How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot - We Are The Mighty
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How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Does playing video games and desktop simulators, such as Microsoft Flight Sim, prepare you to become a fighter pilot?

As a fighter pilot, much of our training takes place in a simulator, which is the ultimate video game. Stepping into these rooms, you’re dwarfed by a giant sphere that projects a 360-degree view of your surroundings. After climbing into an exact replica of the cockpit, a motor then pushes you into the middle of the sphere and it’s fights on—You’re anywhere in the world with any weapons you want and adversaries that can be dialed-up in difficulty as needed. And it’s not just you in there, other pilots are in their own pods fighting alongside you on the same virtual battlefield.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
The inside of the cockpit of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Full Mission Simulator accurately replicates all sensors and weapons to provide a realistic mission rehearsal and training environment for pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Flying a modern fighter is difficult—these machines are designed to merge man and machine into a lethal combination that can have a strategic level of impact on the battlefield. The stick and throttle alone have dozens of buttons on them. Most of these buttons can give 5 or more commands—forward, back, left, right, and down—as well as short pushes and long pushes and multiple master-modes that completely change the function of each button: It’s a PlayStation or X-box controller on steroids.

Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, my generation was one of the first to have widespread access to video games. Nintendo, Xbox, PlayStation, N64—I played them all growing up. Using a controller was second nature by the time I got to pilot training. Now trainers like the T-6 and T-38 don’t have a lot of buttons on the stick and throttle—they’re designed to teach students how to fly. However, the F-16 was a huge jump where we learned not just to fly the aircraft, but to employ it as a weapons system.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
The F-16 comes with a few more buttons than your average X-Box controller. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

There we learned what, at the time, seemed like complex sequences to track targets, launch missiles, and drop bombs. What I noticed was that my time playing video games allowed me to synthesize information while quickly and accurately passing decisions I made off to the jet. Many of my classmates also played video games growing up and collectively, the feedback we received was that we were a lot more advanced than our instructors were when they were in our position.

Now, a decade later, I can say the next generation, who grew up with smartphones and iPads, have an even greater capacity to process the multiple streams of information coming at them than older pilots like myself. The avionics in jets like the F-35—which are essentially 2 large iPads glued together—are second nature to them. So, to answer the question, do video games help prepare you to become a pilot? The answer is yes, to an extent.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
How else are you supposed to master the wing-mounted laser blasters that come on the F-15? (Ace Combat 7)

For future fighter pilots out there, I would say a couple of hours a week can help with processing information, making quick decisions, and accurately passing it off to the controls. Anything more is likely a detriment in that it is taking time away from other things you could be working on. As for the type of video game, it doesn’t matter. Realistic fighter simulators like DCS aren’t any better than Mario Kart: The procedures and tactics in civilian sims are off by enough that it won’t give you an advantage by the time you’re flying the real thing. If it helps stoke the passion, great, that’s the most important trait for success, but not playing them won’t put you at a disadvantage.

MIGHTY GAMING

How the US military is using ‘violent, chaotic, beautiful’ video games to train soldiers

Violent video games have become embedded within American culture over the past several decades and especially since 9/11. First-person shooters, in particular, have become increasingly popular.

These games – in which players are positioned behind a gun – have turned a generation of kids into digital warriors who fight terrorists and battle alien invaders. Many play first-person shooters for pure, innocent enjoyment. Some like achieving objectives and being a part of a team. And, for others, it simply feels good to eliminate an enemy – especially someone who’s trying to harm them.


For the U.S. military, the rise of first-person shooters has been a welcome development. In recent years, the military has encouraged many of its soldiers to partake in the thrill of violent video games as a way to continue combat training, even when not on active duty. (In fact, using games to teach military tactics has been a longstanding practice in the U.S. military: Before video games, troops were encouraged to play military-themed board games.)

The games allow soldiers to take their combat roles home with them and blur their on-duty responsibilities with their off-duty, noncombat routines and lives.

But what effect have these video games had on U.S. soldiers? How accurately do they depict military life? And do they actually help recruit, train and retain troops?

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

The games in the Arma series strive to simulate combat. In this sequence from Arma 2, a helicopter insertion goes wrong as troops try to take a contested airfield.

(YouTube/GamerDudester)

From battle screen to battlefield

As part of a study, we interviewed 15 current and former members of the U.S. military who were between 24 and 35 years old to understand the role violent first-person shooter games played in their recruitment and training.

The majority of interviewees told us it was important to stay in the mindset of a soldier even when not on duty. To them, first-person shooters were the perfect vehicle for doing this.

Game preferences varied among the soldiers we interviewed, but popular titles included “Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2” and “ARMA 2,” which a current member of the Army said was “one of the most hardcore assault experiences in gaming.”

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, players fight a campaign across the world and in space during a war between the U.S. and Russia.

(YouTube/Bolloxed)

Meanwhile, an Iraq War veteran described “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” as “the ultimate first-person shooter experiences ever” and “intensive and highly realistic approaches to tactical combat. The choice of attacking with stealth or unleashing an all-out frontal assault full of mayhem is yours. It’s violent, it’s chaotic, it’s beautiful.”

