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Microsoft, USO Links Troops Worldwide Via Xbox 69

Posted by simoniker
from the fragging-the-family dept.
Thanks to Reuters for their story reporting on Microsoft and the U.S. armed forces' plans to expand a program bringing Xbox Live to troops overseas. There's a press release on the USO site with more details, including a U.S. Air Force lieutenant's comments: "Xbox Live allows me to play my favorite games with friends and family as though I am sitting on the couch right next to them back home in Garden Grove, Calif. We share stories, laugh and poke fun at each other in real time as we play." We previously covered a pilot scheme using the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, and a spokesman "...said the program was such a success it will be expanded to nearly every Air Force base around the world."
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Microsoft, USO Links Troops Worldwide Via Xbox

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  • Until they are fighting ACTUAL wars by sitting on their ass playing what seems like a video game. How many decades until we can get the hook up on that.
    • Re:I wont be content (Score:4, Interesting)

      by malakai (136531) * on Friday December 05, 2003 @02:11PM (#7640302) Journal
      I think a single decade is all that is required to begin rolling out semiautomonous and full automonus aircraft, and ceasing development on new manned air-craft.
      After that point, we'll see the planes we know and love today be retired (and their pilots).

      What's really lacking is a full redundant, mesh based communication infrastructue that can be quickly deployed. Where every node in the mesh, be it an aircraft or a satellite, or a autonomous drone, can relay and respond.

      A top-down approach would put these nodes closer and closer to the action, until they meet ground based nodes (humvees, portable station deployed on sand dunes...etc).

      I say 20 years though for fuly functional bi-ped soldiers that can be controlled remotely and have enough autonomy to respond/react quickly to environment and beat speed of light latency in their control systems. Such that a controller at 'home' can move the unit (WASD config of course) but the unit can make choices on how to move (i see a rock, i'm going to step over it, i'm not going to wait 250ms for my controller to hold my hand and walk me over the rock).

    • Actually, there's no real reason this couldn't be done right now. Build a MMOFPS environment, and add models and behaviours for each side's equipment... you would need to limit the number of players and equipment to match a nation's real-world counterparts as well.

      You could host the servers in neutral country, monitored by a neutral agency, and have that agency collect and destroy the real-world analog of anything destroyed virtually, along with some other form of payment for troops killed virtually. Aft

      • Just one more thought on virtual wars - while it's unlikely to ever be used as a method of resolving conflict in the real world, that's because of people, not the technology.

        If the US military can get a computer to accurately simulate everything going on in a huge nuke blast, they can build a game server(farm) that could effectively handle a couple of million troops and their equipment.

    • Re:I wont be content (Score:3, Interesting)

      by t0ny (590331)
      I think that will be the time to start worrying. Once it becomes trivially easy to kill people, and you can do it without even seeing it 'in real life', it will take any remaining shreads of humanity out of war.
  • Awesome... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by malakai (136531) * on Friday December 05, 2003 @02:04PM (#7640234) Journal
    I think that's great for troops.

    I wonder though, if MS has to offer access to the voice chats to security personel for the appropriate armed forces.

    I know mail and e-mail is screened, as well as phone calls (espcially on big targets like aircraft carriers). I wonder if MS had to put in code on the server to allow the voice streams to be tapped.

    Cool none the less. I wouldn't mind playing Ghost Recon against some troop clans.

    • most likely they'll be just playing while in public rooms & etc.. you can tap the entertainment room easy enough.
      • Think of giving away the position of your air-craft carrier by playing an opponent in some game that allows group-map functions, and you plot a waypoint at your exact location.

        Then you wink and say into the mike "know what i mean? know what i mean?, nudge nudge, nod nod, say no more, say no more".

        Course, the uselessness of that info is astronomical.

        • 'course, if you put into that way there's no way to screen all the info anyways on big enough operation, if you allow any contact at all.

  • Commercial (Score:3, Interesting)

    by musikit (716987) on Friday December 05, 2003 @02:08PM (#7640273)
    umm wasn't there a commercial for like splinter cell or something game like that one taht promoted this?
    • Re:Commercial (Score:2, Informative)

      I believe you're referring to the SOCOM commercial..playable online with only a PS2. Of course, the government wouldn't have to pay XBox Live subscription fees if they want with a Sony solution AND more people have PS2's so there'd be a higher likelihood that friends and families back home would be able to take advantage of this and play with/against the troops. Of course, MS was founded in the states and Sony was not so that may play a role - as it should. Let's help our economy before we help anyone else'
      • However, when you are looking at what console is the best-looking, it is always the XBox.

        Likewise, MS probably has some kind of technical involvement in helping them make this happen; Sony is most likely not contributing resources to help our troops (nor do I expect them to).

      • Re:Commercial (Score:3, Informative)

        by gamgee5273 (410326)
        Okay, I'm not here to flame you - I come from a union family and underatand completely where you're coming from with this.

        But, I do have to speak up a bit: Not being an Xbox owner, can anyone say where the box is being made? I have to suspect it's somewhere in Asia, not the States.

