Enlarge /. Cowardly Dones, a play by Jospeh Delappe, is a little more direct in terms of his message than some of his more interactive works.
In 1983, President Reagan made a speech on the role of computers in military preparation and recruitment, which seems to be more relevant than ever almost 40 years later.
In it he noted the "incredible hand, eye and brain coordination" that many young people developed through playing video games, and said that the "Air Force believes that these (playing) children will be excellent pilots if they are our jets to fly. Reagan also pointed out that the "computer-controlled cockpit radar screen is not unlike the computer-based video screen," and that if you "dodge a 12-year-old playing Space Invaders and score multiple hits, you will appreciate the pilot's skills." from tomorrow. "
What Reagan didn't know was that some of these child pilots would grow up without taking evasive action. This is because they would fly deadly drone fighter jets remotely over villages half a world away. "At the moment you are prepared for tomorrow in many ways and in a way that many of us elders cannot fully understand," Reagan said at the end of his speech.
The recent Pentagon drone attack, in which Qasem Soleimani and his entourage were killed at an airport in Baghdad, is a timely reminder of the power of the push-button forces that dominate military warfare in the 21st century. And its use in military operations only seems to be increasing; As flying legend Chuck Yeager recently told Ars, "It is always good if you can effectively pursue the mission without a pilot bleeding or dying."
When we learn more about the effects of the drone war on the center-line pilots and civilians, it seems to be a good time to examine whether practice actually contributes to a "Playstation mentality to kill," as the former special did The United Nations has warned reporters about extrajudicial executions Philip Alston in 2010.
The use of video games as a platform for "high art" is just as young as the use of drones in warfare. And games illuminate the horror of this new way of warfare in a unique and modern way. Joseph Delappes Killbox (2015) and Palao Pedricis Unmanned (2012) both use the interactive format to give players a new understanding of the problems associated with drone warfare.
As the game industry matures and grows alongside military drone technology, these two games offer players a new perspective on the practice of unmanned killing: one by representing a drone attack from both the pilot's and innocent villager's perspective; the other with a portrait of a military drone pilot's day of life.
One day we can look back on such works while we are currently looking at historical meditations on the war such as Guernica (1937) or All Quiet on the Western Front (1929).
Face your victim
"It continues, it grows and it is terrible."
This is how digital media artist Joseph Delappe described the military use of drones. This growing "horror" also explains why he chose to focus his work on drone warfare, starting with Cowardly Drones digital images in 2013 and installation pieces like Drone Strike Visualization in 2014. These works culminated in an interactive game, Killbox, in 2015.
"It honestly feels as if what I and other artists were really trying to warn about has basically come true, and now it has become commonplace and hasn't even reported as much," Delappe told Ars Technica about drone war.
Delappe cycled along the edge of the Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases and Area 51 in 2012 when he was first inspired to look at the drone war. His bike was equipped to draw a chalk outline of this road as part of Project 929, a 420-mile trip that symbolically encompassed the 100 square miles that scientists need for a solar farm that would meet the U.S. energy needs.
During the 10-day trip, Delappe had enough time to think about what was going on in his circle. At Creech Air Force Base, 900 drone pilots – and the physiologists, chaplains and psychologists who serve them – go to work every day. It is the world's largest base and training base for drone warfare.
Enlarge /. In the past two years, a hiking installation by "Killbox" has been exhibited in over 40 countries.
At that time, President Obama was increasing the use of drone strikes, and Delappe said his next project should focus on how the actions of the base he was circling resonated thousands of kilometers away.
"I see drones as cowardly weapons and really questionable, but they also fascinate me (as an example of" the gamification of warfare "," he said).
Delappe is known by some game artists as the "godfather" to use games for political activism. One of his first projects that focused on the US military was the play “Interventionist” Dead in Iraq (2006-2011). For this project, Delappe entered the US Army online multiplayer recruitment game as a soldier whom he called Dead-In-Iraq.
Delappe's goal in the game was not to kill, but to be killed. After his character was shot down, Delappe entered the name, age, branch, and date of death of one of the 4,484 service members killed in the Iraq conflict in the game's text-based public chat. The project attracted national attention as well as harsh criticism from players.
He ended the project when the United States officially announced the end of the conflict in 2011 (though U.S. troops are still in the country) and moved on to other work. A year after Project 929, he had the opportunity to work on his first game. He worked on a sabbatical at the University of Abertay in Scotland and worked with the Biome Collective, a crack team of digital media designers with the vision of developing the first realistic version of a game about drone warfare.
Two fighters in deadly combat.
Killbox can be played at home and can be downloaded for free from Delappe's website.
The villager chases balls while the pilot attacks them.
The player is free to roam a bucolic scene based on a real farming village in Pakistan, in which Deomcracy Now reported that a grandmother and her children were killed in a mistaken drone attack in 2005.
Delappe imagined his game as an asymmetrical first-person shooter for two players, with one player controlling the drone pilot and the other taking a perspective that was rarely (if ever) seen in a game: that of the innocent villagers on the ground. The idea was to present the term "collateral damage" in a game context.
"How do we represent that?" Delappe asked rhetorically in an interview with Ars Technica. "How do we make this meaningful and interesting? We didn't want to be fun. We wanted to do something that attracts people and has a moment to reveal itself. "
He called the game Killbox, which was derived from the term "temporary autonomous battle zone" in Grégoire Chamayou's book "Drone Theory".