Murphy's Law: Video Games and Real Combat

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December31, 2006: The American military likes to test and survey new recruits, to see what talents they already have. One of the most amazing (to the brass) findings was that the average recruit now comes in with several thousand hours of time playing video games. Hmmm, interesting skill set. It took a few years for the military to find out how to make use of this. Actually, the troops themselves demonstrated their special abilities, by quickly adapting to certain types of equipment, like fire control systems, and UAVs. Before long, companies that built micro-UAVs (weighing under ten pounds), realized that the best format for the controller was that used by video games. So now, the controllers used to operate these micro-UAVs often look like video game controllers, with a small video screen built in. For the larger UAVs, new controller equipment is appearing, which obviously borrows a lot of the "look and feel", not to mention functionality, from video game software. This approach works, and it cuts training time a lot. Before this, UAV controllers were using PC software that depended a lot on a keyboard and mouse. This was not the sort of thing video gamers were used to. Indeed, keyboard and mouse were a pretty lame interface for something as hectic as running a UAV. The keyboard and mouse angle came from the engineers who developed the controller software. Yeah, OK, for developing software, but not for actually operating the UAV under combat conditions. The military is now keeping a close watch on developments in video game interface hardware and software.

 


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