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Wargames, anyone?

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — i haven’t been keeping up, but it seems the membrane between game and reality is stretching to breaking point ]
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RT, the Russian propaganda organ, declared:

Trump ‘invents’ F-52 fighter jet during joint press conference with Norwegian PM

Well, not exactly — that’s technically false (“faux”) news: Call of Duty got there first. Consider:

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Under the title ‘Game transfer phenomena’ and the problem of perception — hey, I’m nothing if not serious — the Guardian reported (Sept 2011):

Nottingham Trent University has revealed some early research into what it calls Game Transfer Phenomena – the habit of taking game experiences into the real world.

Is President Trump suffering from Game Transfer Phenomena?

If he is, he’s not exactly alone. GamesRadar reported (2014) 6 times news outlets used video game images by mistake. More to my point, according to the Guardian (UK, 2016), RAF urged to recruit video game players to operate Reaper drones — but the USAF goes further:

Recruiting Air Force pilots with the Airman Challenge

Do you think most of our potential military recruits can be found playing Call of Duty of right now instead of serving our country? The Air Force seems to think so and has created the Airman Challenge game to teach prospective recruits more about the Air Force and its available positions.

That was back in 2012. I haven’t been tracking developments, but the day can’t be far off when Orson Scott Card‘s prophecy in Ender’s Game is realized, and someone who believes he is simply playing a video game finds to his surprise and potential horror that he’s been fighting a “real life” flesh-and-blood, suffering-and-soul, war.

I know it sounds a bit grim, but: Limbs ahoy!

The FBI is onto wargamers

Friday, June 16th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — has been for some time, apparently ]
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Here. by FOIA magic via PAXsims from CJ Ciaramella, is the FBI’s 1990 knowledge of wargamers, FYI:

Lucky the name of the advisor / informant has been redacted, eh?

Tommy the Russkie Tank-tank

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — A Russian tanker-toy saga ]
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Another contribution to the maxcro / micro, war / games displays in my mental cabinet of wonders:

I’m sorry, this was about the only screen-grab I could manage that showed both the toy tank and its war-fighting seniors. In the children’s story, the toy tank gets left at the tank museum overnight, and is shocked and awed by the realities of which it is but a simulacrum — the OT 76, T 72, and most particularly the T-14 Armata super-tank.

The equation war : war games :: T-14 : toy tank eiher understates the significnce of the T-14 or exaggerates that of the toy — but equations between simulacrum and reality lie at the heart of such philosophical excursions as Baudrillard‘s Simulacra and Simulations, with its phony epigraph, a simulacrum of a quote from Ecclesiastes:

The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth—it is the truth which conceals that there is none.

In the case of this children’s book, we can postulate another equation: Russia : propaganda :: factory : advertising.

But see for yourself, some of the details are hilarious:

The best of war games?

Thursday, September 29th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — this may be the most expensive single chess set ever, but let’s wait for part two ]
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Chess:

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From the catalogue description:

Lavishly decorated and large in size, this extraordinary, elaborate chess set is the only one of its kind, and is perhaps the best ever made. Crafted by the hand of a master jeweler, the exquisite quality of its manufacture is showcased in each and every detail. Every 14k gold game piece is different, encrusted with semiprecious stones and brightly hued enamel, and each is endowed with mechanical movement. This ancient game of war truly comes to life on the breathtaking board, which is itself a spectacular sight to behold. This incredible chess set rests atop its custom-crafted mahogany and leather-topped table, and is accopanied by a pair of handsome 19th-century leather upholstered chairs.

The ancient Battle of Issus is the subject of this extraordinary set and an apt reference to the military-like strategy of the game. What was one of the most important battles of the ancient world is beautifully retold here through pieces representing gods and goddesses, ancient structures, and creatures of both Greek and Persian origin. Alexander the Great and King Darius III take their places on the board as kings. At Alexander’s side is Queen Athena, the Greek goddess of war and wisdom, while the winged Persian god of war stands as Darius’ queen piece. War ships sailing over waves and massive elephants covered in elaborate trappings take the place of bishops, while the castles have been transformed into the columned temples of ancient Greece and the impressive Persepolis. Horsemen and footmen face off as well, each with their own sword, javelin, or bow.

I don’t think there’s any doubt of the intricate quality of the workmanship, nor the costliness of the materials, in this chess set based on Alexander‘s victory at Issus..

30-4695_9

With any luck, the Go set I hope to describe in part two will be even more beautiful.

On play as wildness

Saturday, September 24th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — what’s true of hex maps is true of all mental models ]
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There’s a certain let-your-hair-down quality to play.

It appears that one Tausendsassa Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser said or perhaps wrote, muttered, whispered, shouted, or simply thought out loud, “the straight line is a godless line” — at any rate, someone noticed and recorded the phrase, and now it’s scattered across the net and difficult to track to its source.

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But we do love order, don’t we?

hex-grid

And so the rivers on our hexagonal maps all too easily follow the hexagons..

rivers-and-tree-clusters-hexagonal-map

when they’d more realistically cross over them, following their own courses:

free-rivers

and note how easily even our efforts to bring natural variety to our hexagonal mappings conform more to hexagons than to variety.

hexmaptopo

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Zennist Thich Nhat Hanh in Listening Deeply for Peace writes:

A traditional Vietnamese Zen garden is very different from a Japanese Zen garden. Our Zen gardens, called hon non bo, are wild and exuberant, more playful than the formal Japanese gardens with their restrained patterns. Vietnamese Zen gardens are seriously unserious. For us, the whole world is contained in this peaceful place. All activities of life unfold in true peace in the garden: in one part, children will be playing, and in another part, some elderly men will be having a chess game; couples are walking; families are having picnics; animals are free to wander around. Beautiful trees are growing next to abundant grasses and flowers. There is water, and there are rock formations. All ecologies are represented in this one microecology without discrimination. It is a miniature, peaceful world. It is a beautiful living metaphor for what a new global ethic could bring.

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Here is the wrestling of a tree with such angels as gravity, sun, wind and rain:

methuselah-bristlecone-pine-tree

Here is the wild calligraphy of the Rio Mamoré across the forests of the Amazon basin:

meanders_oli_2014194


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