The release of Call of Duty: Black Ops II is today. As it’s set in 2025, developer Treyarch wanted some help making a believable, yet “cool” futuristic shooter. Yannick LeJacq at the Wall Street Journal talked with the game’s military consultant, Peter Singer, about his role in helping develop the near-future FPS.
I do consulting for the non-fiction world, for the Pentagon and others in the intelligence community as well. The priority when consulting on a videogame is that you have to remember the goal of the game, which is to entertain. So it’s not just a technology that might emerge; it also has to have that cool factor, right? With the military, you might say, “Here’s a locale that we might see conflict in.” But the Pentagon doesn’t care about the second part that videogame developers do.
LeJacq also asks him about how art inspires weapons research development; Singer responds that weapon controllers especially have been frequently copied from videogames.
I’m literally talking about the controller for a ground robot is pretty much lifted from a game controller. It depends on the company, but there are some that are Playstation-inspired and others that are Xbox ones. The reason is defense companies realized two things. One, the gaming companies spent tens of millions of dollars on creating a good user interface and experience, so why not just copy that? And then second, they have also essentially trained a generation that intuitively knows how to use these things. With old technology, to stick it in someone’s hand they had to get a training manual on how to use it. You stick an Xbox controller in an 18-year-old’s hands, he already knows how to use most of it.