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From war games to the virtual kind

Russian scientists who worked on nuclear warfare are using their talents to design games for the Internet.
/ Source: Reuters

Russian scientists once dedicated to destroying the west through nuclear warfare are turning their deadly talents instead to designing games for the Internet in the name of world peace.

Software designers and programmers from the once-closed nuclear cities of Sarov, Snezhinsk and Zheleznogorsk are part of a British government-funded project to prevent nuclear proliferation by finding the scientists alternative employment.

The initial results of the four-year UK-Russia Closed Nuclear Cities Partnership -- started in 2002 -- are on show at the "European Games Network" exhibition in London until Friday.

"Games software designers today are looking for increasingly sophisticated programmers with backgrounds in physics," trade minister Nigel Griffiths said. "These are exactly the skills that these former nuclear weapons scientists have."

And the need is pressing.

Changes in Russian defense policy are expected to put 15,000 nuclear scientists on the job market over the next five years with an array of specialized skills for which there is no obvious alternative outlet.