Predator drones and other high-tech weaponry are turning war into video games and making the use of military force a more, perhaps too, palatable option, an Al Jazeera op-ed piece argues.
In The Virtue-less war of the 'Nintendo bomber', Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, a Glasgow-based sociologist and the co-editor of Pulsemedia.org, writes that clinicalising war with the sorts of high-tech weaponry that potentially reduces both the civilian casualties of war and its horrors, people may become more likely to start a war. It is an interesting, albeit very opinionated, piece about the history of war and how leaps in technology may have led to a more willingly war-like society.
But what really caught my interest was Ahmad's take on video games and the role he thinks they play in this whole issue. Before dipping off into an anti-American fuelled political rant, Ahmad raises a very compelling concern about the increasing popularity of war video games and predator drones.
"Armies worldwide have used 'basic training' to wear down recruits' resistance to killing," Ahmad writes. "In recent years, there has been much concern that first-person-shooter type computer games are having the same effect, making youth more prone to violence. The virtual reality of the gaming world lets them forget that those on the receiving end are actually human beings just like themselves.
With the advent of the robotics revolution, war itself has become a first-person-shooter. A youth manning the console of a Predator drone from the safety of an air-conditioned compound thousands of miles from the battle-scene can kill with the same degree of unconcern which a computer game demands."
It's a frightening notion that as the technology of war races to become more, I hate to say it, casual, and video games about war becomes more complex, that the two might some day soon meet in the middle.
The Virtue-less war of the 'Nintendo bomber' [Aljazeera]