MilGaming portal launches expansion
November 30, 2010
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 30, 2010) -- The Army expanded its MilGaming portal Monday to include a suite of PC-based virtual training applications and tools that are open to anyone with a Department of Defense Common Access Card.
Since the Army launched its MilGaming portal in February, more than 12,000 people have logged some 10,000 hours downloading game software, such as Virtual BattleSpace, and sharing user-created scenarios, models, terrains and videos.
Now the playing field is even bigger. This week's updates to the site include adding the latest version of the flagship training platform "Virtual BattleSpace 2."
Another addition to the portal is the inclusion of mobile applications that can be used with iPhones, iPads and Androids. And the expansion gives instant access to about anything in the MilGaming community, from technical support to training events and online instruction.
Included in the expansion is Vignette Planning and Rehearsal Software, or ViPRS, a program that allows users to design and build scenarios that represent asymmetric aspects of conflict; and Enhanced Learning Environments with Creative Technologies (ELECT) Bilateral Negotiation (BiLAT), a 3-D simulation whereby players can practice skills in conducting meetings and negotiations.
"Moral Combat" injects players into a series of first-person, 3-D scenarios that challenge behavior and decision-making. There's also a suite of self-paced, interactive foreign language programs to learn Iraqi, and the two most common languages in Afghanistan, Dari and Pashto.
The portal also includes forums where participants can share their experiences and offer lessons learned.
On tap for release in April of 2011 is "UrbanSim" - a virtual training application for practicing battle command in counterinsurgency operations while also focusing on the stability operations aspect of full spectrum operations.
The portal is a joint venture between the Army Combined Arms Center-Training's National Simulation Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, known as PEO STI, in Orlando, Fla.
"What the portal provides is the opportunity for people to share experiences, training techniques and best practices," said Col. Anthony Krogh, National Simulation Center (NSC) director. "They can get the latest game software versions directly from the website and download it to their unit's computers if the unit computers have the kind of capabilities to support the training."
The portal has full and "light" versions of games. The light versions have some of their capabilities reduced by NSC in order to run on basic off-the-shelf computers that don't have high-end video cards, he added.
Krogh said before a game makes it to the portal for Soldiers to use, it has to go through an approval and validation process to ensure it meets the training values the Army is looking for and he sees further expansion ahead.
"I think, taking the big picture look, that gaming has been arguably one of the most cost-effective training devices we've used in the last five years and we only see the portal growing," he said.
"Since everybody in the force will have the opportunity to contribute, Soldiers will have a hand in the training based on their own experiences. With that we can rapidly develop new training techniques to meet new requirements as they evolve."
Krogh's organization and PEO-STI are starting to develop more games that focus on things that are beyond kinetic or first-person shooter games because the Army wants Soldiers to have the opportunity to train in other things where behaviors, mannerisms and cultural impact are just as important as the mission they're doing, he said.