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United States Entertainment Games

Army Game Proves U.S. Can't Lose 636

Alien54 writes to tell us that the latest game in the US Army's recruiting toolbox is an impressive game, simulating both weaponry already in use and some still on the drawing board. The game portrays the nation's military in 2015 but, as some critics have said, may lack even the most basic elements of realism. From the article: "For example, there's no consideration that military power or technology could fail or be jammed, she says. And the enemy doesn't learn, in contrast to a certain real-life conflict where the hallmark of insurgents is their ability to rapidly gain knowledge and evolve."
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Army Game Proves U.S. Can't Lose

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  • Re:A sim (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ksempac ( 934247 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:21AM (#17014626)
    You are confusing 2 words : "game" and "simulation".

    A game is something you can play it to have some fun.
    A simulation is an attempt to simulate the real world by including real physics and real world constraints.
    A simulation might be a game if you can play it. But a game isn t always a simulation.

    For example Need for Speed is a racing game which isn t a simulation. You can drive at insane speed and even if you crash into a wall your car wont notice it (not real world physics). Moreover even if you re the most dangerous guy on the road, its easy to get rid of the police (not real world constraints).
    On the other hand, TOCA Touring car is a racing game which is also a simulation. If you go too fast you go out of the track at the first turn. And if you run into your opponents, you will receive some damages (real world physics), and might get disqualified (real world constraints.
  • Re:A sim (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:29AM (#17014658) Homepage Journal
    Arguably, making failure possible is more important in a game than in a simulation. What makes the game fun is that you don't suffer any consequences from failure, so you can try again and beat it.

    Writing a perfect simulation is like writing a piece of software which can prove any theorem. It's not possible in any practical sense.

    The key in the simulation are the assumptions it embodies. We currently spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined. Presumably this is to cover just about every forseeable circumstance to a sufficient degree that victory can be acheived, if not promptly, eventually. It may well be that under every forseen scenario, the resources we have can be adapted in time to achieve victory.

    Wisdom, however, takes into account the unforseen. The respose to overwhelming force is to choose and limit the time and place of conflict carefully, probing the response and discovering oversights, which there always are. This means we shouldn't put too much confidence in our simulations.

    Another thing it would be wise to consider is the difference between what you might think you're willing to do in a hypothetical situation, and what you're actually willing to do when it comes up. Nobody can say whether success in Iraq could have been achieved by a different strategy, but I believe we didn't commit resources to establish order in the post invasion phase because of an unwillingness to face up to the economic costs of occupation beforehand. The initial estimates of the war cost were $100 to $300 billion. These figures were amended for political reasons to around $50 billion. We are now well above the $300 billion mark, not because of the unforseen, but our unwillingness to acknowledge forseeable possibilities. In effect, we decided to use the best case scenario in our planning because it would be easier to sell. This is not an unheard of phenomenon. Any geek can tell you tales of project management by wishful thinking.
  • Re:Escaping reality? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by malsdavis ( 542216 ) * on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:30AM (#17014668)
    Its the old Salesmen vs. Engineer problem.

    The Salesmen's job is to sell the product (i.e. the politician selling the idea of an easily won war)
    The Engineer's job is to actually deliver the product (i.e. the army actually winning the said war)

    No-one ever seems to listen to the engineers, it's always the salesman who the client communicates with; the half which has absolutely no experience of what is actually required to get the job done (or whether it is even technically possible).

    To me, the parallels between the current Iraq war situation and your typical incompetently specified I.T. project are startling.
  • Re:But wait ... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:32AM (#17014684)
    ahhh, while that may be true, it would be a very, very costly war on all sides. The US has nukes, the point of which, you should only use as a last resort, because the rest of the world also has nukes. Should the rest of the world declare war, the US will make sure its nukes are ready to go at a triggers noticie, and keep a eye out for other countries trying to nuke the US.

    The US has a very strong military, and also has that military already mobilised (altho in poor condition after fighting in Iraq for so long), and could easly defend itself agaist any single nation. If a arab nation declared war on the US, and made as allies alther nations that did the same, the arab nation would most likely be on the front line, trying to bog down the US military where it stands, which should be effective if Saudia Arabia also declares war against the US, as well as Iran, Iraq would then be squashed, pinning the US military on two sides, air evactuation could prove effective to remove the US troops, but Arabia and Iran could use sufface to air missles to take them out (if they have any left, im sure they do, in any case, insurgents and terrorists groups like alquada will provide them, to try and take out as many US troops and planes as possible, the US should be able to get out, but it lose a good portion of its military, certianly a lot of whatever equimpment is in Iraq. If the US stays to do a proper evactuation, it will still have to hold off two sides, this will demorilise the US troops, and most certianly take out a good number of US troops (altho, the US will inflict heavy casualties, unless terrorists and insurgents already in Iraq can cause as much destruction as possible on US troops so they cant mount a effective or good defence.

