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The Political Games Surrounding Video Games

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the good-sense-versus-fascism dept.

Editorial 95

Rayonic writes "We all know the issue surrounding those who want to ban violent games, but a TechCentralStation editorial asks - can playing war games influence your political sensibilities? The media, for instance, are usually very ignorant of what goes on during military maneuvers. But a few days of playing Ghost Recon or America's Army might make you more knowledgeable than the average reporter (or even lawmaker), as the writer argues that 'the spread of military knowledge via wargaming might lead to political changes in the way war is perceived by Americans'."

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first post (-1, Offtopic)

Soul-Burn666 (574119) | more than 10 years ago | (#9632751)

I have karma to burn, must first post atleast once in my life!!

Sounds familiar... (5, Insightful)

WinnipegDragon (655456) | more than 10 years ago | (#9632754)

Maybe I'm being reactionary, but if 'playing war games can influenece you politcally', are you not opening yourself up to the slippery slope that ends with 'playing video games can make you violent'?

Video games that people play tend to be a product of their leanings, not the other way around. People who like violence will play violent video games, and fantasy nerds (myself included) will play RPGs. In this case, people who play war games probably like strategy and tactics.

Chalk this one up to the media looking for scapegoats and excuses to explain personal behaviours yet again.

Re:Sounds familiar... (2, Insightful)

fireduck (197000) | more than 10 years ago | (#9632856)

the article clearly points out the tenuous link between games and violence (and even references experts who dispute it).

The only "influence" suggested in the article that actually holds water with me is the following statement "people who have played military videogames ... have some sense of how fast things can happen, and how confusing they can be." America's Army clearly demonstrates how confusing things can be when shots are fired. Beyond that, I see no evidence in this article that games influence a person politically.

As for the assertion of the media looking for scapegoats: the author, Glenn Reynolds, likes games and is suggesting their usefulness (and praises geek culture in a linked article), rather than demonizing them.

I think you missed the point of the article... (4, Insightful)

*weasel (174362) | more than 10 years ago | (#9632860)

Actually it sounds like this article is suggesting that realistic military games actually educate the gamers on what warfare is like.

The thrust of the article is that political second-guessing of military strategy and reaction would be easily identifiable by such educated gamers. Educated gamers know that sending more troops to Iraq would not necessarily mitigate the dangers of roadside bombs and ambushes -- it'd simply present more targets. Also, they'd be more willing to judge the failure or success of a military engagement on the broader scope, and not just make a gut decision influenced by the most recently reported good or bad news.

I don't know that such education could change a gamer's personal politics but, like any education, it certainly increases the accuracy of their BS detector.

Re:I think you missed the point of the article... (1)

MrDickey (653242) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633282)

There's a march on washington today, wanna go? No, let's just pwn some n00bz

I think you missed my point... (1)

WinnipegDragon (655456) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633293)

Re-reading my reply, I think I may not have made the point entirely clear. The argument regarding violence or political leanings isn't really the issue.

My argument is more against the concept that exposure to material (A) invokes mental adjustment (B). My take is that outside cases of brainwashing, exposure to any sort of media is unlikely to change one's personal beliefs and/or leanings, and that any argument stating otherwise is pretty much baseless on it's face.

Using the violence argument might have muddied the waters a bit.

Re:I think you missed my point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9633439)

Really? Exposure to any form of media won't change someone's beliefs? Let's look at that idea. First off, there have been plenty of examples throughout history of books, films, and music influencing what people thought about situations. Many a prison convict has taken up the Bible and changed his or her personal beliefs based purely on it.

You're also not reading the article correct. It's not actually talking about direct beliefs but rather is explaining that a game can give a person knowledge. How they take that knowledge of the speed of war and apply it to how they feel about war is personal.

Re:I think you missed my point... (3, Insightful)

ooby (729259) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633853)

My take is that outside cases of brainwashing, exposure to any sort of media is unlikely to change one's personal beliefs and/or leanings, and that any argument stating otherwise is pretty much baseless on it's face.

Suppose the son of man with Alzheimer's Disease is strongly against stem cell research. Suppose, then, that by reading a medical journal he learns that stem cell research may lead to a cure for the desease. What is the liklihood that the medical journal has changed his beliefs with regards to stem cell research?

Re:I think you missed my point... (4, Interesting)

*weasel (174362) | more than 10 years ago | (#9634359)

You don't think exposure to material invokes a mental adjustment? Do we learn nothing from communication then? Novels, texts, plays, film, music, poetry -- these don't invoke mental adjustment?

I'd agree that exposure to material doesn't invoke a subconscious adjustment (short of brainwashing, subliminal messaging, etc) - but that isn't quite what you said.

The violence argument has always set out to suggest that the behavioral adjustment is subconscious and automatic. The political leaning argument (presented here for the first time that I've read) specifically denotes the necessary step of consciously applying knowledge gained from exposure to material to adjust views and behavior.

The passive/active divide makes them quite distinct imo.

Re:I think you missed my point... (2, Interesting)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 10 years ago | (#9634749)

I think YOU'RE missing the point, really. We're not discussing the idea that military games INDOCTRINATE (i.e., we're not on the same slope that says violent games lead to violence), we're saying that wargames EDUCATE on how battles are. No change in values is implied, just a change in how much you know.

Re:I think you missed the point of the article... (2, Insightful)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633922)

"realistic military games actually educate the gamers on what warfare is like"

Either that or:

realistic military games actually educate the gamers on what realistic military GAMES are like.

