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. I don't get why cities would become the main targets. Why to force the enemy to submit? Once this begins it won't be enough. You have to attack their weapons platforms and their electrical grid. That's it.

  2. You got that wrong…Defcon 2 is where your finger starts hovering over the Big Red Button, when Defcon 1 comes around…Not to initate the Omnicide, but to respond to it. If…some player decides to…

    Also:
    Meanwhile in Stellaris

  3. Not gonna lie, interesting video and good quality too, but holy fuck, am i bummed out after watching this; a reminder that, nuclear war is a very real possibility. And that in such an event, nobody could do anything about it. Everyone would be dead…

  4. Reminds me of first stike : final hour. But these "nuke the whole world and kill everyone" games are pretty intense

  5. I stopped fearing nukes and total nuclear annihiliation after reading dozens of papers, watching documentaries, learning about society and human behaviour and here's the thing:
    Who would nuke South America, Africa, thousands of habited islands, Siberia, Canada and practically all of the places without nukes that are remote enough? There will be entire countries surviving whole. No end of the world or civilization can come from a total nuclear war.
    Then there's nuclear consequences. Even if you blew up all of the nukes in the world, it wouldn't cause nuclear winter. While it's not a myth, ten thousand nukes is not enough to make it happen, not even with all the nukes in existance.
    Radiation would also be just an inconvenience, cancer goes up, infantile immortality increases, but at most it's miserable but would not cause massive die off of the population of the world.

    Speaking of civilization, I'd say within 5 years after nuclear war the nuked nations would have their infrastructure back up. By year 10 the life there would be fairly normal. By year 20 it would be almost as if the war never happened though people who lived through it would be still affected psychologically but for the new generation of young adults it would be something they never lived through

    What I'm saying is, I'm not scared because in the large scale of things, it would just be road bump in human history.

  6. Polygon: Defcon is terrifying because of nuclear annihilation.
    Me: Launches a nuke back at that bastard Gandhi in Civ V

  7. If you wanna play a game similar to this download first strike on ur phone it’s not as detailed as this game but it gets the point across

  8. Just to think about it the last thing we’d all see is people running in fear and we’d just have to accept the fact the flash of light is something we’d have to make peace with those last couple seconds your heart would feel like it’s sunken but you feel really calm and you finally are dead

  9. Fallout scared me, but visiting Chernobyl filled me with dread. Seeing and hearing of the devastation it caused wishes we never experience anything like it or worse.

  10. Were all going to die anyway whats the point of life if then i dont care anymore. Oh everyone wants to be happy, but why? I dont even know anymore im only taking advantage of what time im born in.

  11. "terrifying" me- where can I get the mobile version
    Welp time to build my personal vault 69 with my tight blue leather suit on

  12. This should be an scp, just like the role playing game scp except your a dictator going to war with everyone while your thinking this is a game when actually it’s another world where everyone in that world dies and resets then dies and resets again while either keeping or losing their memory.

  13. I know something more scary

    Civilians pressing the button themselves

    Or more rather they cause it to happen like in 99 luftballoons I know it’s a song but it’s about civilians causing the world to end in a nuclear holocaust

  14. I'm 13 but and this is deep

    But really defcon is amazingly hounest game that to me personaly trully rings the power of ignorence and power of the few over the world it makes you feel disconnect yet know this might be happen under your own feet at any moment

  15. Thought this was about hacking at first than thought it was a movie than thought it was a game about hacking

    It was a game about our future…

  16. I'd say Missile Command is even scarier, in Defcon at least you can strategize and retaliate. In MC you can only defend and delay the inevitable. Add to that that it was released during the cold war and the interview with it's creator where he said that sometimes he woke up in a cold sweat to nightmares of white streaks filling the sky.

  17. How's this scary? I'm actually sick of these snowflakes who don't even play video games saying THIS IS THE SCARIEST FUCKING GAME EVER! People like that make me want a fucking nuclear war.

  18. Plot twist, each of these games that gets played actually plays out the scenario in an alternate reality. Like an SCP I guess.

