This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia's - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY GAMING

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

In late 2001 an economist called Edward Castronova made tsunami sized waves in the world of economics when he published a paper claiming that an isolated place called Norrath had a currency stronger than that of the Japanese Yen — an especially bold claim considering Norrath had less than a million inhabitants, had only existed for about two years and didn’t exist physically. Yes, Norrath was entirely virtual and populated exclusively by players of the video game EverQuest.


Released in 1999, EverQuest is an immensely popular and influential massively multiplayer online role playing gaming (MMORPG). Set in the magical fantasy world of Narroth and boasting an impressive (for the time) near half million subscribers at the apex of its success, EverQuest came to the attention of Castronova at first much in the same way it came to the attention of anyone — he just thought it sounded like a fun game to play.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

The original box art for ‘EverQuest’

However, as he became more familiar with the game, he noticed some rather fascinating things about how the virtual economy had developed within the game. This all culminated in him publishing on the Social Science Research Network a humorous but excellently researched, and ultimately groundbreaking, paper titled, Virtual Worlds: A First-Hand Account of Market and Society on the Cyberian Frontier. By his own admission, Castronova stated, “I thought maybe seventy-five people would read it and that’d be great.”

Instead, it quickly received over 16,000 downloads (and today is sitting at closer to 50,000). While this might not seem like much, let’s remember context here — this was an academic paper published on an online academic journal. Needless to say, that number of downloads made it the most downloaded paper in the history of the Social Science Research Network, which at the time featured almost 50,000 academic papers, including many dozens written by Nobel laureates.

Why was this paper so fascinating to the world of economics? As economist Yanis Varoufakis noted, “Economic theory has come to a dead end — the last real breakthroughs were in the 1960s. But that’s not because we stopped being clever. We came up against a hard barrier. The future is going to be in experimentation and simulation — and video game communities give us a chance to do all that.”

What Castronova had stumbled upon was essentially an economist’s dream — virtual worlds the researchers could use to analyze in a scientific manner various concepts in their field using large data sets and real people populating those worlds. Or as Washington Post journalist Brad Plumer succinctly stated, in virtual worlds, “The data is richer. And it’s easier to run economy — wide experiments in a video game — experiments that, for obvious reasons, can’t be run on countries.”

In short, economists in academia were intrigued with Castronova’s paper and its implications for future research.

So what did Castronova find? After painstakingly pouring over the available data surrounding the world of Norrath, he was shocked to discover that in real world dollars Norrath had the 77th highest GNP per capita, placing it squarely between Russia and Bulgaria at the time.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

The world of Norrath

How was this possible for a virtual world with only virtual currency?

At the height of EverQuest’s popularity, sale of in-game items ran rampant and at one point in time a player could pretty much buy anything they wanted in-game, regardless of how rare or powerful it was, so long as they could flash the cash to make it happen.

Although Sony, who published the game, would make several attempts to quash this practice, claiming amongst other things that all of the items for sale were their intellectual property, as well as outright banning players they caught doing this, the sale of in-game items and avatars became a thriving industry on sites like Ebay.

In fact, former child actor Brock Pierce (perhaps best known as a kid for his roles in Mighty Ducks and First Kid, and as an adult for his work in crypto currency) even started a surprisingly successful company, Internet Gaming Entertainment Ltd (IGE), which dealt in these virtual goods in exchange for real money. The company maintained a rather large staff of low-waged workers who worked in Norrath and the real world, doing things like meeting to exchange goods, as well as building up avatars and acquiring virtual goods for future sale.

In any event, Castronova analysed over 600 illicit sales outside the realm of Norrath on sites like Ebay and then simply compared this to the value of the item in-game in the principle currency of Norrath- Platinum Pieces.

When he did this, Castronova discovered that the relative value of a single Platinum Piece compared to the US Dollar was .01072. While this may not seem all that much, as Castronova pointed out, at the time, “its value exceeds that of the Japanese Yen and the Italian Lira.”

With this value in hand, Castronova was then able to roughly calculate a number of other interesting things about the economy of Norrath. For example, it turned out the average citizen of Norrath earned around .42 per hour (or about an hour today) when taking into account the value of the items and in-game currency they could realistically acquire during normal play per hour on average.

Combining this with the estimated time extreme players sunk into the game (according to data gleaned by Castronova in surveying over three thousands players), Castronova calculated:

Many users spend upwards of 80 hours per week in Norrath, hours of time input that are not unheard of in Earth professions. In 80 hours, at the average wage, the typical user generates Norrathian cash and goods worth 3.60. In a month, that would be over id=”listicle-2633077434″,000, in a year over ,000. The poverty line for a single person in the United States is ,794.

Looking at players of every time commitment level, Castronova determined that, despite the game being extremely new, the average player of EverQuest already had over ,000 worth of sellable goods locked up in the game.

