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Real Warriors Trained In Virtual Worlds

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the new-meaning-to-weekend-warrior dept.

Games 312

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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312 comments

Hesitation (5, Informative)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720218)

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 (2, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720278)

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 (5, Informative)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720337)

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.

Re:Hesitation (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720458)

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 (0, Offtopic)

riptide_dot (759229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720849)

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.

No doubt. There's still nothing on a computer that can simulate the SMELL of a recently discharged weapon either...

Surround Sound Doesn't Kill (1)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720401)

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.

Re:Surround Sound Doesn't Kill (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720590)

Well, you can't train that anyway... But I concess that it's possible that playing a lot of combat games could make you feel "immortal" (at least subconsciously, which could affect your behavior).

Lack of self-preservation (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720860)

> I concess that it's possible that playing a lot of combat games
> could make you feel "immortal" (at least subconsciously, which
> could affect your behavior).

Is that a bug or a feature?

Seriously. Now, obviously, armed forces don't want their soldiers to get killed (for many very good reasons); however, I can't help but wonder if dampening the self-preservation instinct by exposing soldiers to these games where they're effectively immortal isn't useful in terms of helping to make them think of personal danger as an obstacle to be avoided, rather than as the more natural OMFGI"MGONNADIE!!!

Re:Hesitation (1)

riptide_dot (759229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720303)

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.

Re:Hesitation (3, Funny)

MattyDK23 (819057) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720345)

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...

Re:Hesitation (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720634)

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

Re:Hesitation (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720788)

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 negligable; I've trained a number of people on it whose previous shooting experience were .22s or air rifles, and I've not seen anyone with a significant flinch problem (when wearing ear protection -- I don't think anyone trains without it). With handguns it's a different story, and I suppose for non M16-based weapons systems it might be more of a concern. (I probably wouldn't want to train a new shooter on a M98k, I have to admit.)

At any rate, I've found both in personal experience and working with others that it's more distracting and harder to get used to the sound of another person shooting right next to you, than it is just to deal with your own firearm in isolation; part of this might be because a rifle with a muzzle brake will be louder if it goes off next you you than in front of you. (You wouldn't think this is the case but it's quickly apparent if you've used one, there's sort of a cone right behind the muzzle that's quieter than the surrounding area.) Also, by the time you react to the noise of your own weapon, the bullet is out of the barrel, the guy next to you can fire just as your trigger is breaking and there's nothing you can do really to keep yourself from flinching involuntarily -- unless you're used to that happening and can back off and retry, you're probably going to miss where you're aiming.

Re:Hesitation (1)

riptide_dot (759229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720813)

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. :)

Re:Hesitation (2, Insightful)

Belseth (835595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720329)

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.

Re:Hesitation (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720439)

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 obtain in third world countries than they are here in the US and in many parts of the world, violence is so endemic that one does not worry about hesitation. People will simply pull the trigger with no hesitation and no remorse. Yes, violence is a problem here in the US, but there are other parts of the world that are almost Clockwork Orange in their ultraviolence.

Re:Hesitation (1)

Belseth (835595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720595)

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 even religion. Most people feel they aren't getting a share in the oil wealth. A tiny handful are insanely wealthy while many still live in slums. We've had similar problems in this country. Guns are an easy target but getting rid of guns just reduces people to clubs and knives. Removing guns does turn people into pacifist. Most of the people dying in the Iraq aren't from guns but bombs. Get rid of explosives? Not possible. Simple explosives are easy to make. Gunpowder is extremely easy and lab grade amonia is the basis of many explosives. So long as there's greed and envy there will be violence. As long as there's poor there'll always be desperate people. There are no easy solutions.

Re:Hesitation (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720780)

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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720612)

Like that kid in Germany that shot some of his teachers. Handguns are hard to own in Germany. I think he stole his from his uncle or something like that.

Re:Hesitation (3, Interesting)

cat6509 (887285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720406)

"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.

Re:Hesitation (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720432)

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 (3, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720538)

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.

Re:Hesitation (3, Interesting)

William Baric (256345) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720500)

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 the beginning our training was about dying and killing. The songs we sang and a lot of what we learned in our training was about that. And you know what ? With sleep deprivation, this kind of training work pretty well. I never had to shot someone, but I know that in a combat situation I would have done it without hesitation. And except for a few who were against violence, everyone was like me.

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

I wonder one thing... is this game thing really for training or simply to get people to join the army ?

Re:Hesitation (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720593)

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 and even battle hardened SPECOPS guys have to train for it these days.

Thanks for your service by the way. Just keep that scenario in mind before you spout off.