From everything I read and hear, knowing how to actually fight effectively is much less important to a soldier than being able to persist in miserable conditions while witnessing (and occasionally causing) massive destruction. It is more important to be able to withstand seeing piles of charred civilian corpses than it is to, say, know of all the accessories to your favorite Heckler and Koch submachine gun.

What do you think the public's response to war will be if they are presented war as a clean and sterile game with a "Quit" button?

What do you think the public's response to war will be if they are presented war as a linear and unending series of grotesque scenes of carnage?

Re:I think you missed the point of the article... (3, Informative)

*weasel (174362) | more than 10 years ago | (#9634485)

The context of that quote was at the strategic or tactical level.

No-one suggested these games educate their players on the grotesqueries of war.

It was the author's assumption that military video games provide a reasonable facsimile to actual military endeavors on the tactical levels. The US Armed Forces agrees with that to the tune of repeated lip service and continued funding into game-like tactical training tools, which increasingly find a civilian market.

The games are thereby educating gamers, not to become soliders, but to understand maneuvers, the inevitability of accidents, and the scope of battle beyond typical war reporting.

These games aren't going to prepare people to deal with the emotions of seeing friendly fire or civilian casualties. These games will simply prepare gamers to expect friendly fire and civilian casualties as being an inavoidable byproduct of war, and will allow them to understand how soldiers can make such tragic mistakes in the first place.

The article is talking about wargamers political reactions to actual war reporting here. Not their abilities to personally function during actual war.

Re:I think you missed the point of the article... (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 10 years ago | (#9634761)

Ok, but to me the more interesting moral question is not whether this or that tactic or strategy is best, or really understanding tactics or strategies at all, but rather the innate moral issues experienced by soldiers. When the public votes to go to war, or votes with its opinion about the progress of war, I would hope it is not from the standpoint of second guessing military strategies and tactics (which we employ keen minds to study already) but rather the moral issues.

Re:I think you missed the point of the article... (1)

Cornflake917 (515940) | more than 10 years ago | (#9636616)

I would think tactics and strategies are very closely tied to the morals faced in wars. If it's the military's strategy was to blow a whole city to kingdom come because a few terrorists are causing problems for them. Would you think that would be the morally correct decision? If it was a commander's decision to send some soldiers into harms way in order to take these guys out without civilian casualities, is it wrong to risk the lives of their own blood? Was there a better way to win WWII besides dropping h-bombs on cities, killing thousands of innocent people? I think you get my point by now.

Alot of the strategies used in military come straight from the top. Thousands of civilians have already died as a result from US attacks in Iraq. The prisoner abuse in that Abu-Ghraib(sp?) prison probably was a tactic used by the soldiers to get information. You think these "keen minds" that we employ are doing a great job? I think by better understanding the tactics and strategies being used, people can also see the moral issues that the military must face. With that said and done, I think voters will/should be interested in understanding the tactics/strategies used in today's wars, as they will have an effect on which "keen minds" will be employed to make these tactical decisions.

Re:I think you missed the point of the article... (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 10 years ago | (#9636708)

"I would think tactics and strategies are very closely tied to the morals faced in wars"

Except my point was that strategies are lines and nameless boxes on paper or translucent overlays in a sterile computer graphic environments and as such simple familiarity with them (as through video games or texts) will NOT provoke as visceral a reaction as actually seeing events on the ground.

I'm not saying we should remain ignorant of military strategy, I'm saying that merely being conversant in military strategy will not lead to the same type of gut reactions that actual events experienced by soldiers on the battlefield will. And "no plan survives initial contact" right?

Re:I think you missed the point of the article... (1)

hambonewilkins (739531) | more than 10 years ago | (#9634407)

Educated gamers know that sending more troops to Iraq would not necessarily mitigate the dangers of roadside bombs and ambushes -- it'd simply present more targets

So we should reduce the number of targets to zero? I like your thinking!

Excellent post (1)

Syncdata (596941) | more than 10 years ago | (#9637757)

I don't know that such education could change a gamer's personal politics but, like any education, it certainly increases the accuracy of their BS detector.

I think you nailed it at the end there. Playing Civilization makes a person neither a general, nor a historian. But as you say, if a journo spouts a half baked, trendy meme on a topic they know little about (More troops=necessarily better/quicker/safer outcome), the smell of falsehood is readily apparant to anyone who knows better from experiences they've had playing Civ, or Gettysburg.

Essentially, I just think that journalists are inclined to think that people will believe anything you shovel towards them, whatever the media, because journalists happen to be holding a shovel. And so they lament this other form of media, which occasionally contradicts them, or, dare I say, fosters active thought, rather than passive acceptance.

Re:Sounds familiar... (4, Insightful)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 10 years ago | (#9632920)

I don't think this is the same thing. The political influence mentioned in the article is more like a court case where the jury once though one thing but in light of new evidence (which in this case may or may not be factual) they have changed their mind.

The games-leads-to-violence scenario leads us to believe that upon initially watching a violent act we may feel one way but after seeing that act performed many times, we now think it is ok.

So the real difference is more like "Oh, if that's how military operations are performed, I'm not so opposed to them." vs. "It's ok to kill because I see it in that game all the time." Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with changing your mind about a issue becasue you've researched the issue further, but I do wonder how accurate a viewpoint these people would be getting solely by playing video games.

Re:Sounds familiar... (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9632932)

"Maybe I'm being reactionary, but if 'playing war games can influenece you politcally', are you not opening yourself up to the slippery slope that ends with 'playing video games can make you violent'?"

I don't see a direct correlation, no. Being politically biased doesn't mean being violent.

"Chalk this one up to the media looking for scapegoats and excuses to explain personal behaviours yet again."

