Army Investing $50M in War Games

The U.S. Army has committed to sinking $50 million on developing videogames for training purposes. The amount doesn’t include the amount budgeted for purchasing a state-of-the-art commercial video game system to be fielded for training in February 2009. The new “games for training” program is scheduled to start 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.

According to Stars and Stripes, the army has been using the commercially produced FPS, DARWARS Ambush. The title is now outdated and will be replaced with the highly moddable Game After Ambush.

Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is in charge of determining the game features needed for training. Col. Mark McManigal, the capabilities manger, has demanded a number of features including the ability for instructors to make changes in terrain, difficulty and change complexity during the simulation. It must be portable, low maintenance and cost effective. Most importantly, it must have a playback feature for review purposes.

PEO-STRI is charged with acquisition and fielding of the system. Leslie Duvow, project director for gaming, says that 70 games will be deployed between February and September 2009.

“Each system will consist of 52 computers with ancillary equipment including steering wheels, headsets and mice,” she said.

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.

There will be 53 locations in the United States, Germany, Italy and South Korea.

Another program in the works for implementation in 2009 is “dismounted soldier.” Soldiers will don virtual-reality goggles and carry a weapon in a VR battle space.

Thanks to Game Politics for the intelligence.

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