Support: Second Life Goes to War


August 21, 2007: The U.S. Army has been using commercial game technology for three decades now, so it's no surprise that virtual worlds, in massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs like Second Life or World of Warcraft) is the latest stuff that's being adapted for military training.

The virtual world approach would provide troops with a much broader array of training opportunities and, obviously, an identical user interface for all of them. Of particular interest to the army is the major NPC (Non-Player Character) technology advances of the last few years. For decades, game programmers have been making NPCs more intelligent. As a result current NPC tech produces very realistic non-player characters, which are essential for military training (to represent civilians and other troops, friendly and enemy). Combined with photo-realistic images, troops can be confronted with very realistic training situations. This is particularly true when it comes to dealing with civilians in a war zone. This is the most difficult sort of thing to train for. With virtual worlds and MMOGs, troops and units can also create their own scenarios and training exercises. This is essential for troops heading for a specific area, and situation, in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The new generation of army MMOGs are restricted to just military personnel, and some are classified, and not even reachable via the Internet (the army uses a separate "Internet" that uses web technology, but is not connected to the public Internet). Some of this training technology is also showing up in businesses. There it can be used for everything from management, to sales, customer service and even manufacturing.


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