Re: Majoring in Video Games

NYU should apply for a Defense Department grant (if it hasn’t already) for its program in video-game design. Here’s yet another example of how gamer skills are finding applications on real-world battlefields:

It all began three years ago, when the U.S. Army realized that new remote control gun turret designs [on tanks] actually worked, and suddenly they could not get enough of them. The army ordered over 9,000 CROWS (common remotely operated weapon stations), but for a while could only get 15 a month. By the end of 2006, there were about a thousand CROWS in service …

The accuracy of the fire, and uncanny speed with which the CROWS gun moves so quickly and deliberately, is due to something few officers expected. The guys operating these systems grew up playing video games. They developed skills in operating systems (video games) very similar to the CROWS controls. This was important, because viewing the world around the vehicle via a vidcam is not as enlightening as (although a lot safer) than having your head and chest exposed to the elements, and any firepower the enemy sends your way. But experienced video gamers are skilled at whipping that screen view around, and picking up any signs of danger. Iraqis are amazed at how observant CROWS is. Iraqis tend to just wrote this off as another example of American “magic.”

Fred Schwarz — Fred Schwarz is a deputy managing editor of National Review.