Last week’s post from Sean Nack suggests that players shouldn’t let an obsession with “realism” get in the way of enjoying Battlefield 3, but apparently the British Ministry of Defence is having a hard time making that same argument with its own soldiers.
The Guardian reports the British military has turned to digital simulations to prepare soliders for duty and that “troops are so used to playing high-quality commercial games set in combat zones that they tend to lose concentration unless the MoD simulations look equally realistic.”
Thousands of UK troops who served in Afghanistan played Virtual Battlespace 2 as part of their training. The program is based on commercial gaming technology because soldiers “tend to lose concentration” if they military simulators don’t look as realistic as that copy of Black Ops they played back home. Andrew Poulter, the technical team leader at the MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory in Portsdown, Hampshire is the guy who’s in charge of dealing with this kind of thing:
“Certainly, there is a level of computer games experience in recruits. So the plots have to be realistic and the image generation has to be high quality. A lot of the older systems can be very clunky. If you put someone behind a block display, it is harder for them to be completely immersed.” But though the commercial games “may look graphically beautiful, they have to be entertaining rather than realistic”.
Poulter and his nine-strong team will adapt the software so that the weapons perform as they would in combat “The weapons need to be credible. If they fire a rifle and the bullet travels three and a half miles, then that is not right. If they are steering a vehicle, then that has to be right too. Realism is more important than entertainment. Levels of immersion are very important.”
Here’s what we want to know: what do the soldiers think? How VBS2 compare to BF3 or MW3? Do they really care about realism? Can any FPS game really help prepare someone for combat?