate, overlapping rhythms" (Harris 2005, 40).

Deleuze's conceptualization reflects Leibniz's idea that "bifurcations and divergences of series are genuine borders between incompossible worlds, such that the monads that exist wholly include the compossible world that moves into existence" (1993, 81). Deleuze's interest in the baroque is because it "represents the ultimate attempt to reconstitute a classical reason by dividing divergences into as many worlds as possible, and by making from incompossibilities as many possible borders between worlds ... the only irreducible dissonances are between different worlds" (81-82).

The Political as Fold, Vinculum, Stratum, and Plateau

Schmitt assumed that friend-enemy was an ontological or essential one. (1) "There always are concrete human groupings which fight other concrete human groupings in the name of justice, humanity, order, or peace." Thus, "political thought and the political instinct prove themselves theoretically and practically in the ability to distinguish friend and enemy," and the "high points of politics" were those "moments in which the enemy is, in concrete clarity, recognized as the enemy" (Schmitt 1996, 67). For Schmitt, we look into the world in order to identify enemies and friends, and this constitutes a universal distinction that precedes any attempt to determine who our enemies and friends are.

This approach, however, reflects a flawed conception of philosophy, which Deleuze and Guattari dismissed as "taking refuge in universals" (1994, 10). For Deleuze and Guattari, specific problems are the source of the concepts produced by philosophers. "All concepts are connected to problems without which they would have no meaning and which can themselves only be isolated or understood as their solution emerges" (16). Concepts are expressions of creative acts, and the purpose of philosophy "is not to direct or methodologically apply a thought which pre-exists in principle and in nature, but to bring into being that which does not yet exist ..." (Deleuze 1994, 147).

"[S]omething in the world forces us to think. This something is ah object not of recognition but of a fundamental encounter" (139). That which gives rise to thought "can only be sensed [and] is opposed to recognition. In recognition, the sensible is not at all that which can only be sensed, but that which bears directly upon the senses in an object which can be recalled, imagined or conceived" (139). Friend-enemy is a selection, rather than an identification, as "events are produced in a chaos in a chaotic multiplicity, but only under the condition that a sort of screen intervenes" (1993, 76). The moment in which friend and enemies are distinguished is one in which an order is produced from virtual chaos. "From a psychic point of view, chaos would be a universal giddiness, the sum of all possible perceptions being infinitesimal or infinitely minute, but the screen would extract differentials that could be integrated in ordered perceptions" (77).

It might be better, then, to understand that which is enfolded as friend-enemy in terms of the concept of the vinculum. A vinculum operates as an overarching or dominant term that organizes the monads that relate to it. Thus, "as a membrane, wall, or partition, the vinculum works as a sort of grid filtering the monads it receives as terms" (Deleuze 1993, 112). More importantly, when it comes to the constitution of a social body; "every body acquires individuality of a possessive insofar as it belongs to a private soul, and souls accede to a public status, that is, they are taken in a crowd or in a heap, inasmuch as they belong to a collective body" (119).

Friend-enemy is a particular surface upon which two necessarily coincident monads or vincula are constituted. Each body, which can be conceived either as a monad or a set of monads organized under a vinculum, is, in turn, taken up under yet another vinculum through which it attains meaning as friend or enemy. I enfold/am enfolded in a vinculum of recognition in which two bodies encounter each other, I am/we are then enfolded in a vinculum or strata in which friend-enemy is found.

Schmitt's friend-enemy produces three terms: the friend, the enemy, and the vinculum, or stratum, upon which friend-enemy is distinguished. To this extent, friend-enemy manifests internality, or singularity. For Hallward, "Deleuze works very literally toward a world without others altogether ..."

(1997, 530). As a consequence, "Deleuze denies the philosophical reality of all relations--with and between others ... [and] writes an immediate philosophy of the singular as such, the singular as absolute, beyond relation, as sovereign or self-constituent" (530). Thus, for Hallward, Deleuze's work can be read
   as an effort to privilege the singular or 'self-differing' over the
   specific or 'co-differing.' Singular difference inheres entirely in
   what differs. It equates differing and differed, makes of
   difference the very form of immediacy, pure time-in-itself,
   immanent only to itself.... The singular creates the medium of its
   own environment or expression; it is immediate to itself in the
   most literal sense of the word. It is a wholly self-constituent,
   wholly sovereign force. (531-2)

That difference is preordained through the political requires, in the context of Deleuze's thought, enquiry into the problem from which friend-enemy is an outcome. The political constitutes the enemy by way of unifying a people, or a set of peoples if it is at the heart of an alliance, and distinguishing an enemy. Crudely put, the problem might be understood as that of designating the inside and the outside. Slightly less crudely put, the problem is one of identifying those who are ruled, governed, or regulated and those whose non-inclusion threatens, or can be taken to threaten, those included. This requires a further step in which those who are not ruled, governed, or regulated are enfolded in a larger vinculum or stratum.

