New Army Office Focuses on Video Games

With the opening of a new office dedicated to video game simulations, the United States Army is looking to significantly increase the role of video games in training exercises. As part of the Training and Doctrine Command's project office, TPO Gaming is currently crafting software that will let users create their own training scenarios.

"We will empower that soldier to build his own scenario rapidly so he can train for his specified task," civilian chief of TPO Gaming Robert Bowen informed the Training & Simulation Journal.

It's not the first time a branch of the armed forces has used video game technology as a training tool. In 1997, the Marine Corps were said to be using a heavily-modified version of id Software's Doom II (PC).

More recently, the Marines have converted Bohemia Interactive's realistic battlefield simulator Armed Assault (PC) into a training tool known as Virtual Battlespace 2, which may end up being used by the Army. The Army has also helped develop the publicly-released series of America's Army games on PC and Xbox 360, which some protest due to their role as recruitment tools.

"We are finding many uses for games and it is just the beginning," explained Pentagon Army training director Brig. Gen. Thomas Maffey. "Currently, we are focusing on first-person shooter and real-time strategy games, but there are many other genres of games that have desirable training capabilities."

"They provide an immersive environment capable of stimulating thought within a given context, thus giving us the ability to exercise cognitive skills along with functional tasks," Maffey noted.