War Games

Peter W. Singer
Peter W. Singer Former Brookings Expert, Strategist and Senior Fellow - New America

February 22, 2010

With the rise of video game training modules and virtual simulation programs as key recruitment tools used by the U.S. military, P.W. Singer outlines some of the most popular forms of “militainment” on the market.

America’s Army

One of the most popular video games of all time, America’s Army has been played by more than 9 million individuals. But it was actually developed to aid U.S. Army recruiting and has become one of the most successful military recruiting tools. A 2008 study found that 30 percent of all Americans age 16 to 24 had a more positive impression of the Army because of the game and that the game had more impact on recruits than all other forms of Army advertising combined. Once in the military, the gaming platform has also begun to be used for various training applications, including recently for robotic systems that use video-game like controllers modeled after the ones used to play the game.

Gator Six

Gator Six is built around 260 realistic video clips that simulate many of the difficult judgment calls that a young officer might have to make in modern wars. Designed with the help of 20 Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans, there are no right or wrong answers, just realistic situations presented that a young captain has to decide what to do about. Dave Henderson of the Directorate of Training and Doctrine at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, who first commissioned the project, told the Washington Post: “Gator Six teaches captains not what to think but how to think. That’s a critical distinction.”

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