Actually I'm not sure it's scapegoats so much as it scares people. Most parents have kids that drive them up the wall. If it were only so easy for the real problem to be games. It takes attention away from the "spend more time with kids" solution that's akin to eating less means losing weight diet.

Re:Sounds familiar... (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#9635092)

Chalk this one up to the media looking for scapegoats and excuses to explain personal behaviours yet again.

Doesnt it make you curious to know why the media tries to explain personal behaviour with dubious science?

I'd wager that the media is trying to influence you politically by making assertions that sound plausible, but aren't necessarily true in most cases.

I like puzzle games. What does that tell you about my political leanings? (no I don't wear a tinfoil hat)

Re:Sounds familiar... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9639099)

Surely what matters is whether or not this is true. Reactionary? More like the Catholic Church circa 1500.

Re:Sounds familiar... (1)

NashCarey (765512) | more than 10 years ago | (#9645510)

I guess that depends on the definition of "Video Game." So many games have already been successful in this accomplishment. The army even created a game to use a recruiting tool. I am a game developer myself. I created www.realworldgaming.com. Right now we are playing a game that has three major topics being discussed. The right to privacy, right to life, and the definitions of terrorism. This game is called AWARE and has almost 1000 players. Then I plan to also release another game called POW Iraq. But I may have too push back the release on that. I am having a herd time assembling a team with something carrying such a heavy politcal message. Any form of Mass Media has the ability to influence. Just most have decided to leave a "hard" message out to be more marketable to the masses.

Substitute... (3, Insightful)

supercytro (527265) | more than 10 years ago | (#9632789)

Substitute books, movies or television for games and you'll see how ridiculous the argument is.

Re:Substitute... (4, Insightful)

WyerByter (727074) | more than 10 years ago | (#9632962)

Well, I pity you that you have never learned anything from a book, movie or television show that has changed your outlook on life and thus potentially changed your political views. Either your mind is closed, so open as to hold nothing or you chose material that does not challenge you preconcived notions.

Re:Substitute... (3, Insightful)

jocmaff (714526) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633019)

I think the comment was more for saying that video games are not worse than any of the other items.

They are certainly very violent items in books, movies and tv. heck just watch the news in the US if you want violence.

Re:Substitute... (2, Insightful)

Romeozulu (248240) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633234)

I'm not saying this is worse or better, but games allow the viewer (player) to interact with the medium, and that creates a very different relationship between the two. Someone who plays a war game might think they know a lot more about it then someone that reads a book, or sees a movie.

I'm not saying that this is true or not, I'm just saying that allowing interaction really changes the dynamic. Think about small kids and how much more they learn if you let them try things, rather then just telling them about it.

Re:Substitute... (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 10 years ago | (#9635034)

When I read a particularly entertaining and well-written book, or watch an excellently made movie, I find myself transported into the story, living as the main character or at least as a bystander to the action.

I don't think the "interaction" creates much more of a relationship between a person and the medium, generally speaking. It might be more for some people, and less for others. You just cant paint broad strokes like that.

Re:Substitute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9633227)

I think the posted didn't bother to read the article and just assumed it was about videogames making you violent.

Re:Substitute... (1)

zors (665805) | more than 10 years ago | (#9634377)

so if i read a book about army tactics, my ideas about army tactics wouldnt change? i wouldn't understand them more, and i wouldn't have a better grasp of how they work in the real world? Or are you saying that people dont incorporate new knowledge into their decision making process?

Or do you just have an extremely low level of reading comprehension?

I don't get it (3, Funny)

I_Love_Pocky! (751171) | more than 10 years ago | (#9632820)

Does this mean that I will begin to believe that all wars are fought by 13 year olds?

Re:I don't get it (1)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 10 years ago | (#9634297)

Does this mean that I will begin to believe that all wars are fought by 13 year olds?
Well there are 300,000 children [hrw.org] already serving in various armies around the world.

Re:I don't get it (1)

scot4875 (542869) | more than 10 years ago | (#9636123)

When in reality, it's that they are waged by leaders with the reasoning capacity of 13 year olds...

--Jeremy

Re:I don't get it (1)

Snowmit (704081) | more than 10 years ago | (#9636389)

It's taught me that wars are won by campers and cheaters. And 'f4gz'.

Right! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9632850)

After year of playing war based video games, I like Bush because he pwned teh Iraqi's. Hussein is teh Suxx0r!

Most Anticipated San Andreas Quote... (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9632867)

"Kill the lawyers!"

yeah thats great and all.. (2, Funny)

RegalBegal (742288) | more than 10 years ago | (#9632879)

You can speculate all you want...

but shouldn't we ask an expert, like matthew broderick?

Gaming (1)

Gettinglucky (655935) | more than 10 years ago | (#9632901)

Doesn't all the gaming just help people attack the political leaders?

I sure learn from video games. (4, Interesting)

LordPixie (780943) | more than 10 years ago | (#9632905)

I remember back when that whole Elian Gonzalez debacle was busy...well, debacling. When the Feds finally came took him away at gunpoint, I recall looking at the infamous picture [sillygirl.com] and saying "Hey, I recognize that gun from CounterStrike. That's an MP5 ! Quick, flashbang that sucker and cap him with your Desert Eagle !!!"

Joking aside, games can be a source of factual information. Just like any other form of media. And any new information is going to influence your outlook on everything. Assuming you're actually capable of seperating the fact from the fiction, this is a good thing.


--LordPixie

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (0, Redundant)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633570)

I noticed that too - I've become worryingly adept at identifying types of gun, and I'm an pacifist from the UK whose only real-world sightings of guns are of those carried by the police officers at airports. I'm hugely pro-gun-control, partially because I've seen vaguely realistic simulations of what these devices can do. Point, pull trigger, kill. Reload.

