Found via Bruce Schneier's blog. An awesome thought about how the psychological make up of being the underdog in a asymmetrical war forces you to rethink the sacrifice involved.
Interesting and thoughtful article about suicide attacks in the online video game Halo 3:
Whenever I find myself under attack by a wildly superior player, I stop trying to duck and avoid their fire. Instead, I turn around and run straight at them. I know that by doing so, I'm only making it easier for them to shoot me — and thus I'm marching straight into the jaws of death. Indeed, I can usually see my health meter rapidly shrinking to zero.
But at the last second, before I die, I'll whip out a sticky plasma grenade — and throw it at them. Because I've run up so close, I almost always hit my opponent successfully. I'll die — but he'll die too, a few seconds later when the grenade goes off. (When you pull off the trick, the game pops up a little dialog box noting that you killed someone “from beyond the grave.”)
It was after pulling this maneuver a couple of dozen times that it suddenly hit me: I had, quite unconsciously, adopted the tactics of a suicide bomber — or a kamikaze pilot.
It's not just that I'm willing to sacrifice my life to kill someone else. It's that I'm exploiting the psychology of asymmetrical warfare.
Because after all, the really elite Halo players don't want to die. If they die too often, they won't win the round, and if they don't win the round, they won't advance up the Xbox Live rankings. And for the elite players, it's all about bragging rights.
I, however, have a completely different psychology. I know I'm the underdog; I know I'm probably going to get killed anyway. I am never going to advance up the Halo 3 rankings, because in the political economy of Halo, I'm poor.