February 19, 2006

Gestural Iraqi

by Nick Montfort · , 11:08 pm

I read a great BBC article on Tactical Iraqi thanks to my U.K. correspondent. You may remember our previous post here relating a bit from Elizabeth Losh’s presentation at DAC about Tactical Iraqi; certainly, if you were at DAC you’ll remember her discussion of it, in which she (as a peace activist) argued against outright dismissal or opposition to the game, explained its workings, situated it with regard to video game genres, and critiqued it in terms of how it dealt with gender, race, and language. The official page on Tactical Iraqi is quite informative about the basics of the system itself.

In the bustle of DAC, I missed noticing that the project’s chief technology officer is none other than my friend Hannes Vilhjalmsson, who I know from the MIT Media Lab’s Gesture and Narrative Language Group! (I did a masters there; Hannes did a PhD.) The BBC article quotes Hannes on gestural differences between U.S. and Arabic cultures, something the program aims to point out to trainees. There are many interesting issues raised by Tactical Iraqi, but the game should remind us that virtual environments don’t erase the body, and that this can make a difference in how we use our bodies in the “real” world, too.