As an avid Call of Duty player, I watched the demos of Activision’s next installment in the popular military shooter franchise – Black Ops 2 – with enthusiasm at last week’s E3.
One of the more intriguing parts of the gameplay demo shown during the press conference was a new sniper rifle that can shoot through walls, vehicles and other cover. As Treyarch developers explained to us in a briefing afterward, the gun is based on technology that’s currently being worked on. Black Ops 2 is, after all, set in the near future of 2025, where the U.S. military is largely digital, networked and robotic.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon’s mad science division, is in fact working on such high-tech weaponry. The agency has several projects underway, including Military Imaging and Surveillance Technology (MIST) and Dynamic Image Gunsight Optic (DInGO), in this vein.
I’ve written before about how the military is also working on changing the propellants of ordinary weapons. Rather than using gunpowder and other combustible materials to shoot projectiles, military researchers are working toward more digitally friendly methods such as electromagnets. These “rail guns” promise to shoot bullets and shells far faster and further.
Put it all together and it’s clear that ordinary analog weapons are about to go through the same sort of digital revolution that content industries have experienced. When computing power starts to enter ordinary rifles and Moore’s Law kicks in with regards to new optics and propellants, the sorts of guns in Black Ops 2 will not only become likely, but also commonplace. As an off-hand guess, the year 2025 seems about right.