Re: DSM: Video Games

From: Ardeshir Mehta, N.D. (ardeshir@sympatico.ca)
Date: Sun May 06 2001 - 17:29:00 EDT


Hi there Cindy:

CindyK wrote:

> ...
> I am a pilot, and I can tell you that computer simulations have nothing to
> do with flying a real airplane. I can also tell you that they have helped
> you. They have helped you because you learned that if you practice
> something enough times, you can overcome any difficulty! That is the value!
> Try and if you don't succeed, try again until you do! What a valuable
> lesson!

Indeed. But I am not convinced about computer simulations
having *nothing* to do with flying a real plane. My son Cyrus
is an expert at computer sims involving shooting guns, and
he is *really* good at it. Once he got to try his hand out at a
fair, knocking down targets, and he was just as good.

My Dad was a real hunter, mostly big game (he used to
hunt panthers in India), and his marksmanship was absolutely
incredible. He used to go after panthers in the wild, in daylight,
on foot. (This was before WW-II). He said you had only a single
bullet to stop the panther before it stopped you: if you missed,
you were dead. I saw him once shoot a mouse with an airgun
while the mouse was scurring hither and thither, all in a crowded
room! Just one shot and he got the mouse. That, however, was
with *decades* of practice. And yet my son Cyrus at age 12
was as almost good as my Dad -- in some ways perhaps even
a better shot! That's video games for you.

As I said, I haven't had the chance to fly a real plane. But I
feel convinced that if I do, my experience with the computer
sims will help me get my licence much quicker than if I had
not had any such background. Certainly quicker than the
average student.

I base this guess also on my skills as a composer. I used to
"visualise" composing before I had a computer to play the
music. But I had no idea whether the music I composed would
sound good or not. But when I did get a computer to play back
the music I had written, I found that it did indeed sound good.

That's why I think video games are an excellent preparation
for the real thing. You get a chance to try out the real thing
well in advance, You can crash a thousand times and find out
just exactly what you're doing wrong. Maybe it's not *quite*
as realistic as the real thing, but the realism is quite good.
Much better, anyway, than mere visualisation. Visualisation
is well known to be an excellent skill to develop on many
fields of endeavour. Video games are in a sense "a better
kind of visualisation".

> I can handle an airplane just fine, but get me into a computer simulation
> and I crash every one! (I don't play many video games).

What you should try is a *realistic* one. Try the flight sim
"F-22 Lightning", it's old and cheap (you might get your hand
on one for as low as 10 dollars). The makers, *NovaLogic*,
pride themselves on their realism. They have a Web site:

<http://novalogic.com/header_defaultmasterborder.html>

That's the Web site for the latest version, but you don't need
the latest version to get the experience of flying an F-22 (the
best you can get short of being a Lockheed Martin test pilot.).

> A flight simulator
> I can do because they are totally different from the computer games.

Well, yes and no. The "Microsoft Flight Simulator" is laid out
like the kind of plane one would normally fly; the *F-22* game is
laid out like the real F-22 fighter, with HUD and Mach 1.8 capa-
bility and the like. Take-off speed is almost 200 knots! Of course
you don't find that sort of capability or equipment in the kind of
plane you'd normally fly in real life.

Initially I used it just to get the hang of flying. (If you go super-
sonic in an F-22 at an altitude lower than about 500 ft above
ground level, you are almost certain to crash!) But then I got
into the game itself, fighting the "enemy". *That* involves a
totally different set of skills, I realise that. But that's not what
I am talking about, even though I got good at that too.

> Sounds
> like you are having fun - so keep at it. As an aside, If you'd like to give
> it a try, flight schools always offer an "Introductory Flight" for a good
> price (to give people the bug). You go up with an instructor and get to fly
> the airplane. It's great fun and there's no commitment.

I did this. Of course flying in the air itself is easy. It's *landing*
that's difficult! And after the first lesson the rest of them get too
expensive for me (at this stage in my finances.)

Besides, I wonder, now that I have gone supersonic (and that
too, routinely!) in a sim, whether 250 knots will seem quite as
exciting as all that?

I used to dream about buying a Porsche. (I love driving). But
after the *F-22* game, my desire for the Porsche waned consid-
erably. I wouldn't say "No" to a gift Porsche now, but I mightn't
go out and *buy* one, even if I could afford it. (That's yet
another advantage of video games: they save you from extra-
vagant expenditures!)

> By the way, HI from a fellow Canadian!

And HI back!

Ardeshir <http://homepage.mac.com/ardeshir/education.html>

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