Video Games, Virtual Reality, and International Conflicts with Robert Rath

by John W. Little. He is the creator of Blogs of War. His work and analysis have been featured in major media around the globe. The Blogs of War Twitter feed, @Blogsofwar, was selected as one of the top Twitter accounts of 2014 by Time magazine. Since 2014, he has produced the podcast series, Covert Contact (Twitter) which features national security, intelligence, and tech commentary from John and many others. The following text was published along with episode 32 of Covert Contact.

What have Video Games, Virtual Reality to do with International Conflicts? More as you probably think.

In episode 32 of Covert Contact freelance writer Robert Rath (Twitter) joins John to discuss video games and the very real violence that surrounds us. Gaming, especially in the first person shooter genre, reflects our view of combat but it can shape our views on the subject as well. Video game inspired technology is also increasingly leveraged by the military for training systems – and weapons control systems as well. The lines between real and simulated combat are starting to blur. There are obvious parallels in the emergence of drones but rapidly evolving virtual reality capabilities and robotics are going to make gaming and warfare, not to mention reality itself, change in ways that are difficult to predict but sure to be profound. This is a fascinating topic and the episode just scratched the surface in this hour. But rest assured that Covert Contact will be revisiting some of the subjects covered here for much deeper dives in future episodes of the show.

Robert has written on the subject extensively and I highly recommend some of his recent work on the topic including Ground Zeroes Gets Intelligence Right, Modern Warfare is a Comforting Lie, Military Expert P.W. Singer Predicts the Video Game Wars of the Future, and Pikachu and Pepper Spray: Hong Kong’s Geeky Protest Art.

Listen to Covert Contact episode #32 “Video Games, Virtual Reality, and Conflict with Robert Rath”

Download episode #32 – Archive: all episodes – Don’t miss any future episodes and subscribe on iTunes.

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Robert about Spec Ops: The Line: It is an aggressively unrealistic game, but it holds more truth in every scene than most games spread over their entire length. It reveals our compulsion as players to keep killing our way to the next objective, even when it’s clear our actions can’t fix the situation. It drives home how we’re conditioned to see everyone onscreen as a combatant. The ending lays bare our dangerous desire be the hero, even when evidence contradicts that conclusion. These criticisms do double duty by reflecting U.S. foreign policy, which recently fell into the same assumptions: we’re helping, we had no other choice, they’re our enemies, we’re the good guys. The game’s far from technically accurate, but does it resonate? For me it does. It’s not some last word on politics or warfare, but it touches a nerve (Robert Rath, “Forget Realism, We Need Truth“, The Escapist, 19.02.2015). Needless to say that the game is banned in the United Arab Emirates due to the game’s depiction of Dubai in a state of destruction.

This entry was posted in English, Security Policy.

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