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The U.S. Army wants to add modern gaming visuals in its simulations

Prepare for the next generation of super soldiers, which may end up being video game players. The U.S. Army has created a new project office for the development of gaming technologies.

While the U.S. Army may have started with id Software’s DOOM II as a training tool, it will not rely on modern commercial shooters as the basis for its training. “I haven’t seen a game built for the entertainment industry that fills a training gap,” said Col. Jack Millar, director of the service’s Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC) Project Office for Gaming, or TPO Gaming.

The America’s Army games were primarily recruitment tools, but TPO Gaming’s main focus is on training tools. Furthermore, according to TSJOnline, TPO Gaming aims to integrate modern game graphics into traditional U.S. Army training concepts. “We will focus on the visualization piece of those technologies, not so much the entertainment piece,” Millar added.

Many simulators for the military thus far are based on shooter games, particularly of the first-person variety, which lends quite well to infantry training. TPO Gaming’s projects, however, look to expand gaming technology’s applicability to other areas.

“While one game might provide excellent battlefield visualization, another might support training bilateral negotiation techniques,” Brig. Gen. Thomas Maffey, the Army’s director of training at the Pentagon, said to TSJ in written remarks. “We are finding many uses for games and it is just the beginning. Currently, we are focusing on first-person shooter and real-time strategy games, but there are many other genres of games that have desirable training capabilities. They provide an immersive environment capable of stimulating thought within a given context, thus giving us the ability to exercise cognitive skills along with functional tasks.”

Although games such as Infinity Ward’s brilliant Call of Duty 4 present a visually impressive representation on modern warfare, it may be deemed unsuitable for practical Army use for a number of reasons.

“The difficult part is they have to meet requirements,” said Robert Bowen, civilian chief of TPO Gaming. “Just because someone has the latest and greatest graphics engine, and the gameplay is great, doesn’t mean it meets training requirements.”

Col. Jack Millar said that the training tool must be suitable for custom scenario development, be immersive, scalable, feature an intuitive interface, model behavior at the entity level, contain an after-action review capability and allow easy distribution.

“We would look at that game and determine if it meets a training capability gap. If it can do that without any modification, we may use it to fill that gap,” said Millar. “But I doubt it. I haven’t seen that happen yet.”

Interestingly enough, part of the reason behind the formation of TPO Gaming was to give Army leaders a more official source of video game training, rather than picking up a copy of Call of Duty 4 or Halo 3.

“Units should not have to spend training dollars to purchase training simulations. If Army units are expending training funds to purchase games, there is probably an unfilled training requirement,” Brig. Gen. Thomas Maffey said. “We do not want to tell the commanders in the field they cannot spend money and train with games. However, we do want to ensure that commanders get the best training tools and that the Army spends its limited resources wisely in the procurement of those tools.”

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Glad they aren't training to shoot aliens....
By kstatefan40 on 12/13/2007 5:47:04 PM , Rating: 2
I would be kinda worried if the Army was using Halo 3 as a training tool. Shooting aliens probably shouldn't be their focus - at least, I hope not.....

RE: Glad they aren't training to shoot aliens....
By logaldinho on 12/13/2007 7:23:24 PM , Rating: 5
*illegal* aliens

By logaldinho on 12/13/2007 7:24:43 PM , Rating: 3
build a space wall roughly 30% of which actually covers the earth to keep the covenant from stealing our jerbs

By AvidDailyTechie on 12/14/2007 12:26:08 PM , Rating: 2
*illegal* aliens

I've always wondered, does that imply that some "aliens" are not illegal? ;-)

By dice1111 on 12/14/2007 5:40:33 PM , Rating: 2
An "alien" in this sence is anyone who currently resides in one counry who is originally from another country and does not have citizenship, I believe.

By littlebitstrouds on 12/14/2007 11:00:00 AM , Rating: 2
Come on, you've never played CS:Source or CoD and thought for a second while playing the game... Oh man I could totally snipe and kill 8 terrorists in one round IRL. I think if someone was in my house and I had a gun I'd jump and crouch when coming around the corner to shoot them.

By AvidDailyTechie on 12/14/2007 12:27:30 PM , Rating: 2
I think if someone was in my house and I had a gun I'd jump and crouch when coming around the corner to shoot them.

that made my day

By Polynikes on 12/14/2007 1:12:04 PM , Rating: 2
Haha, good point. Shooting in video games != shooting IRL. (Years of "training" in video games didn't stop me from missing the target with every shot the first time I shot a pistol without Marine Corps marksmanship training. After I got that I couldn't miss. :D) But I think the Army wasn't planning on using it for that. The rifle range has no substitute. Tactics, techniques and procedures (that's military jargon) is what they'll use it for.

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