Game Developers Turn Roadside Attack Footage Into Up-to-the-Minute Training Simulations



In the past, military simulations built by video-game developers have been based on anecdotal evidence that tries to anticipate the real-life conditions faced by troops once they’re deployed. But a new collaboration between the Joint IED Defeat Organization and the Army Training and Doctrine Command creates digital experiences based on actual, recent footage that can be turned around in less than a week.

Every day the U.S. military captures video of roadside attacks and IED explosions. The types of attacks being improvised are changing just as rapidly as the military can find defenses. Now, video of the latest attack is taken to game designers who translate the
enemy tactics into an authentic digital world that can help troops know exactly what
to look out for. Some videos are finding their way out of the fields and into game developers’ computers in 24 hours. And the completed simulations can be disseminated to troops within days.

The machinmas–short 3-D animations–can accurately depict everything from new insurgent strategies to suddenly popular weapons (or new uses for old weapons, as is often the case). The latest is the RKG-3:

Originally designed to be thrown on top of a vehicle, the device has a
parachute that pops out the back end. In the simulation, three men
loiter along a street as a convoy of mine-resistant ambush-protected
vehicles drives by. As the final vehicle passes, the insurgents lob the
IEDs and the explosion stops the truck.

To stay current and accurate, the developers maintain databases of information, footage and weaponry, which is also used by troops to plan counterattacks.

Like the IED Battle Drill, a high-def immersive experience created by RL Leaders that I tested out earlier this month, these simulations have become widely recognized by military leadership as the best way to train solders how to recognize and prevent roadside attacks.