There is good new for game developers! Interest in games and their use in training has spread to the US military. According to an article in the November 23, 2008, online Stars and Stripes magazine the Army has received approval to invest $50 million in a “games for training” program starting in 2010. These games and gaming systems are designed to train soldiers for combat.
The Army is planning to use a commercial product for their gaming system and is apparently already reviewing offers from several game developers. The $50 million budget is in addition to programs already being developed by the Army such as the “dismounted soldier” virtual reality game that is expected to be deployed in 2009.
Currently the Army, along with the other branches of the military, uses a modified version of a commercial video game called “DARWARS Ambush”. This “first-person shooter” game is played on desktop computers and helps train soldiers on how to respond to ambushes or roadside attacks on convoys. Several weaknesses of this game were identified including the limited number of players and the inability to interface with the Army’s battle command systems.
In addition to correcting these problems, the article also lists several other key features the Army is looking for in a gaming system. The Army would like the ability to edit the terrain, be able to change scenarios during the game, and a play-back function to allow the trainers to review the recently completed scenarios with the participants. The game also needs to be portable so that it can be moved between the various military units and be easily maintained.
To read the full article, go to http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=59009. It’s nice to know that a large organization such as the US military sees the need for and benefits of using games in training.