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  Death on the Screen  
Posted 2006-06-02 by Tony Walsh
 delves into the operation of American unmanned air vehicles used in military operations: "In Las Vegas a pilot pulls the trigger. In Iraq a Predator fires its missile."

What is of interest to me in the article is its description of remote-controlled warfare. Telegraph contributor Francis Harris writes "Sitting side by side in dark, air-conditioned cabins, the pilot and sensor operator have to interpret activity in terrain as varied as the deserts and towns of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan. Surrounded by technological wizardry that includes flight controls, maps and computer screens, it would be easy to drift. Sgt Mac Mackenzie, 41, an Army sensor operator who has served in Northern Ireland and Iraq, said: 'It is not always appreciated that this is what we have to do. You are just staring at the screen. Then suddenly it can go live, you're involved in an engagement, a target appears and everything is turned on its head.'" This transition might be jarring for a 41-year-old, but for the latest generation of gamer kids, remote warfare will be a piece of cake.

Today, the U.S. military is actively recruiting through its America's Army videogame (in some cases targeting kids under the age of 15) and new recruits are generally gamers [source]. Gamers are experts at managing interfaces, adapting to new control systems, and engaging in screen-based killing. In my limited understanding of real warfare, it's desirable to do as much remote killing as possible. The more literal or figurative distance from the kill, the better--not only for the safety of the attacking soldier, but to create a disconnect between pulling the trigger and its end result. Physical distance is one thing, but when a screen is introduced, surely a vast psychological distance is added. Today's young gamers are capable of executing virtual-reality genocide in a matter of hours--will this efficiency suffer when real war is fought through a game interface?

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Comment posted by csven
June 2, 2006 @ 2:00 pm
You might also want to read one of my posts from last June on this topic: "The Ultimate ARG (or This Is Not A Videogame)".
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