by François A. ‘Navman’ Dumas
I thought of this a few times lately, having renewed my lifelong interest in all things military. I remember an uncle asking me with great amazement WHY I thought it was okay to simulate shooting people.
Granted, it were simulated people in MY mind, while I was crawling through the expanse of his tree growing plantation with a loaded air rifle in my arms, taking pot shots at assorted wooden poles, logs, cabbages and even my grandmother’s laundry. (It was never explained where the little holes in granddad’s shirts originated from, and various moths were made to blame).
This must have been in the late ’50′s, pretty shortly after ‘The War’. Frankly, I was a bit amazed about that question. After all my mom (his sister) had told me all about the Germans occupying THEIR house, commanding them around and even shooting some of the village people, believed to have been member of the resistance. So he of all people would surely understand me fighting these sort of people, even if they were invisible and only in my imagination?
Obviously he didn’t think so. And with him, many people today are vehemently opposed to force, fighting, shooting and war in general. Although, looking at the world today, that doesn’t seem to help much.
Why am I boring you with this, and with the strange title of my article? Because I have loaded quite a few ‘violent’ flight simulations on my computers in the past and again lately. Rise of Flight, to name one. And more recently the all-new DCS:World and its Black Shark, A-10 and Mustang P-51 aircraft.
I am a fan of Flash Point, Call of Duty, America’s Army and Assasin’s Creed too, but let’s stick to flying here.
So is it ‘okay’ to shoot people?
The adult and reasonable part of our brain will immediately say ‘NO’. Of course. Right? But then why are so many of us into war games, first person shooters and military simulations where we are killing our fellow human beings by the millions on any given evening, even if they are reduced to computer images?
Because, first and foremost, it is a challenge!
And secondly, I am sure part of it is because our pre-historic male hunter instinct is still in our genes too somewhere. Not to mention a fair bit of testosterone flowing through our brains.
But I think the challenge is the main part. The challenge of mastering technology and techniques. Of learning complex things, of reacting and making the right split-second decisions, and the challenge of competition.
After all, in a military sim you are usually competing. Be that with computer controlled adversaries, or in multiplayer mode with real world players trying to kill YOU !
Military simmers are lucky in the ways that there are many more products for them to choose from than for the civil hobby colleagues. There’s the Microsoft Flight Simulator series, X-Plane and the lesser (but free) Flight Gear, and that’s about it as far as ‘simulators’ are concerned.
For military fans there’s the good old Falcon 4.0 if you can still find it (still good!), the Falcon based BMS series, making the old Falcon almost an entirely new sim, IL-2 Sturmovik (now already dated again), Lock-On and Flaming Cliffs, Rise of Flight, and more recently the DCS series f simulators that are now in the process of being integrated into DCS:World; DCS Black Shark, DCS A-10 Warthog and DCS Mustang P-51 (bit of an odd one out that last title).
Most of these military flight simulators require much more study than the civil ones. Most of them will NOT allow you to just hop in, fire up and have 10 minutes of fun. Heck, not even the old Battle of Britain (BOB) on the Commodore-64 would allow you to do that. All of them have a (sometimes rather steep) learning curve! Which is maybe the reason they are in even a bigger market niche than the FS series and X-Plane.
So, after this popular advertising part and digression, lets get back to my point:
Since I just HATE being ‘politically correct’ and not being much of a diplomat, I would say YES it IS okay to shoot people. As long as they are virtual and imaginary it is fine.
And when they are REAL bad guys such as terrorists or other assorted scum, I really don’t have a problem with it either. So sue me.
And now you’ll excuse me, I have to study on starting the DCS P-51 in the proper fashion and get her flying……. and drop a few bombs here and there in the wonderful ‘DCS World’!
June 8th, 2012