I sometimes wonder if politicians were to play realistic, multiplayer computer games, they'd perhaps get an inkling of what actually goes on in warfare and the utter, horrible randomness of it all, and perhaps be a bit more hesitant in sending in the troops.

Unlike books and films, there's no viewer-friendly plot - you can very easily get taken out by a sniper, or be shot in the gut by a teenager who was hiding behind a door with an AK47. There's no writer in the background keeping the characters alive for a happy ending or a sufficiently poignant death. It's just - bang! All the heroics and all the training in the world can't always protect you from a wannabe teenage martyr with an assault rifle.

But in real life there's no respawn. You're just another number on the news, just another box on a plane.

Sweet and fitting? Bullshit.

Re:Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9635448)

Jee your attitude reminds of another famous guy from the UK, what was his name chambermaid, no it was Chamberlain. I'll avoid the obvious Godwin, by mentioning who thought gun control was great.

Re:I sure learn from video games. (1)

xgamer04 (248962) | more than 10 years ago | (#9638111)

I agree here. I remember reading an interview with a flight sim geek who said his first time flying a Cessna "felt like home". I've also improved my driving by playing Gran Turismo. (well, maybe "improved" is a strong word)

Pffft... (0, Troll)

venomkid (624425) | more than 10 years ago | (#9632923)

Self important geeks thinking that playing CS all day somehow makes them more politically aware.

I know that the military uses special versions of quake and such to teach some elements of teamwork during combat, but please, can we finally just admit that, for us, these consumer military games are useless fluffy fun, no matter how "realistic" they become?

Delusional mouse jockeys get on my nerves.

Influence political opinions? Sure (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9633043)

The article suggested that war games might make people more cognizant of the confusion and difficulty of warfare. That's possible, but judging from conversations and message exchanges I've had with other gamers, I think such games have another influence-- to give people an unrealistically _favorable_ attitude towards war and technology.

Here's what I mean. Many games strive for "realism." Yet the equipment in many games skirts the edge of science-fiction, and the environments are also structured for game enjoyment rather than complete realism. Many gamers I've encountered seem to think that military hardware is at least the equal of the cool-tech stuff they see in the games (and some believe that the un-classified stuff is even more perfect).

And this may lead people to believe that the military is more effective and more efficient than it actually is in real life-- thus encouraging an acceptance of military solutions to political problems.

This is just as much a liberal as it is a right-wing issue: remember, Vietnam was waged by liberals who believed in things like saturation bombing, and running the war like a corporation.

Interesting (2, Insightful)

MrMojado (786565) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633047)

So the opinion is that by simply playing a GAME we are more informed than the AVERAGE guy walking the streets about war. God help us all.

Article is a troll against Democrats (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9633051)

From the article:
Were we right? You can judge for yourself. But I note that all the anti-videogame legislators mentioned in the Wired News story are Democrats. . . .
I am a Democrat, and I enjoy violent video games as much as the next guy. In fact, if I had been asked to guess, I would have guessed the Republicans were against it. Therefore, this is clearly not a partisan issue, but the article tries to make it into one.

Re:Article is a troll against Democrats (2, Informative)

the Luddite (778967) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633216)

Strong point. I am also a Democrat that plays games of that nature from time to time and I would never support any attempts to limit what types of games people can play. This type of yellow journalism is a driving force in the political world because many sheeple blindly believe what they read without wondering if it is supported by fact or opinion.

Re:Article is a troll against Democrats (1)

foidulus (743482) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633245)

Maybe you and Joe Liberman should have a talk...
Oy, I'm a democrat and I loathe Lieberman and have no idea why Gore chose him as his running mate. Had he chosen Kerry or Edwards maybe the whole election would have been different.

Re:Article is a troll against Democrats (4, Insightful)

JavaLord (680960) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633434)

I am a Democrat, and I enjoy violent video games as much as the next guy. In fact, if I had been asked to guess, I would have guessed the Republicans were against it.

Republicans who haven't been hijacked by the religious right wouldn't care what video games you play either. Real republicans are for less government involvments, it's too bad there haven't been any real republicans in my lifetime. :)

I'm sure congressmen and senators on both sides of the political platform are against violence in videogames. Why? It's a sexy issue to draw women voters to them. "Look we are protecting the CHILDREN!". They should focus their attention on eliminating violence/bullying in schools if they really want to protect children. Do they really think that colombine was cause by doom, or because two kids were teased until they couldn't take it anymore?

Re:Article is a troll against Democrats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9633691)

Do they really think that colombine was cause by doom, or because two kids were teased until they couldn't take it anymore?

depends... were they teased in Doom because they sucked?

Re:Article is a troll against Democrats (1)

Lightwarrior (73124) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633818)

> Do they really think that colombine was cause by doom, or because two kids were teased until they couldn't take it anymore?

They might really think it was a video game's fault - being able to blame an abstract concept, instead of a singular person or couple, is much easier. If a politician blames the *parents of bullies*, he finds himself on dubious ground with his constituents who (potentially) have bully children.

On the other hand, how many congress critters have to worry about a significant portion of their constituents being part of the gaming industry?

-lw

Re:Article is a troll against Democrats (2, Interesting)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633926)

No, the problem is the republican party is really a coalition of 4 different political groups.

1)The religious right, aka the holly rollers. They want to tell everyone how to live their lives and believe they have the direct line to god. They're a minority, but they're loud and the party panders to them, since they'd go dem in a second if the democrats would further their religion. Ashcroft is a member of this group.

