DEFCON scares me and science says it will scare you too

DEFCON scares me and science says it will scare you too


This is Defcon. If it reminds you of a certain movie starring
Matthew Broderick, you’re not wrong! No wait, that is wrong. DEFCON is like WarGames… the uhh… Game. And it’s the scariest game ever made. DEFCON plays like a simplified RTS. Each player has control of a continent,
which they fill with nuclear silos, launch-detection radar, airbases and naval fleets. Every player or bot starts with the same
amount of units there’s no resource gathering. There’s nothing to distract you from the
game’s horrifying implications. Over the course of a game, a defcon timer
slowly counts down from defcon 5 to defcon 1. Defcon stands for Defense Readiness Condition,
and it’s how the actual US Airforce keeps track of how ready and raring to go
the US military ought to be. Defcon 5 is like, totally chill, and defcon
1 is you’re finger is hovering over the big red button. In the game, each defcon phase allows players
access to more and more of their arsenal. There isn’t any fighting in defcons 5 and
4; players just place their units. This cold war escalates in defcon 3 when
conventional air and sea warfare begins. Defcon 2 is mechanically the same as
defcon 3, but it feels different. Because you know what’s coming next. Defcon 1: the end of the world. Players are free to launch all of their nuclear
missiles, from their bombers, their submarines, and from the silos dotting their territory. And everyone does, eventually. This isn’t like WarGames, where
the best move is not to play. That movie relies on the theory of Mutually
Assured Destruction: the idea that two logical countries won’t initiate an all-out-nuclear attack
because they know they’d both lose. In DEFCON, everyone loses, but someone loses the least. It’s terrifying, and science agrees! Scientists have studied the hell out of DEFCON:
examining its AI bots, looking into its ethics. Most intriguingly, Concordia University conducted
a study on how the game affects people’s views of nuclear war. Researchers asked the participants a bunch
of questions about nuclear weapons, how likely they thought nuclear war was,
and how likely they’d be to survive one. Then half read articles about nuclear weapons,
and the other half played DEFCON. And when the scientists asked them the questions
again, the DEFCON group was way more pessimistic. DEFCON had literally changed
their views about nuclear war. So how does such a simple-looking game
have such a powerful effect? First of all, this is what it sounds like: * depressing atmospheric music, with
someone quietly coughing or crying* It’s dreadful! It slowly ratchets up the tension as the doomsday
clock counts down to midnight. And if you thought… “hey, was that a
cough I heard? or maybe someone crying?” It’s probably totally unrelated to the nuclear
Armageddon that you are creating… totally unrelated. And that’s the other thing about this game. When you’re playing it, it really drives
home the idea that you’re the one doing it. You’re not an observer in this nuclear war,
you’re an active participant in a game that measure its score in millions of civilians. *In game text reads: “LOS ANGELES HIT, 7.6M DEAD” Sure, you have todestroy the enemy’s
Navy before they destroy yours, and your silos might be able to destroy
some of their missiles before they land. But ultimately, you have to turn your weapons
on the main targets: cities. And if you’re like me, a thought starts
to tickle the back of your mind: How far is this from how it would actually play out? Pop culture is awash with these
images of a military control room. A real war room probably wouldn’t have the
same slick, neon design, or creepy sound effects… but during the Cold War at least, this is what NORAD looked like. And here’s what it looked like in 2005. And we do know the people pushing the buttons
would be far removed from any of the actual carnage. Defcon recreates this detached, abstract,
bunker mentality through its design. After all, the score isn’t actually civilians…
just numbers on the board. The unavoidable truth of these weapons is
that any exchange between nuclear armed countries would almost certainly mean
the end of the world as we know it. Civilian… Military… Everybody dies. Hey, that’s the game’s tag line! *Existential sigh* As part of the Concordia study, one of the
participants explained to the scientists how DEFCON felt different from
a Battlefield or Call of Duty “…this one takes the stance that you’re
somebody from a position of power and you’re moving pieces around on a board. You’re controlling people, but you’re not included in it. So it’s more different. I guess it’s like, it’s worse. Because you’re controlling other people’s
lives but you, from wherever you are, you’re not at risk. Or you’re relatively not at risk, whereas
in the other games, you might kill somebody, but you also risk being shot. There’s no moment in the game where
the screen turns black because your little tower has been destroyed.” There was also something odd in this study’s data. People in the DEFCON group were way more likely
to assume that if there were a nuclear war, they would die in it… but they were also less likely to believe
a nuclear war would actually occur. The study’s writers weren’t sure what
to make of this, but they had a theory: engaging with the apocalyptic conclusions
of nuclear war led them to believe no one would ever let it happen. It was now something so existentially terrifying,
they believed it must be impossible. While researching this script I had the bright
idea to watch HBO’s Chernobyl, a rigorously accurate depiction of one
of the worst nuclear accidents in history. It shows the visceral human costs of radiation. And like DEFCON, it shows that
the people making decisions are often the ones most
removed from the consequences. Chernobyl is pretty horrifying. But DEFCON is horrifying because it’s abstract,
in a way that rings true to life. Defcon doesn’t give a voice or even a face
to the millions of civilians dead. It puts you in the chair, with a finger on
the button and posits a world where mutually
assured destruction isn’t a factor; nuclear war is inevitable, because… It’s a game. Somebody has to win. What’s more terrifying than that? Hey, thanks for watching our video. If you enjoyed it, why not give our channel a subscribe, and check out some of our other videos.

