Military love affair with videogames intensifies
Sims, FPS, MMOs...and now Xbox 360 controllers for war-bots
The convergence between videogaming and real-world warfare (at least, war as seen from a Western perspective) continues to advance.
The US Army has been a leader in efforts to make use of gaming memes. This has been in pursuit of recruits from the post-Nintendo generations as much as anything, but the military also seeks operational benefits.
Previous examples of this philosophy have been military involvement in creating Full Spectrum Warrior - supposedly as a training aid - and latterly America's Army "the official US Army game", which features "Real Heroes...some of the exceptional Soldiers who are at the forefront in the defense of freedom." Action figures will soon be available.
Apart from using games to recruit or train young men* for the warzones of Southwest Asia, the US military establishment has also been using games to reintegrate them into society when they come back psychologically injured. An expansion pack for Full Spectrum Warrior called Virtual Iraq is favoured, apparently.
Then there has been the use of gaming-type protocols to build massively multiplayer battle sims for training purposes. The RAF is in on this, and there are also Command-&-Conquer-style games for commanders and staff moguls moving counters on a map, as opposed to pilots and riflemen in the thick of the action (in this case, however, the game typically revolves around oil rather than tiberium).
Photo "Controlling the SUGV," courtesy US Army May 15 2007]
Examples include the US Full Spectrum Command and Marine Air-Ground Task Force XXI. Again the UK is involved, plugging into US military MMOs via the "Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstrator" using "real military role players, from across the front line commands."
And now the push is on to take gaming right onto the battlefield, with the iRobot range of US Army SUGV combat robots employing a suspiciously familiar human-interface device (see pic).
There's no word yet on making "Game Over" a bit less final, however. ®
*And no doubt a vanishingly small number of young women
"As a slight aside, I'm sure the tacsims the military use _don't_ look or play like C&C, unless the 'tank rush' is now an accepted military strategy..."
What do you think, what strategy was used in the invasion of Iraq? They sent the tanks in, with support units going after them several days later, because they wanted a suprise attack and to occupy the country before the defenders realized there was a war. This was why there were no bombings before the attack. It turned out to be a good strategy, especially that there were no real defenders at all. The problem with a tank rush is that you supposed to raze the buildings and kill the civilians at the end because you are not equipped for long term occupation. (yes, the first computer based war sim was installed in the pentagon, so gamers took them up later)
About the xbox controller: I've seen the photo several weeks ago on a news site with the xbox controller hanging from one soldier's backpack during a training. It's a cheap way to get trained soldiers. That's why the us army used tracktor controls on most of its tanks, so soldiers who came from the country could drive them without training. Nowdays, most people who enlist have played halo on the xbox...
And yes, there was a remote hunting website with the ability to kill something from your keyboard and now the us south border can be watched by anyone via webcams. And the predator operators don't really leave las vegas... It is possible to enlist citizen soldiers (national guardsmen) for remote duty as robot operators so they get to do their civilian jobs too.
I don't know were to look for the statistics on young women serving in the military in Irag, but it is mentioned in passing here:
"18.9% of blacks in Iraq are women, compared to 9.1% of non-blacks. "
Maybe the number of women who play war games is higher than you expected?
'In the next few months, the America's Army Real Heroes action figures will be available at retail outlets. The action figures realistically portray our Real Heroes, from the weapons they use to the clothing they were wearing the day of the conflict in which they earned awards of valor.'
I can't help but wonder if they're immortal in the video game.