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Make Games not War

The year is 2020. Hostilities between the mega nations of the United States and the Peoples Republic of China have reached boiling point. Trade negotiations, weakened by the suspicious sinking of the Chinese submarine Codename: ‘Yuan’, 400 miles off the coast of El Descans have finally broken down. With no resolution in sight, both parties have resigned themselves to solve the problem the only way they know how.

Firewalls are erected around national borders while freshly constructed server farms undergo load testing. Firmware updates are downloaded to military networks nationwide as chairs undergo strenuous durability testing. All the while, nervous troops wait in lobbies for the most important matchmaking of their lives, as parties prepare for War. More buttons are about to be mashed than have ever been mashed before.  

Imagine if video games were the means by which real world conflicts were resolved.  

For starters, the leaders of our government and military would consist of legendary gamers and I.T guys. The path to the Oval Office wouldn’t be Stanford Business School then Harvard Law, instead you’d need a gamerscore of at least a million, a Bachelor of Protoss Deployment Strategies and a comfortable chair in which to lounge and snack. Similarly, appointing the chief strategist for the nation’s military would be as simple as combing for Starcraft’s best and brightest (unless the #1 is a North Korean spy).

DRM, the Attorney General no less, would guard against clone armies of illegal players with fraudulent copies, while the 2010 edition of McAfee would be the Secretary of Defense - elected on the promise that it wouldn’t eat up all our system resources.

The strength of our armies would depend on how efficiently we mined Tiberium and how well we knew our macros. The rigorous physical standards of military boot camp would be replaced with virtual achievements online and potential infantry would need to make the pit run in under 20 seconds, having prestiged at least twice.  Imagine all the useless skills suddenly worth their weight in gold. Those crazy people who speed run Mario Bros. in 35 seconds flat - Fighter Pilots. Those sneaky bastards who exploit a games every bug and glitch - Intelligence Officers. That guy from your local arcade you just can’t beat in Street Fighter - Melee expert.

On the day of deployment, a million servers would play host to battlegrounds worldwide as pixilated blood was spilt on virtual beach-heads. We’d be able to do away with this troublesome nonsense of death and replace it with the far more tasteful notion of respawns, while medics would be dispensed with the only lifesaving measure they would need - UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A.

But it wouldn’t just be battle that’d take on a whole new shape; espionage would dance in the digital arena too. Covert operations and government conspiracies would be guarded by the fog of war, while secret agents infiltrate hour long cut-scenes.

Then finally, after hours of grueling, sweaty, snack-laiden battle, scores are locked in a tie as players are dumped to lobbies in shame. Surrender is not an option; it’s not even in the menu. But in the face of a rematch, one final desperate option still remains - the promise of peace, to be discussed over coffee and cake. They’ll realize only too late that the cake was a lie.  

Article 2/3 I wrote for the mind blowing third issue of The Luchazine