I was recently asked what I could tell Gamers about real combat, that would surprise them?
There are several places in the world where we can go right now to experience real combat in just a few hours. Most people in the US are not aware that life-and-death combat is that close by.
We all realize that there are many differences between Game World and Real World combat, but perhaps the most surprising and seldom mentioned is the effect of raw uncertainty that’s always present in real combat.
Standing in the midst of combat in Game World we all absolutely know, so well that we don’t’ think about it, that we’re going to stop playing the game and get a sandwich, go skateboarding, or do the next thing.
This knowledge is part of our stability. We draw comfort from it. Most of us take our home for granted in such a foundational way that we rely upon the permanence of it without realizing it. We get quite upset when our homes are threatened or destroyed.
Normally, we pay little attention to what surrounds most of us at home. It doesn’t cross our minds as we play at combat.
But in Real World combat zones the reverse is true. You are away from home or maybe fighting for your home. You can no longer count on anything around you to be permanent, not people, not places, not things, and you don’t know if you’re going to be lying on the ground screaming as you die, have a hand blown off, or be instantly dead – and this is the kicker – from one second to the next!
Living with this constant uncertainty, not being able to take a break from it, is the underlying stressor that causes people to fall apart in active combat zones more often than actual fighting does.
But even being in the action, fighting in a combat zone, ending other people’s lives, makes that nagging uncertainty worse because doing it to others increases the realization that others can do it to you.
And this is the unsettling thing one sees in the eyes of many veterans who were in combat in all wars. They look at you but you can’t keep their attention; you clearly see them but their perception is that nothing around them, not even you, is permanent. They rediscover you after just a few seconds, over and over again.
Be kind to these injured people, these brave veterans, when you come across them. They mean no disrespect. Thank them, for they have given far more than their physical wounds. They have sacrificed their peace of mind for your way of life.