        For the sake of argument, I'm going to assume it is Asia util someone can come up with the answer: Sure, while a chunk of cash goes to Redmond, they still are losing money on the Xbox and still have to pay for the workers in

        • Ah, thanks for that bit about Zenith. Do you know of any big electronics companies that are still based in the U.S.?

          I realize that most manufacturing is not done in the United States, but I'd like a company to at least have the headquarters in this country. And yes, increased X-Box sales do help the American economy. Lots and lots of game development takes place in this country - the more consoles out there, the more development taking place.

          • I don't know of any of the big electronics companies that are located in the US...

            (looks around)

            We've already established that Zenith is owned by LGE (Korea), Magnavox is owned by Phillips (Dutch), RCA is owned by Thompson (French).

            Here's a shocker: Apex Digital is located in Ontario, California (I always thought they were Korean). I can't find any other American companies.

            I do think you and I are on the same page because we're talking about driving game development and, therefore, sales, for Ameri

        • My v1.1 Xbox was assembled in Mexico, according to the sticker.
      • Of course, the government wouldn't have to pay XBox Live subscription fees if they want with a Sony solution AND more people have PS2's so there'd be a higher likelihood that friends and families back home would be able to take advantage of this and play with/against the troops

        But not all PS2 games use the headset so people can talk to each other. The whole point is so the service member can feel like they are back home with friends and family and not being able to talk to them really doesn't accomplish

  • Ok... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm all for making troops life easier while in a combat zone, but uh, shouldn't more money/time/expertise be used towards something a little more useful? Say....water or electricity for the population of the country the army is currently occupying.

    On a side note, i'd like to play some AA against some of these guys :)
    • We already give huge amounts of money on food and water and electricity for various countries. I don't think that a few bucks for X-Box live are poorly spent. I do however believe you are against the soldiers being comfortable, but you are unwilling to say that. Otherwise why would you want money used to make them comfortable reallocated to another purpose which receives many magnitudes greater funding.
    • I'm all for making troops life easier while in a combat zone, but uh, shouldn't more money/time/expertise be used towards something a little more useful? Say....water or electricity for the population of the country the army is currently occupying.

      You mean like the $87 billion that was approved earlier this year?

      As an Airman trust me when I say that stuff like this can be very big for morale. And something that needs to be raised right now, especially in the combat areas is higher morale.

      • Not only is it good for morale, but I was under the impression that MS was supplying the funds (as it's basically a big advertisment for them.... every soldier in Iraq will want an X-Box when they get home).
        • I dunno. I've played X-Box a lot and the only reason I own one is because it was given to me for free. I still haven't gone out and bought any games for it. With the exception of Halo which I've played to death I really am not interested in much X-Box has to offer. Perhaps when Halo 2 comes out.
          • That's because you're a Big Dork.

            The one game you mention, you've 'played to death'. Yet you are not interested in much that Xbox has to offer. Try some other games- they're good.

            I recommend Top Spin quite highly.
    • More importantly, shouldn't there a bidding war to do this the the USO? There doesn't seem to be competition to win a bid to do this and MS is getting a pass without any competition. It doesn't seem fair to the taxpayers.
      • Theres nothing that comes even close to Xbox Live. Not even close.

        The Friends List alone makes the deal.
      • MS is the only big-3 gaming company that's US-based. So, it stands to reason that the US military would be more comfortable working with them than with a Japanese company.
      • More importantly, shouldn't there a bidding war to do this the the USO? There doesn't seem to be competition to win a bid to do this and MS is getting a pass without any competition. It doesn't seem fair to the taxpayers.

        How, exactly, would one bid on something like this? MS bids to give each center 17 XBoxes and 3 games per box, Sony bids to give each center 20 PS2s and 4 games per box?

        Read the article, MS donated the XBoxes, games, and monitors. If Sony and Nintendo want to donate games, consoles, and
        • I don't think that this is 'exclusive'. If other entertainment companies want to donate, I'm sure the military will take it.

          I used to be posted at a remote site, and I loved it when we would get this kind of stuff. We got movies on VHS about a week after they came out in the theater in the US. Twice a year we would get a huge box of sports equipment, everything you could imagine. That was cool.
          • I don't think that this is 'exclusive'. If other entertainment companies want to donate, I'm sure the military will take it.

            That's pretty much what I was getting at. The article clearly states that MS donated the stuff, and there's nothing stopping Sony or Nintendo from making matching donations. I'm sure MS gets a tax writeoff, as well.
    • Why don't you sit down and figure up just how *little* money it would actually cost to put xboxes in R&R rooms on bases and then subtract that from the billions of dollars it could cost to re-work a utility infrastructure. Drop in the bucket? Hardly.. more like the oxygen atom of a water molecule in the bucket.
    • You have to have sometime to decompress no matter what you do. This is an excellent way to do it for them and the USO is not part of the goverment they are a private organization
  • Do the officers in the infirmary now have to watch people play Crimson Skies and buzz out everything but the sex words, signing off their censoring with Irving Washington? Seriously, even besides XBox live, how do they maintain operational secrecy in an internet world?
  • What are troops doing playing Xbox? Isn't there a war that we're trying to win still? Nonetheless a cool technology application, I'd think that they would want videoconferencing/voice chat first, then games.
    • by Smidge204 (605297) on Friday December 05, 2003 @02:22PM (#7640405) Journal
      Not only are they great entertainment that excesizes their training and teamwork, but when they're on the move it can double as body armor [slashdot.org]!

