What The U.S. Army Wants In A Shooter Game

When most of us want to buy a first-person-shooter, we look for a game with the latest graphics, reliable team play, and maybe an interesting plot line if we're lucky. But when the U.S. Army wants an FPS, it likes a few extras, like the ability to call in artillery fire, medevac missions, or authentically depicted Arab and Afghan female suicide bombers.

By 2013, the Army would like a new FPS with those features and more.

The new game will replace Bohemia Interactive's Virtual Battlespace 2 as the flagship game in its Games for Training program. It says something about the nature of 21st Century military technology when Air Force pilots are flying the same 50-year-old B-52s that their fathers flew, yet after only four years, the Army already needs a new shooter game.

The Army wants a design that incorporates the latest graphics and game technology, and so last month, the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) — the Orlando-based organisation that procures Army training gear — published a draft Request for Proposal to solicit input from the game industry on what they can offer.

PEO STRI put together a handy 243-page technical requirements document and a 13-page checklist on what a next-generation Army shooter should look like.

After a decade of fighting two wars, the Pentagon isn't salivating at the prospect of doing more counterinsurgency, but the new shooter game suggests that the Army is girding for it anyway.

The tech minimum requirements are mixed: a Core 2 Duo processor with 4GB of RAM on the low end, or an i7 processor with 16GB of RAM. But what's interesting isn't how different real military games are from their ostensibly brain-dead entertainment counterparts, but how similar they are. Most of PEO STRI's requirements consist of long, long lists of specific equipment and terrain that need to be included. The hardware, from M-1 to Russian T-72 tanks and Apache helicopters to Predator drones, wouldn't be out of place in a modern warfare shooter like Battlefield 3.

Also notable is how explicitly oriented the new Army shooter is toward fighting "small wars". The Army wants a game that includes more than 50 types and models of civilian vehicles, from Taliban-endorsed Toyota Hilux pickup trucks to bicycles, more than 100 civilian structures from factories and mosques to trash piles, and traffic control gear such as spike strips and speed bumps. After a decade of fighting two wars, the Pentagon isn't salivating at the prospect of doing more counterinsurgency, but the new shooter game suggests that the Army is girding for it anyway.

Bohemia Interactive is likely to bid on the Army contract, as is America's Army 3, which lost to VBS2 during the last — and controversial — selection process. The contract isn't large by Pentagon standards — only $US44.5 million over five years. But even if the money isn't huge, the winning contractor will enjoy the cachet of publishing a game that will have a prominent role in military training around the world.

Not only is VBS2 also used by the U.S. Marine Corps, Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Britain, Canada, Australia, and various NATO nations, but the Army has turned it into a jack-of-all-trades trainer for everything from cultural awareness to IED detection. The Army's new shooter game will be used for a lot more than shooting.

Michael Peck is Games Editor at Foreign Policy Magazine and a writer for Training & Simulation Journal at defence News
(Top photo by The U.S. Army ] Flickr)

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Comments

    There is a huge difference between a military training simulation
    program, (what they are asking for), and a game. Its not a game its
    a training tool.

    You may call it that, but think of how it is made and what
    technology it is made from, games. There is no fine line between a
    game and a training tool with what they are classifying it as, to
    think that it is only a training tool is wrong whereas both a game
    and a training tool or even better, a training simulator. Think of
    it this way, if games were not used, then this won't exist.

      If VBS didnt exist ARMA wouldnt exist. They only sell ARMA because
      they have the backing of VBS.

      Gaming actually originated from the defence force in the first place. The most important development for videogames in history was the MODEL 1 system designed and built by YU SUZUKI and his teams at SEGA. SErvice GAmes actually started out as an company providing Arcade entertainment for Allied troops. Yu Suzuki actully had to negotiate with Allied Defense IT sectors to gain commercial access to the hardware for us consumers.

    Given the ARMA2 and upcoming ARMA3 capabilities as simulator, I
    think they would be in with a chance to win the next contract.
    Search Youtube for some videos of large scale ARMA2 missions, it's
    actually quite impressive what can be done.

      Arma 2 is just a dialed back version of their VBS software. What
      can be done in arma is because they want to do it in VBS.

        Edit: You can do these things in arma because you can do it in VBS,
        Arma wouldnt be around if it wasnt for VBS.

    They have one. America's Army >_>

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