War and video games

The recently leaked video of a deadly U.S. military attack in Iraq prompted many to note the footage’s similarity to a video game. Technology writer Clive Thompson tells NPR’s On the Media:

Sure. Predator drone strikes, they’re highly virtualized situations, right? I mean, you have someone sitting on American soil or in a nearby country, you know, piloting a drone able to shoot and kill. And so, everything is done through an interface in the same way that everything on a video game is done through an interface.

It’s going to be a constant question for us as a society and for the military whether or not, as they become more game-like, that creates an effect that makes it easier to kill people in a way that you might not want to make it easier to kill people.

Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter have more to say on this topic. Their recent book Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games includes the chapter “Banal War: Full Spectrum Warrior,” which takes us through “virtual therapies” developed by the Pentagon to assist U.S. soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and argues that Full Spectrum Warrior is illustrative of a “cyclical connection between the actual and virtual dimensions of Empire,” (98) the 21st-century hypercapitalist complex theorized by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri.

Click here for more information about Games of Empire.

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