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Real Warriors Trained In Virtual Worlds 312

Posted by Zonk
from the new-meaning-to-weekend-warrior dept.
The Washington Post has a piece looking at the U.S. military's increased reliance on gaming for training the next generation of soldiers. From the article: "'The technology in games has facilitated a revolution in the art of warfare,' says David Bartlett, the former chief of operations at the Defense Modeling and Simulation Office, a high-level office within the Defense Department and the focal point for computer-generated training at the Pentagon. 'When the time came for [a solider in training] to fire his weapon, he was ready to do that. And capable of doing that. His experience leading up to that time, through on-the-ground training and playing 'Halo' and whatever else, enabled him to execute. His situation awareness was up. He knew what he had to do. He had done it before -- or something like it up to that point.'"
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Real Warriors Trained In Virtual Worlds

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  • Hesitation (Score:5, Informative)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @06:57PM (#14720218) Homepage Journal
    When I did small arms training, one of the hardest things to do (for the Corps at least) was to get people to pull the trigger at the moment of truth. There is a built in hesitation that people have to shooting others. So, training typically starts off with standard targets and then progresses to targets of humans in silhouette, then for close quarters battle training, targets become more realistic looking.

    Using CG generated images helps significantly by enhancing the realism and lowering the threshold of resistance to "trigger pull".

    What computers cannot teach however, is the NOISE and physical presence of a firefight.

    • Re:Hesitation (Score:3, Interesting)

      by creimer (824291)
      What computers cannot teach however, is the NOISE and physical presence of a firefight.

      A 5.1 Surround System with a subwoofer set on high should fix that problem. When I recently started a Quake 4 game, and firing the machine gun in the game, I had no sound. Turned up the volume, still no sound. Unplug the headphones... WTF! I was on the floor as the machine gun firing at high volume blew me out of my chair. I was surprised that the police didn't surround my apartment since it was so OMG LOUD!
      • Re:Hesitation (Score:2, Insightful)

        by 7macaw (933316)
        Ever fired a real RPG? ;)
      • Re:Hesitation (Score:5, Informative)

        by BWJones (18351) * on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @07:11PM (#14720337) Homepage Journal
        A 5.1 Surround System with a subwoofer set on high should fix that problem.

        Trust me..... No Surround system I have EVER seen will simulate the experience of standing next to/behind/infront of/below a M60 when that sucker goes off. You feel it as much as you hear and see it. The German contingent that trained with us also had an equivalent H&K that is unbelievably loud and fearsome. Even more so than the SAW. Even the combined fire of a squad with small 5.56mm based platforms (M4 and M249) can make for some pretty impressive sound sight and smell. Nothing I have ever seen can simulate that.

        • So... have a SAW set up with blanks next to your head, and have the simulator be able to trigger it at appropriate times. As sadistic as it sounds (I don't know that I'd volunteer for such a thing), it probably still wouldn't be 100% realistic, but it's closer than speakers.
        • Re:Hesitation (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hansreiser (6963)
          One of the things I still remember from when I was 16 and in ROTC basic training was the feeling of a tank firing near you. When it fires, the wave of sound goes through your body, and you are intensely aware of what a frail thing you are. The feeling of being tissue paper, I still remember it. Nobody will ever make speakers that sound quite like a real tank.

          You may understand intellectually that you are tissue paper, but until you feel it via the shockwave of sound, it will never be entirely real to you
        • When you shoot a .50 BMG rifle, you can almost *see* the pressure wave. The shock goes straight through you, blasting past. You can't shoot weapons like that without some form of hearing protection, and to make speakers capable of putting out that level of noise (150+ decibels, minimum) on a continuous basis, would probably be close to impossible I'd guess.
      • You've got to have a pretty darn powerful 5.1 system before your video game is adding that one final element that makes things difficult in a combat experience: you might die any moment. No quickload, no extra lives, no stimpacks.
    • What computers cannot teach however, is the NOISE and physical presence of a firefight.

      Sure they can - I witness this all the time. I have my super-amped stereo system belting out the sounds of laser blasters, rocket launchers, grenades, and machine guns, and inevitably this evolves into a situation that can be somewhat adequately described as a "firefight" when my wife comes in the room throwing things at me in an effort to silence my combat simulations.
      • by MattyDK23 (819057)

        Ever fire a gun? It's not just the noise, it's the kickback that you need to get used to. Plus actually aiming the damn thing.

        I doubt real people will let you friendly-fire them two or three times before they start to get pissed off...

        • I doubt real people will let you friendly-fire them two or three times before they start to get pissed off.