2)The rich, aka the selfish pricks. These are people with large amounts of money/power who care only about amassing more money/power. This is the smallest group in real numbers, but they run the party. This is a bad thing, since what thye want doesn't really mesh with what 90% of republicans want. Bush is a member of this group

3)Libertarians. Probably about the same size as #1, but not pandered to because theres no way they'd go to the left. Pretty much non-factors due to the 2 party system.

4)The status quoers. They think America is a pretty good place, and don't want major change, either from fear it would fuck things up, from lack of vision, or due to just not caring about politics. This is the largest group, but has 0 political power since they don't want anything. Elections for republicans basicly require them to ocnvince these people to go to the polls.

Most republicans want someone from group 4- someone who just stays the course and does pretty much nothing for 4 years. And admittedly, there's worse ways to spend a presidency. Unfortunately, group 2 firmly controls the republican party, because 4 is too non-political. And since 2 has the money, it'll remain in control unless the party breaks up. Which can't happen in America due to the 2 party system. Welcome to America, get used to the assholes the republicans put out as candidates, it isn't going to change.

Re:Article is a troll against Democrats (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9634093)

I hate #2 (rich selfish pricks). Who do they think they are, working hard and saving their money?!? After sitting on my ass the first 25 years of my life (good pot, dropped out of collage) I need someone to take care of me. If they won't give us lazy folks their money we should take it! ...If only taking money was easier... Maybe someone can do that for me too. Where's the government when you need it?

- Lazy Commie

PS: If you're reading this Michael Moore, I'm your biggest fan!!!

Re:Article is a troll against Democrats (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9635598)

You kind of missed the whole point of number two. MOST of these people also sat on their asses for the first 30 years of their lives, dropped out of school and smoked pot (sound like any president that you know?). The difference is that they come from "old money" and they hold all the power, lots of the money, and like exclusivity. Ever wonder why Bill Gates isn't a bigger player on the political scene? His money is too new. He hasn't had the time to come up with expansive family ties (think Bush, and all of his jobs being given to him by "friends" of the family). If you are sitting there making 250,000 a year, you are NOT in #2. If you are making 250,000 a day, you might be, but only if your grandfather, and preferably your great-great grandfather did too.

Re:Article is a troll against Democrats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9633960)

Columbine was caused by the Canadians and all their guns... Fat scruffy guy said so...

Re:Article is a troll against Democrats (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 10 years ago | (#9635473)

One of the two Columbine kids had a severe mental disorder, the other was just a follower. Being teased didn't have as much to do w/ it as we'd like to believe. There are plenty of books on the subject, all scary because we should have seen it coming a long way off... </nitpick>

But also definitely not caused by video games.

That's because (1)

metalhed77 (250273) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633519)

Tech central is just a notch above mozillaquest.

Re:Article is a troll against Democrats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9633891)

No, it is true that ALL the anti-videogame legislation that has been introduced to various American governments has been written by Democrats.

I hope not (2, Funny)

bWareiWare.co.uk (660144) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633117)

You certainly can't understand friendly fire incidents until you have played a FPS online and waited for your team's medics to actual give you some health.

I have experienced this (3, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633194)

Back in the day, I played Falcon 1 on my 8088, and later F-117A on my 386. Both games came with very full manuals detailing the planes and their respective armaments. I'm no military nut, but I loved these games for the manuals as much as the game play. To this day, I remember the range of an AIM-120 AMRAAM missile is 21 miles, and a Sidewinder is 7 miles (but more maneuverable).

One day, A friend of mine in High School was trying to show-up his knowledge by quizzing me about military armaments. It was fun catching him off guard by answering him correctly and talking about how an F-16 could do an Immelmann while a mig-29 could not.

Anyhow, that's my real-world example of legitimate learning via military video games. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to return to shooting a guy wearing hoverboots with my BFG10000. Okay, maybe ALL military games aren't realistic :-)

Re:I have experienced this (1)

WinnipegDragon (655456) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633333)

Off topic, I know, but the F-16 cannot do a Cobra, and that is way more impressive than an Immelmann.

OffTopic: Cobra isn't much for combat situations. (2, Interesting)

LordPixie (780943) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633405)

A Cobra maneuver is only impressive in an airshow. In a true combat situation it's beyond useless. While it looks extremely cool, it basically leaves you all but stationary. This is an rediculously vulnerable position to be in for a dogfight.

As my USAF father kept telling me, "Airspeed is life".


--LordPixie

Re:OffTopic: Cobra isn't much for combat situation (2, Informative)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 10 years ago | (#9634916)

The Cobra has one application in a dogfight, but it's damn useful:

It's a highly effective way (at least in the sims) of getting some dude who's in your rear cone off your ass--and in fact, if you time it right, a cobra will essentially reverse your positions in that situation. I.e., you're now on the other guy's tail and in missile-firing position. Even if you can't get behind them, a Cobra puts your engine exhaust facing away from your tail and thereby reduces the chance of a successful IR shot.

Speed isn't life with 4th and 5th generation fighters--maneuverability and altitude are.

Your father probably flew early F-15s or F-4s, I'd bet.

Re:OffTopic: Cobra isn't much for combat situation (1)

LordPixie (780943) | more than 10 years ago | (#9635810)

It's a highly effective way (at least in the sims) of getting some dude who's in your rear cone off your ass--and in fact, if you time it right, a cobra will essentially reverse your positions in that situation. I.e., you're now on the other guy's tail and in missile-firing position. Even if you can't get behind them, a Cobra puts your engine exhaust facing away from your tail and thereby reduces the chance of a successful IR shot.