100 thoughts on “DEFCON scares me and science says it will scare you too”

  1. It's not scary.
    It's the Human Condition.
    Which makes it scary, but then you should also be scared of yourself as well as you also suffer from the Human Condition.

  2. There are kazillion games with a play where you essentially can even genocide planets.
    For the newbies:
    Welcome, yes the nuclear war was never a winnable scenario.

  3. I don't get the terror. If nuclear war happens the super rich lose all their money. Dispite what some people say, we are too globalised for nuclear war. And if it does happen and your terrified? You've got 30 minutes to get to a city. It'll be instant.

  4. Once read a declassified study done by NATO at 1986 when the nuclear arsenals were at their peaks.
    How a nuclear war would look like, only from a military perspective and it ends with a ceasefire, yet it was very sad to read.
    By the way the Soviets were suffering less casualties there because the population is spread on a wider territory.

  5. Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa

    It’s possible. We consistently have psychopaths as leaders, and it’s arguable that most high up military and politicians are in the psychopath spectrum.

  6. What if we launch a big official tournament at the most safest bunker or underground and tap it unto real you-know-what-I-mean thingy and the players/teams don't know what happens outside.
    1 like = 1 vote

  7. Government could be using this to practice and maybe find a solution to winning this impossible game by using random gamers to try out best modes of methods, and not just winning the nukes but gaining power over other countries by Defcon 2 via positioning and timing of your reasources to stop the destruction but still succeed with your plans

  8. At one point I decided to play Defcon as peacefully as I could. I never launched a single bomber or missile at my opponents. Instead I moved my fleet of ships and subs defensively, in an effort to take down as many enemy bomber planes and nukes as I could.

    I didn't notice this was happening at the time.. But I had zoomed in to my country at that time, and I was actively ignoring everywhere else. In the end when the timer finally stopped I zoomed back out and looked at the state of the world. Almost the entire globe was covered in that sickly green hue. And 4 of my cities had been struck multiple times despite my best efforts.

    I started to think about what would happen to the survivors. Mainly the people I managed to save and what would happen to me. And that's when it dawned on me. Nothing that I did mattered at all. The whole world was still a radiation bleached wasteland. The radioactive clouds from the other countries would soon find their way across the sea and my people would still die. Sure I could stay in my bunker, but the food and water would run out eventually. Was the experience depressing? Not really honestly. I found myself marveling at how well the game was crafted instead.

    Even when I essentially played it wrong, it still shown me just how terrifying nuclear war can be. It also probably helped that I was able to detach myself from the whole thing, despite thinking about the whole thing realistically.

  9. It should be noted that there are some problems with DEFCON.

    * The game gives nukes to all parts of the globe. In reality only 7-8 countries would be blasting each other apart, and aside from some periphery nations nearby. If a nuclear war ever did happen, much of the globe would be unscathed.

    * The game assumes an equal power balance. When in reality 2 nations have by far larger nations and better interception capabilities, of which they're very limited.

    * The game incentivizes destroying cities, which in reality aside from a handful of cities near military bases and important political centers, most would likely be untouched.

    * The game portrays cities as very easily destroyable, whereas it would take many nuclear missiles to wipe one out. A city like LA for instance would need dozens.

    * The game does not explore the limited strike scenario, or escalations. What happens if another country launches just ONE nuke at you? Do you launch one back? Two? Your whole arsenal? Is one city really worth it? What if it isn't an important city? All too often movies and games depict nuclear war as an all or nothing endeavor but honestly it would be scarier to think of a world where politicians are willing to gamble they can get away with just ONE nuclear weapon…because its a lot more likely than the former situation.

  10. ( over thinking the situation XD) Why don't countries just use emp fields to shut down the nukes mid flight or straight up divert their course. Last time I checked most missiles use electronics to fly more so nukes. (P.s. I know kenetic nukes exist but that requires planes witch can be easily shot down do to bombers beying slower than jets)

  11. Pessimism, when the most logical and best way to save you is to try and save everyone through the sacrifice of yourself. :3 If one player chose not only to not launch, but not fight back, yes it would mean the deaths of millions of their own people at the inexpense of our enemies, but humankind itself would have a better chance of survival. Our race cannot stop looking at countries of origin, or ethnic cultures when we meet other people. Instead of just seeing that we bleed the same, and breathe the same as anyone else does. Pride and arrogance has always been the doom of civilizations in the past. It leads to indifference, laziness, corruption, and carelessness. Humility, compassion, empathy, and love is the only way to win the war, and save our species from self destruction.

