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A behind-the-scenes look at how the military uses video game technology to train soldiers, treat veterans, and entice new recruits How does the U.S. military train its soldiers for new forms of armed conflict, all within the constraints of diminished defense budgets? Increasingly, the answer is cutting-edge video game technology. Corey Mead shows us training sessions where A behind-the-scenes look at how the military uses video game technology to train soldiers, treat veterans, and entice new recruits How does the U.S. military train its soldiers for new forms of armed conflict, all within the constraints of diminished defense budgets? Increasingly, the answer is cutting-edge video game technology. Corey Mead shows us training sessions where soldiers undertake multiplayer “missions” that test combat skills, develop unit cohesion, and teach cultural awareness. He immerses himself in 3-D battle simulations so convincing that they leave his heart racing. And he shows how the military, which has shaped American education more than any other force over the last century, fuels the adoption of games as learning tools—and recruitment come-ons. Mead also details how the military uses games to prepare soldiers for their return to the home front and to treat PTSD. Military-funded researchers were closely involved with the computing advances that led to the invention of the Internet. Now, as Mead proves, we are poised at the brink of a similar explosion in game technology. War Play reveals that many of tomorrow’s teaching tools, therapies, and entertainments can be found in today’s military.


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A behind-the-scenes look at how the military uses video game technology to train soldiers, treat veterans, and entice new recruits How does the U.S. military train its soldiers for new forms of armed conflict, all within the constraints of diminished defense budgets? Increasingly, the answer is cutting-edge video game technology. Corey Mead shows us training sessions where A behind-the-scenes look at how the military uses video game technology to train soldiers, treat veterans, and entice new recruits How does the U.S. military train its soldiers for new forms of armed conflict, all within the constraints of diminished defense budgets? Increasingly, the answer is cutting-edge video game technology. Corey Mead shows us training sessions where soldiers undertake multiplayer “missions” that test combat skills, develop unit cohesion, and teach cultural awareness. He immerses himself in 3-D battle simulations so convincing that they leave his heart racing. And he shows how the military, which has shaped American education more than any other force over the last century, fuels the adoption of games as learning tools—and recruitment come-ons. Mead also details how the military uses games to prepare soldiers for their return to the home front and to treat PTSD. Military-funded researchers were closely involved with the computing advances that led to the invention of the Internet. Now, as Mead proves, we are poised at the brink of a similar explosion in game technology. War Play reveals that many of tomorrow’s teaching tools, therapies, and entertainments can be found in today’s military.

30 review for War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chris Esposo

    A well-written account of the history and recent use of electronic games for military field combat training and therapy. Focuses mostly on the use of the first-person perspective for simulation,l based instruction and not enough on simulation for the use of larger force rehearsal or planning, although the use of a simulator built from a sim city-like engine was mentioned as a trainer for occupation forces in Iraq. Interesting background material on DARPA's heavy investment on early video games in A well-written account of the history and recent use of electronic games for military field combat training and therapy. Focuses mostly on the use of the first-person perspective for simulation,l based instruction and not enough on simulation for the use of larger force rehearsal or planning, although the use of a simulator built from a sim city-like engine was mentioned as a trainer for occupation forces in Iraq. Interesting background material on DARPA's heavy investment on early video games including the wire-framed Battlezone and Asteroid-like games to simulate combat in space (don't get why that was ever relevant in the 70s). Those topics extend to a more general discussion of military influence on US education in general, including standardized tests, the GED, the focus on math and science (although that has waned since the 50s), and even the style of instruction in most primary and secondary schools. Another interesting fact includes the early appropriation of the Doom 2 engine for fire team coordination simulations, which helped lead the way to dual-use companies like Bohemia Systems, who produce ARMA. The topic on Serious Games, towards the last 2/5 of the book, applied to PTSD and interpersonal life issues is interesting but nowhere near complete. Unfortunately a rare topic in most consumer-facing publication, it's a good intro, hope more dealing with this intersection is published in the future. Recommend