    The US has bases and troops in lots of countries, over a houndred if i recall. The countries you mentioned will most certianly pin down the US bases as soon as they can, and slater whatever US troops they can find left in them. There is no way the US will try to defend those bases with what little military force it has outside of the middle east, the bases are surrounded with little defences and troops, trying to defence would just waste resources.

    From this point, politics will play quickely. Is the rest of the world going to declare war? More importently, what nations inside of america will also declare war on the US, or will ally with the US? The most importent nations would be Canada and Mexico, with Canada being in a stronger strategic position (being near the US, as well as Russia and Europe, it would make the perfect place to have if you wanted to invade the US). If Canada sides against the US, Alaska will be the first state to fall, its surrounded by Russia and Canada, US forces should be very thin, and most likely making a withdraw into its own territory looking for a place to setup a defencive line. Alaska, while being a very good place for the US to have, just dosent have a big population, and i assume not a very good military arm either that is actually there, so it should fall rather fast, no more then a month if Russia and Canada push hard.

    The US will be totally on the defensive by this point, with its military mostly in the middle east taking a pounding, and invasion threat from Canada and Mexico (or even one of those), the US would be insane not to withdraw what forces it does have to a stronger defencive position, most likely trying to push to Toranto in Canada along the mountians, as well as placing defences along the rocky/cascade mountian ranges, as well as whatever rivers that exist along the planes that could act as a naturaly boundry to Canadian forces.

    Anyways, thats skip ahead, with the US forces pushed back into its own territory, and the rest of the world agaist us, the question now comes, do we use nukes? If we do, so will the enemy. This question could have been asked at anytime in the battle, on either side, but now the US is in a desprate situation, do you hold them off and pray you can manufacture enough techno weapons t
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:48AM (#17014796)
    Armies conquer territory, not people. They're also particularly blunt instruments of foreign policy. These tenets have been proved repeatedly for at least 2000 years, if not for all of recorded history. Unless the US invades Russia or China, or invades somebody who's WMD armed, they can't lose a war.

    However, they'll lose the peace unless there's a common frame of reference from which to rebuild. Different tools and approaches are required for winning the peace, if it's even possible to do so.
  • by Ours ( 596171 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:50AM (#17014816)
    Since when was war supposed to be fun and desirable?

    Obviously you haven't played THIS game yet. I tried it yesterday, sounded cool, nice intro and then bam: it's all played on a 2D map with icons. Oh the briefing that lasts 8 minutes and contains 98% hardcore military jargon. Tons of fun.
    Well, I guess hardcore war gamers will find it fun. I'd rather go back and play another run of Company of Heroes. But thanks to the American tax payer anyway, this is still tons better then the National Guard's crappy "PRISM Guard" FPS that tries to convince us into accepting big-brother style tech.
  • America's Army (Score:2, Interesting)

    by apharmdq ( 219181 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @08:52AM (#17014822)
    Of all the multiplayer FPSs I've found out there, America's Army is the only one I really stick to and play regularly. Despite it's flaws, (and it's hardly a perfectly designed game) it encourages strategic gameplay and teamwork. Perhaps it's because I suck at fast-twitch FPSs, but the idea of actually outthinking your opponents really appeals to me. Quite simply, the game is fun.

    Now I know the game is propaganda for the US Army and any ideals it holds, but I haven't joined the forces yet, nor do I ever plan to. The game doesn't get too in-your-face about it, and in all honesty, I'd rather put up with a bit of propaganda as opposed to the in-game advertising that's starting to fill most modern games. At least it fits the context of the game and keeps me immersed.

    At very least, America's Army is fun, and that's a lot more than can be said for many of the other shooters out there.

    As for this new game in the works, well, a lot of the fun in AA comes from the challenge of your limitations. If you remove those limitations, it would make the game a bit too easy to be fun, and that's what I see this as. With futuristic weapons and tech, you can't follow real-world rules because you don't know what those rules will be, and thus you lose some of the limitations out there. (And perhaps make up unnecessary ones.) So while I find this development interesting, I'm going to wait and see what comes of it.
  • by phelix_da_kat ( 714601 ) * on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:00AM (#17014898)
    Well, i guess the user specs were: make it like a game but better than Amercia's Army and a FPS.

    In the end, it is a recuitment tool to lure all those console kids to join, with the promise of "cool weapons".

    Its aimed (no pun intended) at the kids.. i hope there is not an adult who would make a career decision based on a game...