Friend-enemy is a qualitative difference. That is, it is not a difference in number but in the quality that we enfold as a surface of recognition. For

"the qualitative other is not ontologically other, that is, that while qualitative variation or difference is constitutive of form, this same fact precludes characterizing the 'other' as ontologically or numerically distinct from the thing itself. In short, constitution via qualitative difference problematizes the other as ontologically or numerically discrete" (Donkel 2001, 327).

Rubin's goblet/profile coupling illustrates this. We "can, under the rubric of number count the goblet and profile as two things, thereby deploying an onto-numerical distinction ...", however, to do so "is ontologically suspect" (Donkel 2001, 327).

As Donkel argued, we "the possibility of number is rooted in a move that seeks to distinguish one from the other, without due regard for the condition that would enable one or the other, that is without attending to the condition of identity and its resident self-effacement" (327). Qualitative difference, then, "does not engender onto-numerically specific forms that would otherwise support a discourse of identity, otherness, or contradiction" (327). Rather, it "is internal in that there is no numerical or ontologically distinct thing outside the unity of being.... In other words, qualitative difference, as the internal structure of form, is not an element that resides between forms, or otherwise external to form as such" (328).

As Hallward put it, "Deleuze ... denies the philosophical reality of all relations--with and between others ... [and] writes an immediate philosophy of the singular as such, the singular as absolute, beyond relation, as sovereign or self-constituent" (1997, 530). For Hallward, Deleuze's entire corpus is "an effort to privilege the singular or 'self-differing' over the specific or 'co-differing.' Singular difference inheres entirely in what differs. It equates differing and differed, makes of difference the very form of immediacy.... The singular creates the medium of its own environment or expression; it is immediate to itself ..." (531-32).

Friend-Enemy as Fold, Vincula, Strata, and Plateau of the Political

While Schmitt can be taken to have identified something essential either to human being or to the nature of the world, this, from a Deleuzian point of view, would be mistake. For Schmitt's work suggests that friend-enemy constitutes a particular folding that creates a surface upon which or through which the monads or vincula of friend-enemy emerge.

Schmitt himself identifies alternative strata that would hold concepts that might relate to but would to form part of the political. One significant and contemporary alternative is that of the Christian-Muslim distinction, which reproduces many effects that might be associated with the surface/ fold on which friend-enemy is held, but does not produce the friend-enemy distinction. For this theological strata are of a different form. "A religious community which wages wars against members of other religious communities or engage sin other wars is already more than a religious community; it is a political entity" (Schmitt 1996, 37).

This also applied to conflicts between associations of people that reflect divergent economic interests (37). A battle fought between works and their "class adversary," according to Schmitt, ceases to be "fought according to economic laws but has--next to the fighting methods in the narrowest technical sense--its political necessities and orientations, coalitions an compromises, and so on" (37). Further, "a proletarian state ... is by no means less of a political power than a national state, a theocratic, mercantile, or soldier state, a civil state, or some other type of political enemy" (37-38).

The fold, to which good and evil attach, represents yet another means for conceiving a distinction that might be mistaken for, but is not part of that fold to which friend-enemy is inextricably linked. Each of these strata is contained in the totality of folds and may be separated by an extremely small distance. But the person whose concepts are held by one stratum is not the person whose concepts are held by another. This is suggested by the notion of the conceptual universe.

When Schmitt is read through Deleuze, friend-enemy is constituted on the fold of the political, or as a fold of the political. To that extent, the problem to which friend-enemy is a response belongs to a particular form of the political universe, rather than to those formed as one of or within religious, civilizational, cultural, or moral strata. The political in at least one of its manifestations, or as one of its manifestations, is a fold in which a threatening friend and a threatening other emerge (in which the threatening nature is the problem and the threat that we and the friend poses for the enemy and the threat that the enemy poses for us and the friend).