    If only it could be achieved. If only.

  12. Its deeply hilarious that you use chernobyl at the end here as if it isn't going to be the capitalist ruling class of the US that starts any nuclear war.

  13. DEFCON is existentially terrifying on the macro-level, but if you want the flip side, I highly recommend "This War of Mine" to make you feel completely inconsequential on the individual level. I can make it through a game of DEFCON, but I've never finished a game of This War of Mine.

  14. If that nightmare As nuclear exchange Will happend, in centrál Europe you have cca 5 min from launch to nuclear detonations, in West Europe 12 min. Max. In North America 35 min at best. If you Will survive a blast you Will Die by horryble slow death from radiation poinson in matters of hours to days. If you Will survive by some combinations of miracle And luck. Welcome to nightmarish world where is scare food, allmost no drinkible watter And nuclear winter is comming. Better to Die durind blast.

  15. I'll tell you what is more terrifying that this game. The baby boomer generation that still refuses to relinquish power. These are the humans that mass produced the nuclear arsenal and still use it as a bargaining chip. The political baby boomer generation STILL threatens each other with these things instead of acknowledging they shouldn't even be spoke of. Not very long ago we were at the beginning phases of decommissioning these weapons and now, in the last gasp grip for power, the baby boomers are building these things up again. THAT IS MORE TERRIFYING!

  16. I will say this: when I was thirty and in the U.S. Navy, nuclear war scared the heck out of me. Now I'm 62 and I'm like, "meh". That's my true perspective. So, if you pups live long enough, it won't seem so scary. Of course, nothing else does either.

  17. The problem with DEFCON

    It's boring, you do not have direct control over what's happening, and most importantly, almost nothing ever happens. Youde be lucky to reach DEFCON 5, and of you do, chances are you won't be affected by it. Then the game is over and you have to restart.

    The issue is that whatever nation you choose to play as, everything preceeding DEFCON 5 is inconsequential, and once you reach DEFCON 5, you realize that missile defence is astonishingly easy, and again, it doesnt affect you.

    Worst case scenario, let's say you somehow manage to nuke your own nation; you still dont care – because at no point was it required for you to spend any time or resources into building that nation, therefore you have absolutely no investment, or care in the world whatever happens to it. DEFCON was released silently, a long time ago to no popularity. There is a reason for that.

    I'm glad those people who made DEFCON and Multiwinia have now found better IPs to sink their efforts into.

  18. so you just found this game? and it is a winnable game. you just need to defend your cities and launch in vollies. and launch against silo's first.

  19. I played Defcon many times. Often just with a single player/CPU, usually USA vs Russia, while trying to minimize losses as possible, not attacking cities, just the silos and airbases, and defending. It's way more difficult.

    Just the fact that, by logic, it's way more direct and easier to escalate with total destruction to aim to win a match is really discomforting. It's that cold logic that makes you think just by the numbers that is really awkward.

  20. with Chernobyl, you should remember that it's very plausible that if it were a western power in that situation in the 80s, the governments wouldn't have been so ignorant about radiation and try and cover it up

  21. How do i make this game work in 2019, I played it in my childhood and now i bought it on steam and i had to refund getting no way to make the game work. No mouse cursor, bad resolution, lag all the way and freezes my entire pc when i msnage to quit the game or alt tab. And my pc can run new games like forza horizon 4 on hogh settings

  22. This isn’t the worst thing that could happen. What if someone launched a satellite that rained uranium clouds across the globe?

  23. Some reasercher propose to hide the nuclear code into a persson that must be killed to retrieve the code from his body : that way to impersonally kill million you have to perssonally kill one

  24. Nekdo BrezIdentitete

    I played this as a kid, was good at it real quick. It's… sterile. Millions of souls, statistics.
    It's possible to survive pretty well off. There is a winner.

  25. The United States and Russia should each have their people manning each other’s countries missile launch silos, that way it would be much less likely to have one want to fire on the other. It was a good idea I read from a book called Battlefield Earth. (Disregard the movie).

  26. I know this video is super interesting and all, but I can't get over the fact no one seems to pronounce "nuclear" properly and the way they say "nucular" gets on my nerves.

  27. Well. The iron curtain is the first step at preventing this outcome. We have been spending YEARS and YEARS into research on technology that would make the nuke inefficient

  28. Nukes are the only thing keeping the Draco reptilians from invading and subjugating earth and all mankind ,,,
    Ain’t that right David Icke

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