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The future of video games in the military

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Since the launch of America's Army in 2002, the military has drastically increased its use of games to attract new recruits, train soldiers and treat those returning from war.

Corey Mead, assistant professor of English at CUNY's Baruch College, and author of "War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict" believes the U.S military's use of games is likely to increase, but that there is a danger of relying too heavily on simulations.

In an interview with NPR he talked about games like Tactical Iraqi which taught troops how to interact with locals during the war in Iraq. Over a two-week playing period players learned basic language skills and useful cultural lessons.

Games are also being used to help soldiers suffering from PTSD. Patients enter an immersive combat world and talk through the experience that affected them. Visuals are slowly added to the game to simulate the original experience.

"The point is to re-traumatize you ... to take you through it every time with your therapist so that eventually you come to realize that you can get through the experience," he explained. "Some of the fear is lessened because you have been through it so many times and it no longer has the same power over you."

But he said that games are becoming the Pentagon's default solution for any new training problem. "There are a lot of innovative ways that the military is ahead of civilian agencies in terms of trying new ways of educating people in 21st Century solutions," he said. "But if we are too ready to take on technological solutions then real world solutions can be given short shrift.

"The Pentagon has a tendency now to throw a video game at its problems. Our soldiers are coming back from war with all manner of trauma and family problems so 'let's give them a game.' I don't say that to take away what the game makers can do — they are really doing their best — but it can never replace an overall comprehensive approach to education or the treating of trauma."

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