Even if a Cobra maneuver is successful in getting someone off your ass, there's (usually) his wingman to worry about. So if he doesn't take the opportunity to light up your now immoble behind, his buddy probably will. And is it truely that effecting at lowering your IR signature ? Once you're perpindicular to your direction of travel, all that hot air winds up just swirling about you in a big cloud. That could provide just as good a target. And either way, you've got a LOT bigger radar signature to worry about.

Speed isn't life with 4th and 5th generation fighters--maneuverability and altitude are.

That I won't argue. However, I think my father would have had a much harder time working that sort of mantra into daily life. Probably would have made his teachings on how to drive a car/snowmobile a lot easier, though. Saved cash on all the speeding tickets to boot.


--LordPixie

Re:OffTopic: Cobra isn't much for combat situation (1)

Zeriel (670422) | more than 10 years ago | (#9641162)

Well, I'd argue that A) if there's a wingman floating around that isn't too busy with YOUR wingman, don't do a Cobra, B) it makes your IR signature less than if someone was staring at your tailpipe, C) I've never experienced (in sims) radar mattering much once everyone's in IR missile range, radar-homing missiles tend to be long-range with a long boost phase that makes them inaccurate at short range.

Finally, D) why the heck are we discussing this? Last I checked, there were exactly two fighters capable of performing a true Cobra, neither of which are frontline. (US/German X-35 research craft, Russian Su-37 ATF)

Re:OffTopic: Cobra isn't much for combat situation (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 10 years ago | (#9635045)

A Cobra maneuver is only impressive in an airshow. In a true combat situation it's beyond useless. While it looks extremely cool, it basically leaves you all but stationary. This is an rediculously vulnerable position to be in for a dogfight.
It is not completely useless. It can be used when an enemyaircraft is tailing you closely. When you activate it, the enemy plane will no longer be able to keep you in its sights and will fly past you - at which point, you have the enemy in your sights.

It is a special maneuver that is designed for this purpose only. Experienced pilots will know how to deal with it, but fresh recruits can be nailed by such a maneuver. There were even rumours that an experienced combat pilor was caught by suprise with the Cobra when it was used for the first time.

As my USAF father kept telling me, "Airspeed is life".
Speed as well as velocity can be measured in one of two ways:

1. By how much "ground distance" is travelled (absolute speed)
2. By how much distance changed from a moving point, such as yourself (relative speed.)

In the case of tailing an aircraft, the relative speed is effectivly zero. As soon as Cobra gets engaged, the relative speed increases as the target slows down (but decrases for anti-air batteries or aircraft on anther approach vector.)

Re:OffTopic: Cobra isn't much for combat situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9635572)

As you point out his wingman fills your very stationary plane with cannon fire. And its not air speed its turning radius that is life.

Re:I have experienced this (1)

Quikah (14419) | more than 10 years ago | (#9634797)

Do you have a reference for the Mig 29 being incapable of an Immelman, it seems highly unlikely it cannot perform that pretty basic maneuver.

Re:I have experienced this (1)

Deflagro (187160) | more than 10 years ago | (#9634998)

I have to agree on the Falcon games though...they were great. I remember playing Falcon 4.0 and reading all those spec sheets and stuff, it was great.
Spend like an hour following NAV points on a mission just to blackout during a dogfight by pulling a high angle at like mach 3.

Good times.

Inaccuracies (1)

gottabeme (590848) | more than 10 years ago | (#9640658)

Not to be rude or anything, but as a fellow flight sim junkie, I would like to point out a few inaccuracies in your post.

1. Missle range is entirely variable, depending on many factors, such as: range to target, launching-aircraft airspeed and altitude, target airspeed and altitude, aspect angle, closure rate, and what evasive maneuvers the target takes after launch. Not to mention IR or radar signature. That's why in modern aircraft, such as the F-16, there is a dynamic launch zone on the HUD that varies with all of those factors, except the last one, which is, of course, unknown.

2. Do you know what an Immelmann is? It is a basic maneuver in which the pilot pulls up 90 degrees, rolls to the direction he wants to end up on, pulls down 90 degrees until he's pointing at the horizon, and then rolls level. Of course, in a dogfight, it won't be so neat and clean and the same every time. Anyway, you could do an Immelmann in a Skyhawk if you had enough airspeed. It starts out just like a loop. A MiG-29 can certainly perform one.

Re:Inaccuracies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9650055)

1. Missle range is entirely variable, depending on many factors,

There is also an absolute max missile range, as in when the missile motor runs out of fuel. Another 'max range' is max range for target aquisition under 'ideal conditions'.

Re:Inaccuracies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9650098)

There is also 'max range' as in 'range within which there's a decent chance it will hit anything.' A bunch of stoners in Hawaii broke the record for shooting down a drone with a Hercules missile way out of range.

BFV (2, Insightful)

bobej1977 (580278) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633318)

I think it's a little bit scary that many people of my generation probably know more about the Vietnam war from Battlefield Vietnam loading screens than they retained from their studies at school. While the information contained there is relatively unbiased, they could just as well inserted politically motivated propaganda there. This would have easily slipped below the radars of the historians who keep such published material from straying too far away from reality.

Wargames effect on the American population (3, Insightful)

JavaLord (680960) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633363)

But a few days of playing Ghost Recon or America's Army might make you more knowledgeable than the average reporter (or even lawmaker), as the writer argues that 'the spread of military knowledge via wargaming might lead to political changes in the way war is perceived by Americans'."

A few points about this.

