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After WikiLeaks released footage that appears to show an AH-64 Apache gunner firing upon and killing Iraqi civilians, Julian Assange, a co-founder of the website, commented:

"The behavior of the pilots is like they're playing a video game. It's like they wanted to get high scores in that computer game."

Once the initial outrage at the footage subsided, Christopher Beam of Slate Magazine marked the semblance between the leaked video and the AC-130 levels in the Modern Warfare series (pictured right). Beam explained that certain battlefield conditions allow killing to feel "like a game." By removing the brutality from war, soldiers are able to operate with the same calculated focus as gamers.

But how similar are video games and real-word combat? According to this Slate columnist, the two are becoming alarmingly indistinguishable — and they share more than just pretty graphics. Many first-person shooters demand that players follow the rules of engagement, avoid civilian causalities, and maintain a sense of spacial awareness. Of course, Beam admits, moral dilemmas and physical fatigue are impossible to replicate on screen. 

But not everything's grim. The Slate author explains:

"[…] the best games can help soldiers anticipate real-world conditions. Video games are hardly to blame for the 2007 tragedy in Baghdad. But they could help to prevent the next one."

It's true, we're all tired of news about in-game violence and virtual warfare. But the facts remain: Video games and 21st century warfare have reached a point of parallel. It's up to us to positively use that similarity to train soldiers and avoid tragedies like this [Slate via GamePolitics].


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