But we’re not done yet because Castronova was then able to roughly calculate the gross national product of Norrath based on the value of the (entirely virtual) goods it produced in 2001. His final number? About 5 million.

While, again, this may not sound like much, divided amongst the estimated total number of Norrath denizens, that meant the GNP per capita of the virtual kingdom was ,266 — a figure that, as previously mentioned, theoretically ranked the computerised state the 77th highest on Earth at the time.

Naturally, this information peaked the interest of Castronova’s fellow economists, as did other observations he made about the virtual world and economy he was studying.

For example, according to Castronova one of the more curious things he noticed during his research was that, despite every effort being made by Sony to give everyone an equal footing when the game began, financial inequality was quickly rife amongst the denizens of Norrath.

Additionally Castronova also observed how, much like in the real world, the wealthiest players would often hoard their wealth and use their vast resources to pay poorer characters to do all of the pointless busy work they didn’t want to waste time with, in effect becoming pseudo-employers who kept the lion’s share of any profits made via the work of the plebeians to themselves.

Anecdotally, Castronova would say of his own time in-game as a low level player with no resources: “My problem is that I am under-equipped. I have been basically naked, carrying only a simple club, a caveman in a world of cavaliers. My poverty is oppressive – no amount of rat fur is sufficient to buy even a simple tunic at the ludicrously high prices of the merchant biots.”

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

Screenshot from EverQuest featuring a combat involving a sand giant.

Naturally, as the game evolved, the whole “initial equality” thing also died off for some, thanks to those markets where players who had disposable income in the physical world could simply buy whatever they wanted for real money and enter the game vastly more powerful and capable than a player without this option.

Since Castronova’s paper, and partially as a direct result of his work studying virtual economies, the one time self professed “academic failure” and “schmo at a state school” managed to leverage this to level up in real life — securing a tenured position at Indiana University Bloomington as a professor of Telecommunication and Cognitive Science, as well as coming to be known as the “founder of the field of virtual economics”.

And as many other virtual worlds with complex virtual economies have likewise sprung up, economists and other scientists continue to study them, as they make great petri dishes to observe how various variables result in changes in economy and human behavior.

Going the other way, gaming companies like Valve have taken to hiring economists to help them manage their virtual worlds. As economist Robert Bloomfield notes, “If you’re creating a game with 100,000 users, with things that they can buy and sell, you need an economist just to help you tweak that system so that it doesn’t spin out of control.”

As for Castronova, he concluded his ground breaking paper by waxing poetic about the potential virtual worlds could have with the application of new technology, stating

The impact on Earth society is hard to overestimate. With the development of voice technology, communication in Virtual Worlds will move from cumbersome chat to telephone-like conversation, thus greatly enhancing the Virtual World as a place of social interaction. Families living thousands of miles apart will meet every day for a few hours in the evening, gathering their avatars around the virtual kitchen table and catching up. And the day of driving to the store may well be over. Earth roads will be empty because, instead of using them, everyone will be sailing across the azure heavens on their flying purple horses, to shimmering virtual Walmarts in the sky.

Bonus Facts:

  • To trade items they’d bought illegally via Ebay and the like, Castronova observed that players would generally sell the item online first and then agree to meet in a designated place in-game, at which point the seller would then trade the item to the buyer for an item of trivial value they had in their possession. Castronova was amused to learn that, much like in real life, many of these illicit trades took place in abandoned buildings and dark alleys.
  • In 2017, the value of Venezuelan bolivar sank so low that it was quite literally worth half that of the principal currency of Azeroth, the kingdom the game World of Warcraft takes place in.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The touching tribute Korean pilots put together for their fallen

Aviation journalist and expert Ian D’Costa shared a video on Oct. 1, 2018, we had to pass on. This Korean news video, originally published on bemil.chosun.com, loosely translated from Korean as “Military News”, is a dignified and heart-wrenching tribute to South Korea’s repatriated fallen soldiers from the Korean Conflict.

On Oct. 1, 2018, South Korean President Moon Jae-in cancelled the traditional South Korean military anniversary parade in favor of holding a ceremony for the arrival of remains of South Korean soldiers killed during the Korean conflict. The remains were repatriated in early 2018 from North Korea, flown to Hawaii’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency for DNA identification and, once verified as South Korean servicemen, scheduled to return to South Korea for formal military burial.


D’Costa managed to find the Korean in-flight newsreel video of a Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) F-15K Slam Eagle of the 11th Fighter Wing from Daegu, South Korea joining other aircraft including FA-50 Fighting Eagles of the 8th Fighter Wing at Wonju, South Korea as they escort the remains flight in a ROKAF C-130H transport.

