The U.S. Army will invest around $50 million over the next five years to deliver videogames which aim to prepare soldiers for combat situations.
The Military’s objective to utilise videogames for training purposes is not a new concept. Darwars: Ambush, a multiplayer PC FPS based on the technology of Operation Flashpoint, has been used by the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Homeland Defense since 2006. The game focused on teaching its users how to adapt to ambushes such as roadside bomb attacks on convoys.
Yet the game’s engine has struggled to meet the rising demands of the army’s training program. What the Army is seeking for its new ambush simulation is more characters on the screen, more customisation options, replay features and a larger play area (sounds familiar).
The Army’s new game, using the working title Game After Ambush, will allow these features as well as have tools which can fully customise the experience; through terrain, scenario and objective modifications.
As part of the U.S. Army’s approach to bring new game technology to its training program, a gaming unit has been set up to look through the industry and identify key technologies that can be used for combat training. The military has also made an undisclosed purchase of a commercial video game system that will be used for training at the beginning of next year.
Col. Gary Stephens, product manager at Project Executive Office: Simulation Training and Instrumentation, explained in an interview for the US military newsletter Stars and Stripes that “we don’t have the intent to become a competitor with the commercial gaming industry”.