Building a Warship for the Video Game Generation

The Navy's latest high-tech destroyer is basically a floating Xbox.
The operations center aboard the new Zumwalt-class stealth destroyer is the ship's nerve center, into which sensor information flows, and from which the crew can control ship functions such as weapons and navigation. The Zumwalts are extremely automated, with a crew of just 130 sailors compared to more than 300 for the Navy's older and smaller Arleigh Burke-class destroyers .
That degree of automation is made possible by the extensive use of big video screens as well as touchscreen workstations.
Naval Postgraduate School survey last year of 200 enlisted Marines found that 73 percent owned a game console such as Xbox, and 40 percent used it daily.
In a world of high-speed weapons and normal-speed human brains, how data is presented is vital. In fact, it's so vital that battle management has become data management. The Pentagon spends vast sums on command and communications equipment to enable commanders and their aircraft, ships, and ground troops to share targeting coordinates and surveillance imagery even when U.S. forces are thousands of miles apart. But the military is always struggling to ensure that this concoction of numbers, video, and photos is presented in a way that doesn't drown the user in a tidal wave of information.
Video games are no different. Whether Call of Duty or Minecraft, or even a paper wargame like Twilight Struggle, playing these games boils down to information management. Players must absorb and assess data in order to make the correct decision.…