          No wonder my roommates always forced me to go in front of them after I pick up the nail gun in co-op Quake. I kept telling them that the nail gun was always unstable but they didn't believe me. :P
        • Good points. I have a feeling that you're not ever going to get a convincing gunfire sound simulation from conventionally designed speakers -- that pressure wave just isn't there. Maybe you could do it with compressed air or CO2 or something.

          However I do think that sound from nearby shooters is more of a problem than recoil issues, at least with rifle shooting in military situations (i.e. predominantly from the prone position, most often now with the M16 or a derivative). The recoil on the M16 is pretty neg
        • Ever fire a gun? It's not just the noise, it's the kickback that you need to get used to. Plus actually aiming the damn thing.

          Aim? Who needs aim? They invented automatic weapons for people like me that don't feel like aiming. :)
          • by gardyloo (512791)
            Aim? Who needs aim? They invented automatic weapons for people like me that don't feel like aiming. :)

                  You and the Vice President....
    • Re:Hesitation (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Belseth (835595)
      I'm not one to bash video games, I'm a fan of FPS style games. What's interesting though is you make exactly the same agrument that the anti violence game radicals make. I never supported the argument but I have to wonder if it is in fact true. Especially if the military is using them for that exact reason.
      • I never supported the argument but I have to wonder if it is in fact true.

        I will tell you that it is in fact, true. Desensitizing people to violence can be accomplished virtually. However, there are no statistics that relate a person's likely hood of committing violence after playing video games (which is what the question they anti game people are talking about). The real problem with violence is the availability of small arms. They are everywhere in the world and are actually much easier/cheaper to o
        • Trust me without guns they simply find other means. The guns like the games don't create the mentality involved. The recent explosions of violence in the middle east seem to be excuses for violence. The real causes tend to be too many people with too few resources. It's the old rats in a shoe box. Put a couple of rats in a shoe box and they'll rip each other apart. We may not be running out of space but resources are stretched thin. If you really research the middle east the true cause of the violence isn't
          • I am not saying that guns are the root of violence. They are simply a means to violence. The real root causes are like you say, socio-economic ones. The solution is to help people feel less disenfranchised because when you have something to live for, there are more costs to violence. For many, while they are not actually calculating the metrics, violence becomes cost effective. Give 'em something to loose.

    • Re:Hesitation (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cat6509 (887285)
      "What computers cannot teach however, is the NOISE and physical presence of a firefight." Not that it is the same as combat, ( or anywhere near watching friends die / actually having to KILL someone ) but this is why I like paintball better than FPS games.
    • When I did small arms training, one of the hardest things to do (for the Corps at least) was to get people to pull the trigger at the moment of truth.

      In other words, people have a natural resistance to killing another human being.

      You give me the creeps. I hope I'm not the only one.
      • Re:Hesitation (Score:4, Insightful)

        by BWJones (18351) * on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @07:38PM (#14720538) Homepage Journal
        In other words, people have a natural resistance to killing another human being.

        Exactly. "The moment of truth" is a euphemism that is used as part of the training to further separate the soldier from the possible reality/finality. One of the major problems that any civilized society has however, is the re-indoctrination of soldiers back into civilian life after having those soldiers serve in combat. It is a real psychological/social/medical issue that many of our troops are having to face right now.

        You give me the creeps. I hope I'm not the only one.

        I am sorry you feel that way. I myself am not a soldier, but a scientist now and I would hope that you could reserve judgement for when you truly understand a person. Many of our soldiers are simply carrying out their jobs and doing what they are trained to do. It's a job. If you have a problem with their job, then talk to the people that direct soldiers and deliver the policy and strategy that sends soldiers to work.

      • If you want to debate nature vs. nurture, I'd say that it's equally probable, especially when history is taken into account, that society (upbringing, church, school) has conditioned them against doing so.
    • Re:Hesitation (Score:3, Interesting)

      by William Baric (256345)
      Sorry, but that's bullshit. I did two years of military services. From the beginning we shot on human looking targets and nobody had a problem with that. And a few days after our first target practice we went straight for exercises with practice ammo (not sure if it's called like that in english but, if not, you can guess what I'm talking about) and nobody had a problem with "shooting" other people. We even threw fake grenade (the kind that covers you with white stuff) and we had a lot of fun doing it.

      From
      • So this "hardest thing was to get people to pull the trigger" is plain bullshit.

        OK. So, imagine this scenario..... You are deployed to some central African country, say....Liberia. You are on patrol and come under fire. Your squad takes cover instinctively to orient and determine source of fire. While under fire, a 12 year old boy comes around the corner and levels a battle rifle at you........ this is a 12 year old boy...... Do you fire immediately? Do you hesitate? This is a real world scenario an
      • So this "hardest thing was to get people to pull the trigger" is plain bullshit.

