McKenzie Wark continually references the “Military Entertainment Complex” throughout Gamer Theory. While Wark discusses the MEC in general, I felt that the book was missing specific examples of ways that the MEC functions in our society – especially considering the cultural influence of Military games. In March I read an NPR article on “America’s Army,” an online combat game developed by the Pentagon. The article states that the game, “has helped boost military recruitment. The game’s technology is not all that different from the tools used in today’s war zones to guide unmanned drones and perform other tasks.” And, “One study found that the game had more impact on actual recruits than all other forms of Army advertising combined.”
The article talks about this new term of “militainment” where the US military draws from popular entertainment sources in order to draw more perspective individuals into the military. In reference to Rachel’s link of the TED video “When Games Invade Real Life”. This really is an example of games invading real life. Training costs are even going down because new soldiers know how to use the “video game” controllers of weapons.
The real effect of these games – something that Wark didn’t analyze in depth – is the “fog of war” effect that this article talks about. You can play games of war and win in the game, but real life is a totally different story. There are real effects on the ground, you cannot just reboot the game and try again. The scary thing is the desensitization. When a soldier is actually in combat, on the ground, I think they can clearly realize that they are not playing a game anymore. However, there are new missiles that are operated remotely by a soldier who looks at a screen and uses a controller very similar to that of a video game to eject to missile. In this case, the solider is put in a situation that is very similar to a game yet able to have real world effects with human lives in question. This is a very scary situation. Although we may save American lives from operating missiles remotely, is this really a good idea?