The fold of friend-enemy may itself rely upon other folds. Norris suggested one of these folds when he saw friend-enemy in terms of a particular way of manifesting identity, in this case that form of identity in which belonging to a group constitutes a vinculum to which a number of concepts attach. "The friend/enemy criterion defines a particular form of life, one in which group identity is valued above physical existence" (1998, 71).


First-person shooters emerged in the 1970s, with Maze War and Spasim.

It was with Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Half-Life, Quake, and GoldenEye 007, all of which came out in the 1990s, that the first-person shooter form was defined. Central to FPSs is the point-of-view (POV) shot that first emerged in Hollywood. As Galloway points out, and this is consistent with the FPS, "the POV shot is an abstract shot, an iconographic substitute for the character's vision. It pretends to be from the character's point of view ..." (2006, 41).

In the first instance, we can distinguish first- and third-person games. In third-person games, a player observes the avatar who/that represents that player in the gamespace. Players use their keyboard and mouse or controller to manipulate an avatar that is available for view. In FPSs, a weapon and sometimes a hand or arm holding that weapon represents the player. To that extent it replicates the POV shot to which Galloway refers. "The most common firing mode in use today is the standard first-person shooter mode with an immersive weapon model. In this model, the camera is embedded in the avatar's space (the 'eyes'), and some amount of the weapon and its projectile exit point or points is visible" (Hunter 2008, 15).

As Kurtz pointed out, however, all FPSs break the conventions of the POV shot by giving players "information regarding the protagonist's condition, including the weaponry and ammunition he is carrying, even what he is wearing." In order to provide this information, games such as Quake and Doom "depart from the virtual experience altogether by inserting an information bar at the bottom of the screen, which among other things, contains a graphic representation of the protagonist's face" (2002, 113).

In Borden's view, seven games, "created" the modern team-player FPS. Doom (1993) provided the "first networked multiplayer gameplay." Quake (1996, 1997, 1999) "gave us" "Internet play, [a] 3D engine and team play." Tribes (1998 and 2001) contributed "player classes, vehicles/aircraft, [and] 32 player servers" (208, par. 6-8). Battlezone (1998) supplied a "commander with distinct top-down view and abilities, and faction-unique weapons, vehicles, and buildings" (par. 9). Unreal Tournament (1999) added "the Assault mode ... [which] emphasized team play in a way which had never been done before." Counterstrike (1999) "gave us ... tactical gameplay for the masses." Battlefield (2002) provided "64 players, vehicle gameplay innovations, cohesive in-game command structure, [and] universal stats with unlockable weapons/abilities" (par. 9).

The next step in understanding FPSs is to distinguish them on the basis of, what Aarseth, Smedstad, and Sunnana refer to as, "player structure" (2003, 51-52). The different player structures available in many games, including FPSs, are single-player, two-player, multi-player, single-team, two-team, and multi-team structures (51). (2) These differences will not be treated as crucial in the context of using FPSs to make sense of the friend-enemy distinction, though they are sometimes relevant. (3) So the following comments deal with FPS generally and embed discussion of the different player structures, rather than treat the player structures separately.

Before this analysis is presented, two limitations of this discussion must be acknowledged. First, this analysis does not engage with all of the folds through which the monads, including organs, necessary for the events of FPS gaming and online FPS gaming. These are associated with the ultimate emergence of the folds of machine-body that enable gaming of any type. The monads that function under the various vincula that are ultimately enfolded in the vinculum of FPS gaming are also composed of monads, but working down to these other levels is beyond the scope of this article. These include hands, fingers, eyes, controllers/keyboards, game boxes/computers, modems, cables/wireless connections, VDUs/televisions, speakers and headset microphones.

Higher order enfoldings and vincula, however, are of greater interest in this context. For it is in the folds that enfold events that are taken up in the vinculum of the political that Schmitt's friend-enemy and being in a FPS can be understood. The crucial point here is to separate out the folds and vincula across which military conflict travels and the other folds that are also present in the constitution of FPS gaming. These separations are often difficult to sustain, as Schmitt acknowledged, but they are crucial to understand the autonomy of the political.

