In the article, “Not Playing Around: Army to invest $50M in Combat Training Games,” Seth Robson details how the army plans to utilize the technology of video games to prepare troops for combat. Specifically, the army’s use of video games aims to prepare soldiers for ambushes and roadside bomb attacks on convoys. Although the more violent video games are based on combat, the idea of reversing this order–of combat being influenced by video games–is altogether radical. I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. Despite the obvious connections between virtual reality and reality-reality (clothes, terrain, etc), there is one glaring discrepancy: the consequences of a person’s actions are more permanent than those of a player’s.
With that in mind, one particular quote from the article stuck out to me: “Soldiers will be able to drive virtual vehicles, fire virtual weapons, pilot virtual unmanned aerial vehicles and do “most anything a soldier does” in a virtual battle space as large as 100 kilometers by 100 kilometers, she [McManigal] said.” Although these technological capabilities are impressive and certainly useful for training, they are not equal to “most anything a soldier does.” By saying that, she ignores the fact that playing a soldier is entirely different from being one. The stakes are much higher in war than they are in video games. You do not get an endless number of lives in reality, and neither do the other soldiers. That being said, can a video game aimed to prepare someone for war ever really do its job?