In this, the Iraq War veteran seems to say that video games can reflect real-life combat situations, an attitude that others share.

Altered realities

But it’s tough to make the case that games accurately simulate what a soldier’s life is really like. First, military tours of duty are not solely made up of hard-charging, chaotic battles, like those in first-person shooters. The majority of soldiers won’t participate in any full-frontal combat operations.

Second – and, most importantly – in the digital world there are no legal and ethical considerations. When things go wrong, when innocent people are killed, there are no ramifications. If anything, the games warp these real-world consequences in the minds of players; in 2012, psychologists Brock Bastian, Jolanda Jetten and Helena R.M. Radke were able to use brain scans to show that playing violent video games had the potential to desensitize players to real-life violence and the suffering of others.

In a 2010 article for the Brookings Institution, political scientist Peter Singer quoted a Special Forces soldier who was involved in the production of “America’s Army 360,” a video game developed to recruit and train enlistees.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

An American city burns in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

(YouTube/Bolloxed)

“You lose an avatar; just reboot the game,” the soldier said. “In real life, you lose your guy; you’ve lost your guy. And then you’ve got to bury him, and then you’ve got to call his wife.”

Indeed, journalist Evan Wright wrote in his book “Generation Kill” that solders were on “intimate terms with the culture of video games, reality TV shows and internet porn.”

Real-life combat, however, was something entirely different.

“What I saw was a lot of them discovered levels of innocence that they probably didn’t think they had,” Wright wrote. “When they actually shot people, especially innocent people, and were confronted with this, I saw guys break down. The violence in games hadn’t prepared them for this.”

Thus video games might suck soldiers in – offering a tantalizing taste of the glory and excitement of battle. But they do little to prepare them for the types of threats that actually exist on the battlefield.

“When I really think of the government seeing that as training, I laugh,” one of our interviewees told us. “But I also feel a bit uneasy.”

Militarizing legions of gamers

Regardless of their effectiveness as training tools, violent video games can certainly act as a valuable tool for connecting the military with potential recruits. In addition to influencing the decisions of gamers to pursue military service, they can also be used to promote the geopolitical goals of the military.

Journalist Hamza Shaban, in a 2013 article for The Atlantic, described just how deep the Army’s relationship had become with the commercial gaming industry, creating what he dubbed a “military-entertainment complex.” According to Shaban, the games that emerged from this relationship – an exciting, simplified, easy-to-play version of warfare – encouraged gamers to consider a career in the military.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Frontlines: Fuel of War attempts to simulate what World War 3 in the near future would look like.

(YouTube/Best War Games Channel)

Meanwhile, games such as “UrbanSim,” “Tactical Iraqi” and “Frontlines: Fuel of War” teach players and potential recruits about the discourse of modern-day warfare. Missions include battling Islamic militants, winning over potentially hostile populations and establishing pro-Western, pro-democratic societies. They engage with the fundamentals of insurgency and counterinsurgency, present the dangers of improvised explosive devices and highlight the military usefulness of weaponized drones.

However, to some of the soldiers and ex-soldiers we spoke to, the value of playing first-person shooters amounted to little more than propaganda.

“The idea of us training using these games is a bit of a [disaster],” one said. “What the U.S. seeks to achieve through the use of these games is not entirely within their control. It might be a cheap way of getting us involved … but it’s hardly ‘training.'”

Another called first-person shooters “more like brainwashing than anything.”

“But you have to be pretty stupid to buy into all this,” he added. How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot


This article was created by Scott Nicholas Romaniuk, University of Trento and Tobias Burgers, Freie Universität Berlin.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article here.

MIGHTY GAMING

6 video game features coming to real combat

Video games way oversold the military. Shooter after shooter and strategy game after strategy game promised a career filled with Firebats and thermonuclear grenades, but the actual military turned out to be a lot of hard work using basic tools. Where are the cybernetics and robots and zombie plants?

Turns out, “they’re” working on it. Here are 6 features of video games coming to real combat. Given, you know, the programs are successful


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Can’t wait until my future robot partner takes a human hostage and then gives me a creepy wink during the standoff.

Robot partners

What it is: In futuristic games like Titanfall, infantrymen go in with squads of robot soldiers that can carry their own weapons, drawing fire away from their human counterparts and slaying enemy forces like steel grim reapers.

Who’s making it real: DARPA (yeah, they’re going to come up a lot in this article) has the “Agile Teams” program which is tasked with creating mathematical models for assessing human-machine teams and looking for the best balance. Since programs to allow humans and machines work together on the battlefield already exist, DARPA is basically trying to build the measuring stick to assess those teams and improve them before they’re deployed.

In important note: Agile Teams isn’t only, or even mostly, about performance in ground combat. They’re also looking at how to pair robots and humans in analyzing intelligence, fighting a cyber battle, or conducting electronic warfare.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

A soldier practices firing with an AimLock system.

(U.S. Army Angie Depuydt)

Aim assist

What it is: Most shooters, even ones that don’t advertise it, have some kind of “aim assist” built into gameplay. Through these systems, the computer makes the shooter just a little more accurate either by moving the targeting reticle slightly towards the enemy when the trigger is pulled or by curving bullets slightly towards targets, counting near-misses as hits.

