The vital role that computer games play in training soldiers for battle will be explored in a major new exhibit, allowing visitors to test their own shooting skills.
A special ‘play zone’ will be set up at the Imperial War Museum in south London when the UK’s first exhibition is held to examine how virtual reality battlefields are influencing the outcome of real conflicts.
Scenes from hit games like Sniper Elite 5 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will be featured in the immersive War Games exhibit, which examines 40 years of “extreme entertainment.”
The show will challenge claims that playing violent video games simply desensitizes users to real-life bloodshed.
Its goal is to show how the skills gained from first-person shooters and military strategy games are being used in a positive way to shape modern warfare.
Ian Kikuchi, senior curator at Imperial War Museums (IWM), said Yo: “Shooting a Nazi in the head in a game will not make someone more likely to provoke violence against a real person in front of you.
“Wargaming is such a diverse medium. There are games that put you in the thick of the action and games that encourage thought and empathy with civilians caught up in battle. That is why they have become useful to the British Army.”
Mr. Kikuchi cited Virtual Battlespace 4, a military training simulator that can recreate any terrain and is used for mission rehearsals and scenario planning.
The exhibition will also feature Six days in Fallujaha tactical first person shooter based on true stories of marines, soldiers and civilians involved in one of the bloodiest urban battles after the invasion of Iraq.
“It was developed by soldiers who spoke about their fear of the unknown in a combat zone. It helps players understand the fear of Iraqi families caught up in the fighting,” said Kikuchi.
War Games will feature a new acquisition for IWM: an Xbox 360 controller used to operate the camera of an unmanned aerial vehicle in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“It is often said that the use of remote controlled drones makes modern warfare like a computer game,” said the curator.
A “retro” gaming zone will invite visitors to play 13 iconic titles, including battle zone, Medal of Honor Y top gun on consoles ranging from the Atari 2600 to the Sega Saturn.
However, War Games will also invite “visitors to question the tension between the emotion and tragedy of war in a game and its repercussions in the real world.”
Explosive cannons and sniper rifles from shooter games will be featured alongside items from the IWM collection such as facial prosthetics that were developed in World War I to disguise injuries caused by modern combat.
Items belonging to real people, such as Lore Engels-Meyer’s blanket, which was evacuated from her home in Berlin when World War II broke out, will be displayed alongside case studies such as Bury Me, My Love, a Nintendo Switch game. about a Syrian refugee seeking to make her way to safety across Europe.
Where games stood out for their gore feature, like the 18th ranked Obligationsthe footage will be edited along with a warning at the entrance to parents with children that some films contain “computer-generated sounds of conflict and scenes of violence.”
Kikuchi, a World War II expert who confesses to having been a gamer for 30 years, said the show would challenge wargaming’s “hyper-macho” reputation.
The exhibit, sponsored by UK game developer Rebellion, will show how call of duty: modern warfare featured a female lead in Commander Farah Karim, the SAS-trained founder of the “Urzikstan Liberation Force”.
War Games, whose title is borrowed from the 1983 film showing a hacked Cold War computer simulation that threatens to unleash a nuclear Armageddon, marks the coming of age of video battlefield challenges.
“We had an exhibition about war and movies, why not computer games? I hope that anyone who arrives skeptical leaves with a sense of how vibrant, diverse and powerful the medium is for telling stories about war and conflict,” said Mr. Kikuchi.