        It was a serious problem in the U.S. Army during World War II. The Army found out that training troops by shooting at traditional bulls-eye targets did not adequately prepare them to shoot at real human beings in battle. It led to a complete revision of the Army's training techniques.

        See Men Against Fire: The Problem of Battle Command [amazon.com] by S.L.A. Marshall.

        When I was in the Army, the static bulls-eye targets had been replac

      • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @08:24PM (#14720905) Homepage Journal

        I never had to shot someone, but I know that in a combat situation I would have done it without hesitation.

        For most armies, the most important and difficult task they face is in training their young soldiers to accurately and deliberately fire their weapons at enemy soldiers. S.L.A. Marshall's classic work "Men Against Fire" first addressed this issue over 50 years ago, and although the statistics he cites in the book have been vigorously disputed, the gist of his argument is still true. So modern armies spend an awful lot of time and energy doing the sort of training you mentioned - running around in the rain and dirt and snow and mud, creating situations that are as close as possible to real combat. If you want to talk about successful training, don't look to video games. Look instead at the NTC [army.mil] and JRTC [army.mil].

        One of the things that no video game (in particular) or sterile target range training environment will ever reproduce is the uncertainty of combat. You are not operating in a pre-defined, bounded killing zone. Your squad leader is shouting something and you're trying to hear what he's saying. You hear the crack of an AK nearby, but your hearing is so screwed up that you can't tell where it came from. You're hot. You're tired. Sweat is running down into your eyes, forcing you to swipe at your face every few minutes with the back of your free hand. Your flak vest is trying to strangle you. There is dust all over the place, making it that much harder to see. There are friendlies nearby. They're supposed to be on your flank, but are they? There are enemy combatants to your front, but they've hidden in a crowd and they don't wear uniforms. Is than an AKS or just a big stick in that kid's hands? Your ears are ringing from the M60 being fired right next to you, and when you can't hear things, it takes one more of your sensory inputs away from you. Now you're relying purely on your vision. What if that guy waving at you at the intersection 100 meters away is a friendly, who lost his helmet somehow? Is he shouting? What is he shouting at you?

        All of this business about virtual combat training is crap. There's a reason small unit combat courses aren't virtual. There's a reason Ranger School, BUD/S, and the Q Course aren't virutal. You train to fight. The closer you can replicate the real experience in training, the more likely you'll do the right thing reflexively in real combat.

        Still, even with all that training, I find it difficult to believe that anyone truly "knows" what they will or will not do when forced to fire a weapon in combat. The military training makes it more likely that you will react as you have been trained, but there is only one way to find out for sure.

        • I've never been in combat, but I was part of an exercise where Navy SEALs simulated an invasion of a camp in the woods we were supposed to defend. I had an M16 with blanks and was a forward sentry. I can tell you, it's amazing how disorienting things can be. I was in my foxhole and could hear gunfire on one of the other sides of the camp. Should I radio in? Should I approach the point of contact? Should I hold my position against flanking action? Should I just keep my head down? It's tense, and not
      • Re:Hesitation (Score:3, Insightful)

        I never had to shot someone, but I know that in a combat situation I would have done it without hesitation.

        Oooh, you're so tough. I'm so impressed.

        I was a medic in Desert Storm (and a civilian ER tech at a hospital nicknamed "The Knife and Gun Club," which was in many ways a comparable experience) and I can tell you that if you'd ever seen the effect a bullet has on a human body up close and personal, you might not be so sure.

        And before that, I was an infantryman, so I went through the same kill-kill-kill
        • Re:Hesitation (Score:2, Interesting)

          by William Baric (256345)
          Do you really think I wanted to impress people ? Do you really think I'm proud that I was able to kill someone without hesitation ?

          I know I'm lucky that I never had to kill anyone and I'm strongly against war.

          But back to the point. I agree that a significant percentage of soldiers still don't shoot at the enemy. But this is still a minority. And a lot of those who don't shoot, don't do it because they are paralysed with fear of dying, not fear of killing. A video game will never change that.
    • I imagine there's also physical exhaustion (not to mention pain). It's a lot easier to run around at 20mph with five weapons, 2000 rounds of ammo, and body armor in "America's Army" than real life.
    • Re:Hesitation (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JahToasted (517101)
      "No hesitation" is a double edged sword. When there is an enemy in front of you you don't want to hesitate. But what if its a civilian or a friendly? You train soldiers to shoot without thinking and they will kill civilians and friendlies.

      Killing civilians gains the resistance recruits. Killing friendlies lowers moral and damages alliances.

      The result is what you see in Iraq. A very quick and effective offensive in the first few weeks followed by a long, drawn out occupation, with a lot of unnecessary fr

    • Columbine ... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705)

      When I did small arms training, one of the hardest things to do (for the Corps at least) was to get people to pull the trigger at the moment of truth. There is a built in hesitation that people have to shooting others. So, training typically starts off with standard targets and then progresses to targets of humans in silhouette, then for close quarters battle training, targets become more realistic looking.