Re:Hesitation (1)

bxbaser (252102) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720774)

If that 12 year old was the first to fire on you sure you may have some hesitation,If that 12 year old comes after you have allready been fired on you dont have hesitation you have whats called hatred, you pour rounds downrange toward that 12 year old and laugh when he drops like a ragdoll.
Sounds horrible but its hard to be nice when people are trying to kill you.

You would be suprised at how calouse you would become when people are shooting real bullets at you.

Re:Hesitation (1)

thermopile (571680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720632)

mmm, I'm going to have to disagree with you and agree with the grandparent. Some subtle things come out when firing real weapons:

Empty 15 rounds of a Baretta, or better yet, a Colt .45, at a target. Unless you're really steady, the recoil will have caused the gun to walk up on you considerably. Under pressure / under fire, you unload much faster and the gun walks up more. That's hard to really 'practice' for. The effect is worse for SAWs and .50 cals.

Hearing bullets *zing* by and richochet off of rocks makes you sick. You don't get a game over & insert more quarters to play again. That realization comes in rather suddenly to the pit of your stomach.

I could never get used to the sound and feel of the blood rushing past my ears. Never actually *got* shot, but a few times were close. The pounding in my ears was distracting ... it's funny what you focus on during times like that.

Re:Hesitation (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720798)

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 replaced with pop-up silhouettes that gave you a limited time to aim and fire.

wasnt the army i was in (1)

bxbaser (252102) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720681)

From day one it was "kill kill get your thrill" the was no slowly leading up to fireing on a human.
After your rifle was sighted in all targets where human styled targets.
A big problem we had when i was in was fire disicpline, hard to train people to shoot at anything that moved and then expect them not to shoot at something they are not supposed to.

Re:Hesitation (1)

soundvessel (899042) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720753)

My hopes are that these simulations will actually be used as therapy after a solider has shot and killed someone, and is perhaps feeling a form of post-traumatic stress disorder.

For example, let us say that a soldier is psychologically damaged from directly being responsible for the deaths of civilians. Being able to replay the situation in a virtual world, where they could make the alternate choice of not throwing that grenade or spreading the gunfire, could be, under the right conditions, rather valuable.

If only these games allowed you the choice of not pulling the trigger at the moment of truth. Of going AWOL instead. Of making 'moral' choices instead of choices-by-orders.

Re:Hesitation (1)

podperson (592944) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720848)

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.

Tis true! Video games teach real life lessons (5, Funny)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720224)

I learned everything I know about women through the Leisure Suit Larry series.

Re:Tis true! Video games teach real life lessons (1)

gaveawaymyname (934554) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720730)

1. Establish eye contact
2. Give her everything in your pockets
3. Always remember to bring the pills

Re:Tis true! Video games teach real life lessons (1)

gijoel (628142) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720801)

Yeah, and Tetris taught me how to pack a fridge. Not that I've ever packed a fridge mind you. But if I had to, I could thanks to Tetris.

wait (5, Insightful)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720225)

Wait... do video games train killers, or don't they? I'm so confused.
What does Jack Thompson have to say about this?

Re:wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720417)

Train, yes, maybe. Create, that's the question.

The subtlety here is simulation/stimulation. Nobody can really deny that a video game could make a violent killer a more proficient violent killer. The question is, does it make a violent killer?

An armchair soldier's perspective... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720228)

Yes, thanks to my many grueling hours of Halo training, my situational awareness and my proficiency with all plasma weapons is markedly improved.

Military better watch out.. (3, Funny)

BigZaphod (12942) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720232)

..or else Jack Thompson is going to sue their violent-game-promoting asses!

Re:Military better watch out.. (1)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720663)

On the contrary, video games are now necessary to FIGHT TERRORISM.

You don't want the terrorists to win, do you?

Good. Now go play CS.

Finishing the Quote (3, Insightful)

Valiss (463641) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720241)

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.

Re:Finishing the Quote (2, Insightful)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720416)

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 (somebody) pregnant at prom. The last thing they need is to get desensitized to killing game-style and then released into regular society a few years later.

Re:Finishing the Quote (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720480)

Maybe you shouldn't get your combat videos from a fascist like Michael Moore. You might as well base your opinion of the police on Robocop or the army on Veerhoeven's (sp) Starship Troopers.

Re:Finishing the Quote (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720837)

Sexual prowess aside, those 18 - 22 year olds are smart enough to overthrow Iraq in a few weeks when given the proper leadership. There are millions of them in our society. They don't always fit back in perfectly, but most of them understand that the rules are different while you are in the military.

