War Stories
This work is part of a five-year examination of Airsoft culture, and a continuation of my work examining white adolescent and youth culture. Airsoft is a live-action version of first-person shooter video games – the rules of gameplay are similar to the video game franchise Call of Duty. This video interacts with Airsoft players in the forest landscape and fields, where they practice and play. This video presents young men recounting the plots to their favorite war movies. The loose and jumbled description of each movie plot is intercut with the boys preparing for each round of game play. They check googles, repair guns and reload plastic ammunition magazines.  The complex interplay of fantasy and reality is manifested not only in the recounting of fictionalized combat narratives but in the visual description of replica firearms and uniforms.
Through their costumes and realistic weaponry, the players precisely recreate the look of a contemporary soldier or militia member. At times, the game takes on realistic proportions and these young men appear as soldiers. In other instances, their youth and ill-fitting clothing reveal them as children playing a game. The performance of a video game in physical space further conflates the distance between fantasy and reality. The missions, scenarios, and personas are make-believe, but the targeting and tactics are skillsets that can be applied in real world scenarios.