Sunday, November 20, 2005

War Games

I've written elsewhere about Tactical Iraqi, a virtual reality game that is intended to teach soldiers Arabic. In Tactical Iraqi, the mission is to rebuild a girls' school using the avatar of Sgt. John Smith and, to complete the game's tasks, the learner must speak basic Arabic with village locals. It's also worth looking at Ambush!, a video game designed to train soldiers in how to locate IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices) by the side of the road. Ambush! is also interesting because its designers actually aimed to simulate "boredom" as well as the rapid, coordinated responses more conventionally associated with video games.

Both games were developed in conjunction with DARWARS, a series of DARPA projects that is intended to improve combat simulations by creating greater interactivity. Both games use existing game technology as a platform (from Unreal Tournament and Operation Flashpoint respectively).

If the nation's soldiers' identities are being mediated through game play, when are other activities of citizenship going to be improved by simulations? I personally am looking forward to Virtual Voter or Virtual Jury or Virtual Taxpayer games to assist me with the effective performance of my civic duties.

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