The newsreel video published on bemil.chosun.com shows an F-15K Slam Eagle crew fly right wing formation alongside the remains flight C-130H and, with perfect military precision, render a final in-flight salute before dropping back to fly wedge formation while escorting the aircraft. It’s a heart-wrenching moment to see.

www.youtube.com

The video goes on to show the precise and reverent loading of the remains onboard the C-130K flight in Hawaii for return to South Korea. The remains repatriation flight was escorted by two ROKAF F-15K Slam Eagles and two FA-50 Fighting Eagles.

The dignified gestures attendant the handling of military remains is an important ritual in observing the personal loss to families of fallen servicemen. In this case, the rituals are also a historic part of the slow healing process between the two fractured Koreas.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

The aerial funeral procession in flight near South Korea as it returns from Hawaii.

(bemil.chosun.com photo)

According to several sources including CNN, South Korea suffered 217,000 military and a staggering “1,000,000” civilian casualties during the entire Korean Conflict which began on June 25, 1950, and continued to varying degrees until April 27, 2018, when talks between North and South Korea brokered by the United States brought an end to the conflict. According to reports, 7,704 U.S. servicemen remain unaccounted for following the end of the Korean Conflict.

Thanks to Ian D’Costa of The Tactical Air Network, Sightline Media Group and We Are The Mighty for letting us know about this story.

Top image: screenshot from video published at bemil.chosun.com.

This article originally appeared on The Aviationist. Follow @theaviationist on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

This Super Bowl salute to Pat Tillman will have you in tears

Just as the Super Bowl was about to kick off this Sunday, viewers were treated to an amazing commercial celebrating the 100th anniversary of the NFL. Last season, the NFL broke out its first 100 year celebration commercial which featured an astounding amount of NFL legends playing a black-tie version of “kill the man with the ball.”

This year, the NFL took it outside and showed a kid fielding a kick and running across several NFL stadiums and cities, juking and avoiding tacklers and getting encouragement from various NFL legends telling him to, “Take it to the House Kid!”


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We see Jim Brown, Joe Montana, Christian McCaffrey, Drew Brees, Payton Manning, Jerry Rice, and Barry Sanders, among others, as the kid takes the ball and (in an amazing, cool, interactive moment) runs onto the live Super Bowl field to deliver the game ball to the referees.

But there is one part of the vignette which really tugs at the heartstrings. One of the many stadiums the kid runs by is in Phoenix. As he nears, he stops at the statue honoring the late Pat Tillman.

Tillman was a safety for the Arizona Cardinals who famously turned down a .6 million dollar contract shortly after 9/11, so he could serve in the military. He and his brother enlisted in the Army, and Tillman became an Army Ranger. After serving one tour in Iraq, Tillman deployed to Afghanistan, where he was killed on April 24, 2004, in a friendly fire incident.

The homage to Tillman is an emotional moment and an integral part of American history.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Adam Driver’s TED Talk voices regret of any vet without a combat deployment

Before he was wielding lightsabers in Star Wars or blowing up Twitter with Marriage Story, Adam Driver was a Marine with 1/1 Weapons Company, 81’s platoon, out in Camp Pendleton, California.

“I joined a few months after September 11, feeling like I think most people in the country did at the time, filled with a sense of patriotism and retribution and the desire to do something,” he stated in his opening remarks.

He joined the Marines and found that he loved it.

“Firing weapons was cool, driving and detonating expensive things was great. But I found I loved the Marine Corps the most for the thing I was looking for the least when I joined, which was the people: these weird dudes — a motley crew of characters from a cross section of the United States — that on the surface I had nothing in common with. And over time, all the political and personal bravado that led me to the military dissolved, and for me, the Marine Corps became synonymous with my friends,” he shared, voicing the brotherhood that many veterans feel while in service.

Then, months before deploying to Iraq, he dislocated his sternum in a mountain-biking accident and was medically separated.


My journey from Marine to actor | Adam Driver

www.youtube.com

My journey from Marine to actor | Adam Driver

“Those never in the military may find this hard to understand, but being told I wasn’t getting deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan was very devastating for me,” he confessed.

Those of us who wore the uniform but never deployed know exactly what he means.

It’s a different type of survivor’s guilt, a common response to surviving a life-threatening situation. In this case, it’s about not even going into that situation. In the eighteen years since the 9/11 attacks, our military has kept a high deployment tempo. Many of our friends never returned.

And for those of us left behind — whether because our mission was elsewhere in the world or, like Driver, we were medically ineligible for combat — well, it’s a shitty feeling.

“I have a very clear image of leaving the base hospital on a stretcher and my entire platoon is waiting outside to see if I was OK. And then, suddenly, I was a civilian again,” blinked Driver.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

“It’s a powerful thing, getting in a room with complete strangers and reminding ourselves of our humanity, and that self-expression is just as valuable a tool as a rifle on your shoulder.” Or a lightsaber at your hip?

