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    May 7th, 2015 at 22:15:00     -    This war of mine (PC)

    One of a man's first jobs has always been to survive, at least until the last century when we have become so comfortable that we forget what is is like to have to fight and scavenge for survival. We are so comfortable that a child is traumatized by actually being subject to the baser conditions of war and grows up to make a game about how traumatic war and survival and scavenging and having to work together is. Yes, war and death and terror absolutely is traumatic, but is that a function of how weak our lifestyles have made us, or is it just life?

    This War of Mine reminds us that survival is personal. War is personal. War puts a fire under the civilization that has grown used to comforts and conveniences, the way losing your cell phone for a day drives you nuts until you get used to it, except war has blood and bombs, and the limb we call a cell phone only has batteries.

    What is it really like to subsist? To scavenge, to make the best of what we have. That This War of Mine is presented as a traumatic and depressing event for the people in this world might suggest just how far we've come and how much we have lost as a civilization of life in becoming civilized.

    War does us a favor. It returns us to our mortal roots and teaches us how to live again.

    In this sense, war is like camping while leaving our cell phones at home. It is like hunting without a gun, maybe just a knife. It is about being on equal footing with nature instead of lifted up into our own worlds.

    I’m not saying I am in a hurry for more war, but is there a price for peace that goes on a little too long?

    As a soldier in Iraq, I lived in a palace complex with no running water because we were afraid turning on electricity would cause electrical fires. We had gold plated toilet seats but had to carry bucket loads of water from the lake in order to flush.

    We didn’t have cell phones. Sometimes we legitimately worried about the mortars that were fired blindly over the palace walls.

    The book and film The Book Thief explores the idea that the idea of war is actually far scarier than war itself. Once a bomb lands in your back yard and you survive, you learn to live with the bombs, until one day the war ends or your personal war ends.

    I’m not saying the game overhypes anything. I do think we might find ourselves more afraid to look in the mirror and see who we are without our guns and our technology than we might be startled by bombs if war ever comes home to us.

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    Apr 8th, 2015 at 14:41:06     -    Defcon (PC)

    “10 Minute War”

    I looked up the longest wars in world history on Google. One source claims the Hundred Years War was the longest, between Britain and France, technically lasting 116 years.

    Other sites claim the longest was 335 years, though little if any blood was shed in the 335 Year War (or state of war) between the Netherlands and Isles of Sicily.

    Contrast this with the reality of DEFCON, which is that the longest the war that ends all wars is likely to go on is ten minutes.

    I read a book by the editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post this week called Thrive that says the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the incident at Three Mile Island, and the Challenger explosion all had at least something to do with questionable decisions made when someone had too little sleep. Thankfully today we have layers of diplomacy and lots of people between the play call and the trigger button, that collectively or individually could help prevent such a war and allow us all to sleep a little better.

    Perhaps the ultimate price required by modern war has done something to discourage it. With the exception of mad men, we all have an interest in loving each other enough to live another day.

    I am still trying to decide what message the game creators were trying to communicate. Are we supposed to come to the logical conclusion that the computer in Wargames did, that no one wins at war, or do the "Player 3 Wins!" state screens suggest someone can win? Is there a moral point to this game or is the message that all war is immoral because everybody dies? Or are we just supposed to use the game to remember the horror of nuclear war and the emotions associated with having to make world desolating decisions?

    The central rule of thermonuclear war is mutually assured destruction, a rule that helps ensure nobody plays the ultimate game.

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    Apr 8th, 2015 at 14:34:21     -    Defcon (PC)

    “Player 3 Victory!”

    At the top middle of the screen, there is a scoreboard tracking the exploits of up to six players, human and AI. This is another of those absurdities… Nobody wins in nuclear war. Even if we win, we spend the rest of our lives with regrets. Nuclear war only is won when not engaged in, when nations ironically trust each other with each other’s lives.

    I compare this to the news that Obama is in nuclear talks with Iran, not to prevent them from getting them, but to withdraw sanctions and allow the program to proceed. Is that really wise?

    As a kid I was taught nuclear drills in school, and even entered a bunker once when at my grandparents’ house in Imatra, Finland. Helsinki is just over 1,000 kilometers from Chernobyl, and everyone in Europe was in a panic, watching the weather patterns when the nuclear plant blew in 1986.

    I’ve also been to war, though our main concerns in Iraq and Kuwait were avoiding scud missiles, RPG’s, and chemical weapons, which the New York Times recently admitted did exist in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. When our plane landed, we were told to immediately run to shelter if we heard the word “Lightning!” repeated three times.

    All of this adds to my impression that what is represented on screen as little flashes of neon color and light is actually real. It was a predominant fear among school children during the Cold War, and maybe will be again if Iran and Obama get their way.

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    Apr 8th, 2015 at 14:34:01     -    Defcon (PC)

    “Santiago Hit! 1.8M Dead.”

    The first time I play Introversion’s DEFCON, I am pretty confused by the interface. It is a beautiful game, with a soundtrack that is a blend of alien and angelic. The game looks a lot like the computer images in 1983’s Wargames the movie, but is far more colorful.

    The rainbow colors and sounds create a strange dissonance when contrasted with what is actually happening, the extinction of the human race. As the subtitle says, “Everybody Dies.”

    The game begins with a 1.5 to 5 minute countdown between DEFCON 5, where ships are beginning to move into offensive and defensive positions, to DEFCON 1, at which point nukes are flying, radars are destroyed, and civilizations begin to fall.

    “New York Hit, 17.5M Dead.”

    “Tokyo Hit, 2.0M Dead.”

    “Seoul Hit, 3.7M Dead.”

    “Launches Detected.”

    Everywhere.

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