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What group of people have enormous amounts of
hunt-and-kill expertise, lightening quick reflexes and
pin-point accuracy? Teenage video game players.
Since the US Marines are already using a modified
version of DOOM to 'virtually' train commando units,
why not draw this idea out to its full
simply wire set-top game consoles, via the internet,
directly to the controls of smart bombs, laser satelites
and other unmanned/robotic military devices? Of
course, they would have to program in a ban on game
players' favourite pastime, killing each other, but
beyond that, you could harness the world's most
dedicated homicidal predators and put them to 'good'
use. Targets (e.g. military installations, tanks, etc. -
let's try and stick to inanimate targets, at least for
starters) could be identified via some kind of satelite
tracking. Gamers would be eager to play for free,
probably even willing to pay for the privilege, saving
millions of tax dollars. It would be like a mix of reality
TV and video games, with a little 'civic duty' thrown in -
why just watch the war on TV, when you can
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Already halfbaked. [DrBob, Oct 23 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]
Virtual On story
Video game recruits warriors for giant robot war. [pottedstu, Oct 23 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]
SETI at home
private computers do public work in their spare time [lsenater, Oct 23 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]
||Halfbaked in the film "Toys", I think.
||And how long before the gamers get bored and start trying to kill the civilians?
||Good point [stu]. So many questions... Would the slaughter of civilians by cyber troopers necessarily be the result of boredom, or hatred? Will the fact that the players contribution to war is a mediated experience have any effect on their understanding of what they are doing? Is killing someone through an ISDN line any different to being there and pulling the trigger?
||To accompany this idea, there should be not only bands of teenage conscripts, but groups of social scientists conducting all kinds of wacky experiments.
||enders game is good... ok back on topic: what hapens if there conection slows down and they get lag? they end up firing at things that aren't there and stuff... also If you are playing a computer game you will be quite willing to sacrifice resources and troops just to win...
||Game could be easily limited to specific kinds of
targets (assuming what the player sees is a
computer generated representation of the
battlefield, as opposed to a live video feed -
computing power should not be an issue - this IS
the military we are talking about).
||War (not to mention most of modern life) has
largely become a mediated experience already,
both for the modern military (remote controlled
bombs, all manner of computer-assisted
weapons, etc.) and for the audience (CNN, etc.).
Biggest difference is who gets to watch and who
gets to play. "Wargames" limited gameplay to a
bunch of generals and a teenage hacker - hardly
the kind of public participation that I am talking
||Most good games involve an element of strategy -
spend all your ammo too quickly and you're
defenceless, etc. Those serious about 'winning'
would have to make the same consideration as
their real-world counterparts. Perhaps the game
would begin as a simulation, and only at the very
highest levels actually begin to tap into the actual
theatre of war (isn't theatre is meant to be a
spectacle), thereby ensuring that only those
players who follow the rules and achieve the
military objectives are allowed amok on the
||Hypothetically, sqeamish players' could
alternatively choose 'humanitarian aid' or
'reconnaisance' modules, though I hardly think
they'd be as popular.
||BTW - Ender's Game seems to be about "the
world government breeding military geniuses..." to
fight aliens, etc., rather than involving the general
population via in-home video games
||erm... to explain the enders game thing would give away the end... is that alowed here?
||Isn't this also 1/2baked in 'The Last Starfighter'?
||[waugsqueke]: I take your point, but considering this idea in the context of the halfbakery, I think it's kind of amusing. As with many ideas here, we would not want to actualize, or build them; they're just fun to kick around.
||<only vagley related to the topic> anyone here read terry pratchet's only you can save mankind... thats not very similar but its sort of what we are talking about... alright it isn't... now I'm not sure whether to post this...
||This is also the idea behind Sega's game Virtual On, which is supposed to be a training program for people to learn how to control giant robots and prove their worth to go fight on the moon.
||The essence of this idea is: is there any way for
the greater community to capitalize on the highly
developed skill set accumulated through
countless teen-hours spent gaming? Since I
imagine that games like 'Tomb Raider IX: Lara
Croft Takes on the Statistical Challenges of Fluid
Hydrodynamics' are unlikely to be big hits, we are
left with a demographic with highly developed, but
basically unapplicable skills. If hunt'n'kill shoot
'em ups are what legion of young people are
devoting the greater part of their efforts to
mastering, how can we tap into and take
advantage of this in situations where these skills
are needed? (e.g. war - and not on the moon).
This is not about whether they should be
spending time doing something more
constructive, but rather, since they are doing it
anyways, how can others benefit from it?
||I have already suggested making the game more
'realistic', with all the prosaic limitations that
would imply. Likewise, I also suggested that 'real'
participation be granted only to those that
demonstrate their capabilities within those
limitations. So then what makes this idea "bad...
in too many ways to detail"? (other than the
intrinsic ethical problems of war, which are
beyond the scope of this discussion).
||BTW: it seems from R.Tiger's VERY interesting
and relevant link that not only is war a game (and
a popular one at that), but it is rated "teen", no
less. Now, if the military (which reviewed and
approved the game) were to maintain an
internet-based surveillance of game play (easily
enough achieved by hosting a multi-player
server), they might even learn something
interesting about 'out-of-the-box' strategies. This
could be like SETI's approach to distributed
computing (your screensaver does math on
behalf of SETI and uploads the results, see link),
but taking advantage of distributed brainpower
instead of just unused computer cycles.
||Just as long as it blows up real cool like.