Serious Games III: Immersion

Serious Games explores the deployment of virtual reality technologies in the preparation for war theatre and in the treatment of war trauma. Simulation and rehearsal allows the soldier to develop predictive and pre-emptive senses and to survey target sites and actors from a distance. DARPA has created software for virtual reality therapy to interview soldiers, in which the empathy and telepathy of a human analyst happens through code and avatar facilitated psychical surveillance. Serious Games (2009–10) is a trilogy that looks at the role of virtual reality as military training device for war theatre. Serious Games III: Immersion is a filmed demonstration to sell “therapeutic software” to the US military for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorders. For this work Farocki visited a workshop organised by the Institute for Creative Technologies, a research centre for virtual reality and computer-simulations. One of their projects concerns the development of a therapy for war-veterans suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Farocki is interested in the use of virtual realities and games in the recruiting, training and therapy for soldiers. Farocki explores the connection between virtual reality and the military – how the fictional scenarios of computer games are used both in the training of U.S. troops prior to their deployment in combat zones, and in psychological care for troops suffering battlefield trauma upon their return. Farocki’s trilogy also reveals that the virtual worlds used for the training are more expensive and of higher resolution than the virtual worlds for therapy. For example, in the virtual world designed for working through trauma the characters and objects have no shadows.