Quick Study

By Brian Robinson

Blog archive

Military simulation training may lead recruits to view war as a game

It’s a fact that video games have become an important part of the military training regimen. It’s not that they are a new technology, but video games are an interesting addition to traditional approaches and, so the theory goes, are a necessity for current “digital-native” generations of recruits.

However, according to a LiveScience story, although video games are being used to train recruits for war, they could also be masking the reality of the battlefield and creating a kind of detachment for those who become involved in the real thing.

The story quotes Brooking Institution senior fellow Peter Singer, who opined on this in a recent edition of Foreign Policy. As Singer points out, the Pentagon’s goal with all of this is to create a simulation and quick training scenario for just about any military skill set, which is why it spends some $6 billion a year on the virtual universe.

If you want to see just how serious the military is about this, check out the presentations made at GameTech 2011, the latest in an annual series of conferences the Defense Department uses to promote the use of gaming technology in the military. It’s as detailed and academic as any serious tech gathering.

There’s good and bad in all of this, of course. Video games are also being used to (somewhat) successfully treat soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder more than a decade after the much less capable gaming technology of the 1990s was tried out on Vietnam vets.

However, with all of this techno wizardry, there’s a question of whether it’s blurring the border between gaming and reality for warfighters. Virtual training, for example, is at the heart of the Air Force’s vision for the future, and flying by joystick and screen is already a career path for pilots.

But Singer points to a conversation he had with a former F-15 pilot who, while standing in awe of the capabilities of U.S.-based pilots of unmanned drones, said the virtual nature of their training and video-based flying gives them no sense of what’s really going on. That pilot refuses to let his own kids play war-based games, preferring ones involving cars.

Posted by Brian Robinson on Aug 20, 2010 at 12:20 PM


The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.

Featured

  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Sun, Nov 28, 2010 SmFi1978 USA

True, well written article. I agree, personally as an ex military, since retirement I have been doing military simulations online with the Operation Reality organization and I can't say how desensitizing it is do rinse and repeat such realistic scenarios. If I were back in the field today, I can't imagine how such "simulated" scenarios would have affected me to act differently and without thinking. Scary premise, almost like people are becoming accustomed to viewing war as a game just like robots.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group