Gaming A Nervous Breakdown

Wired has posted an article called “Games Tackle Disaster Training” (Link). It’s a bit short though, as I’m sure there are some amazing details in these simulations (I’m wondering at what point does a simulation become a game, and vice versa?). Now, being aware that an immersive simulation can get some pretty real reactions out of participants, this part caught my attention:

The new approach is expected to save money — but it can also prepare many professionals and volunteers quickly in the event of a health emergency, like the potential bird-flu pandemic.

I can’t help but wonder if there’s an in-game psychiatrist to “power-up” the players’ mental health. Seriously.

2 thoughts on “Gaming A Nervous Breakdown

  1. what worries me is how realistic are the models used by these games. You’ve pointed out in earlier posts (“Rigging the model”) on 9 December, for instance, that models can have unintended or unexpected ‘methods’. I don’t have a very high opinion of some of the local authorities I’ve seen in the UK, and sometimes wonder just what they are training themselves to do. For instance I’m very suspicious of the bland statement (quoted in the Wired article) by the lead programmer, that 50% of people who get avian flu die, regardless of age. I don’t think anyone knows this for sure… but it sure looks neat in a model. What other assumptions are they making? And who polices those assumptions before they turn over a ‘black box’ simulation to the users?

  2. Anyone remember that Japanese videogame years ago which caused kids to go into shock (or something) when a strobing light effect occurred during gameplay? Just as there are blurring boundaries between real and virtual product, there is an increasing overlap between virtual activity and real activity – in the human sense. At least from virtual to real product, the common denominator is math. The common denominator for human activity is… sometimes unfathomable human activity.

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