Games for the serious case

Games for the serious case

The soldier taps his comrade on the shoulder: "there’s someone in the doorway." immediately the target takes aim and shoots at the enemy. More enemies storm over the desired projection surface from the left and right. The scene is reminiscent of a sequence from a first-person shooter. But the exercise is not a game. There’s a difference between gripping a hand-held mouse or controller or a real G36 rifle.

In the AGSHP, the hand weapons and anti-tank hand weapons training unit, the "input devices" include everything from pistols to bazookas. These are real, inoperable weapons, as captain marcus breede explains. Instead, sensors are built in. "Before the soldiers fire a live shot, they go into the simulator", says breede.

There, the soldiers learn to operate the individual weapons step by step in accordance with the regulations – until the hand movements are so internalized that they are virtually automatic.
Just a typical press of the "R" key counterproductive. The soldiers have to insert the magazine themselves, release the safety catch – all manual operations that only take place virtually on the screen in a game.

The sensors in the weapons reveal whether they are being held correctly. The operator of the simulator can see on his screen, for example, whether the weapon is cocked, explains staff sergeant manfred nickel. Diagrams show the course of the pressure point of the finger on the trigger and the contact pressure of the grip on the shoulder. Everything can be analyzed, even in which curve the weapon is swung to the target to aim at it.

Compressed air lets the gun recoil with every virtual shot as with a real one. Unlike in a game, the picture does not wobble to simulate the jolt. It must actually be physically intercepted.

The sliding simulator saves ammunition. But above all, it increases the efficiency of the training operation, says breede. This eliminates the formalities and logistics of issuing real, live weapons.

Depending on the scenario, the software throws grenade explosions and fog, bridges, buildings, barrels, trees and soldiers onto the projection surface, at which the train operators point their weapons. Virtual blood does not love.

The graphic heart is an engine from a german developer that is known from the games sector. For the german armed forces, a licensee is upgrading it to a simulator for the military by, among other things, adding ballistic tables for realistic bullet flight behavior.
The game core is even more evident in the virtual battlespace (VBS). It is a modified version of the arma series ("armed assault"), a tactical shooter. It’s also expanded to include realistic ballistics, explains captain torsten lipp. "On the other hand, the remaining elements of the game include zombies, which can be built in", says lipp. With his colleague, he uses VBS to build exercises – realistic exercises.

So the database includes an accurate replica of bonnland. Soldiers can virtually explore the site and its location before placing a fub in the training village. With the facility’s heavy workload, this saves on occupancy rates.

"In the beginning, I let the soldiers let off steam on the screen", says lipp. The exercises are not about combat and action, but about procedural training. The soldiers are to learn communication and procedures on the screen. How must the commander on board the wheeled tank boxer talk to his crew?? How do two squads of boxers coordinate?? It is not necessary to move real vehicles for the time being. On screen, soldiers control models to learn how to position boxers. The need for air support is also accommodated. VBS can even be networked across sites for this purpose. Other scenarios are used to teach law: soldiers must decide how to react correctly in a given situation.

Just go for it, like in a game, is not called for. Lipp shows a recording of a train driver test in the DDPS: the train driver steers his avatar far forward toward enemy-occupied buildings and leaves his soldiers behind. He stands alone in front of the enemy and runs the risk of being caught in covering fire. At the same time, he should have stayed behind and instructed his turn. Lipp explains: actually, the platoon leader himself did not have to fight at all.

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