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Army Sets Up Videogame Studio

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the crunch-sir-yes-sir dept.

United States 36

Ralph Lee writes "Is it time to enlist? Wired News is reporting that the US Army has set up a video game studio to model training and recruit soldiers on the heels of the successful America's Army title: 'The America's Army Government Applications office was quietly opened in January in Cary, North Carolina, with a team of 15 video-game creators, simulation specialists and ex-Army personnel. Many of the studio's employees come from local video-game companies like Interactive Magic, Timeline, Vertis, SouthPeak Interactive, Vicious Cycle Software and Red Storm Entertainment.'" It's also noted that "the office is working with a team of 24 video-game creators in Monterey, California, on the latest edition to its main franchise, America's Army: Overmatch, which will be released in March 2005."

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36 comments

Amazing that! (2, Funny)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 10 years ago | (#9484795)

It is truly amazing that the organization that gave us the America's Army video games...wait for it...now has a video game studio!

Holy shit! Who would have thunk that releasing a Game like America's Army would lead to building a game studio?

Do you catch the hint of sarcasm yet?
WTF, like really. Of course they have a freaking game studio...somebody had to build the freaking game in the first place.

Re:Amazing that! (4, Interesting)

simoniker (40) | more than 10 years ago | (#9484935)

To be fair, America's Army wasn't actually built by the, uhh, Army - but by a team headed out of the Naval Postgrad School in Monterey, as referenced in the article. Plus, the Army has been using external contractors such as There Inc. and Pandemic for much of their training-related development, so in some ways, it _is_ interesting that they'd set up a dev studio of their own.

Sarcasm is also always welcome on Slashdot, of course.

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Re:Amazing that! (5, Funny)

osullish (586626) | more than 10 years ago | (#9484953)

Not that amazing - this company [infiniumlabs.com] are able to make this product product [dslreports.com] without any known manufacturing facilities!

Re:Amazing that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9486065)

See they're going to use the tried and true concept of magical elves. It worked for the shoe cobbler right? RIGHT?!

Am I alone...? (5, Insightful)

SimianOverlord (727643) | more than 10 years ago | (#9484878)

Am I alone in feeling somewhat disquieted in the military in this country associating itself with the entertainment industry? Is this the thin end of the wedge?

The apparatus of state is separated from the church, because it is harmful. It should likewise be seperated from the entertainment industry, because of the propaganda possibilities, shaping the next generation of Americans.

Re:Am I alone...? (4, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9485203)

They've been at it for years. The pentagon is probobly the most skilled crowd of propagandists there is.

What worries me is that "traditional" propaganda has always been subject to (some) constraint. You couldn't run around screaming "YOU'VE GOT TO KILL OUR ENEMIES!!! WHAT ARE YOU!!?!?! YELLOW!?!?!" without someone calling a halt.

However video game propaganda is more subtle. Because the player is so involved, they will be more succeptible to whatever you throw at them. On top of that, they are immerrsed, a propagandists dream.

I wouldn't be surprised to find that in 10-20 years time these games will have affected a generations outlook and attitudes towards patriotisim and the army in general.

Why else would the pentagon invest so much money and then give it away for free?

Re:Am I alone...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9486385)

"However video game propaganda is more subtle. Because the player is so involved, they will be more succeptible to whatever you throw at them. On top of that, they are immerrsed, a propagandists dream."

that's assuming the games don't suck...

Re:Am I alone...? (3, Insightful)

LGagnon (762015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9486437)

I agree with you on everything except your question of why it is free. It's free because our tax money was spent on it. You and I already own it, because it was created with our money (whether we like it or not).

Re:Am I alone...? (2, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9488413)

Well... your tax money was spent!
I'm just a freeloading european! ;E

I guess the marshall plan never really ended. :E

Re:Am I alone...? (2, Insightful)

CompressedAir (682597) | more than 10 years ago | (#9489438)

Eh? It's a recruiting tool for the U.S. Army. They never claimed it wasn't, so anyone who chooses to play it is willfully submitting themselves to "propaganda".

Re:Am I alone...? (3, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#9485219)

well, think about it.
clubs for boys have been usual in getting people to join up for the military later on in their lifes, when they're young it's easy to put some 'ideas' into their heads or at least push them to 'right direction' so that their lives can 'have a meaning'.

yvan eth noij

there was this one club in germany once that was more than effective.

I'm not saying that armies are useless and so on, just that if you're fighting conquering wars you need to have some kind of extra motivation for the lads - for something you can wrap up as defence the motivation is much easier to build up. I've done the mandatory military service/training for my nation... real military sucks balls, in games you can just concentrate on the fun part of it.

