The U.S. Army is spending $18 million to upgrade its multiplayer online combat simulation system. Called "Game After Ambush" (for the current sim, "DARWARS Ambush", which was based on a project started by DARPA). "Game After Ambush", or GAA, is actually the latest in a line of networked combat simulators that began development in the 1970s. Back then, the technology only allowed for crude simulators and communication. A lot has changed since then.
GAA uses commercial game technology, employing developers, and software, that is found in commercial combat simulators anyone can buy, and play. This includes lots of soldiers, but the troops use the games, and the specialized military versions, for training. The army adds a high degree of realism to the commercial game software. Thus the troops use steering wheel controllers for vehicles, but otherwise just use a networked PC, with as large a screen as possible, to immerse themselves in the photo-realistic graphics of the game, and the opponents who accurately use the tactics of whatever enemy the troops are being trained to fight.
GAA will create a large virtual combat area (100x100 kilometers) and allow for the use of UAVs and all other equipment a company or battalion would have. While 3,000 copies of "DARWARS Ambush" were distributed, that game emphasized specific needs, like convoy combat operations, and was based on the commercial game Operation Flashpoint. GAA will cover a full spectrum of combat operations. GAA is deployed as "systems", with each system utilizing 52 PCs, some with steering wheel controllers, and able to support local training. The players are mostly combat leaders, who learn to best deploy their troops and weapons. Seventy of these systems will be provided in 53 different locations worldwide. This enables units around the world to run training exercises together.