Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Not playing around: Army to invest $50M in combat training games

Stars and Stripes
European edition, Sunday, November 23, 2008

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The Army has created a video game unit and will invest $50 million over five years on games and gaming systems designed to prepare soldiers for combat.

Lt. Col. Gary Stephens, product manager for air and ground tactical trainers at Project Executive Office — Simulation Training and Instrumentation said Thursday that the $50 million has been approved for a "games for training" program starting in 2010.

"The Army takes this seriously," Stephens said of PEO-STRI and its Army gaming unit, which will handle military video game requirements. "We own gaming for the Army — from requirements through procurement," he said.

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Soldiers will be able to drive virtual vehicles, fire virtual weapons, pilot virtual unmanned aerial vehicles and do "most anything a soldier does" in a virtual battle space as large as 100 kilometers by 100 kilometers, she said.

McManigal said the game will replicate what soldiers encounter on today’s battlefield — from fighting in urban terrain and convoy operations to reacting to contact and ambush operations.

"Your imagination will be your only limiting factor," he said.

The new game will also be able to interact with the Army’s battle command systems that soldiers use in the real world to track equipment, enemy and friendly forces using computerized maps, he said.

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