“I was surprised by how complex the transition was from military to civilian. And I was relatively healthy; I can’t imagine going through that process on top of a mental or physical injury. But regardless, it was difficult,” he shared, voicing what many veterans have felt after their service.

Also read: 10 awesome celebrities who served in the military

He struggled with finding a job. “I was an Infantry Marine, where you’re shooting machine guns and firing mortars. There’s not a lot of places you can put those skills in the civilian world,” he joked.

He also struggled with finding meaning in acting school while his friends were serving without him overseas.

“Emotionally, I struggled to find meaning. In the military, everything has meaning. Everything you do is either steeped in tradition or has a practical purpose. You can’t smoke in the field because you don’t want to give away your position. You don’t touch your face — you have to maintain a personal level of health and hygiene. You face this way when “Colors” plays, out of respect for people who went before you. Walk this way, talk this way because of this. Your uniform is maintained to the inch. How diligently you followed those rules spoke volumes about the kind of Marine you were. Your rank said something about your history and the respect you had earned.”

Find out more about how he went from Marine to actor in the video above — and how he has found peace in service after service — in the video above.

MIGHTY HISTORY

This forgotten soldier survived 4 months in Dunkirk by himself

In 1940, the evacuation of allied forces from the beaches of Dunkirk commenced as approximately 338,000 troops were loaded into small boats over the course the rescue.


Also known as “Operation Dynamo,” German forces conducted hellish air raids killing the numerous troops that attempted to flee the area.

In the mix of all that chaos was 20-year-old Bill Lacey, a rifleman in the 2nd Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment. Reportedly, Bill had already boarded a relief boat but decided to give up his seat to make room for a wounded man and leaped off the vessel.

Back on land, Bill turned around to see that the boat he had exited from was now well underway — without him.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s
The British Army evacuation underway in Dunkirk (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

He quickly located a raft and thought he could use it to rejoin the boat that was sailing off in the distance. As he took hold of it, he realized the raft was useless as it had two bullet holes poked through it.

As gunfire erupted in all directions, Bill witnessed German troops rounding up British stragglers taking them prisoner. Unsure of what the future held, he decided to make a run for it and take his chances surviving on his own.

Headed in the opposite direction as the armed Germans, he maneuvered south, hoping to run into other British troops.

Bill made his way into the woods and traveled deep into the hostile countryside not knowing how he was ever going to make it home.

His mission was to stay out of sight, as German patrols were consistently roaming the area.

He got rid of his issued uniform, hid his weapon, and donned clothes he had stolen from nearby washing lines to help blend into the local population. Bill was forced to drink from streams and eat handfuls of straw dipped in margarine.

“I had to learn to stay alive in the same way a wild animal would,” Bill states in an interview. “My only thought was to survive from one day to the next.”

Since he didn’t speak French, he nodded to locals if they attempted to interact with him. Then, one day after four long months of surviving on scraps, Bill finally saw an opportunity to make it home.

Bill spotted a fishing boat that was tied down to a small pier and began to format a plan in his head. After the sun went down that evening, he carefully made his way to the small vessel, slipped off the moorings, quieting boarded, and steered off toward the English coast.

The forgotten soldier arrived at the shoreline near Dover, England, weak with hunger and clad in ratty clothes. Soon after, he was arrested and transported to an Army base where intelligence officers interrogated him — they didn’t believe his traumatic story.

Luckily, they checked many French newspapers and found articles about a British soldier reportedly on the run who stole food from farmhouses. There was also a report about a fishing boat from the pier that went missing.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s
Bill Lacey takes a moment for a quick photo op. (Source: Mirror UK)

After proving himself, Bill was recruited into the British special operation division and completed several more years of service — finally retiring in his early fifties.

Sadly, the hero and survival expert passed away at the age of 91, but his Dunkirk legacy will live on forever.

popular

Watch this special operator lead a ship assault with a jetpack like Iron Man

From James Bond to Tony Stark, fictitious characters have inspired the idea of jetpacks and personal flying suits for decades. The technology has progressed exponentially in the 21st century. Defense departments and contractors around the world are developing personal transportation equipment to give individual soldiers an unprecedented increase in maneuverability on the battlefield.

Gravity Industries partnered with the Netherlands Maritime Special Operations Force in a practical test of its new Gravity Jet Suit. Using 1050bhp of thrust, the suit enables the assaulter to easily and precisely board an underway ship from the air. Normally, troops have to pull alongside in a boat or fast-rope from a helicopter. Four mini jet engines and a healthy dose of human balance from the operator allow for an incredible combination of speed and control. In fact, the system won Gravity a 2019 Guinness World Record for “fastest speed in a body controlled jet engine powered suit.”

