Support: Interactive Training Games

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October 14, 2005: The U.S. Department of Defense is adapting its training to take advantage of new technology, and the fact that most of its new troops grew up on computer games. The new generation of training simulations use a lot of interactivity. Two recent ones, "Gator Six" and "Liberty" play out like a video game, but with content that is more "military" than anything on the commercial market. These two sims, and several others, address the complex decisions troops have to make. In "Gator Six," the player takes on the role of an artillery battery commander getting ready to head for Iraq, and takes them through all the issues that have to be dealt with. "Liberty" is run for sailors right out of boot camp, and introduces them to some of the dangerous, non-combat, situations they can expect to encounter soon.


The Department of Defense has been using this interactive simulation format since the late 1980s (some of the first ones used the now-obsolete laser disks). As the technology for developing these systems got cheaper, it became possible to do more of them, on a wider range of subjects. But what really got the brass going with interactive sims is that they work, and all their new recruits know exactly what these things are, and take right to them. Some of the interactive training sims are made available for the troops to use in their own free time, and many do. That's the kind of training that really takes hold.

 


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