Who’s making it real: Two groups are actually working on this. The Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center is working on AimLock, which basically takes the two major parts of the weapon (the upper and lower receivers), and separates the upper receiver from the rifleman’s direct control. The shooter pulls the trigger when they’re aimed at their target, the software and motors point the upper receiver at the target, and the round is fired.

Another program in development with the Army Research Lab re-purposes technology originally designed for stroke victims to reduce tremors. In the Mobile Arm Exoskeleton for Firearm Aim Stabilization program, new shooters are attached to a machine that stabilizes their arm while firing, dampening all the little tremors that make a big difference at hundreds of yards. Best of all, the program is shows results — even after the equipment is removed. Firers are becoming 15 percent more accurate after using and then removing MAXFAS.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Autonomous drones

What it is: In games like Warframe and Borderlands 2, players can work side by side with a murderous drone that kills enemy combatants, seeking out its own targets and watching the life slowly seep out of their human eyes.

Who’s making it real: To be fair, autonomous drones are already real, but they’re mostly good for vain athletes who want their drone to automatically take selfies. This NATO article summarizes a number of programs, mostly U.S. ones, for everything from autonomous wingmen for human pilots to drone swarms for the Air Force, Navy, and Army (yeah, it’s like KitKats — everyone wants a piece).

One fact that the military is generally quick to point out, though, is that all autonomous systems both in development and currently operational, have a “human-in-the-loop” system, meaning that the AI can only recommend targets, it cannot approve lethal action on its own. A human has to give the kill order.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Autonomous supply and medevac drops

What it is: In video games, you rarely have to wait more than a few minutes for a requested resupply to come in. Turn on a lunar beacon in Borderlands 2? Your gear will slam into the ground within seconds. Just Cause 3 lets you select a customized supply loadout, from guns to helicopters, and have it delivered within seconds.

Who’s making it real: DARPA, but getting helicopters airdropped is still beyond the plan. The Aerial Reconfigurable Embedded System would result in remotely driven aircraft that could fly to and from battlefields with different pods useful for different purposes. The Marine Corps actually has an experimental supply drone helicopter built on a Bell UH-1H.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Graphic summarizing the Active Plant Technologies program.

(DARPA)

Bio-defense plants

What it is: From Final Fantasy‘s cactaurs to Plants vs. Zombies entire arsenal, video games have lots of examples of awesome plants. Plant 42 from Resident Evil can even eat humans and, potentially, turn them into zombies.

Who’s making it real: While DARPA is shamefully refusing to investigate the strengths of the T-virus in plant life, they are working with industry to propel the Advanced Plant Technologies program, where plants are modified to act as sensors, changing physical traits when in the presence of certain chemicals, pathogens, radiations, or electromagnetic signals. So, if you want to know whether the Wizard of Oz is still making nukes, just check the poppy fields.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Tactical Augmented Reality System screenshot

(U.S. Army)

Heads-up displays

What it is: Nearly every first person shooter has a heads up display, a bit of information on the screen with everything from a minimap to an ammo count. See: Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, etc.

Who’s making it real: Lots of groups are working on different aspects of it, but the Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center and the Army Research Lab have debuted a pretty impressive prototype called Tactical Augmented Reality that can display the locations of allies and known adversaries as well as comms info and navigation.

MIGHTY GAMING

7 best video games to get into the Halloween spirit

Winter is coming… but first, there’s Halloween. It’s the season of costumes, jack-o-lanterns, and horror. So, while plenty of people are going to paste themselves in front of TVs to watch a few Halloween classics, the rest of us are grabbing controllers and keyboards to immerse ourselves in true, interactive Halloween magic.

Here are seven great games to get in the mood, from horror to action to virtual trick-or-treating:


How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

The Spirit killer in Dead by Daylight can phase walk to sprint through the map and track injured survivors by their blood. Best of all, she can create phantom versions of herself, decoys that can fool players into thinking they’re facing the real killer.

(Behaviour Interactive)

Dead by Daylight

Dead by Daylight racked up some awards and lots of positive reviews when it was released, and it’s obvious why. This horror game pits one monster against four survivors. The survivors have to try and make it out alive, usually by working together, but you can try to escape on your own.

Or, you can play as the monster, hunting the survivors down one by one and placing their bodies on meat hooks to save for later. The base game includes some cool, original monsters, but you can also download some of horror’s greatest movie slashers, like Freddy and Jason.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

The enemies in Killing Floor 2 are endless and murderous.

(Tripwire Interactive)

Killing Floor 2

Killing Floor 2 is an action-horror game filled with bloody “ZEDs,” murderous clones created by an evil corporation. The clones make up a motley and murderous group of enemies, encompassing everything from standard human-ish murderers to massively obese clowns to titans with blades strapped to their arms.

There’s no real story to speak of; it’s really just an arena horror game. But, it features great gunplay and an awesome soundtrack combined with waterfalls of gore. A nice touch is that increasing the difficulty doesn’t just make the ZEDs more powerful and robust, it also changes the ways they behave, making them better coordinated and more aggressive.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Jason breaks into a cabin as a camp counselor makes her way to the car unseen.