As the technology develops and improves, so too does the application of the jetpack on the battlefield. In addition to underway boardings, jetpacks could provide enhanced capabilities to a number of different combat roles. Scouts could move quickly across the battlefield to locate and report on enemy troop composition and disposition. Airborne troops could be inserted with greater precision and survivability by flying onto a drop zone rather than falling. As with other military technologies like the internet and GPS, it would only be a matter of time before jetpacks became part of everyday civilian life too.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Earth’s magnetic north pole is moving too fast for experts to keep up

In the Hollywood blockbuster “The Core,” the planet’s core suddenly stops rotating, causing Earth’s magnetic field to collapse. Then bursts of deadly microwaves cook the Colosseum and melt the Golden Gate Bridge.

While “nearly everything in the movie is wrong,” according to Justin Revenaugh, a seismologist from the University of Minnesota, it is true that Earth’s magnetic field shields the planet from deadly and destructive solar radiation. Without it, solar winds could strip Earth of its oceans and atmosphere.

But the planet’s magnetic field isn’t static.


The Earth’s north magnetic pole (which is not the same as geographic north) has led scientists on something of a goose chase over the past century. Each year, it moves north by an average of about 30 miles.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

The magnetic north pole has shifted north since the 1900s.

That movement made the World Magnetic Model — which tracks the field and informs compasses, smartphone GPS, and navigation systems on planes and ships — inaccurate. Since the next planned update of the WMM wasn’t until 2020, the US military requested an unprecedented early update to account for magnetic north’s accelerated gambol.

Now authors of a new study have gained insight into why magnetic north might be moving — and are learning how to predict these shifts.

Tracking movement in the Earth’s core

Earth’s magnetic field exists thanks to swirling liquid nickel and iron in the planet’s outer core some 1,800 miles beneath the surface. Anchored by the north and south magnetic poles (which tend to shift around and even reverse every million years or so), the field waxes and wanes in strength, undulating based on what’s going on in the core.

Periodic and sometimes random changes in the distribution of that turbulent liquid metal can cause idiosyncrasies in the magnetic field. If you imagine the magnetic field as a series of rubber bands that thread through the magnetic poles and the Earth’s core, then changes in the core essentially tug on different rubber bands in various places.

Those geomagnetic tugs influence the north magnetic pole’s migration and can even cause it to veer wildly from its position.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

A visualization of the interior of the Earth’s core, as represented by a computer simulation.

(Aubert et al./IPGP/CNRS Photo library)

So far, predicting these magnetic-field shifts has been a challenge. But in the new study, the geophysicists Julien Aubert and Christopher Finlay attempted to simulate the physical conditions of Earth’s core by having supercomputers crunch 4 million hours’ worth of calculations.

The researchers knew that the movement of heat from the planet’s interior outward could influence the magnetic field. In general, this happens at 6 miles per year. But they found that sometimes there are pockets of liquid iron in the core that happen to be much warmer and lighter than the surrounding fluid. If the difference between these hot, less dense bits of fluid and their colder, denser counterparts is great enough, the warm liquid can rise very quickly.

That rapid motion then triggers magnetic waves that careen toward the core’s surface, causing geomagnetic jerks.

“Think about these waves like vibrating strings of a musical instrument,” Aubert told Business Insider.

Magnetic north is important for navigational models

Keeping tabs on magnetic north is imperative for European and American militaries because their navigation systems rely on the WMM. So too do commercial airlines and smartphone GPS apps, to help pilots and users pinpoint their locations and navigate accordingly.

That’s why the British Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration update the WMM every five years. The early update requested by the US military was completed Feb. 4, 2019.

But even with these periodic updates, geomagnetic jerks make it tough to keep the model accurate, Aubert said.

His group’s new model could address that problem by helping to predict how Earth’s magnetic field might evolve.

“Within the next few years, we envision that it should indeed be possible for our groups … to capture past jerks and predict the future ones with improved accuracy,” Aubert said.

Could the magnetic field ever collapse?

Earth’s magnetic field shields its atmosphere, which does “a bulk of the work” of keeping out solar radiation, as Revenaugh put it. If we lost our magnetic field, we’d eventually lose our atmosphere.

But according to Revenaugh, that’s extremely unlikely to happen, since the Earth’s core would never stop rotating.

Even if the field did collapse, the devastating effects depicted in “The Core” — people with pacemakers dropping dead, out-of-control lightning storms, eviscerated national landmarks — wouldn’t follow.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

Without its atmosphere and magnetic field, Earth would constantly be bombarded by cosmic radiation.

(NASA)

A far more likely scenario, Revenaugh suggested, would involve the magnetic poles reversing as they did 780,000 years ago. When such reversals happen (there have been several in Earth’s history), the magnetic field drops to about 30% of its full strength, he said.

Though that’s a far-away scenario, Revenaugh added that it’s still important to improve scientists’ understanding of the magnetic field today.

