View Full Version : Military Expert opinion on combat computer games

27-03-2007, 15:37:32
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/games/archives/2007/03/21/what_is_missing_is_the_chaos_of_battle_what_a_mili tary_expert_thinks_about_modern_combat_games.html

Nice little article.

27-03-2007, 15:38:21
That url has some wierd characters in it... will this work?

edit: Nope...

remove the funny characters from K_G's link and it works, dunno what puts them in there though.

27-03-2007, 15:45:20
oh apologies, i shall try to edit them out

27-03-2007, 15:46:35
ah i see it's the verdammt board that is doing it not my original post

27-03-2007, 15:47:11
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/games/archives/2007/03/21/what_is_missing_is_the_chaos_of_battle_what_a_mili tary_expert_thinks_about_modern_combat_games.html

27-03-2007, 15:47:32

fuckin a how bizarre

27-03-2007, 15:49:31
Generally, what elements of modern military videogames do you see as realistic? While looking at Battlefield or perhaps Ghost Recon or Splinter Cell, do you think, 'yes, that's conceivable, that could happen'?
I think that current military combat games, including all those you mention, have realistic elements to them. In particular they stress networked forces on the battlefield, with infantry able to directly communicate with armoured vehicles, aircraft, artillery, and command centres on a real time basis.

This is interesting because in the real military, there is a great deal of effort to bring such a capability about - its called 'Network Centric Warfare' or NCW. NCW is seen as the basis for future military transformation and delivers a significant advantage to the networked force over the non-networked force.

The other aspect that is well represented are the combat environments - particularly the urban environment in games like Ghost Recon. Most warfare in the future will take place in complex urban environments, where house to house fighting, and the manner of engagements as portrayed in movies like 'Black Hawk Down' and of course the games mentioned above will be the norm.

So what is immediately unrealistic about consumer military simulations?
I think that consumer military simulations are never going to be totally realistic because ultimately people don't really die or get injured, and thus the fear element is never going to be there. I think that what is missing is the chaos of battle. Too often I see tactical engagements unfold on the screen and everything is relatively clear, wheras in real combat, the elements of chaos, unpredictability and confusion predominate. Look at sequences in movies like 'Saving Private Ryan' or 'Band of Brothers' to get a good example of what real combat is like. The game that comes closest is the Call of Duty series on XBox 360 in my view.

Finally the combat environments are complex, and what is missing, particularly in an urban environment, are civilians mixed in with military forces. To return to the medium of film, 'Black Hawk Down' portrayed the complex urban environment accurately, wheras some computer games have literally empty streets.

There's a lot of talk about the military using videogames as training tools - how much of this is accurate? What do they offer that more staid military-funded sims don't?
I think that there is some potential for using the best games as training tools. One of the most impressive I have seen is 'Full Spectrum Warrior' on the X Box (unfortunately, it never made it across to X box 360), which is really good for practicing how to move a four or eight man infantry section through a complex urban environment. More games like this with greater complexity, bringing in all the capabilities that the modern soldier can draw upon would be a valuable training tool, but never a complete solution.

You have spoken about how we're moving into an age of cyber-war, where the emphasis is on attacking a country's communications and electricity infrastructures - what have been recent manifestations of this in current global conflicts?
Cyberwarfare - the use of computer systems and software for offensive and defensive actions against an opponent's computer infrastructure - is relatively new, but already we have seen extensive cyber-battles occurring in the real world.

In the lead-up to the 1999 Kosovo Conflict, and the 2003 Iraq War, Western military information systems came under intense cyber-attacks from hackers either within the Serb and Iraqi militaries, or contracted by their respective governments. The Chinese and the Taiwanese regularly engage in cyberwarfare exchanges across the Taiwanese Strait. China has 'People's Information Warfare Battalions' whose sole job it is to wage cyberwar against China's opponents. Cyberwar is going to be a key aspect of future conflicts as we are information-dependent and an enemy, which may not be so information dependent, can use cyberwar to launch strategic attacks on this opponent's military and society.