Re:Am I alone...? (3, Insightful)

Draxsr (790126) | more than 10 years ago | (#9485350)

Perhaps your right in saying that we should leave entertainment to the entertainment industry. Yes, their propaganda is much more palatable and should remain in the household. I'm glad to only have subjects like auto theft, murder for hire, drug wars, drug use, adultry, rape, and all the other topics that keep the entertainment industry guiding our moral compass. Seriously now, it's a shame that a message of 'Serve your country' is pigeonholed as propaganda.

Re:Am I alone...? (2, Interesting)

ooby (729259) | more than 10 years ago | (#9486553)

propoganda is political advertising [wikipedia.org] . A message such as 'Serve your country' is propoganda. As are your former examples. With that said, I doubt that America's Army is promoting joining the military much more than Counterstrike or Battlefield 1942 are. First person shooters have been around for over 10 years and if they inadvertantly promoted enlistment, as the poster to which you replied suggests, the military would probably not be in such a need of soldiers as they currently are.

Re:Am I alone...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9487179)

propoganda isn't even a word.
propaganda [reference.com]

\Prop`a*gan"da\, n. [Abbrev. fr. L. de propaganda fide: cf. F. propagande. See Propagate.] 1. (R. C. Ch.) (a) A congregation of cardinals, established in 1622, charged with the management of missions. (b) The college of the Propaganda, instituted by Urban VIII. (1623-1644) to educate priests for missions in all parts of the world. 2. Hence, any organization or plan for spreading a particular doctrine or a system of principles.

Re:Am I alone...? (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9485899)

In the end, it's all just good marketing. Just like any business, the Army needs to market itself in order to get a steady stream of customers. And let me tell you, they are quite serious about it. The America's Army game is a tool that they use to teach something of the Army way of life. I haven't played the most recent versions of the game, but the last time I played, it didn't seem preachy or anything, so I'm not really sure if it could even be called propaganda. It's basically a FPS that follows Army rules/morals so to speak in mission structure and objectives.

In any case, it is a very good question as to just how many of these side businesses any government agency should be allowed to get into.

Re:Am I alone...? (3, Insightful)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 10 years ago | (#9486407)

The apparatus of state is separated from the church, because it is harmful. It should likewise be seperated from the entertainment industry, because of the propaganda possibilities, shaping the next generation of Americans.

Wrong. I mean, wrong from the get-go.

Seperation of church and state is to protect the church from the state, not the other way around.

The military is entirely withing their fair and right avenue of action to try and influence the attitudes of the next generation of Americans. If they weren't, they wouldn't have a recruiting program.

Re:Am I alone...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9486410)

"It should likewise be seperated from the entertainment industry, because of the propaganda possibilities, shaping the next generation of Americans."

yeah, since the entertainment industry doesn't use propaganda or try to shape Americans...

Re:Am I alone...? (2, Funny)

Anixamander (448308) | more than 10 years ago | (#9487574)

The propaganda has always existed, and may even be necessary, and this is just a new way of doing it. I for one am looking forward to America's Army: Torture!, but I just hope they can get better models than this [thememoryhole.org] . She's no Lora or Samus, that's for sure.

Re:Am I alone...? (0, Flamebait)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 10 years ago | (#9487658)

Propaganda Possiblities? What the hell do you think the Army's moniker of "I am an Army of one" is? Do they really expect us to believe that they allow any kind of individuality in the military? In todays military recruits are expected to do two things:
1) complain about the work and little pay
2) in the event of war, die for freedom


I hate to break it to all our military boys and girls, cause god knows I love and appreiciate each and every one of ya for serving, but you are an expendable comodity to our military leaders including your "so called" commander in chief A.K.A. HRIC Head Redneck In Charge.

The Color of Money (1)

xanderwilson (662093) | more than 10 years ago | (#9484966)

Didn't the Tom Cruise character (Vince? Vinnie?) in The Color of Money talk about this as a possible future for his video game prowess? That he'd work for the military as a video game specialist, since all the training and then the action will be done like computer games? Was that before or after "Ender's Game?"

And then there was that movie Toys...

Alex.

Way after End's Game (1)

Mycroft_514 (701676) | more than 10 years ago | (#9485185)

Since the first Ender story was published in 1977

Software Career in the Army? (5, Informative)

Nyhm (645982) | more than 10 years ago | (#9485033)

America's Army looks, plays, and runs great ... except for the parts that aren't the Unreal engine. All of the software around the engine needs some serious work. Here's hoping the new development team can whip this software into shape! Huah!

