Some recent items of possible interest to PAXsims readers:
Tom Grant interviews wargame designer Volko Ruhnke in the latest instalment of his I’ve been Diced podcast. Much of the discussion focusses on game modelling of insurgency and counterinsurgency, an issue that sustained a lively discussion when the the game Labyrinth first came out. Volko teaches intelligence analysis and Tom wrote his PhD thesis on counter-insurgency, so it is a particularly well-informed discussion.
According to Defense News, a proposed training simulation for US military chaplains may provoke a lawsuit:
A U.S. Army computer game to train military chaplains may bring down judicial rather than divine intervention. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is vowing to stop the project, including possibly filing a lawsuit in federal court.
The simulation, tentatively named “Spiritual Triage,” is being created for the Army’s Chaplain Center and School at Fort Jackson, S.C., — but the school doesn’t want it.
“The school still hasn’t made any requests for the simulation, nor does it intend to at this point,” said spokeswoman Julia Simpkins.
Spiritual Triage is just beginning development at the Army’s Simulation and Training Technology Center (STTC), which awarded the contract to Orlando-based Engineering and Computer Simulations. Scheduled to be completed by September, Spiritual Triage is intended to expose chaplains and chaplain assistants to stressful situations such as ministering to dying soldiers.
“Non-player characters are used to elicit feelings and conditions that one may encounter, such as fear of death and dying, faith, guilt, separation, despair, grief, as well as physical trauma such as pain, burns, amputations, and disfigurement, to name only a few,” according to the ECS Web site.
Bill Pike, STTC’s science and technology manager for medical simulation research, said the idea came from various chaplains at the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), which oversees STTC. The chaplains saw an existing ECS computer game called “vMedic” (formerly known as “Tactical Combat Casualty Care”), which trains Army combat medics, and told Pike that a game like that would be useful for training chaplains during mass casualty exercises….
Also in Defense News is a story on how “the Pentagon’s mandatory human trafficking course will be a testbed for an experimental virtual world.”
The Combating Traffic in Persons course was chosen first because it is high-volume: all Department of Defense military and civilian personnel must take the training, which takes about an hour to complete. There were 36,000 course completions last year.
The virtual world test will be conducted in the spring, before final evaluation by the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness. Users will take the normal CTIP course online, but when they come to the last of the eight training modules they will be unknowingly and seamlessly transferred to a virtual world.
CTIP is a mixture of multiple-choice questions, audio, and Flash video, including “some pretty graphic pictures” of what happens to women and children who are victims of human trafficking, Vozzo said. It is designed to acquaint users with Department of Defense regulations and policy regarding human trafficking. While the basic content of the course won’t change, how it is delivered and how the student will access it will be.
“It will be very similar to a MMO [massive multiplayer online] construct,” Vozzo said. “The virtual world does consist of an avatar that the student can maneuver to interact with various scenarios.”
“We are testing the hypothesis that a virtual world framework may be less expensive, may be more efficient, easier to develop and easier to sustain in the long run,” Vozzo said.
Earlier this month at Reddit, the question was asked “how have video games changed new [military] recruits?“