“The better we can model it, the better we can understand what’s it’s up to,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

It looks like ‘Fortnite’ and ‘Avengers’ are teasing a new game

“Fortnite” is once again collaborating with Marvel, just in time for the arrival of “Avengers: Endgame” this Thursday.

In a tease posted by the “Fortnite” Twitter account, an avatar from the game is seen wielding Captain America’s iconic shield. Notably: There are no shield items in “Fortnite,” so this looks like something completely new.

What it actually means for “Fortnite” players remains to be seen — but the last time “Fortnite” teamed up with Marvel, it was for a special mode, where players were able to outright become Thanos by finding and using the Infinity Gauntlet — his notoriously powerful, bejeweled glove that gives him mastery of all reality.


This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

(Epic Games)

By picking up and equipping the gauntlet, players were granted the ability to punch enemies, shoot a power beam, and leap into the air (and subsequently pound the ground). It was, in short, pretty sweet.

In the case of the upcoming “Fortnite” crossover, we’re expecting another limited-time mode. What that mode will include remains to be seen, but at very least you should expect to play around with Captain America’s shield. Perhaps throwing it? Perhaps blocking stuff? Maybe both! Maybe more!

One thing’s for sure: We’ll find out more on April 25, 2019.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

This Navy testbed is a very fast – and “sharp” – ship

Believe it or not, the United States Navy has a very fast testbed vessel — one that not only looks futuristic, but is also being used to test all sorts of futuristic technology. That vessel is known as the Stiletto, and while it looks like something out of science fiction, it’s actually 13 years old.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

Sailors assigned to Naval Special Clearance Team One (NSCT-1), prepare to dock in the well deck aboard experimental ship, Stiletto.

(U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Damien Horvath)

When you look at the Stiletto, your first impression, based on its shape, is that it’s some sort of stealthy vessel. That’s a common misconception. During a tour at the Navy League’s SeaAirSpace 2018 expo in National Harbor, Maryland, members of the Stiletto program explained that the ship’s radar cross section is about what you’d expect for a ship of its size.


This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

The Stiletto’s hull is made from carbon-fiber composites.

(Harold Hutchison)

The ship looks as it does because it has a carbon-fiber hull. The material is incredibly light — I had the opportunity to handle a roughly softball-sized chunk of the material and can tell you first-hand. While the exterior is durable (the ship has handled seas rough enough to make lab-acclimated scientists queasy), it’s also vulnerable to being punctured.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

SEALs prepare to enter the Stiletto. The vessel is small, but can accommodate the SEALs’ vessel inside.

(US Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Damien Horvath)

According to an official handout, the Stiletto has a top speed of 47 knots. However, during builders’ trials, the crew reported hitting a speed of 54 knots. Normally, the ship cruises along at a comfortable 30 knots and can go 750 nautical miles on one tank of fuel.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

In addition to being able to carry a RHIB, the Stiletto can also launch drones.

(US Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Damien Horvath)

But the Stiletto also has ample space – it easily accommodated a rigid-hull inflatable boat that was over 30 feet in length, and there was still plenty of space left over for other gear. The crew explained that adding new systems to the adaptable ship takes a few hours or a day at most.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

The wide array of sensors on the Stiletto show how easy it is to add something new to try out.

(Harold Hutchison)

One thing that was skimpy on the Stiletto, however, was the galley, which consisted of a microwave oven and stack of paper plates. The ship of the future, it seems, didn’t quite have everything.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

Special Forces medic will receive Medal of Honor

A former medic with the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) that heroically fought his way up a mountain to render aid to his Special Forces teammates and their Afghan commando counterparts will receive the Medal of Honor.

The White House announced Sept. 21, 2018, that former Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer II went above and beyond the call of duty April 6, 2008, while assigned to Special Operations Task Force – 33 in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. He will receive the highest military award for valor at a White House ceremony, Oct. 1, 2018.


In April 2008, Shurer was assigned to support Special Forces operators working to take out high-value targets of the Hezeb Islami al Gulbadin in Shok Valley.

As the team navigated through the valley, a firefight quickly erupted, and a series of insurgent sniper fire, rocket-propelled grenades, and small arms and machine gun fire forced the unit into a defensive fighting position.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II graphic.

Around that time, Shurer received word that their forward assault element was also pinned down at another location, and the forward team had sustained multiple casualties.

With disregard for his safety, Shurer moved quickly through a hail of bullets toward the base of the mountain to reach the pinned-down forward element. While on the move, Shurer stopped to treat a wounded teammate’s neck injury caused by shrapnel from a recent RPG blast.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer II.

After providing aid, Shurer spent the next hour fighting across several hundred meters and killing multiple insurgents. Eventually, Shurer arrived to support the pinned down element and immediately rendered aid to four critically wounded U.S. units and 10 injured commandos until teammates arrived.