      As I recall, the kids who did the Columbine massacre had a higher percentage of accuracy than many sea

  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @06:58PM (#14720224)
    I learned everything I know about women through the Leisure Suit Larry series.
  • wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 42Penguins (861511) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @06:58PM (#14720225)
    Wait... do video games train killers, or don't they? I'm so confused.
    What does Jack Thompson have to say about this?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @06:58PM (#14720228)
    Yes, thanks to my many grueling hours of Halo training, my situational awareness and my proficiency with all plasma weapons is markedly improved.
  • by BigZaphod (12942) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @06:59PM (#14720232) Homepage
    ..or else Jack Thompson is going to sue their violent-game-promoting asses!
  • by Valiss (463641) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @07:00PM (#14720241) Homepage
    His situation awareness was up. He knew what he had to do. He had done it before -- or something like it up to that point.

    "He was the perfect drone."

    Well, that's how I imagine the next sentence to go. Talking seriously about war and somehow working in Halo doesn't give me the vote of confidence I would expect to get from the military. It simply conjures up images of kids playing FPS's and thinking that it's somehow even remotely close to the real thing.
    • Without bringing out the crazy right wing, did anyone see the Fahrenheit 9/11 footage of troops in combat in Iraq? They were literally a bunch of kids who went around using real weapons like they were in a video game, complete with heavy metal music in the background. Perhaps this is what the Pentagon wants, but to me it seems slightly disturbing that 18 year old kids are trained to rack up frags so casually (perhaps not carelessly) in real life.

      The average 18 year old is barely smart enough not to get (s

      • They were literally a bunch of kids who went around using real weapons like they were in a video game, complete with heavy metal music in the background.

        You don't think, by any chance, that Moore (now rich from pushing as many sensationalized political/emotional buttons as possible) deliberately dug through thousands of hours of combat footage to show (and set to music) the stuff that would most make you take away that very impression? He was making a propoganda film, and he used all of the long-establis
    • by thermopylae300 (583506) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @08:00PM (#14720721)
      Simulations aren't remotely close to the real thing, but you can't accurately simulate war (since death = bad) so you have to break it down into what you can simulate. Sometimes this requires different training exercises in different combinations.

      A few examples:

      Fatigue: Physical stress is the one people always think of, but food/water/sleep deprivation are multiplying factors. The difference between a hero and a coward can be full belly and a good night's sleep. This element is often mixed heavily with the others.

      Battle noise/Fog of war: Live ammo fire and manuever assaults with mortars/artillery (or artillery simulators), machineguns firing over your heads (usually from a hill that allows you to hear the crack of bullets), etc. This is often against plastic pop-up targets (a.k.a Crazy Ivan).

      Enemy fire/cover: This is probably the hardest to simulate. Paintballs and Simunitions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wax_bullets/ [wikipedia.org] are one strategy. Paintballs are undesirable because you want to use your actual weapons. Simunitions are undesirable because it requires expensive weapon parts and simunitions aren't even as accurate as paintballs. Of course, neither of them simulates a near death experience.

      Rifle range - marksmanship: accuracy, speed, distance shooting (500 yards with no scope and a man-sized target)

      Simulations - Inexpensive way to play out complex scenarios. This is newer, but it can be surprisingly creative. The digital portion is only one piece, many Slashdot readers are familiar with what you can do with that end. I've seen some complex scenarios that involved a four man simulation in one room playing military scenarios on a big screen, communicating via radio to a mortar team practicing in a field. This scenario also had a corpsman (medic), referees (point out casualties), and it involved physical training before and after you were in the simulation.

      By the time you get behind your rifle to execute the scenario you are dripping sweat and breathing heavily. In the middle of the game you might have to fireman carry your buddy to the corpsman (medic) or call in fictitious artillery/air strikes.

      It isn't combat, but it is good training.

    • "He was the perfect drone."

      "Wired" ran a cover story on a Doom mod used by the marines abour a decade back.

      What a small unit must have to survive in combat is instinctive, by-the-book, disciplined, team play. You cannot improvise solutions under fire.

  • Americas army... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mayhemt (915489) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @07:00PM (#14720246)
    I love americas army http://www.americasarmy.com/ [americasarmy.com] ..
    very role based, strategic shooting game...& above all its free ;-)
    $$ profit
    • I love americas army http://www.americasarmy.com/ [americasarmy.com] ..
      very role based, strategic shooting game...& above all its free ;-)

      And above all, marketed as a way to recruit people into the Army and teach some of the skillsets they desire -- working as a squad, tactics, not hesitating on your targets, etc.