I understand that you might find that discomforting, but have you ever wondered what this planet would be like if the US didn't have a dominant military? http://foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=33 31&print=1 [foreignpolicy.com]

Re:Finishing the Quote (5, Insightful)

thermopylae300 (583506) | more than 8 years ago | (#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.

Bang bang... you're dead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720244)

His experience leading up to that time, through on-the-ground training and playing 'Halo' and whatever else, enabled him to execute.

No wonder there are so many shootings on the streets of our cities. Video games...real life...what's the difference?

Re:Bang bang... you're dead. (0, Offtopic)

east coast (590680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720802)

No wonder there are so many shootings on the streets of our cities.

Wouldn't have anything to do with a thriving black market for "dangerous drugs" such as marijuana would it? Face facts, without the money of the drug trade these kids on the street would have nothing to fight over let alone the cash flow to buy firearms. Maybe if we got our heads out of our asses and demanded legalization of recreational drugs we could help put a stop to the violence.

Americas army... (3, Informative)

mayhemt (915489) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720246)

I love americas army http://www.americasarmy.com/ [americasarmy.com] ..
very role based, strategic shooting game...& above all its free ;-)
$$ profit

Re:Americas army... (0)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720274)

But what happened to all the official servers? I remember when I started playing years ago, there were servers all over. Now? Only a handful, and they're usually empty... Is my browser busted, or is everyone off playing World of Warcraft these days?

Re:Americas army... (1)

menkhaura (103150) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720450)

What version are they using? You know, they released version 2.6 last week (not for Linux, though... the rest of us have to keep with 2.5)

Re:Americas army... (2, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720503)

They upgraded to 2.6 last week and most of them switched overnight. There are tons, if you run the Windows version. Linux & Mac users will have to wait another week or so for the update. They ARE there...tons of them.

[chill]

Re:Americas army... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720773)

Does anyone know the size of the game(americas army)?

Real warriors trained in Bosra, Iraq (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720256)

A bunch of children, throwing rocks at foreigners that had tresspassed and stolen a parcel of land, are chased-away and four are seized; those four children are beaten to death by the UK Soldiers.

Video Here: [prisonplanet.com]http://prisonplanet.com/articles/february2006/1402 06bbeating_vid.htm [prisonplanet.com]

If ever there were warriors, those children are more justified.

Re:Real warriors trained in Bosra, Iraq (1)

Gibsnag (885901) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720444)

Uh, they didn't kill them afaik.

And no, before someone flames me that doesn't make it ok I was just pointing out the AC's error.

Offtopic Anybody?!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720713)

What the fuck does this have to do with soldiers using video simulations for training?

Get your offtopic shit out of here, and go back to hanging with all the other loser kos kids and other moonbats.

The Geneva Convention will have to be modified... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720282)

To prohibit spawn camping.

Re:The Geneva Convention will have to be modified. (0, Offtopic)

thermopylae300 (583506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720326)

Lessons learned:
1) You run faster when you sling your weapon and draw your knife
2) Jumping reduces the chance of enemy headshots
3) ...

Re:The Geneva Convention will have to be modified. (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720564)

3) Jumping at the right frequency can make you run much faster, by allowing you to only accelerate and never deccelerate
4) Moving diagonally (both forward and sideways at the same time) can make you run 3% faster
5) Jumping at the same time that you run out from behind cover and fire won't make your firing less accurate, but will reduce your chances of getting hit

Re:The Geneva Convention will have to be modified. (1)

elinden (155827) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720574)

Lessons learned:
1) You run faster when you sling your weapon and draw your knife
2) Jumping reduces the chance of enemy headshots
3) ...
4) PROFIT!

oh... wait...

So, on the one hand... (4, Interesting)

kclittle (625128) | more than 8 years ago | (#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?

The benefit of online training (1)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720383)

I think there can be little doubt that the more immersive a simulated environment is, the better a training aid it will become. I've always wondered, when a simulated world becomes indistinguishable from the real one, how will you be able to tell the difference? Back to topic, if they could create robots that work in real life driven from the "pilot" in a FPS environment, you could have remote soldiers. Steve

Re:So, on the one hand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720421)

I play chess games on the computer for relaxation, but I don't have much desire to attend chess matches with humans. On the one hand, you can say that the computer has trained me to make fewer stupid moves, so I am better trained. However, it hasn't made me more likely to attend tournaments. The same is true with racing games (people inclined to race cars may be more likely to play racing games, but the racing games don't create the desire), and I would argue, first-person shooters.

