Gamers: Hobby Enthusiasts or Trained for War?


drone pilot


Is it really so far-fetched to consider today’s videogames and their highly realistic nature as military training tools? Games like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and the Ace Combat series feature highly realistic environments, complex controls and engaging real-world scenarios. And let’s not forget America’s Army, a shooter that’s openly sponsored by the army and used as a training and recruiting tool. Can years of playing videogames desensitize you while at the same time train you for military use? 

Democracy Now! has posted an interview with P.W. Singer, author of the book Wired For War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, and in it the author tells of a guy who went from high school drop out to a training academy instructor, all at the age of 19. Being a dropout, he could not become a helicopter mechanic like he wanted, but was offered to fly a drone plane instead. Turns out that this kid loved playing his Xbox, so much in fact that he was already good at flying a drone plane.  "He was naturally trained up," said Singer, and the young gamer-soldier blew through the ranks.

The interview with Singer, a former defense policy adviser to the Obama campaign, touches on various topics like civil rights and the use of robots in the military. He talks of remotely controlled robots by users 7,000 miles away — perhaps with an Xbox controller? Imagine a bunch of remotely controlled robots, engaging in combat thousands of miles away, all under control by the world’s best gamers. It would be the ultimate co-op FPS-RTS-MMO.

It’s kind of a scary thought. While I’ve never experienced combat, I do feel that I’ve been very desensitized over the years from playing hundreds upon hundreds of videogames to the point where I am trained, in a way. They don’t faze me now, nor do war movies. I find myself in situations where I’ll be watching Black Hawk Down, Band of Brothers, Top Gun, or Behind Enemy Lines, and I’ll think of similar scenarios that I’ve played or seen in games before, and I can imagine myself in them. Then I find it weird and kind of uncomfortable that I can so easily imagine myself in situations like that. Am I alone here, or is something that other gamers do?

Perhaps its a global conspiracy; the goverment has had a hand in all videogames ever made, with the intentions of training gamers their whole lives to be the new ultimate warrior, one with unparalled hand-eye coordination and the ability to instantly understand complex controls and situations. Or maybe not.


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Author: Tyler Cameron View all posts by

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