Gamers who fight in the virtual wars of Call of Duty and Battlefield have piloted multi-million dollar aircraft and tanks, but is there a new opportunity to put them in control of real-world warriors like Viper or Iceman, military-trained dolphins?
The US Navy has trained and employed dolphins and sea lions for more than 40 years, using them to protect its fleet, seek out mines and track down enemy divers. The US Navy Marine Mammal Program will be demonstrating the terrorism-fighting capabilities of dolphins and sea lions in the San Francisco bay, showing off how they can sniff out and disable mines in a disaster response exercise.
Given their military contributions, maybe they should get a bigger role in our war games.
Video games have had their share of dolphin protectors, perhaps most notably Ecco the Dolphin, star of the Sega Genesis game that chronicled one sea mammals efforts to fend off an alien invasion and save his pod.
Dolphins have also been employed in the Command & Conquer: Red Alert series, equipped with deadly sonar pulse weapons and very effective against Soviet giant squids.
Quite possibly the best military use of a dolphin in games was that of Whity the dolphin from the Aerofighters (aka Sonic Wing) series of top-down shoot 'em ups. The hyper-intelligent Whity was capable of piloting a plane just as well as any human, ninja or robot, despite not having opposable thumbs.
Sea lions and dolphins have been used in military situations more than their video game appearances might indicate, something that we hope someone working on the next Call of Duty, Medal of honour or Battlefield might correct. Given their contributions to the Vietnam War, maybe they'll take part in some Black Ops. How about it, Treyarch?