Re:So, on the one hand... (1)

notNeilCasey (521896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720467)

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 games help hone the instincts one would use in similar real-life situations where he or she would have to hold a gun and shoot it. The same could be said of target shooting or playing paintball. I'm very willing to believe that any of these would make a person better at firing a gun and hitting something, maybe even someone, at some point

Where the argument against gaming falls apart is the contention that playing these games somehow makes people (THE CHILDREN!!!!!!!!) more likely to go out and kill other innocent human beings. What these critics fear is murder and violent crime, which is a form of mental illness and/or objective evil which can't be caused by video games. Or target shooting.

Or paintball. Hard evidence to the contrary is, as always, welcome.

Re:So, on the one hand... (1)

blue_adept (40915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720583)

Where the argument against gaming falls apart is the contention that playing these games somehow makes people (THE CHILDREN!!!!!!!!) more likely to go out and kill other innocent human beings.

Straw man. Nobody is claiming that violent games MAKE ppl kill others... but rather that violent games are DESINSITIZING ppl towards violence. Which I think is plausible, and that's probably partly what the military is taking advantage of in said article.

I read somewhere that in the civil war, the "hit" rate for soldiers was abysmal, the majority of soldiers would rather shoot over the enemies head than kill him. After a few years of Quake, maybe that aversion gets trained right out of you!

Re:So, on the one hand... (1)

Hannah E. Davis (870669) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720807)

The issue, I think, is that many people assume that desensitizing people to violence will somehow make them violent.

IMHO, there's a pretty big difference between refraining from going into shock when you witness a violent act and actually going out and committing such an act yourself... but various anti-gaming activists tend to disagree.

Personally, I like to think that there's more keeping me from violently lashing out at society than my delicate sensibility.

Training isn't cause-and-effect; it's context (3, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720469)

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.

Re:So, on the one hand... (2, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720783)

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 with reality of the battlefield, but the soldier can still distinguish. Contrast with casual non-military gaming, where only a few out of millions of players actually go on to commit real-world violence similar to what occured in the game.

FPS games are only "murder trainers" if you want them to be, and that desire makes all the difference.

Why just the soldiers? (5, Funny)

STUPiDflY (192885) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720302)

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'."

Re:Why just the soldiers? (1)

sysminion (954525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720415)

Except for the fact that the terrorists will be playing the same games (America's Army) so they will know our exact methods, and be waiting for us. Then of course, America's Army will become a restricted export, much like cryptographic algorithms, and you will only be able to download it if you are in the U.S., since we all know how well that works.

Re:Why just the soldiers? (5, Insightful)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720443)

"Why not just take the entire war to the virtual world then? That would be awesome!"

Duh, because my SUV doesn't use virtual oil!

Re:Why just the soldiers? (2, Interesting)

sleighb0y (141660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720547)

You joke, but if you have seen the work these guys do ( http://www.21csi.com/ [21csi.com] ) you would be totally "on target".

We're talking battlescape monitoring and management all via a free 3D interface. You can dispatch orders to deploy tanks, jets, etc.. and also monitor each units' vitals remotely.

When I saw it in action and saw the jets and helis moving around, I expected to see a little "life" bar under them.
They are already suppling the DOD with technology, so this is not some far-off idea.

The employees demoing it flat out told me that many of the soldiers and officers had been trained using video games, so this was a pretty natural progression and interface.

Personally, I was hoping it to work a little more like Total Anihilation and have the ability to build units using nanobots. I was told though that is in the works for the next version. :)

Re:Why just the soldiers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720680)

Awesome? If they chose Starcraft as the game, South Korean would take over the world!

Korean food is good though, so that might not be such a bad thing.

Autosave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720339)

I wonder if the militray lets solders autosave, or if when the fail they have to restart the level.

Enders Game (3, Interesting)

WHAMP3 (730701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720350)

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 =)

yea maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720372)

Maybe games help a little bit, but there is no substitute for experience. I don't think the article is claiming there is, but it gets kind of close. There is a big difference between what happens to your adrenaline when you get shot at in the world and when you get shot at in a video game. The negative feedback and noise levels in games are not good enough to provide 'combat experience'. I think for tactics/strategy training it can be a nice way to simulate complex scenarios without having to coordinate a massive war game using real people, weapons, vehicles, fuel, etc. I probably just said what the article did, but in fewer words..

Re:yea maybe (1)

Mr. Capris (839522) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720515)

So, does Harry Whittington get combat experience? He did get shot...and he was shooting...not to mention the tactics involved in NOT TELLING PEOPLE WITH GUNS WHERE YOU ARE.

I'm talking about Cheney, FYI.

Ender's Game now a possibility? (0)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720396)

I can just imagine some soldiers finishing a tough game and wiping the sweat from their brow, only to be told afterward that they just destroyed the last opposition and made the world safe for America, and then having to live with genocide on their conscience for the rest of their lives.