(IllFonic)

Friday the 13th: The Game

Friday the 13th: The Game is similar to Dead by Daylight, but it’s all about one of America’s most iconic movie killers. Players taking on the role of the killer can adopt one of Jason’s many looks, from the 1989 video game to the Jason impersonator from A New Beginning. Players trying to survive are known as “counselors” and can pick from over a dozen different Crystal Lake camp counselors.

Jasons work to kill all seven counselors before they escape or are able to defeat him. Counselors try to survive long enough for the police to arrive or go for an epic win by completing teamwork challenges and escaping or killing Jason (both of which are hard). Lots of movie characters make appearances, including Jason’s mom and Tommy Jarvis.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

The angel statue is ironic, in case you couldn’t guess that in a game about members of a cult committing murder.

(Cyanide)

Call of Cthulhu

Call of Cthulu is based on — what else? — the Lovecraft Universe. Specifically, it’s based on a tabletop game based on the Lovecraft story, “Call of Cthulhu.” You’re a World War I vet and private detective sent to investigate the murder of the Hawkins family at their burnt house where, as it turns out, some crazy occult stuff is going on. And, of course, there are lots of tentacles.

An awesome, Lovecraftian twist in the detective genre comes as gathering occult clues slowly leads to insanity.

It looks like a promising psychological/survival horror game. Unfortunately, this title doesn’t actually release until October 30, just in time for Halloween, but way too late for us to gather nuggets to share with you ahead of time.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

The DOOM Marine isn’t know for playing nice with demons.

(id Software)

DOOM

Yup, the old DOOM series. In every game, you play the role of a guy sent to a place where portals to Hell are opening. While most DOOM games, including the 2016 iteration we’re recommending here, are more action than horror, they’re still a great way to get ready for Halloween as you fight your way through the hordes of demons.

The game provides a great atmosphere, soundtrack, and plenty of blood and gore without really trying to terrify you, so you can easily fall asleep. You know, unless the game’s awesome soundtrack pumps up your heart up too high. Bonus: Playing DOOM for Halloween will help you prep for the release of DOOM Eternal.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Around Halloween time, World of Warcraft, a game already filled with the undead and monsters, gets more of both.

(Blizzard Entertainment)

World of Warcraft’s Hallow’s End

This isn’t a full game of Halloween or horror, but World of Warcraft has special events for most holidays, and Halloween happenings are especially fun. Starting on October 18, players will be able to trick-or-treat, kill the Headless Horseman, collect costumes, and hurl pumpkins onto each other’s heads.

It’s all lots of fun and very family-friendly. Even killing the Headless Horseman is accomplished with little blood and gore, especially compared to the other games on this list. But, seeing as this is only a two-week event, it’s more for people who already own the game. It’s not likely worth it for folks who have no interest in the rest of the game (which is full of more monsters, including zombies and witches and Lich Kings… so why aren’t you interested?).

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Sophie is the ghost of a dead teenager, and she is out to get you.

(TrerPlay)

Sophie’s Curse

Sophie’s Curse is a crazy simple game. You’re a nurse hired to take care of an old grandpa in a haunted house with faulty wires and four generator-powered lights. You have to keep the lights on and, spoiler, a ghost is there to attack you.

The monster is standard fare, but the limited controls and the focus needed to keep the lights on guarantees that most players will experience some serious jump scares. You have no way of fighting the monster, so the key to survival is making it to the safe points quickly whenever she shows up. TO top it off, the game is cheap. It’s currently on sale on Steam for id=”listicle-2611465480″.69 until October 15 — down from .

MIGHTY GAMING

How you can use your military skills in survival games

Military leaders loves to take their troops into the backwoods for a quick impromptu land navigation class. Even when troops should be gearing up for combat in desert environments, they still teach them how to survive in forests. There is a lot of cross-over things to consider, regardless of where you’re at — like seeking shelter, finding water and food, how to create warmth, and survive the elements.

While it’s great to have these skills in your hip pocket, it can also make you way too intense when you go camping with your civilian friends. They will, however, make you just the right amount of intense when you play a survival game.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
All the fun of surviving in a zombie-infested hellscape without actually having to survive in a zombie-infested hellscape!
(DayZ by Bohemia Interactive)


There are plenty of different survival games to choose from in nearly any style. You’ve got your “seems retro but is just cheap” style, your “indie art-house” style, and your “beautiful but will eventually leave Early Access” style. Doesn’t matter what the aesthetics look like, the games all follow the same formula. They all could be played for months on a single life or just a quick match.

Whichever game you pick will almost always put you in some landscape all by your lonesome with nothing on your person. First thing you’ve got to do is build some sort of shelter as your base camp. You’ll always find loose wood around that makes for a perfect stand-to.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
Protip: Punching trees isn’t helpful in real life.
(Minecraft by Mojang)

Just like in real life, the next thing you have to do is find water and food. Hopefully you’ve built your shelter somewhere near a river and the food won’t follow too far behind. Unlike the real world, many of these games don’t take in water purification as a game mechanic so you’re set. It’s ill-advised to try this approach in real life.

