When the Military and Videogame Developers collide.

Fire in the Hole!

Last week, seven Seals of the US Navy, of whom one was partially involved in the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, have stepped on an anti-personnel mine as they leaked military secrets to a videogame developer. The thing blew up as soon as the case was disclosed to CBS News.

Wrongful Whistleblower or Stuffy Supervisor?

This is yet another security scandal that unsettles the most powerful military in the world. Just like the whistleblower Private First Class Bradley Manning, these sailors found themselves in an ethical dilemma only that they were offered money as consultants by the videogame developer Electronic Arts instead of psychological and emotional relief. The studio is known for its realism in war games which it can only achieve by cooperating with US military staff. In the last years, such working relationships have been formed frequently. Only for their latest game, they have received information and demonstrations on newest equipment and tactics that hasn’t got authorization from above.

The result of these unauthorized activities was a disciplinary procedure that severely will hinder the careers of the seven sailors, argues CNN Senior National Security Producer Mike Mount. In contrary to his worries for the soldiers, Veterans and those concerned about the moral of the army see a breach of the military codex to serve the country and not the highest paying company and thus have no sympathy for the Seals despite their achievements.

Still, voices are loud that the punishment for the seven Seals is too harsh concerning that most of the revealed secrets are known already to the majority of the world’s military elites. This makes the case of two Czech game developer even more ridiculous who were arrested in Greece under the suspicion of espionage. The two developers who worked for Bohemian Interactive were out on a stroll photographing and videotaping the nature and aircrafts near an army base. Though the Czech videogame developer stated that his employees were merely on holiday in Greece, it is known that they work on the ArmA 3, another hyper realistic war game. That and the tension between Greece and the neighboring Turkey might have resulted in such strict measurements, Eric Caoili, writer on Gamasutra implies.

While the case of the seven Navy Seals might be just, the videogame developers of Bohemian Interactive face 20 years in prison if everything fails. These two cases show how close the military and video game industry get concerning the development of games that depict modern warfare. If you are interested to know how realistic videogames are and will be you can read John Brandon’s War, Or Something Like It: How Realistic Are the Top Military Video Games?

Gamification of the Military – hysterical and overprotective mums, do not read.

The collaboration of the two métiers is not only a one-sided affair. Glenn Derene reports that military engineers adapt interfaces and control systems for guns and UAVs to gamepads and software made by Xbox and PlayStation as they see a great percentage of potential recruits playing videogames on a daily basis. That kind of home trained future recruit would save the military a lot of money for training. To finally ensure the realism of the overall experience and to ensure a perfect “home training”, the US army even steps into the role of a videogame developer and spends $57 Million on the creation of a military simulator with the CryEngine3, German military has already spent $50 Million in 2008.

What do you think about the merging of the military and the gaming industry, two players that for a long time had not much in common?

Is it dangerous to turn a serious topic like war into games or do you see benefits, like the replacement of soldiers with remote controlled vehicles?

Is it good for soldiers to be able to train sufficiently in a safe environment or are you more worried about teenager being subconsciously conditioned to become soldiers?

German recruits play military simulations.