Adopting new technologies always benefits a nation’s military force. From night vision to smart bombs, technology has revolutionized warfare on all fronts, including training and recruitment. Training and recruitment are fairly important to an all-volunteer military force, and video games have become one of the premier means to both reach out to potential recruits and train young soldiers.
My generation and every generation after it has been raised on electronics and video games for better or worse. This has been known since the early 1980s, and since then, the United State military has sought out numerous ways to use video games and similar computer simulations to train and recruit potential Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen.
Today we are going to take a look at five different video games the United States military has used to produce, recruit, and perfect their forces.
1) Marine Doom
Marine Doom is what happened when Marine Corps Commandant Charles Krulak issued a directive to use wargames for improving military thinking and decision-making exercises. Krulak wanted Marines to use computer-based wargames to learn to make fast and efficient decisions. This was a big focus at the time because it cost a lot of money to train Marines, so a low-cost, simulated training system could be a cost-saving tool.
Marine Lt. Scott Barnett and Sgt. Dan Snyder got the enviable task of playing video games for the Corps. Their goal was to find the right one, and along the way, they issued reviews on the Marine Corps Modeling and Simulation website. Eventually, they chose Doom 2, a game where you play as a future Marine killing hellspawn. The game supported multiplayer, was easy to modify, and encouraged quick decision-making, so it was a prime candidate.
Dan Snyder spent months modifying Doom 2 to eventually create Marine Doom. The game was a single level where a team of four Marines was tasked with destroying a bunker. The fire team had a team leader, an automatic rifleman, and two riflemen. The level was redesigned into a modern setting, as were the bad guys, and the Marine Corps loved it. It was never an official game, but Marines were encouraged to play it, and it was allowed on government computers.
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2) America’s Army
In 2002 the Army released a little game called America’s Army. In doing so, they created the first widespread use of game technology for recruitment purposes. The idea was that potential recruits could play a free game and explore what the Army had to offer. America’s Army was a first-person tactical shooter that was heralded for its realistic gameplay upon release.
The games evolved and adopted, moving from PCs to consoles and mobile phones. In total, over 40 variants and editions of America’s Army exist. The game has evolved and changed to show various aspects of Army life, including being a rifleman, a Ranger, a Green Beret, a Bradley crewmember, and so much more. It’s fairly impressive how much the Army put into the game.
In fact, it evolved from just a recruiting into a training tool. This series of video games have been used to train soldiers, and special models of the game have even been used with the Secret Service.
3) Full Spectrum Warrior
The U.S. Army Science and Technology community began experimenting with using video games to train Soldiers in 2000. Part of this was leveraging existing video game consoles to provide low-cost training simulation systems. The Army partnered with Sony Pictures Imageworks and Pandemic Studios to begin production on project C4 which evolved into Full Spectrum Warrior. To gain access to the Xbox console for development, the game had to be released commercially as well.
The end result was one game for training and one for entertainment. The game tasked players with controlling two Army fire teams through a variety of situations. Players had to lay down covering fire, locate, close with and destroy, and make smart decisions. The game’s core mechanic is using fire and maneuver to outmaneuver your enemy.
While America’s Army focused on the individual aspects of being a soldier, the game Full Spectrum Warrior focused on teamwork. This was not your traditional shooter but a small-unit strategy game designed to be a training tool. But in the same way, America’s Army flip-flopped from recruiting to training, and Full Spectrum Warrior flip-flopped from training to recruiting.
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4) Virtual Battlespace 2
The Operation Flashpoint series of games make a point out of being hyper-realistic military simulations. The series is a cult classic and a military training tool. The developers, Bohemian Interactive Studio, intended to design a game for entertainment but ended up attracting customers in the form of military forces.
Virtual Battlespace 2 (VBS 2) is a spin-off of Operation Flashpoint. The game features customizable maps that allow a military unit to tailor each mission to a specific objective. This allows military forces to design, plan and execute a number of different missions, from the exciting downed helicopter rescue to the mundane convoy op.
VBS 2 allows for multiplayer play with squad-sized elements and beyond. This allows soldiers to rehearse everything from immediate action to contact to holding security around a building during a key leader encounter.
Due to the ability to edit situations, a unit can take on-the-ground situations from war zones and adapt them to the game. The Marine Corps purchased VBS 1 in 2001, and by 2011 the U.S. Army had adopted the program as had military forces from the U.K., Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
5) Area 51 (2005)
This is an odd one. The game Area 51 is in no way a training simulation or anything reasonably realistic. It’s a sort of reboot to a classic arcade game. The game was not developed by or for the U.S. military. In fact, it is a sci-fi game that doesn’t portray the military or U.S. government all that well.
However, the U.S. Air Force purchased rights to distribute the game after its initial release and used it as a recruiting tool distributing it for free online for U.S.-based consumers. This seems like a fairly ineffective tool, but the Air Force also has great recruiting numbers, so maybe they do it right.
Video games and the US military
In the last few years, there haven’t been any major developments from the U.S. military regarding video games. While consoles and similar systems provided limited training opportunities, the next venture could be Virtual Reality which is becoming increasingly popular and offers a more tangible training and recruiting benefit.
Maybe the next America’s Army will put potential recruits in a Bradley fighting vehicle or on the firing range with an M4. It would be an actual experience. However, that remains to be seen. What is clear is that video games are here to stay, and the military has and will likely continue to make use of them.
6/45 results says
Nice video games and I try in all games our computer. Thanks for sharing Dear.