While the games differ greatly, one of the few common tactics among survival games is building fire and torches. In real life, the torches provide warmth and light to find your way through the dark but they’re much harder to create than in game. Because you might not know what’s out there, a campfire is good enough until morning.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
Night is when the bad sh*t comes out.
(Conan Exiles by Funcom)

Once you’ve got those three basic survival skills out of the way, then you can move onto whatever the objective of the game actually is. Typically, it’s just build cool things or fight mythical creatures, but in real life your goal should be to get to civilization.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
Which would be the logical next step if you’ve only got a bow and arrow against a T-Rex. But it’s a game, whatever.
(Ark: Survival Evolved by Kayd Hendricks)

MIGHTY GAMING

These legendary squadrons are being featured by Ace Combat for its 25th Anniversary

First released in 1995 as Air Combat, the Ace Combat franchise has taken gamers to the skies at the speed of sound for over two and a half decades. As of July 2020, the franchise has sold over 16 million copies, making it one of Bandai Namco’s most successful franchises, among legends like Tekken and Pac-Man. The arcade-style flight simulator puts gamers in the cockpit of real-life aircraft, along with a few fictional ones, to engage in high-speed aerial combat.


Coming a long way from its humble and pixelated origins on the original Playstation, Ace Combat now provides players with the most immersive experience yet using the power of Playstation VR. Though the planes recreated in the virtual world are highly detailed thanks to licensing and support from the real-world manufacturers, the paint schemes and designs available to players to customize their aircraft in Ace Combat 7 are all fictional—until now.

To celebrate 25 years of Ace Combat, the liveries of two iconic squadrons have been added to the game. On August 20, 2020, a new package of aircraft skins and emblems was released containing different variations of the US aircraft national insignia and the liveries of Strike Fighter Squadron 103 (VFA-103), the “Jolly Rogers,” and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 (VMFA-232), the “Red Devils.” Previously featured in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon and Ace Combat Infinity, the “Red Devils” livery is only available on the F/A-18F Super Hornet while the “Jolly Rogers” livery is available on both the F-14D Tomcat and the F/A-18F Super Hornet.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

“‘Jolly Roger’ logo and aircraft paint pattern used with permission of the United States Department of Defense” (Bandai Namco)

Based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar under the command of Marine Air Group 11, the “Red Devils” are the oldest and most decorated fighter squadron in the Corps. The squadron can trace its lineage back to VF-3M, which was commissioned at Naval Air Station San Diego on September 1, 1925. The “Red Devils” went through seven redesignations and eight different aircraft until they were temporarily decommissioned on November 16, 1945.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

“‘Red Devil'” logo and aircraft paint pattern used with permission of the United States Department of Defense.” (Bandai Namco)

The squadron was reactivated on June 3, 1945 with its current designation. VMFA-232 did not deploy to Korea but saw heavy combat in Vietnam. In September 1973, the “Red Devils” became the last Marine squadron to leave the Vietnam War. Today the squadron flies the F/A-18 Hornet in support of the Global War on Terror. Their livery is erroneously applied to the F/A-18F Super Hornet as it is the only Hornet variant in Ace Combat 7.

The “Jolly Rogers” have a more complex lineage. Currently, the skull and crossbones insignia flies with VFA-103. However, the squadron adopted the insignia from VF-84 who adopted it from VF-61. VF-61 was originally established as VF-17 on January 1, 1943 at NAS Norfolk. The squadron’s commander, Lt. Cdr. John T. “Tommy” Blackburn, wanted the insignia to have a piratical theme that matched to mirror the Corsair name of their F4U fighters; and thus, the skull and crossbones was born. Over the course of two combat tours, the squadron was credited with 313 aerial victories and produced 23 aces, making it the most successful US Navy squadron of WWII. The “Jolly Rogers” were redesignated twice after the war before they were disestablished on April 15, 1959.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

(Bandai Namco)

In 1959, VF-84’s commander, who had previously flown with the VF-61, requested to change his squadron’s name and insignia to that of the “Jolly Rogers.” His request was approved on April 1, 1960 and the skull and crossbones was revived. The planes of VF-84 proudly flew the insignia until the squadron was disestablished on October 1, 1995. It was then that the insignia’s current bearers, VFA-103, adopted the “Jolly Rogers” name and insignia. Though the “Jolly Rogers” insignia and livery was never applied to the F-14D like it is in Ace Combat 7 (VFA-104 did not fly this variant), the squadron does currently fly the F/A-18F that bears the livery in the game.

Whether you’re an enthusiast or a past or current member of the “Red Devils” or “Jolly Rogers,” Ace Combat’s addition of their liveries is a fitting celebration for its 25th Anniversary. Did we mention that the aircraft skins are free? Simply install the latest game update and you’ll have them. Good hunting.

MIGHTY GAMING

How veterans and their families can get free video games

Most veterans who have served in the past 20 years are probably familiar with video games. From barracks LAN parties, to marathon sessions of Madden NFL at the MWR while downrange, it’s safe to say veterans like to play video games. Studies have shown that video games also help veterans recover from some mental health challenges, providing an escape while boosting confidence, personal growth, leadership, and social connections.

Operation Supply Drop’s Games to Grunts program supports community engagement to veterans, military, and their families through video games. Most of the games they offer are on Steam, such as TEKKEN 7, Cooking Simulator, and Vietnam 65′, but other platforms are also available, like free XBOX Game Passes. All of the games are available through digital download codes.


