Posted on December 12, 2007, Shawn Sines U.S. Army Creates Office to Manage Videogame Training of Soldiers
The U.S.Army has founded the Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC) Project Office for Gaming, or TPO Gaming. This organization will supervise the creation and integration of video game graphics into Army simulations for soldiers and small-unit leaders.
Much like programs being used by the National Institute of Health’s program for training medical personnel for HAZMAT situations, these simulations will create a realistic and immersive 3-D visualization of the battlefield as a backdrop for standard operating procedures [SOP].
“Immerse that soldier into a virtual or synthetic environment, then have them conduct a training task, using their SOP , and then AAR [after-action review] that capability,” said Robert Bowen, civilian chief of TPO Gaming.
TPO Gaming is creating an Army simulation tool kit that allows users to build and customize their own training scenarios without needing a contractor to do it for them. “We will empower that soldier to build his own scenario rapidly so he can train for his specified task,” Bowen said.
The Marine Corps has lead the way for this movement with its use of Virtual Battlespace 2 (VBS2), an adaptation of the Armed Assault FPS from Australia-based Bohemia Interactive.
Brig. Gen. Thomas Maffey, the Army’s director of training at the Pentagon, describes the types of games the Army will be using in training,
“While one game might provide excellent battlefield visualization, another might support training bilateral negotiation techniques,” he said to TSJ in written remarks. “In some instances, these games provide highly desired capabilities, merit formal adoption and interoperability with existing simulation federations. In other instances, they are simply an inexpensive, throwaway training solution.
“We are finding many uses for games and it is just the beginning,” Maffey said. “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. They provide an immersive environment capable of stimulating thought within a given context, thus giving us the ability to exercise cognitive skills along with functional tasks.”
Of course this program doesn’t involve Call of Duty 4 or Halo 3. Although some units have resorted to purchasing such games as training tools, they fall short of meeting the needs of the Army for “lack of detailed AAR playback, the inability to quickly import geospecific terrain and difficulty federating with other Army simulations.”