Study believes that gamers would make excellent drone pilots, gamers agree

A recent study has discovered that the most suitable pilots among us are those who you never see. Time to dust off that teenage air force dream. 


When I was younger, I dreamed of being a fighter pilot. My hero was Tom ‘Maverick’ Cruise. His life was the one I wanted. Flipping off MIGs, starting WW3 with the Soviets, being followed around by Kenny Loggins. High fives all round. There were two outstanding problems though, my drive to join the air force seriously dipped once the credits rolled, and I was a tubby video gaming nerd. Which I still am.

However, the growls of the dogs o’ war have changed pitch since 1997, as the white-knuckled, adrenaline painted, electric guitared cockpit where the business happens has had a bit of a makeover.

I feel the need…for adequate lower lumbar support.

The UAV drone, otherwise known as the remote controlled planes that kill people, happen to be the air force of the future. They became the preferred tool in the Obama administration’s dalliances in the middle-east. Which means that one day soon, the air force jock that tries to chisel away your spouse through the medium of The Righteous Brothers or homoerotic beach volleyball will be a thing of the past. To man these things, they need new pilots, and a study undertaken by the University of Liverpool suggests that gamers would make ideal recruits.

The test in question put 60 subjects in the chair of a simulated cargo flight. Making up that number were private charter pilots, professional pilots, and your bog-standard mouth-breathing trolling gamer. Throughout the test, the subjects had to make snap decisions on 21 outcomes which varied between What’s that blinking light to Sweet Jesus, we’re all going to die. Now, the subjects were able to take control of the situation if they felt confident, or if they didn’t, they could pass it off to the automated co-pilot. Amazingly, the gamers were the equal of the pro pilots regarding decision confidence. What is even more amazing, is that the gamers attention held through the boredom of a cargo flight, and didn’t steer the plane into a canyon for lols.

Dr Jacqueline Wheatcroft, who ran the study, said: “Understanding which potential supervisory group has the best skills to make the best decisions can help to improve (unmanned drone) supervision. Overall, video game players were less overconfident in their decision judgements. This outcome supports the idea that this group could be a useful resource in potential operations.”

To the good Doctor, allow me to add a word or two of warning. Recruiting gamers for military application is dangerous, as the vast majority of us commit war crimes on a nightly basis. That being said, I’d be keen. But I’d require a substantial rewards-based experience tree, tied in concert with being able to customise my UAV, and a direct radio link with those I’m tasked to bomb.

And no breaks between rounds.

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