France, 18 min
Within the French and American armies, virtual reality prepares soldiers for their future battles just as it treats post-traumatic stress disorder after their baptism of fire. Antoine Chapon meets Cyril, former military video game designer and a veteran, who is dealing with the return to civilian life and loss of identity.
Since 2013, the American army has been recruiting its future soldiers by organising video game competitions (such as America’s Army). Good players are offered a contract to fight on very real battlefields. They prepare for this by playing on virtual reality simulators, also used to “treat” post-traumatic stress disorder on their return from the front. Antoine Chapon met Cyril, who used to design natural environments for military video games and then went away to fight. Like the majority of his peers (or perhaps all?), he came back traumatised by the baptism of fire. His account is narrated by a female voiceover, while the veteran plays his own role, manipulating weapons and mouse, uniforms and virtual reality headset: because the hero of this story has created his own digital mental landscape, a utopian island, a natural serene universe, close to the Second Life aesthetic, where dozens of fellows (in both the real and the figurative) end up nonetheless, living, like him, exiled inside themselves, infinitely alone, together.
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