  2. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    I enjoyed reading the book. I had no idea that the military used video games for training until I read this book. What else can I write. I like that the book was short. I enjoyed reading about the history of video games that the military used for training.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    This brief book provides a good introduction on the American military's efforts in using various kinds of immersive video games to provide training and treatment, especially post-9/11. The first third of the book is largely setting the table by recapping the history of the military's involvement in entertainment and education. This has generally come in the form of developing technology that can be easily adapted to the former, and inserting itself in the latter. None of this is particularly new This brief book provides a good introduction on the American military's efforts in using various kinds of immersive video games to provide training and treatment, especially post-9/11. The first third of the book is largely setting the table by recapping the history of the military's involvement in entertainment and education. This has generally come in the form of developing technology that can be easily adapted to the former, and inserting itself in the latter. None of this is particularly new or surprising, but it does provide historical context for what follows. The remaining two-thirds of the book are more interesting reportage, as he plots out how the post-9/11 military has turned increasingly to video games as a way to connect with the kinds of recruits that were forming the basis of the volunteer forces. Particularly interesting is the long chapter charting out the development of the wildly successful America's Army game, including the labyrinthine bureaucratic wrangling that surrounded it. Subsequent chapters describing the development of a multiplayer Virtual Battlespace environment for scenario simulation and development of an immersive virtual-realityish PTSD therapy treatment are also fascinating. Throughout it all, one is amazed that any of this is happening at the scale and complexity it is, given the general resistance of large government bureaucracies to innovative programs. One of the lesser themes of the book is how all of these developments relied on a handful of people at the right place making the right connections in the right time, and how they scraped together scraps of funding to put something together. The general tone of the book is a blend of research paper and long-form magazine piece, and while it's generally pretty readable, it felt a bit short at the end. The book ends with the tantalizing tidbit that Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran have developed their own popular video games, and that the Chinese army is sponsoring it's a game similar to America's Army, called Glorious Mission, and that the enemy in that game is America. I would have loved to see a chapter on those efforts, not to mention a broader survey of how other advanced countries are using video games in their military training operations. One thing I had a hard-time figuring out is how the non-gaming reader would receive this book. I'm not a videogamer, more of a boardgamer by nature (current favorite is Conflict of Heroes), although I have played a few FPSs at friends' houses from time to time. So, I can at least picture the kind of environment being described, and have a sense of the user perspective and can get behind the case for "serious games" the author advances. But if you've never seen or played a FPS or similar game, I'm not sure the book's discussion will connect with you. Maybe I'm wrong about that -- and in any event, it seems pretty clear that gaming simulations are here to stay, and appear likely to permeate many other activities in society.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tim Johnson

    Mead outlines the military's history of troop education and contributions to modern technology. Is it really any surprise that the military would turn to simulations, video games, and virtual reality as a means of attracting and training recruits? I don't believe it is. This is the next logical step in the Information Age. The Army's ability to build virtual environments based on actual locations, program in native populations complete with their own languages and customs, and immediately incorp Mead outlines the military's history of troop education and contributions to modern technology. Is it really any surprise that the military would turn to simulations, video games, and virtual reality as a means of attracting and training recruits? I don't believe it is. This is the next logical step in the Information Age. The Army's ability to build virtual environments based on actual locations, program in native populations complete with their own languages and customs, and immediately incorporate new enemy tactics makes gaming a huge boon to training. Especially when you consider that today's soldiers have grown up with this technology. Soldiers now have to absorb much more information than ever before within the same restrictive timeframe and budgets that are always shrinking. Add to this the fact that a number of recruits are products of a public school system that uses archaic methods emphasizing short-term memory for test-taking. First person action-oriented games are a good way to address this. There is a lot of concern about the school system in the US and our performance with regards to STEM skills. I see it and worry about it. I am equally troubled by the apparent lack of reading and attention to music and the arts. I love my country but we really need to re-examine our values. Anyway, getting off the soap box now. . . Perhaps the most surprising section of this book is the applications that are being developed to aid with the mental health of returning veterans and the treatment of conditions such as PTSD. It fits with previous readings I have done, however. In The Shallows the author relays how when the earliest voice recognition prototype was developed people would essentially line up to tell it their secrets and fears. Apparently, the truly anonymous nature removed the stigma of talking about your feelings. At least, I think it was The Shallows. Moving on. Not as surprising, but something I never considered before, is the fact that there are other countries out there with military games that feature the US military as the bad guys (you know who you are. . . China). Also something to consider is the role that cyber warfare will play in future conflicts. It's kind of scary to consider the havoc an enemy government could cause by hacking the power grid. Mead's writing starts kind of slow but gets stronger as you get further into the work. Also, when you examine the work as a whole you can see that it proceeds in a completely logical fashion.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    The computer industry benefited from huge government investment, the military was deeply involved in educational testing and innovation, the military introduced games like Mech War as an instructional tool, the need arose for teaching both content and critical thinking....and so emerged what has been called the "military-entertainment" complex, in which game companies profit from military themed products, and the actual military uses games to train recruits already familiar with and motivated by The computer industry benefited from huge government investment, the military was deeply involved in educational testing and innovation, the military introduced games like Mech War as an instructional tool, the need arose for teaching both content and critical thinking....and so emerged what has been called the "military-entertainment" complex, in which game companies profit from military themed products, and the actual military uses games to train recruits already familiar with and motivated by game conventions. This is a basic introduction and survey of developments like America's Army, UrbanSim, Flat World, VBS2 and a variety of attempts to treat PTSD with virtual tools. Mead addresses problems like the culture clash of military hierarchy and gamer startups, the shock that China, Iran and Hezbollah have their own training games aimed squarely at Americans, and that trainees come in having played games where they are rewarded for reckless and unethical behavior (and the unpleasant realization that this is training for things from which they might not reboot).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    I imagine this book was mostly interesting to me because I worked on "serious games" for 6 years. So the best thing I got from this book was some companies that create "serious games" for the military and other industries. While it was useful in that regard, the book didn't really provide much insight otherwise. A lot of pages are taken up detailing America's Army since it is the most widely known and mainstream popular military video game. I guess the book was preaching to the choir a bit for m I imagine this book was mostly interesting to me because I worked on "serious games" for 6 years. So the best thing I got from this book was some companies that create "serious games" for the military and other industries. While it was useful in that regard, the book didn't really provide much insight otherwise. A lot of pages are taken up detailing America's Army since it is the most widely known and mainstream popular military video game. I guess the book was preaching to the choir a bit for me so I didn't gain much from it, but even a person unfamiliar with video games usage for education probably wouldn't gain too much. The author tends to take for granted that he's proved his points. Because the book deals with using video games to simulate different aspects of military life, I wondered how long it would take the author to mention Ender's Game. Chapter 3 begins with a quote from the novel.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    I received my copy from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review. I can honestly say that I found this book fascinating. I am a baby boomer, certainly not a gamer, so this was really an eye-opener for me. It's a really well researched account of the American Military's attempt to utilize the most effective technology available in their training efforts. The book starts out with the history of the military's involvement in the entertainment industry and adapting to advancements in technology I received my copy from NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review. I can honestly say that I found this book fascinating. I am a baby boomer, certainly not a gamer, so this was really an eye-opener for me. It's a really well researched account of the American Military's attempt to utilize the most effective technology available in their training efforts. The book starts out with the history of the military's involvement in the entertainment industry and adapting to advancements in technology. It progresses to post 9/11, and the increasing attempt to connect to recruits from our technology driven present. That's when the book really picked up speed and became one I would like to share with the Military Collectors in my life. War Play was not an easy read, but it was a satisfying one. I was entertained and informed. I would recommend it easily.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tamara

