I’m not sure if it’s for better or worse, but videogames are undeniably getting better and better at depicting the visceral horrors of war.
They’re getting so advanced in fact, that one retired RAF marshal seems to think there’ll be little difference between gamers blowing each-other up on Battlefield 1 and signing up to help pilot drones and kill people in real life.
The Guardian, reports that ex-air marshal Greg Bagwell told a parliamentary group that the Royal Air Force should think about recruiting ’18- and 19-year-olds straight out of the PlayStation bedroom.’ to operate unmanned drones.
Bagwell previously oversaw the use of Reaper drones in Syria, and is aware of the increased demand for qualified unmanned drone operators.
We need to test harder whether we can take a young 18 or 19-year-old out of their PlayStation bedroom and put them into a Reaper cabin and say: ‘Right, you have never flown an aircraft before [but] that does not matter, you can operate this. In order to be a very good Reaper operator you need that three-dimensional view of what is going on around you, even though you are 3,000 miles away. You are playing three-dimensional chess in your mind, so you understand how the various pieces fit together in terms of prosecuting a target.
Bagwell went on to suggest that the shortage of operators has caused some RAF employees to quit due to stress or mental illness, which isn’t all that surprising given the nature of the job.
As such, maybe it’s for the best to leave a bunch of untrained kids in the ‘PlayStation bedroom’ and away from the crushing guilt of accidentally having blown up innocent people.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.