Video Gaming Geeks Save Israel

Play video games, defend your country.

At least, that’s the way it works in Israel. The “Iron Dome” of anti-missile defense that protects the country is operated by experts. In video games. From Wired:

While many of the boys in Idan Yahya’s high school class were buffing up and preparing themselves for selection into elite combat units, this gawky teenager was spending “a lot of time…

  1. Skyler

    Yeah, sure, computer geeks helping is a good thing. But never forget that war by its nature is human and visceral. No matter how many computers you have, you will still need men who can fight face to face.

  2. ConservativeWanderer
    Valiuth: It will be like Ender’s Game, which I’m not sure is that comforting a thought. I mean removing people from the violence will make people bolder about implementing it. Don’t get me wrong its great that they can perform a defensive role in protecting civilian areas from rockets, but I fear drones and video game like war will lead to a very nonchalant view of the whole affair.

    7 hours ago

    Ender’s Game is the first thing that came to my mind too.

  3. Guruforhire

    Random aside.  I don’t like normalizing my angst.  When its normalized it stops being mine.  I carry the core of seething nerdrage with me at all times.  It fuels me like a nuclear reactor.

    But yes it is all pretty cool.

  4. Cornelius Julius Sebastian

    And the geek shall inherit the earth.

  5. Cornelius Julius Sebastian

    But just remember– when the grid goes down, there is nothing like a good blaster at your side.

  6. KC Mulville

    What I like about the gaming aspect is that players have to adapt constantly … which is what “fighting the last war” is really all about.

    But it isn’t perfect. It can be a trap.

    Designers have to create a method for players to win, which means that winning forces you to think like the designers want you to think. But in real life, winning often means you do what isn’t expected.

    9/11 was a lesson: if you can’t beat their high technology, try low technology. Think differently. As the 9/11 Commission aid, pointedly, 9/11 was a failure of the imagination. We were the ones with the fancy games, but we got beat by imagination.

  7. Joseph Paquette

    US military hasn’t missed this action.  According to Stars and Stripes, a few years ago, “DARWARS Ambush” is a Army video game system.  It was modified by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to train soldiers using desktop computers.  It  focuses on teaching soldiers how to react to real world threats such as ambushes and convoy attacks.   The game is based on 20th-century gaming technology and can accommodate a number of players in a  virtual battle space  (similar to MMOG, massive multiplayer online games).  More recently, several weapons system proposals for the DOD, have in their specification requests for weapon designers to have ‘video’ like game controller interfaces. 

    Your child’s x-box time could be the gateway to a successful military career. 

  8. KC Mulville

    Time to market the new video game: Run an Economy!

  9. Percival
    KC Mulville: Time to market the new video game: Run an Economy! · in 0 minutes

    There have been a few out there like that already.  SimCity was essentially an economics simulation.  You could build parks, schools, libraries, and museums…but you also needed roads to get to them, power to turn the lights on, and water for the people, or the amenities would just sit unused.  You had to zone for residential, commercial, and industrial use, and deal with waste disposal and pollution.  Mess up significantly, and there would be riots and arson, so you’ll need police stations, jails…

    It was pretty sophisticated.

  10. Neolibertarian


    Well, Missile Command was the first video game I ever spent more than a couple of quarters on. Lot’s of fun to play in a warm and comfortable arcade. I wouldn’t want to try it from an electronics-filled IDF trailer in the Negev.

    And let’s not forget Disney’s wonderfully dull and corny The Last Starfighter, in which extra terrestrial head hunters planted video games in arcades around earth, all in the hopes of finding an earthling with a Starfighter’s necessary inherent talents (a score of a million points, as I remember).

  11. Southern Pessimist

    They told me if I voted for McCain that the defense department would be  run by video gamers and they were right!

    I know a few gamers and I read about them on AOSHQ and I don’t find this development to be reassuring. 

  12. Stu In Tokyo

    The only difference in this is that the geeks are actually using the technology in real time, but this kind of thing has been going on for a very long time, remember Hobarts Funnies from the invasion of Normandy? In warfare it is often the geeks, the nerds that think up the weapons advances and the warriors then take them to battle and use them effectively, in this case the geek is actually able to run the advanced weapons. Still it is very cool, think if they could prevent 100% of the rockets from entering Israeli airspace, every time, after a while I think Hammas would give up sending them, well maybe.


  13. Aelreth

    You wouldn’t believe how many people in the USCG disappeared when the latest WoW expansion came out, or the Call of duty Black ops 2.

    I can only imagine the amount in the Army or the Marines.

  14. Aaron Miller

    I was reminded of Missile Command as well. But I suspect Iron Dome is closer to trying to hit a distant, moving helicopter with an RPG in Call of Duty.

    I’ve seen 4-year-old boys learn iPad video games on their own. Controllers abound. The challenge is make the machines more versatile and responsive… and safeguarding against hacks.

    KC Mulville: Time to market the new video game: Run an Economy!

    CCP hired a professional economist to manage the virtual economy of EVE Online. MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games) all struggle to balance the supply and demand of virtual items within an online community. Hundreds of players have tried to analyze and correct those efforts.

  15. Red Feline
    KC Mulville: Time to market the new video game: Run an Economy! · 12 hours ago

    Brilliant, KC! How about also, Run a Business? They would have to be put into a fighting mode for boys. How about Fight the Changing Marketplace? Fight the Competition? Win the Contract? Hey, this could be good fun!  

  16. Richard

    The missile defense system in South Korea then must be really kick asphalt.  

  17. Red Feline

    When my grandchildren, as soon as they could get their little fingers on to a computer keyboard, were playing their War Games I used to cheer them on, telling them they were honing their trigger fingers, and also learning warfare strategy. I thoroughly approved, and this article just says it all. Any child who has been discouraged from using computers and playing video games, especially ones such as Warcraft, have missed out in this present world. Sweet to sit around “sharing”, but that is not reality.

  18. Scott R

    OK, so the geeks have a role in saving the world, but what about us bandos?

  19. BlueAnt

    Video games that prep you for life and death combat… I think they already did that movie.

    Aaron Miller: 

    CCP hired a professional economist to manage the virtual economy ofEVE Online. MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games) all struggle to balance the supply and demand of virtual items within an online community. Hundreds of players have tried to analyze and correct those efforts.

    And just like in real life, EVE’s market participants treat intervention as damage and route around it.  EVE’s economy is such an exploitative mess, it has become legendary. Most of the meta-game involves finding CCP’s calculation errors and profiting hugely from them.

    Other major MMOs have followed CCP’s lead and hired economists to advise on their games, with less disastrous results in the simpler systems.  EVE’s economy is uniquely complex, making accurate economic calculation almost impossible, even with perfect data.

    (You would think real life economists would learn the lesson, since they’re so fixated on models and this one is screaming valuable truths at them.  But no, they write their papers for the Fed and go on their merry intervening ways.)

  20. Red Feline
    James Of England

    … I’ve had people die protecting me, and if they’d been able to do their job from elsewhere and protected me without dying, I’d have felt a lot better about the whole thing. I understand my position on this to be entirely typical. 

    I’m with you on this James! War is horrific. 

    Much better to defend by missile defense, and strike by drone.  

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