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Chris Chambers Presentation

This presentation is my favorite of the day so far. It was by Christopher Chambers, Deputy Director, Office of Economic & Manpower Analysis, Army Game Project. Chris is based at West Point and is leading an effort to create a standardized platform for all sorts of Army training. The level of thought that he has put into this so far is, at first glance, extremely impressive.

America's Army: Morphing the Game to Training and Mission Rehearsal Applications

Training and first-person gameplay are related

University of Rochester study found that

  • Visual acuity was significantly higher among FPS game players than non-gamers
  • Visual acuity effects could be 'trained' in 10 hours of gaming
Army Research Institute study found that FPS games are...
  • "Best for learning procedures and recalling experential details"
  • Procedural information is retained at up to 12 percent higher rates than factual information (i.e., written or oral)
  • "Instructional objectives should be integrated into game storylines"

First-person games differ greatly from traditional training simulations

  1. Games are "playable" -- i.e., live entities, in multiplayer teams
  2. Entertainment-focused, not engineering -- fun matters
  3. Can extend the training day if the game is engaging
  4. Focus on mass market -- household computers, Internet
  5. Common devices and conventions mean low barriers to learning
  6. People-focused, not equipment-focused
  7. No need for large facilities and staffs
  8. Access to huge pools of participants -- test, play, experiment
  9. Incorporate realism as needed, but not a slave to it

Soldier indoctrination and training could benefit from a common experience across a continuous lifecycle

  1. Find (USAAC)
  2. Recall (USAREC)
  3. Basic training (TRADOC)
  4. Unit training (FORSCOM)
Common platform breeds familiarity, increases training effects sooner

Game design matters

Persistent characters and attributes

  • Game should track progress
  • Data collection should improve experience in the next round

Low barriers to entry

  • Train the task, not the game skill
  • Use common, familiar game platforms and commands
  • Leverage generational habits to improve training


  • Infinite would be best -> live entities
  • More replayability is better -> AI entities
  • Randomness -- spawnsteam structures, terrain, mission time, objectives
Game engine is paramount

Game engine determines usability for training

  • Geo-specific terrain?
  • Destructible environments?
  • Dynamic lighting?
  • Randomness?
  • Polygon counts and frame rates?
  • Interoperability?
Engage the soldier
  • Fun <-> realism
  • Fantasy games <-> public games <-> game-based training products <-> flight simulations
Fun/realism tradeoff affects training

Factual learning needs imply more realism in games

  • Experiential learning imply an engaging design
  • Compressing time, varying mission attributes, and focused tasks increase fun
Collecting data for AARs

Game data fields are easily captured that support training and education feedback

Raw data

  • Number of attempts before correct action
  • Number of misses
  • Time to accomplish tasks

Game state data

  • To replay / replicate key actions to facilitate AARs

Synthetic data

  • Downstream effects of performance
  • Dynamic content delivery based on player data and preferences
  • Human virtual dynamics based on analysis of gameplay actions or inactions (fatigue, stress, skill degradation)

America's Army is a plaform for communication, by virtue of its design

America's Army (public application)

  • Engaging virtual schoolhouse
  • Focuses on the soldier as a member of a team rather than teams composed of soldiers
  • Designed to render high-fidelity, first-person environments and interactions within a multiplayer team setting

Not just a game

  • Localization
  • Console games
  • Wireless games
  • License program
  • Training
  • Mission rehearsal
  • RDT&E and prototyping
  • Education
  • Middleware and database

America's Army platform

  • Technologies (AAR, SOAR AI, DIS/HLA, DVHT)
  • America's Army content library (over 15,000 catalogued assets)
  • America's Army custom code base
  • Unreal SDK 2.5/3.0
  • Data transfer layer (client-server architecture, STS (Statistics Tracking System))


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