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War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflictby Corey Mead
Synopses & Reviews
A behind-the-scenes look at how the military uses video game technology to train soldiers, treat veterans, and entice new recruits
How does the U.S. military train its soldiers for new forms of armed conflict, all within the constraints of diminished defense budgets? Increasingly, the answer is cutting-edge video game technology. Corey Mead shows us training sessions where soldiers undertake multiplayer “missions” that test combat skills, develop unit cohesion, and teach cultural awareness. He immerses himself in 3-D battle simulations so convincing that they leave his heart racing. And he shows how the military, which has shaped American education more than any other force over the last century, fuels the adoption of games as learning tools—and recruitment come-ons. Mead also details how the military uses games to prepare soldiers for their return to the home front and to treat PTSD.
Military-funded researchers were closely involved with the computing advances that led to the invention of the Internet. Now, as Mead proves, we are poised at the brink of a similar explosion in game technology. War Play reveals that many of tomorrow’s teaching tools, therapies, and entertainments can be found in today’s military.
"'War sucks,' says one researcher in War Play, 'but it does drive innovation.' As one of the largest and highest-stakes educators in the United States, the military has led the way in developing new instructive tools, like the first standardized tests. It was also one of the earliest adopters of video games for training purposes, specifically warfare simulation. The tactic proved very effective: General Schwarzkopf recalled that during the first Gulf War, 'the movements of Iraq's real-world... forces' were so like the simulated scenarios that military communications centers were impelled to explicitly label dispatches concerning the latter as 'Exercise Only' in order to avoid confusion. And the line between real and virtual isn't the only line being blurred — as the 'military-entertainment complex' has grown and cross-fertilized, military-produced games like America's Army make it increasingly difficult to differentiate between recruiting propaganda, ideological indoctrination, and commercial entertainment. (More altruistically, 'cybertherapy' simulations have been used to help soldiers cope with PTSD and develop combat stress resilience.) Mead's account is insightful, and though he's hopeful that military innovations will continue to benefit more humanitarian fields (such as medicine), he also recognizes its potential repercussions, as evidenced by a prescient closing image: the Chinese military's combat simulator, where the only opponent is the United States. Agent: E.J. McCarthy, E.J. McCarthy Agency. (Sept. 17)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
An expert on military innovation reveals how video games are revolutionizing warfare from the battlefield to the highest echelons of the Pentagon.
How does the U.S. military train its soldiers for new forms of armed conflict, all within the constraints of diminished defense budgets? Increasingly the answer is cutting-edge video game technology. Corey Mead takes us behind the scenes at training sessions where soldiers play multiplayer “missions” that test combat skills, develop unit cohesion, and teach cultural awareness. He immerses himself in 3-D battle simulations so convincing that they leave his heart racing. And he shows how the military, which has shaped American education more than any other force over the last century, is now influencing the adoption of games as learning tools—and recruitment come-ons. As he reveals, school districts in all fifty states are rolling out virtual high school courses built on the hugely popular Americas Army, a game created by the military to identify potential recruits and sell them on joining up. Mead also details how the military uses games to prepare soldiers for their return to the home front and to treat PTSD. Throughout, he offers frank insights on whether games are the best way to make our soldiers battle-ready and keep them healthy.
About the Author
COREY MEAD is an assistant professor of English at Baruch College, City University of New York. He has researched and written about the subject matter of War Play since 2005.
Table of Contents
1. The Rise of the Military-Entertainment Complex 11
2. Building the Classroom Arsenal: The Militarys Influence on American Education 34
3. “Everybody Must Think”: The Militarys Post-9/11 Turn to Video Games 50
4. Americas Army: The Game 72
5. All but War Is Simulation 103
6. WILL Interactive and the Militarys Serious Games 115
7. The Aftermath: Medical Virtual Reality and the Treatment of Trauma 129
8. Conclusion: Americas Army Invades Our Classrooms 154
What Our Readers Are Saying
Computers and Internet » Computers Reference » Computer Simulation