Articles

7 features that would make military games more realistic

Look, video games are awesome and military video games are doubly so. But video game companies are not even trying to capture real deployed life. As they continue bragging about their realistic sound effects and HD graphics, here are 9 features that would actually help gamers get a real combat experience.


1. Make players rehearse a mission four times and then send them on a different one.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
Photo: US Army Sgt. Joseph Guenther

The player is briefed on a mission to capture or kill a high-value target. They have to watch a rehearsal on a sand table, then practice in an open field, and finally they assault some fake buildings with their squad to be sure everyone is on the same page.

They climb onto the birds but halfway to the target are diverted to capture an undefended dam before terrorists can blow it up. The player’s squad defends it for three days against nothing before returning to base. A friendly engineer squad then blows up the dam.

2. All calls for fire take at least 10 minutes and miss the first three times.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
Rockets aim at objective B, hit objective B on the first try. I’m calling B-S. Photo: Youtube

Artillery units rarely hit their target on the first try in the real world and even airstrikes have trouble getting it right a lot of times. Yet video games which allow a player to call in an airstrike always show rounds cascading down on the exact spot the player asks for.

Instead, the player should have to adjust fire over three or four iterations before actually killing anything. They should also have to wait at least 10 minutes from the first call until the fire mission is fired and rounds begin falling on the target.

3. Random mistakes by other members of your team.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
Characters should fall over stuff like this guy did. But because they tripped, not because they died like this guy. Photo: Youtube

Every once in a while, a squad mate should get their gear stuck on a door handle, trip on their own rucksack strap, or slip on a wet spot in the ground and fall. The player has to decide whether to help their buddy or continue firing at the enemy while attempting to stifle their laughter.

4. Include a 40-lb haptic bodysuit that punches you when you’re shot.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
Photo: US Army Maj. Penny Zamora

When the player is going into battle, they’re usually wearing a hoodie, some boxers, and a fine layer of chip crumbs. But soldiers wear 40 pounds of armor plus whatever other gear they’re carrying at that moment. So, players should be given a vest that weighs as much as the armor.

As an added bonus, motors and weights could be used to punch the player where their character was just shot. And they could carry an 8-pound controller.

5. Your inventory always includes at least 3 items you’ll never use.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
Photo: YouTube

The player should have a limited inventory space, some of which is taken up with “just-in-case” items that never get used. It could be gas masks, backup batteries, whatever. If the player tries to throw them away, the items show up on later patrols as booby traps.

6. Weapon misfires

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
Photo: US Army Spc. Marcus Floyd

Anytime the player crawls through mud or sand, it should increase the chance that their weapon misfires. Every 100 rounds without a cleaning should increase the chance of a misfire as well.

7. Can only level up after passing a PT test and reciting random facts from memory

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

After the player completes a few missions while exhausted from the countless rehearsals in the heavy bodysuit, overcomes misfires at critical moments, and has proven their ability to carry around useless equipment, they should be given the opportunity to level up.

To get selected for the higher level, they just have to score in at least the 80th percentile on a physical training test and recite the muzzle velocities of at least three weapons. Otherwise, the player is sent back to the tent to study. It doesn’t matter what their kill-to-death ratio is. Side note: KTD ratios are not a thing either.

MIGHTY GAMING

The Sega Genesis Mini is coming to fuel your ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ nostalgia

By now, there’s a playbook for capitalizing on gamer nostalgia. Take a classic console — the original Nintendo, the Super NES, the first PlayStation, the Atari VCS — and make a miniaturized, modern version with HDMI output and preloaded games. Then, sell it at a price much lower than that of the latest generation of consoles. For long-suffering Sega fans, the wait is finally coming to an end, as the company is finally borrowing the playbook and releasing an updated version of its classic console, the Sega Genesis.


The Sega Genesis Mini, as the new device is known looks, like a shrunk-down version of the original, beloved console. It will come with two wired controllers with a standard D-pad on the left and Genesis-standard three-button control pad on the right.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

The Genesis Mini is an HDMI-equipped version of the classic console that comes preloaded with 40 different games. (Buy now)

The system comes preloaded with 40 different games, a generous number that means it won’t be easy to get bored with this thing. The included titles are being announced in four waves of ten, and the first batch has us excited. Sonic the Hedgehog is thankfully included because there wouldn’t be much point to a Genesis reboot without it.

Other titles include the Dracula-themed platformer Castlevania: Bloodlines, groundbreaking independent title Gunstar Heroes, the bizarre and captivating Toe Jam Earl, as far as we know the only funk-themed video game out there. There’s a ton of variety in this wave, and we’re excited to see the rest of the titles as they’re released between now and Sept. 29, 2019, when the console hits the market.

If you’re already ready to shell out for the console, you can pre-order the Mini today and avoid any shortages that might happen.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

How ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ is intelligently predicting future tech

Creating science fiction comes with the unique challenge of dreaming up some kind of awesome, future technology and making it the norm for people native to the fictional society. Sometimes, creators get it right, like the video-call system in 2001: A Space Odyssey that later became reality with Skype and FaceTime. Others, like Back to the Future, left us waiting for pink hoverboards that were supposed to be available by 2015.