The second point of limitation is that this discussion does not take into account the vincula of, what might be called, the commodification of gamespace. (4) While there are a number of FPSs available as freeware and/ or open source, (5) many others are proprietary software. Each of these forms of software is, in themselves, a different form of enfolding. Once again, the limitations of this study preclude dealing with these differences. We might also note the importance of the military-industrial complex, when it comes to the production of America's Army, which was produced by the US Army as a marketing and recruitment tool.

In the first instance, the space of most FPSs is something that is entered, rather than controlled by the player. Even those who develop mods, including new maps, which allow individualized input into the design and operation of a gamespace, cease to control that mod when they are in the game.

Once I have taken the step of putting myself at the mercy of the enfolding of FPS gamespace, I cease to control the attributes of the game that make sense of it. In the same way, when I join the armed forces, I must simply follow the designations produced through the political. That is, I recognize those who wear "our" uniform as my friends and other uniforms as designating my "allies" and my "enemies'; and when allies and enemies change, I simply reframe their uniforms. I am not to befriend the enemy or make an enemy of the friend. This belongs to a different vinculum, stratum, or plateau from the one I am on and of. (6)

When played in the single-player, two-player, and multi-player structure, the FPS gamespace is one of continual threat. The player has no ability to step outside the gamespace and seek truce or another form of rapprochement with another player. Joining the military forces, even if one is drafted, provides no scope for exiting the political (short, that is, of court-martial and possible execution). While we might invoke the notion of free choice, when it comes to military service and FPS gameplay, entry into the space precludes constituting some separate sphere from which other choices become available.

To this extent, the Nuremberg defence has real force and would seem to compel Schmitt and his followers. Once I enter the FPS gamespace, I am committed to killing and being killed. As Kurtz pointed out, "the general thematic of Wolfenstein 3D (and almost all subsequent first-person shooters) was quite simply, kill or be killed" (2002, 112). To enfold notions of a higher duty or moral code would be as ridiculous as seeking to apply moral or religious principles to reconstruct those I encounter in FPS gamespace.

In team play, I have friends (even if they are computer-generated bots), who remain my friends. I might delight in their avatar's demise, as I find myself behind them with respect to kills, medals, and the other signs of success in the game. I might, in the case of Halo 3, fire a shot at them to get their attention (they will not be harmed because their shields will protect them from a single shot). I might curse and otherwise "trashtalk" them in Teamspeak, or other modes of intra-team communication. (7) But they remain my friends. Their kills go to our team's kills. Our success is linked to their success. In some games, I can prevent them from being harmed by "friendly fire." In short, they are enfolded as "friend" and I am enfolded as "friend," and this happens, as it were, outside the game.

This does not mean that FPS designers have not sought to entangle their strata with other strata. Bio-shock, a single-player FPS for example, involves "torturous moral choices that involve killing what appear to be 8 year olds." (Boyer 2007b). The apparent children are called "Little-Sisters" who appear to be "gaunt 8-year-old girls who pop out of hatches to scour the area for corpses.... They've been genetically engineered ... to drink the blood of the dead and convert it to Adam stem-cell goo that fuels all superpowers ..." (66-72). In the logic of the game: "You want Adam; acquiring it is at the heart of your character-customization options. But here's the tricky part: ... you can opt to either 'save' the Little Sister and get a wee bit of Adam or 'harvest' her and get the maximum amount" (72).

Other designers have sought to connect their gamespaces to larger, more ideological, strata. America's Army, according to an army spokesperson, was created "to provide young adults with a virtual portal into the Army. We built it in such a way that they can explore key aspects of the Army, from basic training to simulated deployments in the War on Terrorism" (Moltenbrey 2006, 18). At an even deeper ideological level, and apparently "consistent with real-life Army values, ethics, and morals, players must adhere to rules of engagement or they will face consequences" (18-19). Thus, "players must be cautious not to harm fellow teammates or civilians. Minor infractions include point and honour loss, but reckless behaviour and indiscriminate weapon usage will land the person in a virtual Leavenworth prison Cell where the player will not be able to rejoin the server for a short period of time" (19).

On the other hand, or depending on how you view the US-Israel fold, the other side, 2007 saw Hezbollah release Special Force 2 (based on a conflict between Hezbollah and the Israeli army in 2006). In this game, "the more Israeli soldiers you kill, the more weapons and points you get." According to a Hezbollah spokesperson, Special Force 2 "presents the culture of the resistance to children: that occupation must be resisted and that land and the nation must be guarded" (Costa 2007, 54).