Soon after their arrival, Shurer and his team sergeant were shot at the same time. The medic ran 15 meters through a barrage of gunfire to help his sergeant. Despite a bullet hitting his helmet and a gunshot wound to his arm, Shurer pulled his teammate to cover and rendered care.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

Medal of Honor.

(US Army photo.)

Moments later, Shurer moved back through heavy gunfire to help sustain another teammate that suffered a traumatic amputation to his right leg.

For the next several hours, Shurer helped keep the large insurgent force at bay while simultaneously providing care to his wounded teammates. Shurer’s actions helped save the lives of all wounded casualties under his care.

Shurer also helped evacuate three critically wounded, non-ambulatory, teammates down a near-vertical 60-foot cliff, all while avoiding rounds of enemy gunfire and falling debris caused by numerous air strikes.

Further, Shurer found a run of nylon webbing and used it to lower casualties while he physically shielded them from falling debris.

Shurer’s Medal of Honor was upgraded from a Silver Star upon review.

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Especially now, Memorial Day remains a time to honor America’s fallen military heroes

SAN ANTONIO – May 20, 2020 – Only 55% of Americans know the true meaning of Memorial Day, with many confusing it as a salute to all veterans*. To elevate Americans’ understanding, USAA today announced a Memorial Day national tribute that encourages all Americans to honor the more than 645,000 fallen military heroes even during this time period when the traditional parades and large gatherings have been cancelled or minimized.

PoppyInMemory.com is a virtual destination hosted by USAA that pays tribute to military members who lost their lives in conflict, and showcases the meaning of the poppy flower which became a remembrance symbol inspired by the World War I poem, “In Flanders Fields.” The site offers users a variety of ways to engage, including dedicating a virtual poppy to a hero that gave their life in battle, the ability to learn about each military conflict and the losses suffered, and information on the many ways in which Americans can #HonorThroughAction this Memorial Day.


This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s
This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s
This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

“During today’s trying times, we are inspired by all the acts of heroism around us,” said Wayne Peacock, USAA CEO. “Those heroic acts serve as a reminder that Americans have always triumphed through adversity because of their willingness to sacrifice for something larger than themselves. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have put their lives on the line during the COVID-19 pandemic. This Memorial Day, even as we remain physically separated, we ask our country to come together as they do every year and honor the memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to defend the freedoms we hold dear.”

Americans will notice that several military veterans, athletes, entertainers and ardent military supporters will join USAA to #HonorThroughAction by sharing on social media what Memorial Day means to them. On Snapchat, USAA is debuting its first ever augmented reality Snapchat Lens, a unique experience that brings USAA’s Poppy Wall of Honor to life digitally through the Snapchat app. The USAA Lens will allow Snapchatters to dedicate their own poppy to a fallen loved one by interacting with a digitized version of the Poppy Wall of Honor.

This year’s “Poppy in Memory” is a digital-only continuation of an experience that has run the past two years and featured the temporary Poppy Wall of Honor installation on the National Mall near the Korean Way Memorial in Washington, D.C.

*Source: The Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix April 9-11, 2019 among 2,025 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

MIGHTY CULTURE

How a Marine Corps scout sniper managed to sneak up on his enemy naked

An expert sniper can sneak up on an enemy naked as the day he was born. It’s not particularly advised, but one top sharpshooter did exactly that just to prove a point, Marine snipers told Insider.

“Ghillie suits make people feel like they are invisible,” a Marine Corps scout sniper instructor at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia explained of the full-body uniforms that snipers are trained to adorn with grass and other materials to blend into their environment.

“The vegetation and the camouflage, that’s only one part of it,” the instructor added. “It’s more route selection and movement. It’s about what you are putting between you and the target.”


One top sniper proved that to be true by completing stalking training — an exercise where snipers are asked to sneak into position and fire on a target without getting caught by observers using high-powered optics — in nothing but his boots, two Marines told Insider.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

A Marine undergoing the 2nd Marine Division Combat Skills Center’s Pre-Scout Sniper Course prepares to move during a stalking exercise at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez)

“He was one of our instructors, and he wanted to show up his fellow HOGs on the glass,” a schoolhouse instructor said, referring to the observers (nicknamed “Hunters of Gunmen” or HOGs) searching for the PIGs (Professionally Instructed Gunmen) in the field with monocular or binocular devices.

“I’m going to do this naked, and you’re not going to catch me,” the legendary sniper supposedly said. “I’m going to go out there and burn you guys down naked except for boots on.”

And, he did, Insider learned from the Marines.