  • by CmdrGravy ( 645153 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:00AM (#17014902) Homepage
    Yes, that's a good example. The UK was then a superpower and fielding one of the most powerful and advanced armies of the day. In a straight one on one shock and awe type engagement the US wouldn't have stood a chance but that option wasn't on the table for various reasons and the "terrorists" were able to take advantage of both the UK's engagements elsewhere and the public feeling of most British citizens to avoid unecessary slaughter and bloodshed on their American cousins.

    Even if you have the most powerful military forces in the world there will always be areas which people can exploit to achieve their own ends and the bigger a player you are the more of those areas you will expose for your enemies to exploite.
  • by khakipuce ( 625944 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:03AM (#17014918) Homepage Journal
    It might be a recruiting tool but setting unrealistic expectations is just daft. Army recruiting in the UK is all about doing exciting stuff and seeing the world, not about being shot at and enduring weeks of boardom punctuated by fighting for your life.

    People then wonder why moral is low and troops and their parents are complaining about the support and conditions. If I tried to sell you something by misrepresenting it, I would be liable to prosecution, and you would get you money back.
  • America's Army (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:19AM (#17015074)
    In their previous propaganda game, America's Army (which we play a lot at the office because it's free, not because we actually like the US army), weapons could jam. And hitting the enemy is far from trivial; a well aimed shot with a good scope is often worth a lot more than a machine gun. But when you're hit and the bullet doesn't kill you outright (which it might), you move slower, and you can still bleed to death. Pretty convincing game IMO. On the other hand, the game also clearly demonstrates the US view that your own side is always the good guys, and the opponents are always the bad guys: both sides see their team mates as US soldiers, and the other side as terrorists. It confuses a lot of new players who want to know if they're the Americans or the terrorists, and who else is on their side.
  • Re:Escaping reality? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @09:26AM (#17015140) Journal
    Speaking of departing reality...

    While I'm utterly aware of the difficulties facing the US military in Iraq (and particularly how mismanaged the post-invasiona deployment has been by the Bush administration) I'm not entirely sure you can say the US is being "whipped" in Iraq.

    To conquer a nation of 22 million = 3,000 casualties (the huge majority of which have been caused in occupation operations). Germany's population in WW2 was 55 million. Think about that for a second.

    When your opposition has no way to fight back but by using car bombs and IEDs, that's a resistance, not a civil war.

    Relevant to the OP, I think the whiz-bang of AA is more than a little sickening, but I don't dispute that as a military force the US is probably man-for-man in the top 5, and in overall combat power is unequalled.
  • Re:But wait ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DMoylan ( 65079 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @10:03AM (#17015540)
    worked for the russians in wwii against a technologically superior enemy

    worked for the chinese in the korean war

    to quote stalin (maybe)
    Quantity has a quality all its own
  • Re:But wait ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EvilTwinSkippy ( 112490 ) <yoda@ e t o y> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @10:16AM (#17015714) Homepage Journal
    Except that you have to deliver your horde into the belly of the infidel.

    Last I checked there was about 6000 miles of Ocean between the US and China. And the US has a deep water navy, while China does not.
  • Re:Not anymore (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ash Vince ( 602485 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @11:00AM (#17016320) Journal
    The other irony being that Saddam was helped into power by the CIA when the country was overrun with lefties and we wanted oil from them. (The same lefties had previously nationalised all the oil industry and forced US companies out when they came to power in a bloodless coup in the 70s)

    He only became an enemy of the US when he invaded another country with oil to give himself more market share so he could force the price up. If he had stuck with gassing the Kurds the US would have ingored this and carried on buying oil from him until it ran out.

    Look at Saudi. They are a corrupt and non-demcratic kingdom. They fund terrorism (9/11 - Osama Bin Laden is a saudi). Yet they still have US support as long as they pretend to be our allies in public and sell us oil.
  • Re:But wait ... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by __aamnbm3774 ( 989827 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @11:07AM (#17016440)
    Forget Diplomacy, lets assume everyone hates the USA.

    We would suck if a world war broke out.

    This Iraq war is proof that nobody is even United in our States anymore. Nobody in this country cares for anyone else, they only look out for themselves. Add that on top of our Republican / Democrat split, and we don't even realize we are part of the same country.

    Half the country might go to war, the rest would bitch about how wrong it is, and constantly interfere with it.

    We cant even get enough soldiers to fight in the current war, let alone something global.

    We would be slaughtered.
  • Re:But wait ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pnewhook ( 788591 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @11:30AM (#17016860)

    Actually that's not quite true either. At the time, the British considered the US citizens members of the British empire so they were recruiting them for the war against France - that explains the taking of citizens off of merchant ships (I dont agree that was right, but the British did not recognize the soverignty of the US at the time). Britain didn't want the US trading with France because of the ongoing war with France and Napoleon - the Hitler of the day.