As videogames become more realistic, most feature a range of modern day small arms - can you tell us a little about the rifles of the near-future? What small arms technologies can we expect to filter from the military to videogames in the next few years? What is new about these products?
I think that you are likely to see new rifle technologies which have more advanced sighting systems, tied into a heads up display which is part of the soldier's combat helmet (portrayed in 'Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter'). New types of ammunition may also be able to be fired, with the US already working on rifles that can fire a range of ammunition besides the normal high velocity 7.62mm full metal jacket round.

Non-Lethal ammunition may also appear. Laser sighting, integrated electro-optical sights, and the ability to feed the view from the sight onto the soldier's HUD mean that the soldier can fire the weapon without exposing themselves to as much harm. Perhaps in the longer-term, you might see radical new technologies such as rail-gun technology incorporated into rifles, or at least vehicle mounted weapons. But the laser or 'phaser' rifle favoured in sci fi is many decades away.

The game Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter is based slightly in the future and features soldiers in smart suits, that send data back to a command centre, receive instructions and display them on a helmet-mounted HUD - is this where real warfare is going - soldiers continually sending and receiving data via complex wearable computer systems?
The 'GRAW' cross-com system is quite good, and is representative of the future of infantry technology. Both the US and UK are developing this sort of capability as part of their Future Soldier technology programmes, and once tied in with advanced satellite and microwave communications, that connectivity should allow our forces a greater advantage over the enemy.

The one caveat - and its an important one - that I would make is that the enemies of the future will always be trying to threaten or degrade our military-technological advantage, and one of the best ways that they can achieve that is by attacking our information systems, and the networks which generate the 'sensor to shooter' link. Thus it is important not to make an assumption that the data-links and networks will survive for very long. We have to be able to fight and win when the networks go down.

Which weapons from current warfare don't seem to be used in videogames in your opinion? Why do you think that is?
I think one type of warfare missing from computer games, which may be used in the future is the weapons of mass destruction or effect (WMD/E) including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and enhanced-explosive (aka CBRNE). These are proliferating at an accelerating rate, and there is greater risk that rogue states - such as Iran or North Korea - with access to such capabilities would use them in future wars to offset the technological superiority of Western military forces, or potentially transfer such capabilities to non-state actors like terrorist groups. In every sim I have tried (be it on PC or XBox 360) I have yet to see this type of warfare represented, or seen friendly forces having to take precautions against its use.

I wrote in a recent Guardian column that if you can use an Xbox 360 controller you can probably launch a guided missile - someone wrote in to take me to task on my naivity. But how complex are weapons systems? I would have thought arms companies would design them to be as similar to videogames as possible as we all grow up playing them...
I think that launching a guided missile is perhaps a bit more complex than playing an XBox 360 game, but the actual use of computer and electronic systems to find and designate a target is moving closer to a simpler user-interface. Ultimately, the ideal for soldiers in the field is a simple 'point and click' interface because the last thing they want to have to deal with when bullets are flying around them is complex commands or controls.

Team-based games like Battlefield are hugely popular online now - do you see any similarities in the way people play online with actual modern military tactics?
I think they could be, but unfortunately, the average person playing them is not aware of modern military tactics. Too many times on Battlefield 2 Modern Combat I have seen people grab a tank or other vehicle and run off and fight independently, as opposed to being part of a team. It then becomes a bit of a free for all.

The other problem is that in spite of the brilliant ability for teams to communicate over the XBox Live systems, more often than not, there is little or no communication. People in a team should be constantly talking, working out tactics, warning of enemy positions, and so on, and it would be helpful either in tutorial modes in the game or in the instruction manual to include a short primer on basic military tactics. Even simple things like how to Flank an enemy position, or setting up defilade and enfilade fire would be useful.

27-03-2007, 15:50:55
now everyone better fucking read it

27-03-2007, 15:53:29

pretty interesting, honestly

I remember at the start of the Iraq war the media was showing roomfuls of soldiers at laptops coordinating units in the field.

27-03-2007, 16:06:16

who's interviewed?

27-03-2007, 16:14:27
Originally posted by King_Ghidra
now everyone better fucking read it

I read it!

It was interesting stuff.

