wargames reloaded

WargamesIt is my innermost conviction—at least for now—that the metaphorical and symbolical web which we call ‘culture’ is constituted, built and rebuilt by ever-changing, interlocking feedback loops of the associative kind. Never will we be able to draw a complete picture of those, but sometimes the sociocultural anthropologist will have the chance to have an indepth glance on some of them loops.

In respect to cyberculture, I guess I just stumbled over one. Does anybody remember the 1983 movie Wargames—starring a then youthful Matthew Broderick? The movie’s story was about some hacker-d00d (Broderick) who hacked himself beyond the firewall of some eerie system. The system proposed a game [mind!] to him which looked like some strategical nuclear-world-war simulation. The d00d took up the game … what he didn’t know was that the system was an AI which controlled the US-military’s complete defense-system, including the nukes, of course. So the drama began to unfold.

“Wargames” hit the silverscreen in an era when the first personal computers affordable for the broader public hit the shelves. Well, you all know the development of computers from the times of the Commodore 64 till today. What you might not be aware of is, that the essential force of economical thrust which pushes the development of computers forward is the gaming-industry, as games are the only widespread end-user applications which really need a P4 or a Radeon X[something]. For comparatively primitive tasks like text-processing a 486 is enough. And for the sake of illustrating the magnitude of this business: Word has it that the turnover of the gaming-industry exceeded the turnover of the movie-industry for the first time in the fiscal year 2002 both in the US and in Europe—and we’re talking software only, that means the sales of computer-hardware like graphic-cards, game-consoles and the like are not included.

In 2003 the US Department of Defense announced that they won’t go on developing their IT-equipment from scratch themselves, as they wouldn’t be able to keep pace with the development of commercially developed comps. Instead in the future—to stay with Moore’s Law—they will buy their components from the industry … which is substantively fuelled by computergames!
And here’s where the dog somewhat catches its tail …

original version posted at ethno::log