(If you don't get it, I just spoiled the SF classic Ender's Game [amazon.com] for you, sorry.)

Mod parent spammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720464)


nice Amazon referrer link you got yourself there Mr Christopher Spammer, are you really that desperate for cash that you have to spam Slashdot with crappy refferal links ?

Re:Mod parent spammer (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720852)

You must be new here. Using a referral link to Amazon.com is standard practise when mentioning a book in a post. Look at all the reviews in the Books sections, their authors have put in links to Amazon.com and to BN.com. It does no harm, gets the poster a couple of cents, and lets Slashdotters see reviews to determine whether they would like the book or not.

At what point do you draw the line? (3, Interesting)

tacokill (531275) | more than 8 years ago | (#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?

Re:At what point do you draw the line? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720714)

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 chooses to apply the lessons learned in the virtual world to real life. If you go into a combat simulator with the mentality that you are training for real world combat, and that your goal is to be able to fire on the real enemy as easily as you fire on the simulated enemy, then the simulation will affect your behavior in reality because you chose for it to.

Training in a simulator is completely different than casually enjoying a simulator. In one, the line between reality and fantasy is deliberately blurred. In the other, the line is only unclear if you are psychotic (or it's an Ender's Game/Matrix type scenario where you are being misled about which side of the line you are on).

context (1)

MoreNoiseThanSignal (916548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720465)

I think it needs to be said that the simulations the military are employing are part of an entire regiment designed to lower one's resistance to killing. Games in the living room are taking place in the context of your couch, where you really don't have that much pressure attempting to erode your resistances and predispositions. Long story short, games themselves don't make you a soldier but used in conjunction with other things they make an effective tool.

'Train like you fight'... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720504)

... which would exclude unrealistic games like Halo, with its Sci-Fi setting and enhanced physics.

Yea, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14720558)

In the real thing, you don't get a high five for trying when you lose the game.

Increasing Reliance? (1)

Thunderstruck (210399) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720572)

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?

training in the art of violence... (1, Interesting)

johnrpenner (40054) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720594)

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)

Thank you Full Spectrum Warrior (5, Funny)

Mancat (831487) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720596)

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!

Bunny (2)

WRoach (863245) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720641)

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.

Just how they want it, and that's a good thing. (1)

MikeSty (890569) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720660)

"It felt like I was in a big video game. It didn't even faze me, shooting back. It was just natural instinct. Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! "

A lot of people are scared by stuff like this, but in my eyes, it's how it has to be. We're not talking about cold-blooded killing, we're talking about one of mankind's greatest quirk - war.

It's all a matter of making a more effective soldier out on the battlefield. One might liken my perspective to that of "brainwashing" or "propaganda" used by Nazis and Japanese in WWII, but I think it is more mild and acceptable like our propaganda.

Again, this can be interpreted as pretty shallow, but I'm willing to discuss it :)

Trigger Happy? (2, Insightful)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720668)

"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.

Re:Trigger Happy? (1)

romeo_in_blk_jeans (782924) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720795)

Nope.

US soldiers are trying to bring peace to a region with a 3,000 year history of violence, war and attempted genocide.

That is the problem US soldiers are having.

Metal Gear Solid... (1)

TheNoxx (412624) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720683)

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? :)

Re:Metal Gear Solid... (1)

chriscoolc (954268) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720884)

What I wanna know from the military types here is... does circle strafing actually work in real life? :P

Forget Halo. There are REAL engines for this. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720689)

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 human voices - which allows MPs being trained to work at security checkpoints, etc., to experience working with a translator while an excitable avatar/taxi-driver in a gathering, cranky crowd lets that young MP start dealing with the pressure, mentally, before facing it while holding a gun.

Also of note: participators in these sims can sometimes be wounded vets, sitting in hospital on another continent, showing his soon-to-be replacement how not to walk into the ambush that he just barely survived.

Not true. this is what actually happens. (5, Insightful)

AzraelKans (697974) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720709)

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".

This is nothing new (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720818)

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 really matches the noise, smells, adrenaline of real combat. But it is quite useful.

Ctrl+Alt+Del ?? (0, Flamebait)

Yojimbo-San (131431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720872)

"'Ctrl+Alt+Del,' " the U.S. Army noted in a recent study, "is as basic as 'ABC.'"

Are they really saying that rebooting a PC is as fundamental and commonplace as reading??

Sure, we like to joke that Windows is unstable; "The US Army reports that every time they try to read an email message, they have to reboot Windows". It's so sad that people put up with such instability from their OS and applications.

Unfortunately... (1)

Errandboy of Doom (917941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14720895)

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.
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