Today's Game - Tomorrow's War
| Spring 2009 |
This is my senior project during undergraduate studies. It was created in collaboration with my friend Mohamed Talaat
"Watch a 12-year-old take evasive action and score multiple hits while playing 'Space Invaders,' and you will appreciate the skills of tomorrow's pilot"
— Ronald Reagan, U.S. President, 1983
Games and militarism have a long intertwined history. Most games, from board games to backyard games, have essentially been about conflict and warfare. Today, young people are exposed to video games, an ambitious technology of modernity. Studies show that the uniquely interactive, engaging nature of video games is especially powerful in shaping players thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Young players with low self-esteem choose games as an escape to the virtual world where they experience mastery and control with no consequences in the real world.
A dark side of video games is that they are far more realistic and violent than their gaming predecessors. Also, unlike the violence in other media such as TV and movies, video games allow players not simply to witness the violence, but to participate in it. By teaching players how to kill, and by glamorizing murder, violent video games desensitize gamers to the pain and suffering of others.
The video game culture is so powerful and influential on youth today that it is not surprising that militaries around the world use video games as recruitment tools. Played by kids, they share the same technology as military simulators that train soldiers to wage war. Even though the line between reality and simulation in war games is getting thinner every year, players are still presented with a very sanitized version of war.
By masking the realities of soldiers experiences, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, irreparable injuries, and irreversible death, realistic video games dramatically differ from the horrors of war. The creators of games also gloss over the actual consequences of war such as civilian death, destruction, and hatred. One should not forget that hate begets hate and violence begets violence. Unlike games, reality has no reset button.