Today's main story in Salon, Air Osama (gotta watch an ad for a day pass), is about the potential for terrorists to train themselves on flight simulators to fly planes into buildings. As cute as it is when uninformed non-gaming journalists try to write about electronic entertainment, this one is really pretty ignorant.

Although a flight simulator can certainly educate the player as to where all the switches are, and what they do, and in what order to flip them, etc., the games tend to leave out the part where you manage to get a weapon past airport security, storm the cabin, subdue the crew, maintain control over the passengers and crew while the FAA alerts the air force and has you shot down. I think the primary ingredient missing from the scenario is the willingness to run an airplane into a building, but maybe Flight Simulator will release a fanatacism patch or something.

Oh wait, it seems the FBI agents and actual airline pilots quoted in the article thought of this already:

"Generally, anything that's commercially available but doesn't have, by its nature, nefarious intent is not something the FBI would be interested in," he says. "Someone learning through a flight-simulator program with the idea of taking over an aircraft still has huge hurdles to surmount -- mainly gaining access to the cockpit."

"If you wanted to point an airplane at something on the ground and crash into it," Schiff says, "you don't have to know a hell of a lot."

So why is Salon, which usually has some pretty good and well-written articles, resorting to an article filled with fear-mongering speculation about flight sims training the next generation of hijackers? Beats me, but I hope they don't make a habit out of it.


Post a Comment

<< Home