Monday, June 7, 2010

using your own body in a combat video game

With the agility of a supermonkey and a peace-sign on his shirt, the kid in the movie below shows the stylish skills he developed while playing on a system developed in Finland by the Virtual Air Guitar Company. The system films the user and puts him straight into a virtual world, where in this particular game he has to fight off enemies with the movements of his own body. It's great that we keep on waving bye-bye to button-pushing in many areas of human-computer interaction, but although they might rid us from obesity and laziness, of course the new interaction styles will present their own challenges, which may even be vaster to overcome.

One of these is that using your body for a world that's still hidden behind a screen makes not only the mind, but also the body more apathetic. It's already known that soldiers tend to sooner make a kill if their actions are mediated through a screen-based interface, removed from the actual location. And I don't doubt that videogames can tip people into behaviors in the 'real world' in which they mentally distance themselves from the consequences of their actions. If we now start to physically interact with our computers, we are teaching our bodies movement habits that we will also tend to try to employ in the 'real' world, simply because these movements get so deeply ingrained into us.

If we are going to treat our world like a video game, we will probably overcome fear of death, but apathy is the next danger. We need to make sure that the behaviors we teach ourselves through interaction with technology will be mindful, and in line with reflections of the ethical kind.

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