My Life of Gaming: From Pong to Tecmo Bowl to Halo 3

Halo 3 ODSTOK, as I have mentioned in a previous post, I started my home-gaming experience on an Atari in 1980.  Even the most basic game, Pong, drew a young kid like me (and older kids, my Dad) in.  It doesn’t surprise me that gaming has maintained and has grown in popularity.

I’m surprised at how the popularity in the gaming industry has exploded.

What DOESN’T surprise me is how addictive it can be and the rate at which gaming in the U.S. and the world over, is growing.

As mentioned in our class blog, “they’re even being used by the U.S. Army to recruit (as well as train new soldiers).” I had a VERY unique job as the Chief of the Virtual Training Program for all Soldiers in Europe from 2000-2001.  These virtual training programs were not your average PS3 or Xbox plug-into-your-TV kind.  They were million-dollar replicates of M-1 Abrams Tanks, M2/M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and the combination of U.S. Army Helicopters.  Even in 2000 they were very sophisticated.

Why is virtual training important in the military? Several reasons:

  1. Training costs money.  One M-1 Abrams tank gets 0.6 gallons per mile (take that Prius!); or about 300 gallons every eight hours.  Artificial and live rounds (bullets, missiles, etc.) cost a lot as well.
  2. There are training restrictions when conducting live training.  You can’t shoot anywhere you want due to safety guidelines, etc.
  3. Limited number of hours a unit can train, depending on where the training location is located.  For instance, because of noise agreements between the U.S. and Germany, night training is limited to certain hours on certain days.
  4. Safety.  With extremely high safety standards and extensive risk assessments, there are still fatal accidents when conducting live training .  Poor weather and/or road conditions, extreme fatigue and several other variables factor into why.
  5. Gaming is a part of today’s Soldiers’ culture.  Just about every Soldier of mine has some kind of gaming device and favorite game they like to play.  One of my Soldier’s in Italy, on a two-week leave period, left his apartment to get food and toilet paper in between his marathon World of Warcraft sessions.  He was THAT addicted.

While there are several benefits to gaming, as a new parent, I am hesitant to let my daughter game to her own free will.  I am very thankful my parents kicked my butt out of the house, made me play sports.  Had they not, I am sure, left to my devises, I would still be playing Space Invaders.

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