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November 22,2008: The U.S. Army and Marine Corps have adopted several PC based wargames that enable the troops to create their own scenarios (or "mods"), based on recent combat experience, and use the modified games to train new troops, or keep their own skills current. Two games in particular are serving this purpose (Operation Flashpoint, or OFP, and Americas Army). OFP was originally developed as both a military and commercial game. The commercial version came out in 2001, and still has lots of fans (a sequel is due next year). The military version "Virtual Battle Space System" (VBS) appeared a year later (and new editions have kept coming out regularly). The U.S. Marine Corps was the main sponsor initially, with the Australian Army adopting it in 2003 and eventually dozens of others (U.S. Special Forces, U.S. Army National Guard, Canada, Israel, Britain, Netherlands, U.S. Secret Service and etc).

Through this period, the U.S. Army developed its own game, Americas Army, which was also easily modified, but also existed in a massive online version to assist recruiting. Like VBS, Americas Army could be easily modified for different scenarios. Both games had realistic depiction of weapons and troop capabilities. Most importantly, troops could easily develop their own scenarios. All you needed was a few people with some computer gaming experience. Lots of those have been joining in the last decade.

VBS, in particular, allows for elaborate scenarios, with wily, and realistically equipped enemy fighters. VBS is a FPS (First Person Shooter) with "Grand Theft Auto" aspects (a large virtual world to operate in) and enough realism to make it useful for effective training. The troops like VBS because it is realistic enough to be entertaining to play, and accomplish training goals. VBS was particularly effective when mods for convoy protection training were created in 2004.

 


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