May 1, 2002
Combat video games and war movies have become so realistic that they’re being used to train actual soldiers.
When the bow ramp of their Higgins amphibious landing craft first opened on July 24, 1998, Tom Hanks and the rest of the actors playing the Alpha Company soldiers in Saving Private Ryan weren’t the only ones shocked by the horror that lay waiting in ambush. The moviegoing public was itself yanked full force into that hurricane of sand, metal and violence. Blood and dirt actually splattered on the screen. There was no music, replaced instead by a relentless, digital orchestra of screaming steel that erupted from the speakers. Humans screamed, too. Limbs cart-wheeled. Holes snapped open in helmets and men were over. There was no place to hide; even soldiers cowering behind beach obstacles and berms were cut in half or had their faces removed.