      =Smidge=
    • Well, should we give them a license to kill every Iraqi they see?

      It's not a conventional war- we just have a bunch of people sitting around waiting for something to happen. They are there to provide a presence- wear a uniform, and drive around (swerving around mines).

      Its not like they are busy all day- I don't think they were playing with Xboxes during the initial phases of the war.
  • by Johnny Mnemonic (176043) <mdinsmore.gmail@com> on Friday December 05, 2003 @02:17PM (#7640346) Homepage Journal

    So the question is: are they playing Splinter Cell, or Dance Dance Revolution? Wouldn't you get tired of getting shot at in RL, that simulating it just wouldn't be the same?
  • by illuminata (668963) on Friday December 05, 2003 @02:18PM (#7640363) Journal
    Microsoft Rep: Hey guys! We've got you some games and XBox Live accounts!

    Troops: (Cheering)

    Troop #1: So, buddy, what games do you have for us?

    Microsoft Rep: How about some Conflict: Desert Storm II - Back to Baghdad.

    Troop #1: Uh...

    Troop #2: Anything else?

    Microsoft Rep: Ghost Recon?

    Troops: (Silence)

    Microsoft Rep: Ghost Recon... Island Thunder? Rainbow Six 3? Counter Strike?

    Troop #3: How about ESPN NFL Football?

    Troop #4: Or Midnight Club II?

    Troop #5: Or Dance Dance Revolution ULTRAMIX? Come on!

    Troops: (Raise eyebrow at Troop #5)

    Troop #1: Hey, what kind of fucking joke is this?

    Microsoft Rep: Oh shit...
    • "Microsoft Rep: How about some Conflict: Desert Storm II - Back to Baghdad."

      Content download only there, no online multiplayer!

      There should be stricter enforcing of packaging policy via what can say online enabled in what size if they only have content download vs. true online multiplayer.
  • We previously covered a pilot scheme using the U.S. Air Forces in Europe
    Did they select the US Air Force for their pilot scheme on purpose, or was it coincidence???

    OK, this post is pretty crap... I know it is... Why am I hitting submit?
  • War Games (Score:3, Funny)

    by molafson (716807) on Friday December 05, 2003 @03:03PM (#7640746)
    What I don't understand is why a bunch of soldiers would want to spend their downtime playing war games (e.g. Crimson Skies) on the XBox. Don't they get enough of the real thing?

    That's like an accountant going home and playing a slightly more exciting Excel/Quickbooks simulator.

    On the other hand, the soldiers can play racing games or sports games, which are okay I guess, but still not optimal for relaxation. (Better solution: drink some beers and watch Monday Night Football.)
    • How about a nice game of chess?
      • I was always more fond of Global Thermonuclear War. Unfortunately, the only winning move is not to play, so it got boring pretty quickly.
    • , the soldiers can play racing games or sports games, which are okay I guess, but still not optimal for relaxation.

      How many times have you seen football players playing Madden on G4 or TechTV? If people love what they do, they'll want to do it all the time. It doesn't matter if it's football or sweep and clear operations in urban terrain.
    • Its like a bunch of computer geeks using their computers in their spare time reading discussion groups about computers.

      We would NEVER do THAT!
  • Hyperpower Defeated by Ridiculous Country
    Everybody Busy Playing in Diego Garcia Air Force Base... Ridiculous Navy from Liechtenstein Take Base and Disarm Everybody... No One Notices... Commander Happy to Surrender After 36 hours Playing Without Sleeping... Ridiculous Liechtenstein Air Force (L.A.F.) Laughs... International Conference To Be held In Geneva To Prohibit Weapons of Mass Distractions...
  • MS' agenda is to dominate markets by locking customers into an asymmetric "tech providor vs tech consumer" relationship.

    In short, technological hegemony -- much like the hegemonistic agenda certain elements in the US military-industrial complex are often accused of.

    OSS' agenda, on the other hand, is to empower individuals, and individual nations, to make their own technological choices. So the UN advocates OSS in its WSIS, a move that is vigorously opposed by only one nation: the US.

    The pattern i

  • You know, I'm sure enough guys in the service love playing video games, why not make money doing it? How cool would it be if your clan could pay a fee, and be able to play against a squad of actual soldiers in your favorite games, like Desert Combat for bf1942.

    I'm sure everybody remembers that Xbox commercial where the marines trounced the kids playing that xbox game. I know for a fact that many clans would pay to be able to do this and test their skills against people who do this in real life.

  • What interests me about this story is the connection method. Getting a low latency mid-band is not easy. Nor something they should be throwing good resources after just so some soldier can play XBox.

    What would be the best way of getting air force bases (in places as far flung as, say, Afghanistan) onto XBox Live at a decent speed with a decent latency? Satellites are ruled out straight away. Microwave links to places with more reliable landline connections?

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