Inside Move: Military musters gamers for training

Allied forces make 'Warrior' a kudos hit

“Full Spectrum Warrior,” the first fruit of a long-ballyhooed collaboration between the military and Hollywood, looks to be earning its stripes with both the military and gamers.

“Warrior,” on display at last month’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, was nominated for four awards, including Best of Show.

One of a squad’s worth of vidgames the Army is using to both train soldiers and recruit more of them, “Warrior” started out 2½ years ago after the Army signed a big development contract with USC’s Institute of Creative Technology. The institute enlisted Pandemic Studios to develop the game.

The military version — designed to reinforce the tactics troops should use in urban combat — hits Xbox vidgame consoles in barracks this summer. A civilian version from THQ arrives next winter.

Pandemic director William Stahl was enthusiastic about working with the Army, though the bureaucracy’s notoriously lengthy signoff process did slow development. But bringing in private-sector talent was an acknowledgement by the Army that its own expensive simulators were so bad that soldiers hated using them.

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By combining skilled gamemakers and Hollywood talent with real military doctrine and rules of engagement, the hope was to make simulators soldiers would actually play. Given the critical response, those hopes appear to have been fulfilled.

And reinforcing good training with engaging games might actually keep soldiers alive in the battlefields of the future.