Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Training Our Kids To Kill

By now
, many gamers are aware of Jack Thompson's sheer insanity.

Consider this quote:

"The Army uses these games to break down the inhibition to kill of new recruits.

Look at the Institute for Creative Technologies created by DOD to create these killing games. Tax dollars paid to the industry to create the games to suppress the inhibition to kill, and then the industry turns around and sells these games to kids. One instance is Pandemic Studio's Full Spectrum Warrior. If it works for soldiers, of course it works for teens. The video game industry has absolutely no rebuttal to that argument."

As I've stated before, I am not in the video game industry; I assume that means I am allowed to have a rebuttal to that argument.

Let me give you some background. I am coming out of a four-year stint in the United States Marine Corps. I spent six months in Afghanistan and two months in Iraq (crossing the Line of Departure a mere 72 hours after the word was given by the President).

While not in a combat unit, every Marine's primary job is basic rifleman. We are all considered trained enough to put steel on target when the lawful order is given.

Video games are poor training tools. For anything, really. I think the last games I learned from were Sticky Bear Math and Number Munchers.

I'm not aware of any military unit that uses video games to break down the inhibition to kill.

In fact, this breakdown really only occurs in one place: Boot camp.

Boot camp doesn't even specifically concentrate on the inhibition to kill. Rather, they follow the CIA training manual for brainwashing almost point by point, in order to instill in recruits 'instant and willing obedience to lawful orders' - that is what they do. The assumption, of course, is that these orders may be to kill; But they could be to drag a wounded child to safety, or set up a bunker in 100 degree weather, or pull night watch after being up for a 36-hour convoy.

The inhibition to kill can only be broken down by, wait for it . . . killing.

When we were parked on the outskirts of Fallujah and watched as night fell and the Iraqis came out onto the streets, even though our orders were much more liberal than the current Rules of Engagement, there was still hesitation. And this after our convoy had turned around after taking fire at the front.

When we got ambushed, it was actually unfortunate that my extensive game-playing hadn't prepared me at all for the sheer confusion, excitement, fear and horror of those moments.

If you think America's Army is anything but a half-decent game and a lame recruitment tool, you've never run an obstacle course, or been 'quarterdecked' by a DI.

If you think Halo can help you learn how to shoot, you've never tried to get ten in the black from 500 yards with the piece-of-shit M16A2, with your elbows getting ground by sand trapped in your cammies and the sun causing sweat on your forehead which drips into your eyes.

Video games, or things resembling games, are being used in some areas of the military.

During training ops higher ups often pit virtual countries against each other, but these are basically pushing pieces, simulating battles and using the troops to set up comm architectures and run test flights.

Some first-person-shooters are used by infantry troops to plan out tactics - but these are mostly for higher-level planners; Games will never, ever take the place of constant, demanding, mind-numbing repetition. Proper execution of maneuvers rely on muscle memory; Drill, in boot camp, forms the introduction to this doctrine.

Rainbow Six may let you breach and clear, but this doesn't translate to the motions or related actions: Which direction do you break? What targets are you responsible for? Who can declare a room 'all clear'? Did you check your overhead?

Flight simulators seem like video games, though I'm sure those responsible for both maintaining and operating them see them more as necessary steps to save billions of dollars worth of equipment from inexperienced hands.

If you want to know how to make a person prone to suggestion to kill, look here.

If anyone would like my breakdown of how boot camp uses the steps for Interrogation of Resistant Sources, just let me know.

The only way, then, I would even consider the argument that violent media makes for violent children is if it could be proven that those children who have been violent were denied any sort of balancing social forces. That is, if you took a child and locked him in a room and forced violent images day in and day out and brought them to the level of an infant and replaced their language with one of your own devising and had them progress their violence on increasingly complex organisms -- THEN, and only then, would I be willing to entertain that the media was a factor. And even then, it was not the cause. The cause was you, the sick fuck that provided no guidance other than a violent outlet.

That's how fascists work. They replace free social exchange with their ideas, they re-form language to their own ends ("Quite apart from the suppression of definitely heretical words, reduction of vocabulary was regarded as an end in itself . . . "), they make natural human sexuality taboo, they declare the War on Some Drugs, they attempt to regulate and control every aspect of human growth and exploration. They embrace stagnation of society and the mind.

Rant ended.

And now for a few choice Dick Cavett quotes:

"Censorship feeds the dirty mind more than the four-letter word itself."

"There's so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the streets?"


h. said...

i think you completely nailed it on the head. you're right. it's not the video games who are at fault.
i think that people who think video games or other kinds of media cause violent behavior in the real world are constantly looking for someone else to blame. what about personal responsibility? sometimes people need to just own up to the part they play in the lives of people around them. if your child grows up never getting any attention from you, never getting a hug, never hearing "i love you" maybe you bear some responsibility if your child grows up to be a violent, non-empathetic person. but i think the person who commits violent acts bears the most responsibility for their actions. everybody makes choices. most people have a capacity for violence but don't ACT on it. we make choices. choices not to hit, not to rape, not to murder, not to hurt or destroy. choices.

Anonymous said...

Great post.

"If anyone would like my breakdown of how boot camp uses the steps for Interrogation of Resistant Sources, just let me know."

I'd like to have those (the bandwidth is exceeded for your hyperlink on what makes people prone to suggestion). My email is Thanks.

Anonymous said...

While I agree to some of what you said there still lies in the fact that video games are good training tools for other areas of expertise BESIDES killing people.

it's a proven fact that video games improve hand and Eye coordination and as such doctors use it to train for surgeries as well as using robotics in the operating room.

Just because it does not actually break down the ability to kill someone DOES NOT mean that it is a poor training tool for anything.

You are just as guilty of not knowing the facts as the guy who you quoted,I will elaborate.
He didn't know the military as well as you, you do not know video games as well as you think.. see where I am going with this?
Cheers Mate, you're right about video games not being able to break down the inhibitions of killing and that its a poor substitute for COMBAT training but you are pretty much blowing smoke on the rest.

Deacon said...

Thanks for taking the time to read, anonymous, but I have to disagree with your interpretation of my post. I don't disagree with the idea that there ARE things a person can learn from video games, only that they can't replace direct training and that there is not a one-to-one mapping of what is being learned. And as I've now been in the video game industry for three years now, I think maybe I do know something - but maybe not.

Just as an example, if I play a surgery game I may see a side benefit of gaining hand-eye coordination, but I won't be qualified to do surgery. And it won't prepare me emotionally for having to cut into a living, breathing person and potentially kill them.