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Can video games make us safer?

October 21, 2013, at 6:08 PM
 

Perhaps Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was onto something when he was busted playing video games during a Senate hearing?

Conversations with Thinkers interviews defense policy expert Corey Mead about the deep connections between video games and the U.S. military. He calls it the "Military-Entertainment Complex."

From single shooter games to specially customized, near-real-life military scenarios, video games have become an incredibly important tool in how we recruit, train, and even heal U.S. soldiers — important to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

One example is FlatWord, which Mead calls "the military’s ultimate vision for the future." Outfitted with 3D glasses, the ground “moves beneath you,” while the programmer dials up scenes from Afghanistan or Iraq or any other location.

Said Mead: "You have MiG jets flying overhead and insurgents on your right, firing weapons and when the bullets hit the virtual wall next to you, it sends up pock marks of dust. It feels incredibly immersive." Luckily for Mead when he tried it, the tank that almost ran him over was virtual, not real.

He adds: "I could see how powerful a learning experience it could be, especially if it's second-best to the actual real experience itself of live training."

So while the U.S. military maintains a range of incredibly effective weapons — from drones to Tomahawk missiles to Navy SEALs — it's at most only a minor exaggeration to suggest that the their most effective weapon might not be found in an arms depot, but down the hall in your teenager's bedroom.

 

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