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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Zero Sum Game

The snake...
Unable to get the necessary recruits for the military the old-fashioned way, the U.S. Army has sunk $16 million into a government-sponsored video game that blurs the line between fantasy and the reality of war.

The taxpayer-financed "America's Army" is so clever a mind game that even the military folks behind it get a little confused when talking it up. Time magazine said Major Chris Chambers, deputy director of the video's development team, had to stop and correct himself when he called the violence, combat and "death animation" in the game "real." "It's not real; it's simulated. But we're simulating reality," he said. ...

Military officials say the game is designed so these possible recruits understand the Army doesn't want them to be Rambos. There are game penalties for players who hurt noncombatants. And if you're wounded or killed, the game's over for you. But it sounded real Rambo-like when one military official said -- perhaps jokingly -- to a Time reporter playing the game, "isn't killing Afghans fun?"

Eats its tail:
Tech-savvy militants from al-Qaida and other groups have modified video war games so that U.S. troops play the role of bad guys in running gunfights against heavily armed Islamic radical heroes, Defense Department official and contractors told Congress.

The games appear on militant Web sites, where youths as young as 7 can play at being troop-killing urban guerillas after registering with the site's sponsors...

in a modified video trailer posted on Islamic Web sites and shown to lawmakers, the game depicts a man in Arab headdress carrying an automatic weapon into combat with U.S. invaders.

"I was just a boy when the infidels came to my village in Blackhawk helicopters," a narrator's voice said as the screen flashed between images of street-level gunfights, explosions and helicopter assaults.

Then came a recording of President George W. Bush's September 16, 2001, statement: "This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while." It was edited to repeat the word "crusade," which Muslims often define as an attack on Islam by Christianity...

SAIC executive Eric Michael said researchers suspect Islamic militants are using video games to train recruits and condition youth to attack U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq.


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