TERRORHUNTER - Search and Destroy
This semester we will graduate our first Master’s class at the Cologne Game Lab. All students will introduce their projects in this blog. Today: Marcus Boesch
Marcus Boesch graduated from the University of Cologne with an MA in political science and information technology. He has been working as a journalist and lecturer for Germany´s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle. The concept for his Master project TERRORHUNTER has been commissioned by the State Center for Political Education North Rhine-Westphalia.
My Master thesis revolves around the topics terror, security and surveillance. Therefore I am interested in a bunch of „What ifs“.
What if more technology becomes so easy to use that private individuals can solve complex tasks with the help of computer-based automation and simple user interfaces? What if we then bring together all currently available surveillance technologies with the possibilities of interconnected smartphones and put these in the hands of people?
What if homeland security, danger defense and the war on terror will not only include private players on one side but on the other side as well? What if we then combine the private usage of drones with the private usage of weapons?
Well, maybe all hell breaks loose here ...
Games and simulations are powerful tools to provide a glimpse into possible future scenarios. That is why the military has been using them for training, tactical analysis and mission preparations for centuries. The growing power of personal computers allowed some of the military simulations to migrate from larger institutions to individual hobbyists. In turn military mission training can nowadays be completed on an off-the-shelf smartphone.
That is why I am designing a game-like trainings-app that allows the player to experience modern means of seek-and-destroy technology in the palm of their hands. TERRORHUNTER allows you to kill terrorists in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Borderland with your smartphone while sitting on the tram thousands of kilometers away. Actually, all that is necessary to enable such a dystopian scenario is to combine already existing trends and technologies.
The goal of my game is to strengthen a critical discourse. In order to criticize one needs to know and to understand. Games or game-like experiences play a crucial role here because they provide a powerful experience - at least if they are good. The most powerful experiences are always bound to strong myth, says Jesse Schell. The myth of good and bad might be one of the strongest myth around. I tried to link that myth to actual events in the post-911-world.
All „future-technologies“ used in the game are out there. We just have to wait for proper microdrones with light weapons. While waiting we should not forget that it is possible right here and right now to earn money live-monitoring shops in the UK via Internet, stalking CCTV-suspects with an app published by Scotland Yard and that automatic face detection gets better and better every single day. Right now hundreds of unmanned aerial vehicles are patrolling the skies. Time to strike back?!
Marcus Bösch recommends spending 49 Minutes and 35 seconds with the documentary Remote Control War now!
GUNDOLF S. FREYERMUTH
Gundolf S. Freyermuth is a founding director of the Cologne Game Lab and Professor of Comparative Media Studies at the ifs international film school, Cologne. His teaching and research concentrates on digital audiovisuality, cross- and transmediality, network culture and games.