The Making Of An Xbox Warrior
Video games have been tapped by the U.S. military as a tool for urban combat training, although the games being employed differ from commercial counterparts. The military game environments strive for realism so that players can be properly trained on survival techniques and strategies: For instance, the Institute for Creative Technologies’ Full Spectrum Warrior game, developed with Army assistance, is free of commercial video game elements such as magic weapons and overprotective shelter.
The military has actively sought out commercial game designers to help develop training tools because proprietary simulators have become too expensive and outdated, and some game designers have offered their services to the military in the wake of Sept. 11.
Forterra Systems CEO Robert Gehorsam won a $3.5 million military contract last year to create a system that simulated urban warfare scenarios, using an environment pieced together from satellite data.
Video games’ replay features also make it easy for soldiers to analyze mistakes with little disagreement over what went wrong.
Military-designed games are not only demonstrating value as a training application, but as a recruiting tool: America’s Army, for example, is a first-person shooter game that over 10 million people have downloaded since it became publicly available, and 30 percent of a group of young people polled by I to I research credited the game with cultivating their positive perception of the military.
However, skeptics think military games need an even greater degree of realism if they are to effectively train soldiers to avoid incorrect battlefield strategies that could potentially cost lives in real-world situations.
There are also concerns that America’s enemies could gain an edge over U.S. forces if they obtain the games, although some military experts contend that the games’ benefits to the Army override potential security threats.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the New York Times Magazine (08/22/04) P. 32; Thompson, Clive .