By Courtney E. Howard
WEST POINT, N.Y. - The America’s Army development team has announced America’s Army: Special Forces (AA:SF), a new version of the military training tool and popular online action game, as well as a new technology partner in 3Dsolve Inc., a simulation learning company in Cary, N.C.
3Dsolve joins more than a dozen government organizations and private software firms that are working in tandem to produce authentic military training and deployment simulation scenarios.
Because battle scenarios are continuously changing, the team always endeavors to enhance and update the America’s Army platform. AA:SF marks the 22nd update to the America’s Army computer game and the third release focused on the Special Forces’ role in the Global War on Terrorism.
“We expect 3Dsolve to make immediate contributions to the America’s Army program, and to help even more organizations take advantage of simulation learning solutions based on the America’s Army platform,” Chris Chambers, deputy director or the Army Game Office, notes.
Given that America’s Army is PC-based, the development team is able to harness the latest technological advancements and commercial off-the-shelf products of the commercial market, including the computer graphics and gaming industries.
“Where tactics, especially for ground vehicles and for individual soldiers, are important, you can use a lot more video-game technology because it’s more about human interaction than interaction with the environment,” admits Ross Smith, president of Quantum3D in San Jose, Calif.
“America’s Army is a good example. It was built as a recruiting tool, but the fidelity and the visual impact of that game are so compelling that the Army is using it for some training applications.” Smith notes that America’s Army is particularly useful for first-person combat training, and familiarizing soldiers with how best to conduct themselves in combat.
Following the Army’s adoption of America’s Army as a training and recruiting tool, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corp. began using a computer game called First to Fight during training exercises. At the same time, the U.S. Air Force takes advantage of Microsoft Flight Simulator to provide soldiers an early introduction to flight training.
“We look forward to helping our government customers benefit from this new partnership and this outstanding training platform,” says Richard Boyd, chief executive officer of 3Dsolve.
America’s Army-the brainchild of Colonel Casey Wardynski, director of the U.S. Army’s Office of Economic & Manpower Analysis (OEMA) at West Point, and the current project director for America’s Army-launched in July 2002 to provide young adults an inside perspective and a virtual role in today’s high-tech Army.
Wardynski sought to harness state-of-the-art computer gaming technology to engage and inform young Americans about Army career opportunities, and provide a virtual soldier experience; yet, it has assumed another valuable role, that of a high-end, highly realistic military training, simulation, and mission rehearsal solution.
America’s Army combines individual and collective training, as well as simulated missions in the Global War on Terrorism. It is said to take players, including new and potential recruits, through virtual boot camp, through Ranger and Airborne training, to a spot in the Army’s elite Special Forces. America’s Army also is designed to impart the rules of engagement (ROE), lifesaving, laws of war, and Army Values.
By all accounts, the simulation is a great success. The Army and its developers have won more than 15 awards and accommodations for America’s Army. It also boasts more than 7.5 million registered users and ranks among the top five online PC action games played worldwide; and, to date, players have invested more than 160 million hours exploring soldiering in the virtual U.S. Army scenarios presented in America’s Army.
Most important, however, soldiers have sent accolades as to the game’s realism and attention to detail, noting the accuracy with which its training environments mirror the training ranges from Fort Benning to Fort Jackson-from the placement of trees to the layout of the obstacle course.
For more information, visit www.americasarmy.com and www.goarmy.com.