Warning, rant follows:

This is not the forum for complaining about the shoddy software (that Americans probably paid collective millions in taxes for), but here are a few of the simplest pieces of functionality that are miserable failures:

- Server can't cycle maps, causes client GP fault

- Client menu layout is incomprehensible

- Whether you're online or offline is some kind of mystery

- Plenty of 'Error connecting' messages with no information

- Connecting to a so-called LAN game requires opening the command console

- There was talk of 'admin mode' and the only documentation for logging in as an admin is in the FAQ (if it's so frequently asked, then how about making it part of the login dialog?) Then once you log in as admin, are you a player with admin ability, or some non-player observer. How do you get back to being a regular player? Others don't see you logged in, but your personal user name appears in the admin list of online players....

Warning, Rant about rant follows. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9492771)

First, Yes I play the game. No I feel no special affinity the Army than I felt before I started playing the game, I simply like more of a strategic FPS verses a run and gun FPS.

Second, The government applications team (who the story is about) has nothing to do with the public version of the game. They produce a version for training purposes within the army.

Now for a rant about the rant.

"- Server can't cycle maps, causes client GP fault"
- simply incorrect.

"- Client menu layout is incomprehensible"
- What part? Ah, I know, there really is a confusing menu option. "Personal Jacket", now I don't know about you but because I know a few military people I kind of assumed that this was where I put in my information, you know the 'personal' stuff that kept me separate from all others.

Maybe you just saw that first one and it just got to you and you didn't see the next option, the part that says "Training" where you go to do the training?

Oh, wait, maybe the one that says "Settings" for things like well settings.

Maybe the part that says "Deployment" where you, guess, deploy, you know what a military person might say when they are going to deploy?

" - Whether you're online or offline is some kind of mystery"
- Let me explain, if you are playing, you are online, if you are not playing, well your not online, now here's the tricky part...If you press escape while your playing, you don't disconnect you just toggle to the menu. (now I know this is like many other games, even counterstrike but I figured that I should explain it.)

"- Plenty of 'Error connecting' messages with no information"
- Ah, now I see the problem, you tried the equivalent of an RC from a continually evolving project (you know that there are developers constantly working on improving the game right?) and discovered a connection error. Just as a kind note, this problem was fixed on version 1.9 (they are now on 2.1) You might want to give it a try again.

"- Connecting to a so-called LAN game requires opening the command console"
- Directions for connecting to a LAN game follow them carefully. 1. Click Deployment 2. Click LAN 3. Click Refresh 4. Double click on the Server 5. Let the server load.

" - There was talk of 'admin mode' and the only documentation for logging in as an admin is in the FAQ (if it's so frequently asked, then how about making it part of the login dialog?) Then once you log in as admin, are you a player with admin ability, or some non-player observer. How do you get back to being a regular player? Others don't see you logged in, but your personal user name appears in the admin list of online players...."
-Here you have a point, the log in screen does not allow admin log in, you have to type "open ***.***.***.***?admin_password=********" Simply put the game has official servers and leased servers, all others are unsupported.
To become a regular player again you have to log out as admin (this means you have to leave the server because joining is how you logged in), This is most commonly done by typing "disconnect" then "reconnect".

Ah I feel better now. /a person who will now pledge their life to the army because of a game.
(most of this was sarcastic and the rest was hogwash true hogwash, Mod it down. I just felt that these points had to be addressed.)

Re:Warning, Rant about rant about rant follows. (1)

Nyhm (645982) | more than 10 years ago | (#9493651)

Thank you for the attempt at clarification (Anonymous Coward), but I don't see things your way. Yes, I've learned how the interface operates and how to interact with it to get what I want. However, just because 'lots of games' are like that doesn't mean it's good interface design!

No, just being in game is not the only time you go online. When you want to get your personnel jacket, you must connect. While doing training, you must reconnect to update your jacket. If this fails, you've completed the mission, but your record is lost. To start training, you must connect - if remote servers are down you can't even train locally.

What if you start up the game and don't care about your personnel jacket, and just want to join a freinds server? Well, you have to fill in the name field in the first screen even if you don't connect. The lan connection just picks up your name from there.

When I want to connect to a friend's personal server, I cannot use the LAN screen. It's technically a LAN game, but doesn't work there. Instead, I must open the console. How about a tab for "direct connect". It should include Player Name, Password, IP, Port.

I'm running the 2.1 version and a server on a dedicated machine. The server will not properly cycle maps. It's all over the forums - it's broken. Maybe leased servers do, but that does me no good. Furthermore, when the server starts it CHANGES MY CONFIG FILE SETTINGS, removing the map cycle list! This is just plain wrong. Even worse, it makes every client (all fresh 2.1 installs) GP fault. Simply the truth. We mitigate this by setting high number of rounds per match. When the match is over and the clients GP fault, I restart the server manually with a new map on the command line.

I recognize that most people get used to crappy software. Yes, we do learn to work with it no matter how unwieldy. My primary point transcends Americas Army - we should not be so lenient of trashy software. Demand better products.

