Monday, May 02, 2011

Modern Warfare Questions Towards Gaming continued

I figured I didn't need to provide substantiation for some of the points I made in a post from last month, where I raised quite a few questions about the future of gaming, as usual without any real attempt at answering them:
In the Immanence of Myth, Stephen Hershey does a brief exploration of the military and their utilization of myths in video games to recruit and train, and how these games and the overarching military rhetoric forms a myth that draws in their would-be converts. But that just means they understand something about how to market. Why can't we sell intelligence? Why can't we sell education and team-work without making it hokey and awful? The moral failure isn't the military using these things. It's that no one else does. The fact the military knows games are great recruitment and training tools and yet the schooling system does not? Unconscionable.
However, should such substantiation be needed, take a peek at this piece in the business section of the New York Times:
General Greene, a senior official in the Army’s research and development engineering command, is among a cadre of high-ranking officials pushing for the military to embrace technologies that are already popular among consumers, like smartphones, video games and virtual worlds. The goal is to provide engaging training tools for soldiers who have grown up using sophisticated consumer electronics and are eager to incorporate them into their routine.
The poor military, you see, is having "challenges" in engaging young soldiers (read: children). "His children, he says, are always “buried in a cellphone or an iPad." Of course, most of this article seems to overlook the considerable involvement of the two, in fact the military has to a great extent driven technological advancement for quite some time. Human ingenuity seems to be led by nothing so quickly as the desire to do harm to others. Just look at the history of technology as it parallels the history of warfare. You can't separate them.

This article also glosses over the extent that simulations have been a part of military training for many years, or how FPS games are used as a part of recruitment strategy. It is mentioned, yes, but I think the scope of it on a psychological level is underplayed.

But, ignoring these factors, certainly there are feedback loops both ways, and gaming has less of an impact on the battlefield itself, it is true, than it probably will in the future.

I must once again point out that the same thing is true in our classrooms. Just how long we can go ignoring entertainment and engagement, let alone play, in the methods we use to learn, if we want to hope to compete in the economy of tomorrow? More importantly, at what point, do you think, can we use our creativity for something other than blowing one another up?

Pre-order a copy of The Immanence of Myth, published by Weaponized in July 2011. (Or sign up to be notified of its release on

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