Being a war correspondent is a dangerous job. Yet that doesn't deter avid young journalists, eager for experience, from going out to conflict zones armed with an iPhone and not much else and trying to report on conflicts.
This has been a particularly bloody 12 months for journalists, with even experienced photojournalists such as Tim Heatherington and Chris Hondros killed in Misurata. Heatherington was quoted expressing concern about the number of young and untrained photographers covering the conflict in Libya this year.
This is where WARCO comes into play. WARCO is a gamed devised by Tom Maniaty, a senior lecturer in international journalism at the University of Technology Sydney and a former producer at the Australian Broadcasting Company. It is designed to simulate combat environments so that young journalists can at least have a glimpse into the work of a journalist in a conflict zone.
The game has similar format to any first person shooter, except instead of returning fire when attacked, the player can only raise a camera and attempt to shoot video. The clips the player records are then saved and then can be edited into news footage ready to be aired. The player is then assessed on whether their strategy needs improvement.
For young journalists, or freelancers without the resources to put themselves through a rigorous hostile environment training course, the game could prove useful. Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma's Asia-Pacific Manager Cait McMahon explained to PANPA "Video games are the sort of technology that young correspondents are used to. I wouldn't like to see it as the only training that's provided, but it could be an addendum."