Episode 4.07 – Should a video game simulate the whole world?

We’re rapidly erasing the boundary between the make-believe worlds of video games and the real world of sensors and visualisation. Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2020 allows you to fly over the whole world – with all the cities and countryside presented in detail – just as they are in reality. Is it now possible to “fly” through everything we know about the world – from ground level, up to the heavens?

In this episode we’re joined once again by the amazing Dr. Mike Zyda – founder of the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California. In 1997, Mike authored a hugely influential study that got the US military to adopt video game technologies for simulation.

One of his first projects was “America’s Army” – a video game that simulates the training recruits undergo on their way to becoming soldiers.

The boundaries between simulation and visualisation become very blurry when we head up into Near Earth Orbit – that’s everything below about 1000km above Earth’s surface.

Andreas Antoniades’ firm Saber Astronautics uses a mixture of observation, simulation, and visualisation to create a ‘mission control’ that looks, well, a lot like it would if you were in space (click “Login as Guest” below to see it for yourself):

Once again, big thanks to my nephew Andy for sharing with us his experiences of flying a Cessna 152 – both in simulation and for real!

Episode 4.06 – Is there a ‘secret history’ of video games?

In the late 1990s, military technology collided with entertainment, a destiny reaching back to the first flight simulators, nearly a century ago. We have amazing games today because of the Cold War – and a historic tank battle no one saw coming.

We had the great good fortune to be able to interview simulation pioneer Dr. Mike Zyda for this episode (he’ll be back again in part two). Mike is quite likely the key individual who facilitated the blending of military and entertainment technologies.

The Battle of 73 Easting is arguably the most important tank battle fought in the second half of the 20th century. The battle became the foundation for a new generation of battlefield simulation:

Big thanks to my nephew Andy (on the right) for helping his uncle understand the ins and outs of flying an aircraft – for real!