Recently, I had a fantastic opportunity to get a private tour on the German Sachsen class frigate (aka, German warship). This vessel, built in 2004, was amazing! The technology, the quality of material, the speed of the ship, and the fact that it could take on just about any threat on the open sea or air, to say the least, was impressive.
The young man that gave my brother-in-law and I the tour was truly proud to “show off” the vessel. I lucked out because my brother-in-law speaks fluent German, so the young sailor felt very comfortable taking us behind the scenes and explaining all the details of the ship.
I was intrigued with the bridge of the ship, the type of missiles it could launch, and the extremely small living quarters. However the one thing that really stood out to me was the control room. The control room sits in the center of the ship and controls all the external artillery. The folks in the control room, much like the control room of USS Enterprise on Star Trek, is the area where all the action happened. Launching torpedoes, firing guns, monitoring radar, and planning travel routes.
The amazing thing was the tools that were being used to do all this. Honestly, the tools used for combat in this control room were not completely different than the tools kids use to take down jets at on an arcade game at Dave and Busters. The joystick, the buttons, the headphones and microphone, and the computer screen seemed eerily familiar. I was suddenly imagining the German Navy responding to a threat off the coast of Syria, and the imagined image was similar to a college dorm room full of young guys finishing off a mission in Halo.
What quickly became interesting to me is how short the distance is between “gaming” and these types of combat interactions. The young soldier mentioned that sometimes they would have to be at their stations for 18 hours straight if there was a major threat. Really, that’s not a lot different than reading about young Korean gamers that live off energy drinks and urinate in mayonnaise jars to get through a week long gaming binge. Except, in the German Navy example the threat of losing your life from an enemy really exists…and with the Korean kid, the threat of losing your life because of starvation and dehydration exists (which happens…sad, I know).
I know this sounds really paranoid, but I really left that experience wondering if their isn’t something more to this. Perhaps gaming devices are a form of training for youngsters. The fact is that “games” or “virtual experiences” are exactly how military personnel are trained to handle situations. Fighter pilots train inside of fake jets full of monitors and joysticks.
I wonder if kids today play enough Call of Duty, they’ll be more advanced potential recruits for the future Army? In a sense, they are getting years of training before they are even old enough to drive.
In addition to this, with the oncoming flood of drones and robots that are being introduced to the world of security, the armed forces are going to need qualified operators. What better talent pool to hire from than the children gamers who are dominating virtual worlds already.
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