Archive for the ‘Games and the Military’ Category

One of my former students, Ajay Kumar, has just published a piece on the US military’s use of videogames as recruitment tools.  The piece appears in GW Discourse, the student-run publication of George Washington University’s Political Science Department.  The piece was written prior to the leaked video footage of the helicopter gunship attack in Baghdad, but it also raises the issue of the effect of military simulation training on battlefield perceptions.

Some of the discussion around the leaked video of the incident in Baghdad in 2007 where helicopter gunships killed two Reuters journalists and 10 Iraqis has focused upon comparisons between that incident and war games.  The comparison has, in part, been motivated by the obvious similarities between the camera view in the video and the eye-of-god view provided by many modern video games.  The feedback loop here is pretty complex, however: the overall design and sometimes the specific moments of some games that simulate modern warfare are both heavily influenced not only by the actual technology employed by the military but by video-footage of the weapons in action (the “weapons-eye” view that became so popular with news networks during Gulf War I, for example).  Yet the military is increasingly taking a leaf out of the same playbook that game designers are using in the designs of their interfaces because the basic design challenge is in both cases the same: to give an operator effective control over a weapons system in a high-stress, high-stakes, information-overloaded environment.