Centara Fugue
27-03-2007, 19:13:45
Read it. Pretty cool. Makes me want to go read up about flanking enemy positions, etc.

27-03-2007, 19:22:45
I didn't read it!

Greg W
28-03-2007, 05:44:07
Put that into the 'not surprising file' from Venom.

28-03-2007, 08:15:32
Originally posted by maroule

who's interviewed?

ah yes apologes, had to remove the article intro because it put it over the 10000 character limit or something.

These days we're constantly being told how authentic military combat games are, the Ghost Recon and Battlefield series' focusing heavily on real-world weapons and situations. But how realistic are these games? Do they portray anything of the conflicts we're seeing in Iraq and Afghanistan?

To find out I spoke to Dr Malcom Davis, a lecturer in Defence Studies with the Defence Studies Department of King's College London. Davis is based at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, located in Watchfield, Wiltshire - the JSCSC is the UK's mid-level staff college for military officers going on to senior command assignments. As well as running advanced and intermediate level courses in Defence and Strategic/Security Studies, he has specific research interests hugely relevant to modern combat game design:

"My research focus is on future warfare and future military technology in the broadest sense, but with a close focus on the military use of space, broader space power policy issues, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and air power."

The result is a fascinating look into the realities of modern warfare and a confirmation that games get pretty close at times...

28-03-2007, 08:53:12
Originally posted by Greg W
Put that into the 'not surprising file' from Venom.


28-03-2007, 08:54:34
:lol: and the aussie is jolly again

28-03-2007, 15:47:13
Ha ha! Then the joke is on you! I lied about not reading. I actually did read it because it was about killing stuff.

So you are suprised. Me FTW!

24-04-2007, 09:07:38
Originally posted by King_Ghidra
now everyone better fucking read it
I tried to fucking read it, but I screwed

24-04-2007, 09:17:47
an enfilade flank screw got my back unguarded

24-04-2007, 09:59:56
I'm looking forward to play "Stubendurchgang! 3.0"

26-04-2007, 06:03:00
I love the last paragraph, the taciturn - "Yes but unfortunately most players are FUCKING NOOBS who don't know SHIT!! Why don't you assholes all LEARN TO PLAY ffs."

I'm sure anyone of an intellectual persuasion who had to do research on videogames would have run into this fairly quickly. =)

26-04-2007, 10:03:11
He didn't comment on bunnyhopping either. :hmm:

26-04-2007, 10:30:36
ah yes the art of firing a precision sniper rifle while climbing a ladder or repeatedly jumping have not yet crossed into the modern battlefield

26-04-2007, 10:54:42
I spent 15 monthe in the army and did nothing close to the stuff you do in games.

The first weekes I was running stairs up and down because an asshole of the company forgot to close a button of his shirt and so on.

I also spent weeks to learn how to look to the left and right (finding out thet the button morons can't tell the difference - which means more stairs) and how to salute properly.

And to learn a gun is called "clean " when the 2 hours of scheduled gun cleaning are over, not when it's shiny like a new one ...

self biased
26-04-2007, 11:38:58

26-04-2007, 11:50:11
Life sux

26-04-2007, 11:57:32
Guard duty sux.

26-04-2007, 12:33:01
Everything sux

26-04-2007, 13:25:36
Bob loved the army

26-04-2007, 13:47:33
I still wear a Stahlhelm

27-04-2007, 00:16:24
Originally posted by Bob
And to learn a gun is called "clean " when the 2 hours of scheduled gun cleaning are over, not when it's shiny like a new one ...

Well, if you don't clean out the tube, the ball could get stuck there and the gun could explode, killing all of you.

Jon Miller

27-04-2007, 02:21:49
Few tubes take 2 hours to clean out. From the little I've seen, it takes more like a minute.

27-04-2007, 06:44:50
Your Army days were fun. Or should I say: Navy days?

27-04-2007, 11:48:08
The ball could get stuck? Jon Liiiiiimer has a Civil War musket?

27-04-2007, 11:51:28
... firing Millie Balls

Centara Fugue
27-04-2007, 17:42:31

27-04-2007, 17:58:46
that backfired

Jon Miller

27-04-2007, 19:54:55
You sick mind.