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
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
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
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.”
quote: 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.