Thanks for nothing, Mattel.

CD Projekt Red faces this same conundrum in coming up with the dystopian future setting of their upcoming title, Cyberpunk 2077. Set 59 years in the future, you play a mercenary in a world almost completely overtaken by technology. People get cybernetic enhancements to make themselves look better and advertisements fill up every inch of the city. It’s up to you to carve out a little hole in this world.


Before we dive in, we have to say the game looks incredible. Check out this recently released footage.

From the looks of things, the developers appear to be very grounded in their approach to portraying technological advancements, keeping in accordance with Marshall McLuhan and his Tetrad of Media Effects theory.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

The man himself, Marshall McLuhan.

Marshall McLuhan was fairly advanced for his time and was regarded as one of the fathers of media psychology. He’s was well regarded (posthumously, of course, as is the case with most scientists that’re ahead of their time) for laying the groundwork for achieving an understanding of how people perceive and take in all forms of media — meaning art, technology, and speech.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Today, we call it the internet. We use it to pretend to do work, watch videos of funny cats, and occasionally engage in fruitless arguments that will never change either party’s mind.

McLuhan’s Tetrad of Media Effects states that all technological advancements must serve four purposes to make a lasting impact on society. It must enhance something, make something obsolete, call back to something familiar, and have the potential to become something new when pushed to its limits.

His famous example was the FM radio, which meets all four criteria:

  1. It amplifies news and music through sound,
  2. It reduces the need for print media,
  3. It brings spoken word back to the forefront in how people transfer stories, and,
  4. Eventually, it could be enhanced with a visual component (aka television).

By following these rules, you can make educated guesses at where new technologies might emerge and which need they may grow to fill. In fact, he famously hypothesized that all forms of media would one day grow to an extreme, at which point, this new medium would be so fast and so large that everyone in the world could instantaneously communicate with one another. This single, new media form would encompass most other forms of communication. He called it “the global village” and was ostracized from the scientific community for his crackpot speculations.

Sound familiar?

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

But that would never… oh…

With McLuhan’s theory in mind, we can see how the developers at CD Projekt Red are applying it perfectly to the world of Cyberpunk. Not everything is crazy and outrageous, but rather plays on something that currently exists and amplifies it to a realistic degree.

Cybernetic enhancements are now a thing because they replace the previously squishy and less desirable parts of being human. Taxi cabs still exist because people still need to get from one place to another. And, of course, billboards cover everything when there are no rules about not plastered flashy ads across the sides of buildings.

MIGHTY CULTURE

6 ways the Integrated Training Exercise feels like a video game

Marines love video games. It’s no secret that games like Battlefield had an influence on many of us as we decided to sign up in the first place. Slowly, you’ll come realize that life in the military is nothing like video games 99% of the time. But that still leaves that sweet, sweet 1% — which is experienced mostly during the Integrated Training Exercise.

When you’re at ITX, your battalion is put to the test to see if they can operate in combat environments. This is the thing that makes or breaks your unit. It’s what tells the Marine Corps that you’re ready to be sent on cool, important missions during deployment.

There’s a lot at stake when your unit arrives at Camp Wilson, make no mistake about that. It’s also some of the most fun you’ll have while training for a deployment. At times, the experience can feel like you’re in a video game. The types of things you do at ITX are the very reason you joined the infantry in the first place — to shoot guns and blow stuff up. This is Battlefield live.


How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Even some of the company assault ranges were pretty cool.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Samantha Schwoch)

You go on cool missions

Conducing helicopter-supported raids and clearing through a large town populated with both enemies and civilians sound like objectives out of latest Rainbow Six. Sure, not all of the exercises are this cool, but even video games have their dull levels.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

There’s not much to do there, either.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Natalia Cuevas)

Camp Wilson is basically the game lobby

When playing a game online, between matches, you often get sent to a “lobby,” where you wait with other players and get prepared for the next mission. This is essentially the role of Camp Wilson: it’s a place you relax and get ready for the next event.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

You were lucky if you mostly rode in helicopters.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Samantha Schwoch)

You use vehicles to attack objectives

This isn’t the case for every mission but, for the most part, you’ll be taken to and from a staging area by vehicle to get as close as possible to your objective before you get out and attack. On the large assaults, you’ll be riding in Amphibious Assault Vehicles.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

The explosions are better in person.

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Samantha Schwoch)

You finally get to witness air strikes

Twentynine Palms offers a cool training experience for units undergoing ITX evaluation — you get the ability to use and witness air strikes. That’s right: We’re talking planes flying overhead and dropping bombs that you get to watch explode. And you thought calling in an airstrike in Call of Duty felt good?

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

They’re like mortars but, bigger.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo illustration by Sgt. Justin A. Bopp)

You have artillery support

In some games, you can call for artillery support. This probably wasn’t the case during a lot of your pre-deployment training cycles. You definitely get mortars, but watching a 155mm Howitzer drop warheads in the distance is amazing. Just like air strikes, these are even better in person.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

You’ll burn through more ammo than you thought you’d ever touch.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Dallas Johnson)

You fire a lot of bullets

Video games give you a lot of ammunition and so will your unit at Twentynine Palms. You’re going to get everything you need for every mission you take on, and you might get more than you know what to do with. Hopefully your trigger finger is prepared for the cramp it’s going to experience.


