Commercial video combat games are more realistic than the British military's training software. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing?
Now more realistic!
Video games have had a very bad rap over the years. They have variously been blamed for the demise of the music and film industries, for corrupting young minds and generally for the breakdown of society at large.
But things have just grown even more serious. Now, video games are starting to affect how armies train their soldiers.
The British newspaper The Guardian reports that the UK Ministry of Defence has revealed that the British military has had to upgrade the computerised war games it uses to simulate battle conditions, to meet the standards that some young recruits expect.
Recruits who have grown up playing high-resolution combat games, as part of the PlayStation and Xbox generation, tend to lose concentration, it seems, when using army software that offers less realistic graphics. The ministry, increasingly focusing training on digital simulations to prepare troops for duty economically, cannot afford to have games that your average 10-year-old gamer will turn up his nose at.
No one will complain if the army's improved state-of-the-art war games produce better soldiers. But we worry that this could force commercial producers to become more realistic still. Better military combat simulation is one thing; virtual bullets and explosions going off in living rooms would be quite another.