      I'm not willing (or qualified) to say that FPS games lead to *ahem* 'anti-social behaviour'.

      But it's probably safe to say that for those with a predisposition or inclination to such things, FPS games probably g

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @07:04PM (#14720282)
    To prohibit spawn camping.
  • by kclittle (625128) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @07:06PM (#14720299)
    So, on the one hand we have all the game makers vehemently denying that the violence of FPS's can be blamed for causing young people in the real world to go shoot up their schools, while on the other you have former high-ranking military officers declaring:
    "The technology in games has facilitated a revolution in the art of warfare," says David Bartlett, the former chief of operations at the Defense Modeling and Simulation Office, a high-level office within the Defense Department and the focal point for computer-generated training at the Pentagon. "When the time came for him" -- meaning Swales -- "to fire his weapon, he was ready to do that. And capable of doing that. His experience leading up to that time, through on-the-ground training and playing 'Halo' and whatever else, enabled him to execute. His situation awareness was up. He knew what he had to do. He had done it before -- or something like it up to that point."

    So, which is it?

    • I'll bite.

      "When the time came for him ... to fire his weapon" is the important clause describing when the training came into effect. Nothing in TFA implies that this training turned any soldiers into bloodthirsty trigger-happy monsters (not that there haven't been such soldiers in the past, but the past includes a lot of time before gaming).

      The video games are just an effective supplement to and replacement for some aspects of regular military training. I find it very plausible that FPS and related game
    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @07:29PM (#14720469) Homepage
      It is absolutely true that video games don't cause a student to go shoot up a school, any more than training simulators cause a soldier to go to war.

      Training in a video game prepares soldiers for firing on real humans in battle because they know that is what they are training for. A soldier is a professional killer. They have already signed up to kill people, and are being trained in how to do that. The simulator is just preparation, preparation for a real-life job. Mentally preparing soldiers for the difficult task of firing on another living human was done long before the video game, and this is nothing more than an extension of that training using technology.

      This is nothing at all like playing a game casually at home. Could a student bent on shooting up his school use an FPS to mentally prepare themselves, like the soldier? Sure. Could a mentally unbalanced person try to carry over their virtual endeavors into the real world? Sure. But in both cases, whether deliberately or not, you have a person blurring the line between the game and reality. This person was already dangerous/i> and video games aren't doing anything that any number of movies, books, or just imagination couldn't do.

      If you are capable of distinguishing between reality and fantasy -- and any sane child over age 9 should easily be able to do this -- then there is no danger of video games causing you to shoot up a school. If you make the conscious decision to use video games to train yourself to kill, then you are either a soldier training for war, or a psychopath training for crime. In no case are video games to blame.

    • Let me put my point more conscisely and without the bad formatting (Second time today I've forgotten "preview"; unforgiveable):

      There is a fundamental difference between using combat simulators for training, and combat simulators for casual entertainment. Proof? Military training is very effective at producing soldiers who are able to pull the trigger in the real situation, but isn't 100% as many soldiers still have problems firing on a real human. The desired goal is to blur the fantasy of the simulator
    • Violent games can help prepare you to commit violence, if that's what you're trying to accomplish by playing them. They can also assist you to relax after a long day's work, if that's what you're trying to accomplish by playing them. Violent games can help you overcome squeamishness with violence, if that's what you're trying to accomplish by playing them. (Violent or other) games can help you build hand-eye coordination, if that's what you're trying to accomplish by playing them.

      Violent games don't make pe
  • by STUPiDflY (192885) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @07:07PM (#14720302) Homepage
    Why not just take the entire war to the virtual world then? That would be awesome! "Tonight at eleven we'll have live coverage from the war in Iran. The US Special Forces have cornered the insurgents into de_dust after dominating them 4-0 in a de_dust2 tournament. 12 year old Mikey Thompson who leads the USSF says he's confident about the outcome as the insurgents are all 'camping awp wh0res'."
  • Enders Game (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WHAMP3 (730701) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @07:13PM (#14720350) Homepage
    FUNNY!!! Seems like Orson Scott Card had the right idea after all. Sounds to me like the defense department has started reading Enders Game instead of listening to Bush =)
  • by tacokill (531275) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @07:24PM (#14720423)
    At what point do you draw the line (if there even is one) and restrict what a simulation can do? Hear me out on this one before you flame me for being a freedom hater...

    We all know that "simulations" - be it games, VR, or whatever - are getting more and more realistic. And that trend will continue until things are VERY realistic. We all also know that many simulations are based on a wide variety of behaviors that society would not want to encourage. (ie: killing someone in Doom is fine, doing it in the real world is obviously bad)

    So how do you draw a line between these two? Or is there even a line? Obviously a simulation is just that -- a fake environment that mimics a real environment. But from the sound of this article, simulations have a very REAL effect on those who are participating in them - at least according to the military. So their impact stretches beyond their own environment and "spills out" into real, quantifiable behaviors, actions, and feelings.

