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Video games in the military

An interesting area of transition is being brought up in the field of commercial and military applications in simulation software. Commercial game developers have done such a good job creating battlefield-based entertainment for personal computers and video game consoles that military decision-makers started to use some of these games as the basis for tactical training tools.

To formalize the adoption of commercial war games into military training tools, the Defense Science & Technology Agency has been involved with the Singapore Air Forces to use commercial computer games, especially those that mimic battlefield scenarios, for military classroom applications. Many of the tactical training software now used by the US Armed Forces started life as recruitment tools or as commercial games. (Browne, 2008) The ‘American Army’

The ‘American Army’ is game platform which began as an outreach tool, providing players an inside look to the army. But it has been now cultivated into a new generation of inexpensive, PC-based, web-deployable, highly interactive training tool. It has extended its reach to support war fighters, instructors and students throughout the army. The ‘American Army’s’ platform is currently being used in dozens of virtual training systems throughout the army. (McLeroy, 2008)

Universal Control System (UCS) for the UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) The universal control system introduced in the military by defense electronics, Raytheon, marks the next generation in ground control systems. It has been made for unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, used by the U. S. Armed forces and its overseas counterparts. As remote-controlled planes take on larger military roles in both Afghanistan and Iraq, this system will make it easier for pilots on the ground to fly these unmanned aircrafts from afar.

Based around a multi screen console and complete with onscreen health and weapon updates, the UCS has elements cherry-picked from the gaming industry to give pilots more control over their UAVs. To illustrate, the UAV’s onboard camera has been augmented with digital images similar to Google Earth, which gives the operator an almost 180 degrees view. That lets Raytheon overlay the data, such as where troops are located, on top of the enhanced view. Raytheon estimates that this next generation ground control system could reduce costs for the U.

S. Air Force by $500 million over the next 10 years. That is based on decreasing the frequency of UAV crashes, cutting the time spent training pilots, and shrinking the number of operators required to fly unmanned aircrafts. (Scott, 2008) The ‘Virtual Army Experience (VAE)’ The ‘Virtual Army Experience’ is a travelling exhibit of the U. S. army, touring the country for a year and a half now, stopping at amusement parks, air shows and country fairs. It is based on a video game the army began developing in 1999 to meet its recruiting goals.

To play the game, players file into an air-conditioned trailer, filled with PCs and Xbox 360 consoles, where they wait to be briefed. Then Staff Stg. John Harper explains the mission: genocidal indigenous forces are attacking international aid workers. It’s up to the players to protect them. Participants enter a dark inflatable dome and climb into one of the six modified Humvees or two black Hawk Helicopters. Each vehicle, mounted with fake M-249 Squad Automatic Weapons and M-4 rifles, faces three huge screens where the videogame is projected.

Players fire air-pressurized guns and the rat-a-tat-tat of gunfire blares from the games speakers. The Humvees shake from the simulated blasts of roadside bombs. But, despite the nature of the game, there is no blood or guts on screen. At the end Silver Star recipient Sgt. Jason Mike is introduced. He talks about his experiences in Iraq and encourages the players to visit the army’s videogame website. The initiative definitely seems to be putting up with the army’s expectations. It’s catering to the interest of America’s youth. (Avila, 2008)

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