Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

Gaming and VR in Military and Health

Posted on | September 18, 2005 | 1 Comment

In our last class (Sept 15/05), Caitlin made reference to the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), a research center for virtual immersive worlds. The ICT is part of the University of Southern California in Los Angleles and is working with the U.S. Military on a number of projects. While I was working at Bruce Mau Design on “Massive Change: The Future of Global Design”, one of my colleagues interviewed James H. Korris, Creative Director for the ICT while we were researching the military economy within the “Massive Change” project. Among the items of discussion were why the U.S. Military joined forces with Hollywood, and how video games are being used to train soldiers today. The interview was published in “Massive Change”, Phaidon, 2004, pp.166-167 – I can bring in a copy if anyone is interested.

I just came across an article on Wired News from August 2005 about ICT working with the U.S. Military on VR goggles that are being used to aid soldiers in the Iraq War cope with returning home. The article is called “VR Goggles Heal Scars of War”, by Xeni Jardin. Story location: http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,68575,00.html

Image credit: Courtesy of Institute for Creative Technologies (from above link, Wired News)

I also just found out about an organization called “The Serious Games Initiative” and the “Games for Health Project”:
“The Initiative founded Games for Health to develop a community and best practices platform for the numerous games being built for health care applications. To date the project has brought together researchers, medical professionals, and game developers to share information about the impact games and game technologies can have on health care and policy.”

Some related events:
The “Serious Games Summit” is being held October 31st – November 1st, 2005, in Washington D.C. Areas of discussion range from the military and government, to health and education.

“Games For Health 2005″, September 22-23, 2005, Baltimore, Maryland.

Helen Papagiannis


One Response to “Gaming and VR in Military and Health”

  1. rugthrow
    September 23rd, 2005 @ 8:56 pm

    From my experience, the line between real-world skills and virtual skills is thin. Having memorized the exact locations of all the flying ducks in DuckHunt up to Level 99 (or something), and having played a multitude of other games that would eventually be called “First-Person Shooters”, I had some interesting discoveries later in life.

    DARKZONE: Not to toot my own horn, but I was ranked the top player of a form of very serious Laser-Tag when I was 14. The arena was called ‘Darkzone’ (anyone know of it?), and there were, at a certain time, multiple locations of Darkzones all over Canada and the USA.
    I became quickly addicted to the living-game, where you wore an intricately sensored pack which kept your score, and played solo or with a team. The environment was a labrynth of darklight and red laser beams, with mirrors, bases, and exhaust vents. Before a borderline hurricane blew the roof of it I was having a difficult time going a week without it.
    What was most interesting was the physical skill difference between experienced gamers versus inexpierenced gamers. The shooting skills and alertness inside the maze were night and day.
    Long rant, I apologize, but the Darkzone meant so much to me —

    VIDEO GAME VIOLENCE: In elementary school, at the height of Mortal Kombat, I played the role of Tony in a grade-school play called “Illusions”. Tony’s parents were killed in a car crash while he was playing a “violent video game”, and he gets beat up in the end to the grooving sounds of Oasis’ “Wonderwall”. Were we interviewed by the local Niagara newspaper “The Review” about how much video-games affect us in our real life, and we all said “NOT AT ALL!”
    A few years later my younger brother was interviewed by the same paper randomly in a shopping mall about how much time he spends playing “violent video games”. He said 4-6 hours a day.

    GRAMPA: Shooting coca-cola cans with an air rifle accompanied by my Grampa Roy, who has hunted for all of his life, I hit twice as many cans.

    So there’s many questions I ask which we’ll probably get to in a few weeks, but I’ll ask now in case someone knows already.

    What are the psychological effects of virtually killing millions? I’m your classical example of an English suburban kid who thinks himself a want-to-be Buddhist Leftist. Are the effects much more subtle?

    !!Do any of you have interesting stories related to the effects of video-gaming which completely contradict mine?!!

    I propose, half-jokingly, a class trip to the best remaining Darkzone in the world at Laval, Quebec. They had a team, and they went down!


    Jamie Matechuk
    aka Darkstalker.

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