Posted by: johnhourihan | March 13, 2013

Drone warfare -Who’s in control? Read Ender’s Game

I once read a scifi book about video games and their application to real warfare.

Who's in control?

Who’s in control?

It was a great book by Orson Scott Card, called Ender’s Game. I believe it is extremely important right now.
Why, because it had to do with the training  for drone warfare.

Here’s how I remember it.
A child, a little boy, showed promise in video games in school when he was, I believe, in the first grade.
He was singled out with a host of others to take part in a nationwide test.
He of course won, and some of his friends did well also.
The next step was training. He was brought to a military facility where he was trained in the art of video war. At first there were set hours of the day when the youngsters were put in classes to learn the basics. Then the training went beyond the game and started to work on the psychological makeup of the kids.
The handlers began waking the children up in the middle of the night to go to the game room to play the games, or brought them to play just before they were supposed to eat, just to see how they would do under pressure.
The games got longer and more difficult and where scheduled by the handlers for all different times of the day or night.
Eventually there were only a few of the best ones left in the game.  The games got harder and harder until he was the only one left.
It had been years of training and he was at the top of his game.
He had become so adept at the  game that was brought in to see the leader of the country.
He was asked if he knew why he was being trained. By now, he was a thinking boy of  10 or 11 years old.
He told the leader he assumed he was being trained to fight an enemy from a remote position by using what he had learned in the game.
He was asked if that would be something he would want to do if the time came.
He said he didn’t know.
The leader told him he was wrong about the training, that he had, in fact, been fighting the enemy for years, that the video games weren’t games at all that they were real and without him the war would be lost.
So when the righteous of the country ask our Congress questions such as is it moral to kill from afar, or is it constitutional to kill Americans, and who would be giving the orders to kill these people, I have to laugh.
The real question is who are we going to have on the game console, given the fact that the best video gamers in the world are children.



  1. For me it was sitting in a capsule in the northern and desolate parts of North Dakota. Many friends were B-52 pilots. We were all children, and we were in a ‘remote’ status. In spite of that I don’t think I would want to fight a war with ol’ folks at the controls. They are more likely to act or hesitate when they shouldn’t. I guess the only question remaining is who are the “children”?
    Perhaps it’s the naive. We should be recruiting the naive. Oh, thats right, we do.

  2. Reblogged this on johnhourihan and commented:

    I now have the name of a book that explained the evils of drone warfare before we even had drone warfare.

  3. Wow! I remember this book. It was down right scarey. A student of mine
    a 9th grader, said that his father, computer wiz, said that warfare would be done completely by computers by the time he grew up!. I want to be at the console. No , I take that back. I really do not know what to say. Pat

  4. Everything in your summary is wrong. Ender wasn’t chosen because of his professional at video games. He was chosen because of his two siblings closeness to perfection but not balanced enough as well as his own ruthlessness in violence. Ender never wanted to fight but he understood the necessity of what to do and to kill in order to avoid future conflict. He killed the bully, he broke the other launchees arm, and he killed the older cadet in the station, all acts of ruthlessness done to avoid future violence. It was never about his skills at a video game. Further, drones are not present in this book. He’s relaying orders to REAL people and REAL ships with REAL commanders and personnel on board, not drones. You’ve warped the book to fit whatever crazy fear mongering youve tried to spout here. Read it again. Drones have nothing to do with this movie. It didn’t predict the use of drones, it didn’t hint at the use of drones, it never USED drones. Its always been about people.

    • Right, I am really impressed that you saw the movie. I said I read the book nearly 30 years ago and was summarizing from memory. Does it make you feel good to say the words “you are wrong?” Do you have friends? It is this insane anger that you harbor that is killing our country. By the way, you could use a Warriner’s grammar book, or are you waiting for that movie too? This is my blog. Please don’t feel you have the power to put me in my place. This IS my place. You are only here as long as I allow it. How does that make you feel?

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