It’s 2 p.m. on a Sunday, several months into a war that I’ve been fighting in as a remotely piloted vehicle operator. While scrolling through my Twitter feed, I receive a notification that an enemy fleet has been detected moving toward the expeditionary base that our forces recently established on the edge of their territory. Tapping on the notification for details, I see that it calls for me to log in and join a designated defensive fleet. Using dense shorthand, it also tells me who my fleet commander will be, which communications circuit to join, and what kind of vessel I should undock. Within minutes, hundreds of pilots at terminals around the world, all responding to similar notifications, have logged in and are being briefed on our mission objectives.
One might think that this is a fanciful vision of the future of warfare conducted remotely by networked military forces. But in fact it’s happening right now, albeit virtually, in the world of massively multiplayer online role-playing games—specifically, in the universe of EVE Online. For some time now there has been interest from the defense sector in looking at video games as a source of innovation. Certainly, as anyone knows who has spent much time both playing modern computer games and using military hardware, the defense world could learn a lot from the gaming world. In some cases, it already has.