Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Outside Scoop

This week's story in The New Yorker about "Virtual Iraq," the virtual reality simulation designed to treat soldiers with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder who are returning from the Iraq War, doesn't add much to previous news accounts of the program, some of which I discuss in the chapter about military videogame technology in the forthcoming Virtualpolitik book. To me as a researcher, it's a familiar cast of characters, although these people may seem exotic to readers who are perusing this magazine article in their doctor's waiting room.

I certainly thought Skip Rizzo had the best laugh line, when he described USC's Institute for Creative Technologies as "an unholy alliance between academia, Hollywood, and the military," but there were too many oversimplifications in an article that didn't get much beyond similar coverage on the local news. In particular, there were some obviously important narratives in this specific game development milieu that the writer missed while occupied with recording her wonder at the whiz-bang technology. For starters, there are all the complicated attitudes about the war expressed by the staff of the ICT, many of whom opposed the invasion but believe that their work can be rationalized if it will reduce civilian casualties. Then, there is the sensitive media ecology of commercial games and serious games at USC and the fact that Full Spectrum Warrior has a much more complicated genealogy and reception history than the article makes out.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home