Army Wants “First-Person Thinker” Game


Categorie: Training |

A2b Video games are all the rage in the U.S. Army. America’s Army, a first-person shooter, is used as a recruiting tool to lure in kids weaned on Xbox. For simulating convoy-protection operations, the Army has Ambush!, another shooter. And Tactical Iraqi simulates encounters between soldiers and Iraqis to teach basic language and cultural skills. Dr. Robert Wisher, from the Pentagon’s Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative, told me that the U.S. military has formally adopted 23 different video games.

But almost all of them are street-level, tactical games for young grunts. What’s missing, according to Major Kyle Burley, a staffer at the Army War College, is a game that simulates decision-making at strategic levels -– something to help make better generals. He calls it “a first-person thinker.”

Today Burley uses a moderated, text-based game that simulates top command during an imaginary Second Korean War. Essentially, the game is just a series of chat rooms where colonels hash out potential command decisions, and a moderator decides whether they’re good decisions or not. What Burley wants is an “immersive” game with a live 3D environment and avatars for the players. “Ideally, we would have a virtual, online, Web-access roleplaying environment which allows students to be an avatar [that] probably looks much like the student, and they’re given a skin like in Second Life that is equivalent to their position, and they go into different moderated rooms and talk to fellow roleplayers that are in that scenario.”

So why not just use Second Life? “Awkward interface,” Burley says. Okay, so what about World of Warcraft, which definitely encourages decision-making and group collaboration in a fluid, high-stress environment? (Pictured.) Sure, Burley says, but no self-respecting colonel will take all those dwarves, mages and six-legged alligators seriously. “The collaborative element is useful – you’ve got chat and avatars –- but the actual content and setting aren’t what we’d like for having roleplayers have committee meetings with the State Department.”

(Photo: Blizzard)


10 Responses to “Army Wants “First-Person Thinker” Game”

  1. LT Nixon says:

    the actual content and setting aren’t what we’d like for having roleplayers have committee meetings with the State Department.

    I could only imagine that game would be like a real-life meeting with the State Dept. or a bunch of senior-level military leaders…terribly boring.

  2. James says:

    They obviously haven’t looked at the online game ‘EVE’.
    I played that for a few years and the intel, corporate and strategic levels of the game are much more akin to real-world combat.
    As a former Flt Lt the decisions I made in game were based on the skills I had gathered from my time in the RAF.

  3. Kilo says:

    Damn, that sounds boring.
    Operation Flashpoint was a good tactical infantry sim. I’ve been waiting for v2 for like 5 years now.

  4. Foreign.Boy says:

    Does this mean they are looking for an RTS?
    There are games that you select a campaign. Warhammer Dawn of War Dark Crusade expansion had a good campaign setting. Capturing certain areas would allow abilities to be unlocked.. but I could imagine doing something similar would help.

    I.E. you capture anbar province you deal with an insurgency for a few months.. after that you get a +1 to civil obedience?

  5. BWJones says:

    There was actually a wonderful naval simulation game some years ago called Harpoon that was used by the Aussies I believe. A similar approach for US Army operations might not be a bad idea.

  6. Kevin Knodell says:

    Maybe the ought to play Company of Heroes then. It’s a nice combination of tactical and strategic decision making

  7. Onslo says:

    The game PlanetSide has both the tactical and the strategical level.

    In PlanetSide its 300 vs 300 vs 300 fps-players on the same map, fighing over some 12 bases and same 12 outposts on divers terrain as infantry and in multi crew vehicles.

    And there are 12 of such maps which are connected.

  8. [...] Remember America’s Army, the U.S. Army’s kick-ass video game/recruiting tool? Now Stars and Stripes has a story on how another country is using video games to put a positive spin on military service. The South Korean air force has formed a team of StarCraft-playing airmen to represent the service at game tournaments. StarCraft is a huge deal in South Korea, with professional players making up to $171,000 a year on the tournament circuit. The airmen are allowed to practice on duty, but that doesn’t shield them from the more unappealing aspects of their duties, such as picking up garbage. No Comments so far Leave a comment RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI Leave a comment Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong> [...]

  9. [...] The Army wants to go one step further, adapting this PC trainer to the needs of senior commanders. This so-called “first-person thinker” — a play on the “first-person shooter” game genre — would be closer to the daily life simulator Second Life than to the combat- and exploration-oriented World of Warcraft. “The collaborative element [of Second Life] is useful – you’ve got chat and avatars –- but the actual content and setting aren’t what we’d like for having role-players have committee meetings with the State Department,” Major Kyle Burley said. [...]

  10. Me a moi says:

    Probably something similar to a cross between an MMO, an RTS, and the ‘tycoon’ line of sims… . Where you have to the lowest level players would be second lieutenants and command a squad of enlisted men (or maybe set objectives and goals for 1st person matches in America’s Army, per chance, setting America’s Army human players as maybe sergeants and npc characters as enlisted men?) (Giving a group RTS feel kind of like tje RTS savage) And higher rank players would command and assign resources to groups of the 2nd lutenients, etc (probably feeling more like a tycoon sim as they assign goals to lower ranks, control resource flow, assign building of things like M*A*S*H units which would affect their enlisted men’s stats in game, etc.) and then those promoted past that would get general and it’d run more like civilization, with them command resouces and working with other generals, etc…. and if someone is promoted past general, they can get their own side to compete against all the other sides, creating a Strategy-MMO kind of aspect (maybe kind of like evony in at that level?) Just thinking.

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