1. Games can also spread military disinformation. For example an AK in CS might have bad recoil, but the recoil isn't as bad as an AK in real life. I actually asked a friend in the military about this and he said the only real way to fire an AK accurately is to lay down with it. A far cry (no pun intended) from CS where an AK fires accurately for the first 1 to 2 shots no matter what. Of course, this doesn't make for good CS gameplay so realism is thrown away in the name of gameplay. Which is the way it should be, with the exception of America's Army, video games are ment to be fun first, realistic simulators second (or third, or not all).

2. I think if anything games might desensitize people to war, or make war seem more glamourous. Sure you might play a war game where you storm a hut in Iraq full of insurgance but do you see the innocent people in the background who are hurt or killed? Maybe you work as a sniper, medic, or soldier in the game, but do you ever spend time rebuilding the enemies schools or water supplies? Do you ever face situations like the US soldiers do where most of the time you aren't shooting anything, but anyone can be a terrorist and if shoot the wrong person you don't just 'lose a frag', you might end up in a military court?

War simulators IMO do not simulate the wars of today. They may be accurate portrayals of WWI and WWII where all the soldiers had to do was find and kill the bad guys which was anyone that was part of the "bad" country you are at war with. Wars nowadays almost always involve "nation building" which doesn't translate into fun video games.

War games are just another genre of games. They are fun, but I wouldn't expect them to 'educate' the American public about war any more than I would expect the American public to become better drivers from playing Mario Kart or learn martial arts from playing Mortal Kombat.

Re:Wargames effect on the American population (3, Interesting)

meta-monkey (321000) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633613)

Have you played Full Spectrum Warrior for the XBox? I think it's probably the best war game I've ever played. Essentially, it's urban combat in a fictional middle eastern country. The game was originally developed as a training simulator for the U.S. Army, and then adapted for the general public. You control two four-man fireteams and move from cover to cover to eliminate threats. If you lose a soldier, you lose the game. If you kill a civilian, you lose the game. No, you don't see the "nation building" aspects quite so much, although there are instances where you, say, clear the way for a medical convoy trying to provide aid to civilians.

I'm not sure if I could say it changed any of my political beliefs, though. I'm a Libertarian, I support the war in Iraq, and my wife just got out of the Army after nine years. I can say, though, that this game does not glamorize warfare. It's dirty, gritty, ugly, confusing, and unfair. If anything, it gives you a better idea of what soldiers really have to face out there. Of course, nothing can ever truly convey that except for being there, but I short of a holodeck I can't imagine a game doing a better job of it than this.

Still, if you're at all interested in military video games, you absolutely must try Full Spectrum Warrior. If you don't have an XBox, it's supposed to be coming out for the PC soon.

Re:Wargames effect on the American population (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 10 years ago | (#9635697)

I understand that you're trying to make a point, but when Super Mario Kart came out, I think I was ~15, so my dad kept interrupting my play to point out that I should be doing this or doing that and keep my eye on the road etc etc. Thank God I didn't play Mortal Kombat while inside the house...

Re:Wargames effect on the American population (1)

Rayonic (462789) | more than 10 years ago | (#9640618)

> the only real way to fire an AK accurately is to lay down with it.

Do you have to buy it a couple of drinks first?

it's not all FPS (2, Insightful)

WebGangsta (717475) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633387)

It's funny how today's gameplayers equate war-based games with FPS.

Remember Balance of Power [the-underdogs.org] ? There's a REAL war game for ya.

Re:it's not all FPS (1)

Colazar (707548) | more than 10 years ago | (#9637731)

That was my reaction, too.

Of course, as an old-school wargamer, I think of war as being an excercise in maneuvering hundreds of cardboard counters with arcane drawings on them across hex-gridded maps, while preventing your opponent from doing the same.

Which convinced me that you should only engage in war if you have at least an hour available per turn. And feel like arguing about the rules.

Re:it's not all FPS (1)

Jaeph (710098) | more than 10 years ago | (#9643891)

www.grognard.com

Hexagons, chits, and dice: the only *real* way to wargame. :-)

-Jeff

Ahhhh tech central (0, Flamebait)

metalhed77 (250273) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633490)

It's the right wing equivalent of pomo bullshit.

War gaming (1)

bippy (668525) | more than 10 years ago | (#9633905)

I think what we are talking about here is propaganda. http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/entertainmen t_columnists/article/0,1299,DRMN_84_2844688,00.htm l Quotes an MIT professor he spells it out.

I don't see why this is so suprising? (1)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 10 years ago | (#9634206)

Games are still a form of communication/media. Yeah you still have to push buttons and DO things (unless, y'know, you're playing MGS 2...) but you're still taking in information.

And if you can be informed by passive media, then why not interactive media?

The bigger question still to be discovered.... Is interactive media a good way to impart emotional states upon the user? Can it be as expressive as passive art or does the interactivity "get in the way" and it would've been better just to have done it passivly to begin with?

I'll bite on the conspiracy theory bait.... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9634419)

Ok.. Maybe I'm crazy here, but that last sentance of the article:

""Were we right? You can judge for yourself. But I note that all the anti-videogame legislators mentioned in the Wired News story are Democrats. . . ""

seems to be implying that the anti-videogame democrats dislike them, not from some misguided belief that if I play combat sims I'll decide to gather a huge stack of weapons and go on a rampage, but because if I play wargames, I might be able to see through the Great Liberal Media Conspiracy to Turn People Against War.

That seems to be the dumbest idea I've ever heard. It's contributing to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. These guys don't like video games because they think they have to Protect the Children! And they're backed by people who think they know better how to raise other people kids than their parents.

Likewise, I don't need some great liberal conspiracy to tell me war sucks and that innocent people die due to mistakes. Nor do I need some video game to teach me that under fire, a soldier is not guaranteed to make the best decision, or that winning or losing one battle doesn't determine a war (usually).