    So, I guess my question is this: is there ever a point where we have to draw some lines about what is and is not allowed in simulations? Be it violence based. Or sexually based. Or behaviorally based. Is there ever a point where we have to say NO?

    • So how do you draw a line between these two? Or is there even a line? Obviously a simulation is just that -- a fake environment that mimics a real environment. But from the sound of this article, simulations have a very REAL effect on those who are participating in them - at least according to the military. So their impact stretches beyond their own environment and "spills out" into real, quantifiable behaviors, actions, and feelings.

      The virtual environments don't "spill out", the soldier deliberately choo
    • Is there ever a point where we have to say NO?

      Probably not, except for designing safety protocols for the Holodeck so nobody really gets hurt. Aside from that, no I think we will continue to try improving simulation regardless of subject matter, to the point of it being BTL (Better Than Life), and that the motivation to pursue virtual reality will continue until we get there. If we never do get there, we will probably still keep trying as long as our species exists. We started all this a long time before co
    • by LionKimbro (200000) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @08:41PM (#14721004) Homepage
      Well, freedom hater, here is how you draw the line.

      If you kill someone with a gun in real life and they die, that's bad. But if you kill someone with a gun in a game, and they don't die in real life, that's okay.

      If we need to draw a physical line, we can draw a nice outline around the chips in your computer. Until knives and bullets come flying out of your computer chips, the line has not been crossed.

      Now as for the next question: "Is there ever a point where we have to say NO?" ...the answer is, "no."

      You are free to limit your own mind, for the sake of protecting yourself from whatever horrible creatures of the imagination you want to avoid choosing for yourself. But that does not give you blanket authority to determine the operation of other people's imaginations, no matter how much you fear the creatures of their imagining.

      Punish them for their actions, but not their drawings. I mean words.

      Glad to be of service.
  • Didn't this all start with tabletop wargames? Perhaps someone can refresh my memory as to what TSR (as in the folks that published Dungeons & Dragons) originally stood for. Is the military increasing its reliance on games, or just increasingly using fancy FPS engines?
  • If it is possible to train millions in the black art of violence,
    which is the law of the Beast, it is more possible to train them
    in the white art of non-violence, which is the law of regenerate man.

    Human dignity is best preserved not by developing the capacity to
    deal destruction but by refusing to retaliate. (Gandhi; I-228)

  • by Mancat (831487) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @07:46PM (#14720596) Homepage
    When China finally launches nukes at us and commences ground offensive operations, I'll already be fully familiar with military hand signals, squad and individual tactics, and weapon systems. I'll be able to link up with militia and fight for the 'ol Red White & Blue, whithout ever having been in the military in my entire life. I'll be living the survivalist's dream!

    All thanks to you, Full Spectrum Warrior!
  • by WRoach (863245)
    Against an unsuspecting opposing force, I'm pretty sure bunny hopping and crouching would work for a couple years.

    disclaimer: I don't play AA and you don't know Halo was a bogus reference

    On a serious note now, considering my experience as a long time America's Army player and warfare coordinator of my clan, I'm totally confident in saying that playing FPS matches is the next best thing to RL when it comes to learning and testing strategies as well as learning how to behave during an operation.
  • Trigger Happy? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stephen Samuel (106962) <`samuel' `at' `bcgreen.com'> on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @07:54PM (#14720668) Homepage Journal
    "It didn't even faze me, shooting back."

    Might this cause an entirely different problem -- Trigger happy soldiers?

    Ultimately, success in almost any occupation situation depends on making the people accept the new government. If soldiers are too trigger-happy and don't mind shooting people, you can end up with more innocent 'collateral damage'.

    Dead non-combatants can make the surviving members of the family more hateful of your army. Some of them will go into the resistance, and the army now has more people to worry about -- so they become more trigger-happy. It quickly becomes a death-spiral.

    This would explain at least part of the problem that US soldiers are having.

  • What was that warning Snake had about being heavily trained in virtual simulations? Something about an army of numbed machines just itching for a high score? :)
  • Companies like Forterra [forterrainc.com] are producing tools that really do help soldiers (and medics and others) feel like they've "been there" before they really are there. This saves lives, something soldiers testing these systems assert. It's not about making some suburban kid into an automatic trigger-puller. It's about helping green troops to make snap decisions (with lethal consequences for either acting or not acting) with a little more confidence. Not to mention that products like Forterra's are all about live huma
  • by AzraelKans (697974) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @07:59PM (#14720709) Homepage
    I have no idea why the government keeps trying to pull this completely false fact as some mantra, FPS games are not "soldier trainers", I have played hundreds of FPS yes, they make you FEEL like you are ready for a dangerous situation should it happen, but as soon as you face something similar in real life, your brain starts to recognize patterns the smell of blood and gun powder, the noise, the simple realization you are in mortal danger, it all triggers the alarms. If you have no real training you are still are as defenseless as any other civilian.

