Friday, February 09, 2007

Friendly Fire

The Los Angeles Times is reporting on the first initial clinical results coming back from the Virtual Iraq Post Traumatic Stress Disorder treatment program, which places patients into a virtual reality environment with a sophisticated head-mounted display apparatus that can also include a motion platform and scent delivery system. "Virtual war, real healing" describes how veterans suffering from real-world war-related psychological disorders are encouraged to confront a simulation of their past experiences in order to verbalize, narrate, contextualize, remember, confront, and psychically integrate the trauma. Of course, as an academic researcher, I've done ethnographic work on this project at USC, including demoing the system and interviewing members of the software development team. In conference proceedings, I've written about how such programs serve as contemporary versions of traditional memory palaces and how collaboratively creating the space of these "Virtual Iraqs" functions in the political discourse of the public sphere. One of the interesting things about these systems is that they are designed to be very vivid but not very interactive, so that users are often placed in a position of passive spectatorship. This is a fundamentally different model from rapid response training systems designed for military personnel, which may have relatively crude graphics but primarily emphasize activities of decision-making when confronted with a barrage of information.

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Blogger bob c said...

this post reminds me of a STARTREK episode that involved virtual war that was for real. it seems easier to kill when the combatants are not in each others face. maybe they can install controlers that hurt you severely to bring home the fact that one has lost and "game over"

7:35 PM  

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