    I learned a lot from this book, mainly about the military's role in educational technology and techniques. As the author notes in the intro, this book is not about military or war video games. It is about the military's use of their own games to train their own people. The only disappointment for me was the seeming gloss-over of the army's infiltration of public schools. This is a very controversial topic, and I think that the author (for obvious reasons) avoided any deep exploration of the mora I learned a lot from this book, mainly about the military's role in educational technology and techniques. As the author notes in the intro, this book is not about military or war video games. It is about the military's use of their own games to train their own people. The only disappointment for me was the seeming gloss-over of the army's infiltration of public schools. This is a very controversial topic, and I think that the author (for obvious reasons) avoided any deep exploration of the morality of the association.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Michael Shea

    An interesting view on how the military is working with the entertainment industry to advance the fields of education and training. It makes me wonder how we can use serious gaming at my work to train people to use computer systems. For the most part it depends on identifying scenarios that are suited for the medium. My current task involves teaching people to program Java on SAP Cloud platform. There it seems to be the wrong medium. I was really surprised at all the work that is being done and An interesting view on how the military is working with the entertainment industry to advance the fields of education and training. It makes me wonder how we can use serious gaming at my work to train people to use computer systems. For the most part it depends on identifying scenarios that are suited for the medium. My current task involves teaching people to program Java on SAP Cloud platform. There it seems to be the wrong medium. I was really surprised at all the work that is being done and the interesting applications in training, in therapy, and others.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dan Needles

    This book provides a 20K level survey of the history of the slow adoption and use of gaming in warfare. War Play does a great job at that high level. However, I was hoping the author would delve a bit more into the details and nits of things. Given the number of pages dedicated to the book, they was more than ample real-estate to do so. Still, all-in-all, a worthwhile read as there are few books on this subject.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jared Della Rocca

    Interesting to see the conjunction of video games and the army, as well as the intersection of education and the military. The book goes beyond video game warfare, as I found the most interesting chapter to be on how video games are being used to treat PTSD as well as handling "HR"-style issues both on and off the battlefield.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Denise Spicer

    This 2013 book covers the use of video games in the military and describes the history of the military entertainment complex and how the military has influenced education. There is information about the use of virtual reality in medical/counseling sessions to deal with traumatic results of military service on individuals returning to civilian life.

  13. 4 out of 5

    C.J. Ruby

    It seems as though the US military is getting a good bang for its buck out of using video games and capitalizing on video game culture for training. One of the more interesting items was about the PRC (Chinese) video game where the only enemy is the USA.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    decent book, it does give a nice history of models and simulations and how that Army has adopted them over the years. It does detail the success of such games as "America's Army" on recruiting, but does not go into detail on failures of games and why, rather he offers one small footnote.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Interesting history of video games and simulation in American military history. Discusses some additional steps being taken with the focus on cyber warfare in the future.

  16. 4 out of 5

    PWRL

    E

  17. 4 out of 5

    David

  18. 4 out of 5

    Eric Berinson

  19. 4 out of 5

    John

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eric James

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  22. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bob Weaver

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kat

  26. 5 out of 5

    Spikeybär

  27. 5 out of 5

    Clio

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rohan Kazi

  29. 5 out of 5

    Filippo

  30. 4 out of 5

    Atusa Mozaffari

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