The NYT's has an interesting article on the use of wargames as training material. We all heard about this of course when America's Army first hit the streets via GameSpy, its second patron after the US Army itself. I had no idea however that Full Spectrum Warrior was being used for training, and as the article suggests, FSW is supposedly a tight depiction of what's it's really like 'out there'..
This is interesting in that our humble Grunt obviously has eye-implants with an advanced, networked and strangely game-like targeting system. The enemy (ragged and desperate Iraqi militia of course) are thus covered in hovering layers of telematically delivered iconography; essentially reduced to a set of predicted and present variables for purposes of better killing them.
Anyway, it doesn't matter whether I think it's authentic or not, I'm being told it is.. This has me thinking that maybe another kind of training is at work here..
"Full Spectrum Warrior was created by the Institute for Creative Technologies, with help from the Army, to teach soldiers realistic strategies for surviving what the armed forces call ''military operations in urban terrain.'' As a result, the game is unforgivingly precise. The soldiers you command are programmed to respond the way a real soldier would. There are no magic weapons to bail you out. All you have going for you is the real world. ''This is what you'll really see when you're out there,'' said Maj. Brent Cummings, a soldier then stationed at Fort Benning, Ga
., who worked as a consultant on the game and walked me through it.
"This is what you really see when you're out there.."
Now i have become pretty hung up about this comment, especially given that it comes from a military major.
Firstly it is a game whereby a single
player controls a small squad of semi obedient Almost Intelligents and may assume the agency of any one of those at any given point. Secondly it is lavishly covered in an overlay of informatics both there to assist and excite the player; their fetish for the high bandwidth, augmented battlefield we've all been reading about while extending the operability of the gamepad itself (ie targetting tools). Finally, as the game is funded by the Army, the design program is derived from the strategically biased US perspective, from footage and filters that prioritise this agenda. Of course this game is not "What you really see when you're out there."
Who is this 'you' he keeps talking about? Where are we going?
If anything it's ironic that a Major says this given that the game's appearance leans itself toward what a military commander would like the urban battlefield to look like; surfing the Feild of View of his units, tactically orienting units as agents and managing them as resources.
In this way 'CNN Games' (as I
call them) like FSW are nothing short of a propogandist mix designed to futher entrench the military morality: "My weapons and my will are an extension of the chain of command." Of course such 'simulations' always configure the player as corroborator, but it's the fact that games like FSW can be developed concurrent to a real world event means the player is doing more than just playing a game. They are learning by suture and habit to think a certain way, and of course, in the case of FSW, this sanitized way of thinking about the Iraqi's is favourable to Bush's imperialist campaign.This is something games have always been really good at, assisting the player in deciphering and organising the landscape in a perfection of their role. As an information space, the gamescape itself is already perfectly inline with the Euclidean weapons of the Augmented Battlefield. In this way FSW game players are not being trained to become soldiers, they are being trained to use an increasingly valued control interface and learn to think about the foreign battlefield as a dehumanised information landscape. Much of the technology used in the 'head up displays' of existing FPS games is currently in development for the mobile soldier already, but doesn't yet exist. Just looking at this list does reveal many similes.
FSW is a strategically directed fantasy of American battlefield supremacy. Politically, and from the persepective of US-And them, there is as much training here as there is a publically distributed mechanism to Alias the Enemy.
This is the real induction ..
Anyway, back to my highly unrealistic, impossible yet strangely honest world of Quake3 Arena.
Original article here