    I have to confess this actually happened to ME, I witnessed a real robbery, one of the robbers was shot (in the leg) a few feet from me, I couldnt even MOVE. Let me get this straight: contrary to Jack Thompson's and Government theories I did not grabbed a gun from the robbers and blew them away while dropping catchy lines or checking some imaginary score, I was PARALYSED, convinced I was going to get killed any minute, and tried to stay as low as possible (just like any guy would) then as soon as things were calmed I almost puked in the bathroom.

    Soldiers have to go trough basic training as always, games such as AA have been used for years only to teach soldiers to strategize during combat, and specifically AA teaches soldiers to play by the book other than going out solo, they have to comply every task they are commanded or lose.

    Dont even try to get the "Murder simulator" on me you cant even save your OWN life with that "training".

    • A friend of mine once described it to me this way: He used to run with a rough crowd, carried a gun, hurt people as favors for other people, etc. He told me, relaying one of his own experiences with having a gun pointed at him, "It doesn't matter how hardcore you are, it doesn't matter how much you've been through, if someone gets a gun to your head and you don't have yours, it all changes, and you turn into a total pussy instantly."
    • The military uses games to teach soldiers teamwork and awareness, not how to shoot guns. War games are still critical. Live ammunition training is still critical. Live experience is important. Games are also important.

      One only needs to play a racing game and then take a cruze to get it.
  • Not new, just better
    Pilots, tank crews, navy crews have been using simulators for years...decades. And now, it is far more than just switchology. Tactics, communication, positioning all come in to play in the sim.

    Soldiers on the ground need exactly the same training. It's far easier, faster, and cheaper to put 10 guys in a simulated environment, where they can make mistakes (and learn from those mistakes), than it is to put them out in the field.
    Reset...let's go over it again.

    No, it's not perfect. Nothing

  • Unfortunately, soldiers who grew up playing games like "Fallout" insist upon fighting with BB Guns and Spears, and refuse to shoot unless they can get a bead on the eyes or the groin.
  • If Hillary Clinton or Jack Thompson get hold of this article, they're likely to have a field day with it.

    I will admit that probably the most realistic game I've played was Half Life, which probably wasn't realistic, for the most part. I've also played a lot of Doom, (who hasn't?) and the game which I overwhelmingly excel at is the original Max Payne. (Although of course, that is completely and entirely unrealistic. I use Bullet Time in virtually any game I can find it, including via modifications, as it all
  • On Killing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Inthewire (521207)
    Former West Point instructor Lt. Col. Dave Grossman [killology.com] wrote a fascinating book called On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society [barnesandnoble.com] that addresses, among other things, techniques used by the military to train soldiers to kill.
    He brings up some interesting points, including only 15 to 20 percent of the individual riflemen in World War II fired their own weapons at an exposed enemy soldier and Conditioning in flight simulators enables pilots to respond reflexively to emergency situat
  • Can you say... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "Ender's Game"?
  • It's funny that some of the posters here feel that the idea of "games" are new to military planning. If anything, games based on military maneuvers in war have been around since the beginning. What do you think chess is? It's a board representation of war. Not as we fight it today, but as it was fought.

    The first quotes in the article give the wrong impression, really. No, any FPS is not like the real thing. I was pleased to see them mention "Marine Doom," since it was the first use of mods for an

  • On Killing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alphafoo (319930) <loren@boxbe.com> on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @08:55PM (#14721086) Homepage
    I never put much faith in the idea that voilent video games help make kids into killers until I read Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's book On Killing, which discusses in a systematic and well-referenced manner exactly what the armed forces have done since the Civil War to increase the firing rate of their infantrymen.

    Firing rate? Contrary to what you may think of the typical Civil War battlefield, most soldiers did not fire their weapons. On a big field running with blood, cannons booming and everyone screaming, most soldiers would not fire a single shot. Battles would end with literally thousands upon thousands of loaded muskets on the ground. Fast forward to WWII, where we have the image of brave American soliders firing automatic weapons under terrible conditions. The nonfiring rate among infantrymen was 80-85%. Further, only 1% of airmen accounted for over 40% of all downed enemy aircraft. Most pilots did not shoot anyone down or even try to.