As for his suggestion that combat sims make us better informed, politically. ::shrug:: maybe they do, maybe they don't. He'd've had a bit more credibility with me if he'd just left out that last sentance. But I note that if I wanted an opinion leader, he would have to give a better pedigree than "This one time, when i was playing (Insert Combat Sim Here)..." /Laura

Boycott America's Army (1, Troll)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 10 years ago | (#9634421)

The fact that the game always forces the enemy side to be terrorists should be enough reason to ban this game.

I can understand American Army vs. American Army from beginning to end. That's fine. WTF kind of properganda is that to make the enemy terrorists automatically. Boycott it. That's like making all enemies in Doom III republicans.

Re:Boycott America's Army (1)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 10 years ago | (#9634612)

Yeah, it sure is horrible that our main enemy in real life is the enemy in a video game based on real life. Bush declared a war on terror, remember?

Maybe you meant that the enemy shouldn't always be Muslim terrorists (I dunno if that's the case or not, I've never played the game).

Rob (You're probably trolling anyway)

Re:Boycott America's Army (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9634854)

Yeah, it sure is horrible that our main enemy in real life is the enemy in a video game based on real life. Bush declared a war on terror, remember?
Yeah, so your main enemy in real life is Bush and his cabal of fuckheads.

Re:Boycott America's Army (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9634996)

Yeah, cause everybody knows that Bush flew planes into the WTC, blew up two US Embassies, threatened to blow up Seattle, set off a bomb in the WTC, blew up a destroyer, cut the heads off of various civilian hostages (and let the only military soldier go free because he was Muslim), continues to blow up Baghdad, continues to blow up polling places in Afghanistan, continues to blow up Saudi Arabia, blew up the trains in Spain and gave billions of dollars to Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The great allies of the world.

And Bush did it ALL for the oil.

Re:Boycott America's Army (1)

gangien (151940) | more than 10 years ago | (#9637242)

Nope, many of the maps do not have arabs as the terrorists. I dunno how many are vs how many aren't, but i'd guess about half.

Re:Boycott America's Army (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 10 years ago | (#9635083)

The fact that the game always forces the enemy side to be terrorists should be enough reason to ban this game.
Why should that be a problem?

The game only states that you are up against generic terrorists. There is no indication that these terrorists belong to any specific country or religion, aside from the fact that they use easily reproducable Russian weaponry (such as an AK-47, SVD Dragunov, and so on.) These terrorists wear what appears to be civilian clothing rather than any turban, scarf or whatever identifies them to be a stereotypical terrorist that appears 24/7 in the mainstream media.

Also, you should know that the term terrorist only appears in the map descriptions - as in they describe what happened. Whether or not they are terrorists is really another storyIn other cases, the term used is "OPFOR", which simply means Opposing Force. This could either be terrorists, or hired para-military mercenaries hired to defend Freedonia's military supply depot.

Yeah, it worked for GI Joe! (1)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 10 years ago | (#9635153)

Er.. the animated series Joe from the mid-80's.

I could see a "blue army/red army" take on it though. But I have no problem with generic "terrorists" anymore than I had problems playing Cops and Robbers and Cowboys and Indians when I was a kid.

No Save/Restore Game Option? (2, Funny)

nlindstrom (244357) | more than 10 years ago | (#9635442)

I know that video games definitely influence my politics. I oppose the war on Iraq specifically because I learned that the poor soldiers don't have a Save/Restore Game option.

WTF kind of planning is that? How can anyone reasonably expect the soldiers to give their personal best when they can't even restore a saved game after getting shot by an enemy soldier? This was definitely a war that was rushed to market. Perhaps we should wait for the first patch to come out before continuing to pursue the war.

zerg (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 10 years ago | (#9635513)

What I learned from playing Ogre Battle 64 is that war is wrong and my choices have consequences that will come back to skull fuck me when I least expect it. I also learned that if your superiors order you to kill an unarmed man, you have every right to disobey that order... because, hey, you gotta follow your heart.

OK, but now read it again with _this_ in mind (2, Informative)

slavin (84427) | more than 10 years ago | (#9639889)

TechCentralStation isn't just some news and opinion website -- it's the publishing arm of a DC lobbying and PR group: DCI. [disinfopedia.org]

Quoted from this article [washingtonmonthly.com] in Washington Monthly:

"[TechCentral Station] doesn't just act like a lobbying shop. It's actually published by one--the DCI Group, a prominent Washington "public affairs" firm specializing in P.R., lobbying, and so-called "Astroturf" organizing, generally on behalf of corporations, GOP politicians, and the occasional Third-World despot. The two organizations share most of the same owners, some staff, and even the same suite of offices in downtown Washington, a block off K Street..."

You can see the money (as Feather Hodges Larson Synhorst) that they're getting directly from the Republican party here. [opensecrets.org] Around US $7MM.

Looking through their published client list, I can't see exactly whose interests are being directly expressed there. But whether you agree or disagree with the article, know that those words have been paid for by someone specific.

Any guesses as to who? Bueller?

Re:OK, but now read it again with _this_ in mind (1)

jslag (21657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9679840)

Very interesting. A few months ago, I followed links to a few TCS articles and thought that they seemed awfully slanted -- this certainly explains where they're coming from.

violates the 1st amendment ? (1)

kwoff (516741) | more than 10 years ago | (#9640250)

I don't follow the argument. How does banning the sale of this game to minors in any way infringe first amendment rights. So an adult has to buy them the game. This is bad how exactly? Minors aren't generally allowed to buy porn magazines, but nobody argues that this is restricting the right of the porn industry to educate young people on sex.
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