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Sega Defence Initiative

Smart bombs + game consoles = anhiliation + entertainment
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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 conclusion and 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 participate?
lsenater, Oct 23 2001

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card http://www.amazon.c...102-5291157-6732954
Already halfbaked. [DrBob, Oct 23 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Virtual On story http://www.geocitie...0/voz/vo-story.html
Video game recruits warriors for giant robot war. [pottedstu, Oct 23 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

SETI at home http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/
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.
sdm, Oct 23 2001

       And how long before the gamers get bored and start trying to kill the civilians?
pottedstu, Oct 23 2001

       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.
sdm, Oct 23 2001

       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...
RobertKidney, Oct 23 2001

       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 about.   

       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 battlefield.   

       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
lsenater, Oct 23 2001

       erm... to explain the enders game thing would give away the end... is that alowed here?
RobertKidney, Oct 23 2001

       Isn't this also 1/2baked in 'The Last Starfighter'?
Guy Fox, Oct 23 2001

       [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.
snarfyguy, Oct 23 2001

       <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...
RobertKidney, Oct 24 2001

       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.
pottedstu, Oct 24 2001

       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.
lsenater, Oct 24 2001


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