A Different Perspective on the Military and Games

We talked a lot last week about the military’s impact on the history of video games and on the content of video games, but I want to point out a connection between the military and video games that most people don’t think about – using video games to teach soldiers foreign languages. My dad is an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force and he wrote his Ph.D dissertation a couple of years ago on the Tactical Language & Culture Training System, particularly its use of video games to teach Arabic (you can read his full 136 page dissertation here).

I feel this aspect of military training is often overlooked in favor of the more violent weapons and combat training, but that does not make it any less important. In this era of global combat, it is vital that soldiers be able to communicate and interact with foreign peoples. Video games are an especially effective way to train young male recruits who probably already play video games in their free time, so video game-based language training doesn’t seem like a chore and can better keep their interest. Video games’ interactive environment also suits language learning well, since responding to game challenges and practicing new vocabulary within the game reinforces the player’s new knowledge.

It is undeniable that the military has had an effect on the rise of violent, combat-based games, but we should not forget to also appreciate the military’s influence on incredibly popular computer-based learning systems such as Rosetta Stone.

One thought on “A Different Perspective on the Military and Games

  1. Professor Sample

    You’re definitely right that everyone’s attention gravitates towards questions of violence whenever the connection between the military and videogames arises. And you’re right too that we shouldn’t forget the many other applications of videogames and simulations. In general, most studies show that games can successfully be used to teach any kind of skill. (I saw a Starbucks trainee the other day playing a dice game that Starbuck uses to teach drink-assembly!)

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