Re:Warning, Rant about rant about rant follows. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9513584)

(I am that Coward) (to be said like, "I am that man")

After reading your response, I feel that I owe you an apology. I assumed (which is of course not a good way to start) that I was talking to someone who had tried the game circa v1.7 when there were so many more problems. I happen to know a few people who tried the game then found the errors, never to look back.

I see that you have done much more and still have viable complaints. You see the flaws in the game just as I do. Yes, I completely agree that there are problems and I have run into all of said problems except the GP fault.

I think that you must be right about getting use to trashy software. I have been playing the game since it's initial release and have found the upgrades to greatly increase functionality, stability and all around fun but I have neglected to remember that it was horrible to begin with and all the patches given, though greatly improving, have not yet brought the game up to par.

I can honestly say that I have run into all of your concerns except map cycling (I haven't run a server on a local machine since v2.0.0a) and the dreaded GP fault (from which I have been blissfully free). I simply did not find them to be an issue or thought that they were all fixed. Your point of view shows me that what I considered fixed, was not sufficient.

I again apologize for my tone and sarcasm.

Re:Warning, Rant about rant about rant follows. (1)

Nyhm (645982) | more than 10 years ago | (#9516785)

Thank you for the apology. You have renewed my faith in the quality of the slashdot community!

Regarding the important stuff (technical): There have been many improvements since the early releases. Remember when teams got shuffled between rounds and there wasn't even a good way to pick teams?

I actually resolved (well, found how to avoid) the map cycle GP fault. To clarify, the server never shut down - but when maps should cycle, all connected clients would GP fault. Every time I run the server it seems to re-write the config file (which is really annoying). It may be re-inserting fail-safe values where I had a typeo. I can't tell anymore because it changed what I had. I started from scratch, and map cycling worked! So, the real complaint is that the clients GP fault if there's a mistake in the server's config (try getting away with that in any production level software).

The fact that I've kept playing through all these woes is a testament to how good the gameplay is! I really like the rules and environment for this game (much better than die-respawn-die-respawn... ad nausium). Here's looking forward to 3.0.

Don't do it! (3, Funny)

silicon not in the v (669585) | more than 10 years ago | (#9485176)

It's a front to get more recruits for the war. You'll get deployed! (I'd better put in this ;) or I'll need to search for my asbestos underwear.)

Re:Don't do it! (1)

Draxsr (790126) | more than 10 years ago | (#9485538)

As a note, that project was started as a recruiting tool LONG before the current conflict.

Re:Don't do it! (1)

Pvt_Waldo (459439) | more than 10 years ago | (#9488962)

It is EXACTLY designed to get more recruits. The US Army spends a lot of time and money recruiting, and this is a different approach they are using.

state sponsored competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9487090)

working in the game industry, i can't say that i'm too happy about that. But my guess is like most organisations sponsored by a state they will just blow a lot of money and won't produce anything useful. America's Army ain't a counterargument - that was done by a private company.

Calling Rockstar! (0, Flamebait)

metamatic (202216) | more than 10 years ago | (#9487566)

Maybe they're gonna hire the guys from Rockstar Games who developed Manhunt, team them up with the developers of the Silent Hill series, and put them to work on a Guantanamo/Al Ghraib interrogation simulator...

Re:Calling Rockstar! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9489761)

I am not republican. If anything I am very left/anarchist, the exact opposite of Bush, and I hate him.

But for christ's sake, a few horrible soldiers does not mean that the entire U.S. Army has sunk to their level. That's like blaming all middle-eastern people for the 9/11 attack.

Get a fucking clue.

Re:Calling Rockstar! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9489933)

That's like blaming all middle-eastern people for the 9/11 attack.

Er... you either didnt payed too much attention or maybe you had that pun intended.. but, thats basically what they did. They killed half of Irak population in a massive bombing attack a few weeks after 9/11.

Re:Calling Rockstar! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9489896)

Oh come on, thats not flamebait.

The point is: War is in fact hell and a majority of the most horrifying events in history have ocurred in it, if they wanted to create a realistic game/simulator, manhunt and silent hill do come to mind.

Another Imperialist Plot (-1, Flamebait)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 10 years ago | (#9487804)

This is just another bit of disgusting pro-Bush propoganda. This is just a virtual way of oiling the jaws of Amerika's disgusting war machine. What, you're not satisfied that you've slaughtered 30,000 innocents? Now you use disgusting Orwellian methods to recruit brain-dead Amerikan teenagers to swell the ranks of your Amerikan Wermacht! Fuck you AND your propoganda tools!

Now, see how silly that sounds? Welcome to Slashdot, 2004. Please mod me +5 automatically. I've posted the requisite diatribes agaisnt A)Bush, B)the war, and C)the military. This makes me edgy and hackerish. And thus cool. And thus worthy of your mod points.

Did I say how cool Michael Moore is?
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