Another trend has been that "some games have begun to offer a more complete underlying narrative that provides a storyline and a justification for the actions taken during the game. The addition of a storyline provides a context for engaging in violent acts. The violent acts are made to seem reasonable, acceptable, and even necessary" (Schneider, Lang, Shin, and Bradley 2004, 362). According to Schneider et al., "players exhibited more physiological arousal for a longer period of time during story-based games than during nonstory-based games." However, "the game players did not consciously perceive a difference in arousal when they were playing a story-based game, their bodies were more aroused" (372).

Without a political to position a player-soldier in the context of their warring, then, single-players might find themselves less enfolded in the game. Thus, "the level of narrative structure plays an important role in single-player FPS games, but in multiplayer FPS games, the narrative aspects are reduced to the occasional reference to a narrative context" (Thon 2006, 246). Lacking a political that comes from outside the folds of self, a single-player would have no enemies and, thus, needs a narrative in order to produce the friend-enemy vinculum.

Other players seek to enfold different vincula with that of the fold of FPS gameplayer. Fraggot Gaming, for example, has been constituted as a gameplaying community for gays and lesbians interested in gaming. (8) The Fraggot Clan (9), which functions under Fraggot Gaming and appears to have both been a precursor to Fraggot Gaming and originated as a FPS clan--as "fragging" means killing. (10) The Internet, for Critical.Hurt, "can sometimes be a harsh place for those new & unaware ... now if you happen to be gay and like video games well: Congratulations! you just won 'the internet (world) hates you' card" (2008, par. 1). Though this will depend on which game you play, which will affect the demographic of gamers. Of the three games that Critical.Hurt mentioned as sources of the worst homophobia, two (Counter Strike: Source and Halo 3) were FPSs.

Starseed shared this sense of finding refuge in Fraggot Gaming: "when you look around the world you see people separating themselves into different groups. Different cultures, religions, countries. It may seem odd for us to separate ourselves like this, but we do it because we long to belong. We want to find a place in this world where we fit in, where we feel safe, where we feel secure" (2009, par. 1). With the creation of the Fraggot Gaming, "now we have members who join to play with other gay people, and stay because of how much they feel like they have that sense of belonging" (par. 1).

The problem for this approach, from a Schmittian perspective, is that gay or lesbian players will be required to forget their sexuality when in the FPS gamespace. No marker exists for showing that a person is gay or lesbian. The only markers are for friends and enemies. The responses to a post in a Fraggot Gaming forum illustrated this. On Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 9:45 am, mgsdude asked "is there anyway I can show I support you guys with tags without being in the clan itself (im alredy in one atm) like have FRGT or something after my name?" At 2:24 pm that day, RPD_MERCENARY wrote, "just put [GLBT] in front of ur name or something and that would show that you support us and all the other groups." Later that day atzecs, an administrator, pointed out that "we have had members that opted for using [FRGT] in the end of their nicknames. [FRGT] tag does not necessarily mean you're in the clan, it means your a supporter." (11) The point here is that the gamespace contains no means for marking sexuality and only marks friends and enemies. (12)

Nor is belonging part of FPS gamespace. Thus, social interaction in gamespace is limited to what is required by FPS gamespace, and "extensive social interaction is more often to be found in the various other forms of CMC that constitute the social context of multiplayer FPS games" (Thon 2006, 262). Thus, "smack talk or communication that refers to the social structure or the social context of the game is considered inappropriate when it takes up too much of the space ... that is needed for strategy talk and the like" (262). This is why "every successful multiplayer FPS game is surrounded by a variety of websites and discussion boards that the players use to establish social networks" (253).

Still others seek to enfold a moral into the political of the gamespace. The homepage of the "First Person Shooter Gaming Network," for example, lists "clans who pride themselves as non-cheating clans. Together we are forming a unified front against cheaters." (13) Those interested in being part of the Breakfast of Champions Clan were once told that "You only get kicked if you go crazy and start TKing your onw [sic] team mates. Or if you dishonor the Clan by talking trash about it. So keep it clean and keep your honor." (14) In both cases, the gamespace registers nothing concerning whether cheats are used or honor is maintained. The gamespace registers only kills, points, medals, and other means of scoring. This is why Charli Carpenter missed the point when she asked, "why don't gaming companies build rulesets into first-person shooters that force players to acknowledge, consider and choose whether to break or follow basic just war rules?" (2009).