    The Army decided to look into this. What they found out is that people generally don't want to kill anybody, and would often rather die themselves, even in battle when they are scared to death, than shoot someone. Not that the soldiers were cowards. On the contrary, the same soldiers that would not fire a shot would repeatedly take terrible risks to rescue a wounded comrad. But the Army wanted them to pull the trigger and hit something, and they figured out how. The only way someone that scared would be able to do anything in that situation is if they had been subject to operant conditioning. They would need to program the soldier's midbrain to fire the weapon, since the forebrain is no longer in use under that much stress. They began to make training as realistic as possible in terms of exposure to violence, and make the thought/action of killing part of a soldier's reflex, so that when the bullets started flying, the American soldier would respond.

    It worked. During Korea the nonfiring rate among infantrymen rose to about 55%, and by Vietnam it was an amazing 90-95%. The American infantryman was a killer on the battlefield, and only later did the Army realize that fully 98% of soldiers who experience close combat and pull the trigger would be psychiatric casualties. The 2% that weren't mentally crippled are people who, outside the military, would be locked up.

    The author makes an excellent study of how this sort of operant conditioning for violence exists outside the military, in movies and video games. Before you knee-jerk and say that violent video games have no impact on the children who play them hours and hours a day, and who then go watch violent movies and television, you should check out this book. It's hard to dismiss the data out of hand.

  • by Hunter-Killer (144296) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @09:19PM (#14721201)
    My unit went through a computerized simulation before our deployment to Iraq in 2003.

    Disclaimer: I'm active-duty Army (only for a few more days, hallelujah), but I'm not infantry or a "combat arms" MOS. I'm Signal, and have likely spent more time debating OSPF vs EIGRP than being on patrol. MOS25F/Node Center FTW.

    As I said earlier, this was back in 2003, so I'm sure the tech has improved a bit since I went through.

    Typical exercise involves 6-8 guys in a darkened room. The simulation is projected at one end of the room, and we are arrayed directly across from it. We are provided with M16s, and one person each gets an AT4 anti-tank rocket and M16/M203 grenade launcher. I don't recall if blanks were used with the M16, or if firing sounds were simulated.

    Simulation starts with a nostalgic orange/white 3dfx splash screen. They wouldn't let me near the console PC, so I'll never know if it ran on a Voodoo5 6000. :)

    Everyone is in either a crouched or prone position, and we are greeted with picturesque dunes. A Soviet-style armored vehicle rolls across the screen, slowly meandering towards our posision. Nobody does anything. Bah, everybody's frozen up, I thought. I take the initiative, and start unloading my M16's magazine into it. Sure enough, everyone else does the same a few seconds later.

    Fun fact: 5.56 mm rounds have no effect on armored APCs. After being enlightened of this by the instructor, the simulation is run again. This time we get infantry swarming at us from over and between the dunes. We engage, and shoot at squad based groups for a few minutes. A running tally is maintained, and we are told our scores at the end. As expected, we were all wildly inaccurate (I blame sensor calibration), with the exception of the M203 guy, who managed to rack up a sizable percentage of kills. Who needs accuracy when you have grenades?

    Since then, training has been heavily modified to focus more on "modern" threats, but I don't think I should go into particulars. ;)
  • No video game will be a complete "warrior" training simulator until the video game can physically punch you in the face.
  • ... I just keep thinking back at the Brits' attempt to subdue Ireland in the 1800s. They had vastly better technology (...and you better BELIEVE that Private Smith discharged his Weapon at the pike-wielding Paddy when ordered...) but, as a contemporary stated:

    "...the half naked peasants of a few counties of Ireland, without arms or ammunition, or any other leaders than those there was not wisdom to deprive them of, their misery and their despair, could wage war and gain victories over the most costly ar

  • by Money for Nothin' (754763) on Tuesday February 14, 2006 @11:59PM (#14722041)
    From IGN: [ign.com]

    Pliskin : VR, huh.

    Raiden : But realistic in every way.

    Pliskin : A virtual grunt of the digital age. That's just great.

    Raiden : That's far more effective than live exercises.

    Pliskin : You don't get injured in VR, do you? Every year, a few soldiers
                              die in field exercises.

    Raiden : There's pain sensation in VR, and even a sense of reality and
                              urgency. The only difference is that it isn't actually happening.

    Pliskin : That's the way they want you to think, to remove you from the
                              fear that goes with battle situations. War as a video game --
                              what better way to raise the ultimate soldier?


    -- Solid Snake meeting Raiden, referring to that whiny metrosexual on his first mission with nothing but VR training under his belt.

    This was simultaneously a very humorous and clever way of smacking the player into realizing that there is a vast difference between war in video games and real war; yet, that the wars of video games assist real-world warriors by desensitizing them to violence... The blunt irony of that conversation was probably lost on more people than it should have been, and I imagine a lot of impatient fools skipped over it as being "just another damn cutscene"...

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