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Valve Probably Didn't Expect The Steam Deck To Be A Remote Control For A Gun Turret In Ukraine

The lines between real life and video games are getting progressively more blurred. Not only are new games like "Unrecord" being built with hyper-realistic graphics, but video game clips have even been passed off as real-life footage on more than one occasion. But while a few news stations have mistakenly used footage from games such as "Arma 3" and "Metal Gear Solid 5" in their reports in recent years, it's doubtful that anyone could have predicted the humble Steam Deck's applications in real world warfare. And no, this is not the same thing as that old urban legend about the Iraq military allegedly using PlayStation 2s to build a supercomputer.

In recent weeks, photos and videos have surfaced that depict members of the Ukrainian military using Valve's Steam Deck to remotely control a machine gun turret. In images posted by TRO Media, a Steam Deck is plainly visible in several shots, including one that shows a close-up of the screen and the turret system's user interface. Thanks to a front-mounted camera on the turret, soldiers can view their targets on the Steam Deck screen and take aim without having to manually operate the weaponry. It's unclear if this interface has been deployed in many actual combat situations, but a recent field test video makes a compelling argument for the brainy handheld's use in battle.

As explained by one of the men demonstrating the Steam Deck-controlled turret (via YouTube's closed-captioning), "This is, in principle, the future of all weapons ... It removes a person from the line of fire, makes it possible to provide [fire] support without being a priority target and causing enemy fire on ourselves." Take that, Nintendo Switch!

The Sabre turret has been around since before Steam Deck

The turret itself is a type of sentry gun called the Sabre, which was first introduced after a successful crowdfunding campaign eight years ago. The original version was controlled via joystick, but the newer models have apparently caught up with more modern gaming tech. Commenters on the video are clearly impressed by the demo of the latest Steam Deck-compatible Sabre model, with one person asking why Ukraine doesn't just deploy an army of these Steam Deck-controlled turrets to keep its soldiers out of harm's way.

PC Gamer reached out to Bellingcat's Aric Toler for his thoughts on why Ukrainian military officials would turn to such an unorthodox method. He explained, "Steam Deck is pretty perfect when you think about it. Totally native OS client, great controller you can use, touch screen, etc. It makes perfect sense for Steam Deck to be used, assuming the software is Linux-compatible (unless they went through the godawful process of dual-booting Windows on a Steam Deck)."