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Minutes to midnight

Ben Woodhead | Aug. 6, 2009
Move over Matthew Broderick, the UK government's decided it's a smashing idea to recruit a diehard gamer to its atomic weapons division.

Move over Matthew Broderick, the UK government's decided it's a smashing idea to recruit a diehard gamer to its atomic weapons division.

No, it isn't April 1. According to The Guardian, Britain's Atomic Weapons Establishment has advertised for a "virtual reality specialist" who would help train nuclear weapons scientists.

If you're so inclined, you can see the job ad here and The Guardian's report here. It's a position that pays £26,000 to £34,000 "depending on experience", whatever that might mean.

To be fair, the skills required are as much about 3D modelling as they are about meting out a bit of the old ultra violence. It's an ad that also highlights the growing role that gaming and film industry technologies are having in the military.

The use of games to train soldiers is old news. But what's not as widely known is that the graphics and modelling techniques used in games developed are among the most advanced in the world.

It comes back to, according to experts, the way in which players move through a game. Instead of interacting with the environment from a fixed point, modern titles have players moving through a scene and observing and interacting with it in three dimensions each step of the way.

It's a technique that has obvious implications for architectural and engineering technologies and, as the UK AWE advertisement shows, gaming systems will have an increasingly significant role in day to day lives.

That's not a bad thing for Australia given the country has some very well respected games development studios here, although support for the industry has traditionally been weak.

As governments and industry ponder ways to come out of the downturn in a stronger position, and as talk of the digital economy is all the rage, it's probably worth remembering that there are still quite a few of under-recognised pockets of technology expertise in Australia that are deserving of a higher profile and more support.

Of course, there are other obstacles to bringing games development technologies more into the mainstream.

The UK AWE's advertisement calls for someone with "good interpersonal skills", but we're not sure people whose conversational repertoire features phrases like "Im teh RoxXOrz ur teh sUXxoRz!!!!!!!" fit that bill in any way.

 

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