  19. Doesn't take into account the primary purpose of war, resouce aquisition.
    Killing the enemy is a means to am end, and it's better to keep the enemy population and infrastructure intact enough for you to use.
    Nukes leave nothing of use. They only kill. Not beneficial unless you're waging a jihad.

  20. Keep in mind polygon turned a vr shooting game into a depressing story about how the reviewer didn't like guns

    They don't understand fun.

  21. “You might as well go out and shoot everyone you see and then shoot yourself."

    -President Eisenhower's talk about nuclear war.

  22. There was a time when kings challenged each other to duels in front of their armies so innocent men wouldn't die. Now we have reached this point.

  23. Leaving out we have space laser cannons that could blow up every launch within seconds of being detect or neutisle the missle with a directed focused emp

  24. Good thing u ets have intervened or we might almost all be dead unless u got a billion $ underground base or live off planet etc

  25. As Russian, I can say that HBO's Chernobyl has nothing about "a rigorously accurate depiction". It for sure showed the most common facts about the catastrophe, but there are dozen of facts and moments that simply have nothing the same with a situation that happened in reality. Yes, the serial is actually showing that citizens in such a situations dying, and people who making decisions are out of the situation, but to show such a thing you do not even to make a story about the real-life accident, it is just a fact that you can show even in since-fiction. So talking about DEFCON and then mentioning Chernobyl as a "rigorously accurate depiction" just because it shows the main idea of every catastrophe, while it fails to be accurate almost in every minor fact and in the story of this particular catastrophe- well, it is just ridiculous.

    Moreover, while Chernobyl catastrophe was about the radiation and nuclear impact on civilians, it is still was a disaster, nobody wanted to something like this happens, so it can not be a real example of what DEFCON shows- when some people are making decisions about thousands of other peoples' lives, but for them it is just a tactical map with minimalistic information, and their main goal to make maximum damage with minimal loses. If you want to look at a real example of this, well, then remind about the only in the human history act of using a nuclear weapon- US's nuclear strike on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That is the real example where strategical decision with the goal to make a maximal effect on enemy was made by the people in some HQ, while citizens of this cities and dozen of people around, and nature around was eliminated, just because some high ranking people assumed that strategically it is worth to make a genocide of 2 major cities, just because they have the weapons and they can launch it.
    If in monolog about such a game and such a situation you mention about the Chernobyl and say how much it is alike to nuclear war, but say nothing about US's way to end the war with Japan- well, that is kind of shame.

  26. I’m glad this game has gotten some recognition. I’ve played off and on for years. Only about 10 people still play the multiplayer. Great game when you play the game mode “Diplomacy”

  27. I remember paying this game like 4 years ago when I was 9 and just thinking “he ho bright colours big numbers” then replaying the game as I became more aware of the world and then think Jesus fucking Christ wha was wrong With my 9 year old self and then finding this video and everything about the demon players outlooks being mine and finally thinking “wow a game about nuclear destruction sub consciously taught my 9 year old brain something

  28. Oh so now its a problem but it wasnt a problem when ugly fat americans were sleeping in their beds comfy while serbia was getting bombed in 1998. Thats why today you have terrorist attacks and school shootings 🙂

  29. I think this game is scary, because you know, if something like this happens, only a couple of guys with red buttons are the ones that decide wether humanity dies or not, and you cant do anything about it. You're just a pawn in their chess game of nukes and death.

  30. It’s like Plague Inc. You pretty much have to kill everyone in the world with diseases. You control the diseases and have to kill everyone before people find a cure. You just watch as the mortality rate sky rockets, meaning your disease was successful. But you’re fine, unaffected. Pretty scary lol

  31. It doesn't take this war to change life as we know it.
    9/11 changed life as we know it. All you have to do it tweak the world economy and have proxy wars to kill tens of millions of people over 2 decades.

  32. I used to play Plague Inc. when i was a kid. And then i asked a question, what if the hardest virus will breakout out of scientists rooms into a world?
    At that moment i just closed and deleted that game. I just was scared.

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