No clothes. No ghillie suit. No vegetation. The sniper went into the field with nothing but a painted face and a pair of boots. Insider recently observed a stalking exercise at Quantico, where snipers in training worked their way down a lane filled with snakes, various bugs, and quite a few thorns. It was not an environment for someone to crawl around in nude. It’s unclear what type of stalking lane the naked Marine was on.

The sniper is said to have used screens, natural features on the stalking lane that shield the sniper from view, to avoid the watchful eyes of his training enemy.

He was also very careful and deliberate with his movements.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

A Marine scout sniper candidate with Scout Sniper Platoon, Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment looks through the scope of his rifle during a stalking exercise.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Austin Long)

“That’s the art of invisibility,” an instructor told Insider. “It’s all about movement. Some animals are phenomenal at it.” Lions, for example, will crawl low and burn through the grass until they get in range of their target.

That’s a hard skill to learn though. “When you are crawling on the ground, it’s hard to understand where you are at. It’s like being an ant,” a second instructor explained. “It’s the weirdest thing in the world when you get that low to the earth and you start crawling. It makes people uncomfortable.”

When Insider visited the base last month, we watched a group of trainees go through stalking training for the first time. Several of them were spotted in the lane because they raised their heads to see their target more clearly.

“They love to raise up. They love to look up,” an instructor explained. “It’s such a natural human instinct, to think that to see something you need 180 degrees.”

“Human beings are so uncomfortable when they can’t see what is going on around them,” another instructor told Insider. “You have to fight that uncomfortable feeling. You have to force yourself to act unnaturally to be an effective stalker.”

The naked Marine, whose fully clothed picture hangs in the scout sniper schoolhouse at Quantico, seems to have a great grasp of that concept.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Army looks at new ways to retain these field experts

Senior warrant officers from around the Army congregated to discuss talent management on day two of the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army in Washington, D.C.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Doug Englen of the Army Talent Management Task Force served on a panel of five distinguished senior warrant officers to discuss a series of personnel reforms designed to help acquire, develop, employ, and retain the right talent among Army warrant officers. Warrant officers are subject-matter experts in their field, serving in diverse roles across the Army from flying helicopters to conducting offensive cyber operations.

Every community within the Army has its own unique talent management challenges. The warrant officer community, in particular, has struggled to retain the most experienced warrant officers.


“In 1991, we had 1,500 warrant officers with over twenty years of warrant officer experience. Today, that number is just 350, even though we still have the same number of warrant officers,” said Englen.

Since arriving to the task force over one year ago, Englen has helped the Army begin to address talent management issues specifically impacting warrant officers.

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

Senior warrant officers from around the Army discussed talent management at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington, DC. The Army has already implemented talent management reforms within the officer corps; some of these reforms are being expanded to warrant officers and enlisted personnel. These programs are part of a comprehensive series of reforms designed to modernize the Army’s personnel system and transform it to a 21st Century talent management system.

(U.S. Army photo)

“When an active duty warrant officer retires, he or she is placed on the regular Army retired list, unlike commissioned officers, who are placed on the reserve Army list,” said Englen.

“Title 37 of the U.S. Code prevents dual compensation of retirement and reserve pay,” said Englen, “But by offering our retiring warrant officers Selective Reserve (SELRES) status, we can allow them to serve in the Reserve component following their retirement from active duty without causing them to lose their retirement pay.”

Doing so would help the Army address at least part of its manning shortfalls in the Army Reserve, which is currently short approximately 4,000 warrant officers.

The warrant officer community is also incredibly diverse. Each career field, said Englen, requires its own unique approach to talent management.

Aviators, for instance, can require over a year’s worth of training before they can be assigned to their units. Under the current system, many warrant officers are promoted to chief warrant officer two (CW2) either during or shortly after flight school. The task force is drafting a new policy to “reset” a warrant officer’s date of rank once they complete flight school, allowing time to develop them as a warrant officer (WO1) for two years before being promoted to chief warrant officer two (CW2).

This video game had an economy almost as strong as Russia’s

Senior warrant officers from around the Army discussed talent management at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington, DC. The Army has already implemented talent management reforms within the officer corps; some of these reforms are being expanded to warrant officers and enlisted personnel. These programs are part of a comprehensive series of reforms designed to modernize the Army’s personnel system and transform it to a 21st Century talent management system.

(U.S. Army photo)

Other communities, such as Special Forces and air defense, do not require extensive warrant officer training timelines, as they draw from their respective communities.

Instead, Englen noted, these communities are working to directly commission senior non-commissioned officers in the grades of sergeant first class through first sergeant to the rank of chief warrant officer two (CW2).

The Army has already implemented talent management reforms within the officer corps. Some of these reforms are being expanded to warrant officers and enlisted personnel. These programs are part of a comprehensive series of reforms designed to modernize the Army’s personnel system and transform it to a 21st Century talent management system.

These talent management initiatives aimed at the warrant officer community are expected to begin early 2020.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

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