    The US invaded Canada (BNA at the time) because they saw a strategic value of owing all of North America - and some arrogant US polititians thought that they would be freeing the Canadians from British rule.

    But yes, the battle of New Orleans utterly failed..

  • Re:But wait ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Shipwack ( 684009 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @11:44AM (#17017134)
    The US doesn't own the sea; it's actually a lease that'll be terminated as soon as anyone gets annoyed enough with us to use their stealthy diesel boats and anti-ship missiles to take out.our carriers.

    For a possible preview of this scenario, look up the Malvinas War (or the Faulklands War, if you would prefer), where the UK lost two ships to what everyone assumed was an ignorant Third World country, and never did manage to locate all of Argentina's submarines.

    Anti-missile technology has advanced since then, but missile technology has advanced more.
  • Re:But wait ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hador_nyc ( 903322 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @12:13PM (#17017628) Homepage
    Er right. Verses the combined military might of Russia, China, France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy to name a few. Bring your head out of the clouds! In a conventional military engagement with the rest of the world the US would literally be slaughtered. The rest of the world have more soldiers, more planes, more ships and more than 10 times the US production capability and land access via the rest of the continent. If you really believe what you just posted then you are a blind moron.
    That would depend on the battlefield. Few countries have the air/sea lift that the US does. In fact, most EU nations send their troops/equipment to conflict areas on US aircraft/ships. In this theoretical non-nuclear engagement, transit would be the key factor. In the Battle of the Atlantic, the Germans sure did one hell of a job on Allied shipping, and we did on Japanese shipping in WWII. If the attack were to come to the US via Canada/Mexico, then the transit of forces to those countries would be threatened by the USAF and US Navy. Conversely, the advantage would be to foreign nations if we had to defend our current deployed forces, or fight on foreign soil.

    Also, aside from munitions production, most war equipment takes an awful long time to build. Gone are the days of WWII and Detroit pumping planes and tanks out by the thousands. I don't care who's building them, but production capacity would be less of an issue in this theoretical war. We'd use up everything too quickly.

    One more thing to consider is that most of the world uses some American built equipment. The F-16 is everywhere; along with a multitude of other US produced equipment; like the F-14s that Iran flies. Certainly the Russians, China, the EU make their own jets/tanks/stuff, but a significant portion of the world's military equipment is stamped with a made in the USA sticker. After all, we are the world's biggest arms dealer. The last I checked, we had the rest of the world beat; combined. No, I am not proud of that fact.

    The last problem is that we would lose. In just about every war game that we had in Germany during the Cold War, we pretty much always had to resort to using Nukes to hold back all of those Russian tanks. The A-10 was built to help with that, but even lots of them didn't really tip the equation.

    So, yes, we'd lose, but it's would be difficult to consider the situation without nukes flying.

    Still, in a recruiting tool, and that game is one, why would anyone expect that the Army would allow a situation that it could lose? To me, even though it is far from realistic, it is just good marketing on their part. They'll get more recruits that way. After all, the oldest joke in the US military is "How can you tell when a recruiter is lying? ... When his/her lips are moving." I certainly knew that before I signed any paperwork, but I'm 3rd generation military.

    For the record, I am a veteran of the USAF, as is my father and my grandfather was a Army soldier. That, and I think the poster you're replying to was trolling. Me, I'm just wasting time!
  • Re:nukes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by teh_chrizzle ( 963897 ) <kill-9 AT hobbiton DOT org> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @02:14PM (#17020234) Homepage

    the US would totally use nukes way earlier than anyone else in full on military conflict. why do you think we are so desperate to stop the rest of the world from getting them? the US wins wars by using *way* more firepower than the enemy. that's why grunts say "if at first you don't succeed, call in an airstrike". in the case of japan, the firepower escalated to the atomic bomb because we were not sure we could succeed in a full scale invasion of the japanese mainland. that's how our boys play the game, they fight until they are worried about losing, and then they double the amount of firepower. pretty much all US military doctorine involves bringing artillery to gunfight.

    that is also why the US *sucks* at policing actions... our war machines are designed to enable a realtively small number of troops to inflict massive casualties in situations where they are greatly outnumbered. you can't police people with the same weapons and tactics that you use to hunt and kill them. look at the 2003 invasion of iraq, or fallujia, mogadishu or even the american invasion of afghanistan. in all of those cases, US servicemen died, but the enemy and civilian casualties were significantly higher. that is to be expected when you are using laser guided bombs to fight people armed with AK47's. coincidentally, that's why iraq has become such a sore subject, the world's most sophisticated military can't keep control over a bunch of guys who make bombs in their basements.

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