In the autumn of 2009 we filmed a drill at the Marine Corps Base 29 Palms in California. Four Marines sitting in a class represented the crew of a tank. They had laptops in front of them on which they steered their own vehicle and watched others in the unit being driven through a Computer-AnimationLandscape. The simulated Afghan is based on geographical data out of Afghanistan. A street in the computer landscape runs exactly as it would in the real Afghanistan; the same holds for every tree, the vegetation on the ground or the mountain ranges. The instructor places explosive devices and sets insurgents out in the area. A sniper shot the tank gunner, which we documented with the camera. When the tank drives over the fallow it kicks up a dust tail. The more vegetation there is, the less dust. On the asphalt street, no dust. Even with all this attention to detail, death in the computer game is still something different than the real one.
Serious Games II: Three Dead
Again, in 29 Palms, we embarked on an exercise with around 300 extras who represented both the Afghan and Iraqi population. A few dozen Marines were on guard and went out on patrol. The town where the maneuver was carried out was on a slight rising in the desert and its buildings were made from containers. It looked as though we had modeled reality on a computer animation.
Serious Games III: Immersion
For the video installation Immersion Farocki visited a workshop organised by the Institute for Creative Technologies, a research centre for virtual reality and computer-simulations. One of their projects concerns the development of a therapy for war-veterans suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Farocki is interested in the use of virtual realities and games in the recruting, training and now also therapy for soldiers. Farocki explores the connection between virtual reality and the military – how the fictional scenarios of computer games are used both in the training of U.S. troops prior to their deployment in combat zones, and in psychological care for troops suffering battlefield trauma upon their return.
Serious Games IV: A Sun Without Shadow
This chapter considers the fact that the pictures with which preparations were made for war are so very similar to the pictures with which war was evaluated afterward. But there is a difference: The program for commemorating traumatic experiences is somewhat cheaper. Nothing and no-one casts a shadow here.