MIGHTY GAMING

Watch these special operators take on two gamers at the rifle range

For years, gamers have joked among themselves, saying that because they kick ass with a virtual rifle in Call of Duty, they’re probably a good shot in real life. Well, two former Special Forces operators decided to take two professional gamers to the gun club to test that theory.


Our two Special Forces operators really need no introduction to the veteran community: Navy SEAL Mikal Vega and Marine Corps sniper David Lonigro.

Vega served 22 years in the Navy, working with EOD and the SEAL teams. Lonigro spent six years in a Marine Corps special operations unit as a sniper and went on multiple combat deployments.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
Special Ops badass, David Lonigro and Mikal Vega.

These two motivators went up against a 12-time World Champion gamer in Jonathan Wendel and a Call of Duty pro that goes by the screen name RUNJDRUN.

Because Lonigro and Vega are team players, they gave the gamers a few pointers during a practice round before the real thing commenced. As the timed contest opened, each competitor fired at two different targets, attempting to score accurate kill shots using six rounds total.

First, Wendel took aim and squeezed off his controlled rounds a 67 percent accuracy at a speed of 3.15 seconds.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
Not bad at all.
(BuzzFeed Video)

On deck next was RUNJDRUN, who also fired at 67 percent accuracy, but at a speed of 4.03. This effort was followed by Vega, who nailed his two targets with 100 percent accuracy at a rate of 4.03 seconds.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
This is how experienced Navy SEALS kill the bad guys.
(BuzzFeed Video)

Finally, Marine veteran and talented sniper David Lonigro ended the day with 100 percent accuracy, but had the slowest time of 5.23 seconds. However, snipers are trained to wait to take the shot, so maybe Lonigro used that as a tactical advantage.

Ultimately (and unsurprisingly), the veterans won the shooting competition.

Check out BuzzFeed’s Video below to watch the exciting competition for yourself.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Soldiers can now serve their country…playing video games

Over 6,500 soldiers are already hoping to be part of a new Army esports team that will compete in video game tournaments nationwide in an effort to attract potential recruits.

“It’s essentially connecting America to its Army through the passion of the gaming community,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Jones, NCO-in-charge of the budding team.


About 30 soldiers are expected to be picked for the team and some of the first positions could be filled summer 2019. Only active-duty and Reserve soldiers are currently allowed to apply.

Those chosen will be assigned to the Marketing and Engagement Brigade for three years at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where the Army Recruiting Command is headquartered.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

More than 6,500 Soldiers have already applied to join the Army esports team, which was created to boost recruiting efforts in the gaming community.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Meaux)

While they will not become recruiters, team members will receive a crash course on Army enlistment programs to answer questions from those interested in learning about the service.

Once built up, the team will fall under an outreach company that will also include an Army rock band and a functional fitness team.

Not everyone on the team will compete. Those who will may train up to six hours per day on video games, Jones said, adding that gameplay sessions would be live streamed or recorded for spectators to watch.

Esports has ballooned in popularity in recent years with millions of followers.

In August 2018, the Washington Post reported that esports could generate about 5 million in revenue this year in North America. In 2017, a major esports tournament in China also drew a peak of more than 106 million viewers — roughly the same number of those who watched 2018’s Super Bowl.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

“It’s something really new and it’s been gaining a lot of steam,” Jones said.

While on the team, soldiers will still conduct physical training, weapons qualifications and other responsibilities that come with being a soldier. They will also have to maintain certifications in their military occupational specialty.

“Outside of that, there will be esports training,” Jones said. “So whatever game they’re playing in, they’ll not only be playing it, but be coached in it to get better.”

The team, he said, shares a similar concept to that of other Army competitive teams that continually train, such as the Golden Knights parachute team, World Class Athlete Program and Army Marksmanship Unit.

“Esports is like traditional sports,” he said. “Nobody can just walk in and expect to play at a competitive level.”

The Army, he said, already has talented gamers out there who can compete in events.

in January 2019, a few soldiers competed at PAX South in San Antonio as a way to introduce Army esports to the greater gamer community.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

A few Soldiers competed at PAX South in San Antonio as a way to introduce Army esports to the greater gamer community Jan. 18-20, 2019.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Meaux)

In one of the events, a Street Fighter V tournament, two soldiers placed first and second.

“This is the perfect opportunity to showcase not only to the Army, but to the civilian populace and the esports industry that we also have what it takes,” Jones said of the events.

Recruiters from the San Antonio Recruiting Battalion also joined them and were able to generate some leads with potential recruits, he added.

There are plans to do the same at the PAX East exposition in Boston in late March 2019.

As a gamer and a recruiter himself, Jones said the team can help bridge the civilian-military gap by breaking down misconceptions some young people may have about the Army.

Being able to play their favorite video games with others who share the same passion is also a bonus.

“For a lot of soldiers, to include myself, it’s like a dream come true,” Jones said. “This is just one of those ways we can start the conversation.”

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

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