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  US Army Goes Massively Multiplayer  
Posted 2004-02-19 by Tony Walsh
Already using their America's Army computer game as a recruitment tool, the American Army is now looking at a massively-multiplayer environment for large-scale simulation and training. HomeLAN features an in-depth interview with Robert Gehorsam, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at There, Inc. It turns out the people who brought you the shopping-friendly can also bring you military training on a massive scale. Read Gehorsam's 2003 presentation "Massively Multiplayer Persistent Worlds: Entertainment or Training?" [ppt|html] for more of an inside look at this interesting project.
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Comment posted by gatmog
February 19, 2004 @ 12:55 pm
At first I thought it was cool that the US Army was getting into game development. Since most war shooters usually have a consultant brought on board to check accuracies, a game created by the people who actually plan these military missions would provide a lot more credibility.

However after reading about this Massively multiplayer project it seems like the beginnings of Ender's Game. The training of youth in "virtual" worlds with "virtual" enemies until one day there is no distinction.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
February 19, 2004 @ 1:10 pm
Continuing the sci-fi angle:

Any army's ideal situation is to fight an entire war with killing machines-- literally. If they could build robots that were as agile as videogame characters, 12-year-olds would be fighting our wars from their living rooms.

DARPA is trying to go this direction, but the "problem" is that human bodies are much cheaper to build, equip, and deploy than robots. Current military robots and drones are used where it is basically impossible for a human to do the job, such as mine removal, surveillance, or guided bombs.

In addition to prohibitive costs, the more complex a machine is, the easier it is to break. Look at all the Mars-related robot failures. It's going to be ages and ages before idiot-proof, robust military robots will be in regular service. I mean, one good EMP bomb, and it's all over.

Then there's always a good chance that robots will be captured by the enemy. Top-secret US military hardware has been captured before, usually as the result of a systems failure or being shot down. A wounded human is just a prisoner of war-- sure you might be able to get some intelligence out of him, but that's about it. A captured robot can be reverse-engineered.
Comment posted by Yermum
February 19, 2004 @ 4:36 pm
What they should do is create an environment that accounts for the possibility of guerrilas or insurgent forces who pose an asymmetrical threat creating home made bombs etc.

A more sophisticated Counter Strike.

They might be able to learn a lot from the creativity players bring to blowing their asses up and devise strategies to account for it.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
February 19, 2004 @ 4:44 pm
If they want to do their job right, they will indeed do this :) They could learn a lot from Counter-Strike and FPS players, to be honest.

If they really wanted to be smart about it, they'd recruit some of the top gaming clans to play opposition forces. The best FPS players out there use sneaky, dirty, and surprising tactics. I bet the real soldiers would get whupped... would give them something to think about anyway.

One of the many goofy things about this simulation, of course, is the total lack of horror involved. Sure you can emote, but can you emote trying to hold in what's left of your intestines while a massive pool of blood gets into your boots?
Comment posted by Yermum
February 19, 2004 @ 5:36 pm
Yeah. And more to the point can you function under fire while trying to hold in what's left of your friend's intestines while a massive pool of his blood gets into your boots.

Comment posted by Tony Walsh
February 19, 2004 @ 5:37 pm
Hah! True, dat.
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