From Schmitt, Via Deleuze, we have to recognise the specificity of the political in terms of a stratum or plateau at a distance to other strata and plateaus. Only in this way can we make sense of Schmitt's desire to distinguish the political from what, appropriating Deleuze, are the strata or plateaus that enfold the moral, religious, or cultural. Once we recognise that these plateau are separate, we recognise both the nature of the friend-enemy vinculum of the political and the folly associated with attempts to reconstruct the FPS in order to enfold morality, ideology, and sexuality. From Schmitt and Deleuze, we can identify the sense and non-sense of FPSs, which serve to illustrate the nature of friend-enemy in one of the clearest ways possible. By reading Schmitt's friend-enemy in Deleuzian terms and in the context of FPSs, some light can be shed on Schmitt's conception of the political and the gamespace of FPSs.



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(1) This is not the same as treating the other person as foundational. For the other person gives rise to thought, but thoughts of friend-enemy have no such necessity. As Lambert rightly points out, Deleuze suggested that the concept of the other was "the first concept of philosophy" (2008, 49). His reason for doing so was that "the concept refers to the actuality of thinking as being divided in order to first become capable of being socialised; without this first division of thought within itself, neither dialectic or dialogue would be possible as the actuality of thought between self and other" (49). Thought is only thought once it is divided. The division of thought through a separation from the other person allows thought to begin. Without "thought outside itself with 'the other person,' there could be nothing like truth that appears as 'an Entity,' nor even the appearance of 'the Thing' that is interposed between two who attempt to think the unity of its concept that they share in common: thought itself" (50).

(2) In "single player modes ... the player competes again game-controlled characters termed 'bots.' Massively multiplayer online first-person shooters allow thousands of players to compete at once in a persistent world. Large scale multiplayer games allow multiple squads, with leaders issuing commands and a commander controlling the team's overall strategy. Multiplayer games have a variety of different styles of match. The classic types are deathmatch (there is also a team-based version) in which players score points by killing other players' characters, and capture the flag, in which teams attempt to penetrate the opposing base, capture a flag and return it their own base while preventing the other team from doing the same. Other game modes may involve attempting to capture enemy bases or areas of the map, attempting to take hold of an object for as long as possible while evading other players, or deathmatch variations involving limited lives or in which players fight over a particularly potent power-up" ("First-person Shooter" 2010).

(3) The point at which they might be most relevant is with respect to the single-players, who might be thought to operate in a more Hobbesian fashion than other players. They might partake of "passions 'of war'" such as "'glory' and 'vain-glory', 'cruelty', 'emulation' and 'envy.'" (Thivet 2008, 706). Because they need no others to play, they might also be more prone to Paden's view of the source of war in Hobbes' work. Paden argues that war is only necessary "if and only if, its inhabitants were "monomaniacs" who competitively desire only one thing at a time, regardless of what that thing is" (1999, 69).

(4) FPSs "have refined the representation of violence for an industry arguably built upon the commodification of Manichean ideologies in which the only 'other' in the game is an enemy to be destroyed" (Kurtz 2002, 107).

(5) See

(6) "The modern setting inspires an enormous amount of gameplay variety. Modern warfare is very different from more traditional warfare in that direct confrontations between huge armies are relatively rare. Instead, you have a huge variety of different types of low-intensity conflicts and special forces missions" (Rieke and Boon 2008, 25).

(7) "[I]n team-based game modes not only the opponent team but also the allies of a player can become a problem ... [as] each team member faces some temptation to play selfishly" (Thon 2006, 249).

(8) For a discussion of whether FPSs enfold a male gaze, see Ruberg (2005).

(9) "This study showed dearly that online FPS gamers are not playing in isolation. More than eighty percent of our [752] respondents were members of a clan" (Jansz and Martin 2006, 17).

(10) In its original offline use, it was used by US military personnel to refer to killing a superior officer.

(11) See

(12) "While there are, of course, more or less Prestigious clans, most of them require their members to attach a clan tag to their nickname (which than reads something like '[clan]nickname')" (Thon 2006, 258).

(13) See

(14) "Breakfast of Champions FPS Clan, 2007." Unfortunately, the webpage is no longer readily available.
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