Training and Simulation Journal Online reports that the United States Army has established a project office to create and deploy video games for the training of soldiers.
Col. Jack Millar director of the Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC) Project Office for Gaming, or TPO Gaming, said:
I haven’t seen a game built for the entertainment industry that fills a training gap, We will focus on the visualization piece of those technologies, not so much the entertainment piece.
One thing about the Army, there’s no shortage of abbreviations. Robert Bowen, civilian chief of TPO Gaming, explained the game training concept to TSJO:
Immerse that soldier into a virtual or synthetic environment, then have them conduct a training task, using their SOP [standard operating procedures], and then AAR [after-action review] that capability.
There will be some cool user-side mod ability built in, Bowen added:
We will empower that soldier to build his own scenario rapidly so he can train for his specified task. You can take a leader, chaplain, sergeant major, anyone, and put them in front of two or three laptop screens, and they’re using gaming technology that’s integrated with the constructive simulation… They’re represented in the game. Their icon shows…
Brigadier General Thomas Maffey talked about the kind of games being used:
Currently, we are focusing on first-person shooter and real-time strategy games, but there are many other genres of games that have desirable training capabilities.
One reason for the creation of the new gaming office is a concern that units are currently buying commercial games. Said Col. Millar:
If Army units are expending training funds to purchase games, there is probably an unfilled training requirement. We do not want to tell the commanders in the field they cannot spend money and train with games. However, we do want to ensure that commanders get the best training tools and that the Army spends its limited resources wisely in the procurement of those tools.
An unnamed simulation consultant, however, felt that creating layers of Army bureaucracy devoted to game development was a waste of tax dollars:
If all they’re looking for is visualization, then they’ve shot themselves in the foot. [Units will buy commercially-available games because they] don’t have to go through umpteen layers of bureaucracy…
An Army officer agreed that soldiers enjoy training with commercial software:
The controls are easy to use to move, shoot, communicate and link things up. They can’t do that now in our normal training venues down at the local sim centers. They basically have to use their barracks and use their personal computers.