It’s only a game…

by | Tuesday, July 22, 2008

… but what if real people die?

Excellent article by William Saletan on Slate about a new breed of war-toys that blur the line between video games and real war. As the article says, “if looks and feels like a video game. But it kills real people.” As it turns out, the company that designed these new tools, Raytheon actually hired game developers to design how these weapons would work. The result is “a user-friendly array of throttles, switches, and thumb controls.”

You can see the demonstration video here, or read Saletan’s article — War Is Halo: Killing real people becomes a video game.

The military already grooms teenagers through a video game called America’s Army, explicitly designed to let the user “virtually experience Soldiering in the most realistic way possible.” The next step is to combine virtual combat with real consequences, by turning gamers into drone pilots. “The current generation of pilots was raised on the PlayStation, so we created an interface that they will immediately understand,” says one Raytheon spokesman. Another points out, “The Air Force will be able to recruit pilots who already have the dexterity required.” In fact, the Guardian reports that “operators could simply be trained to the requisite level of proficiency on … Xbox 360s or PlayStation 3s, rather than costly simulators.”

Virtual combat with real consequences!! What a terrible phrase.

I had written about the psychological aspects of some of these new technologies in some previous postings (see here, here and here).

Topics related to this post: Design | Engineering | Games | Politics | Psychology | Technology | Video | Worth Reading

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