The U.S. Army today unveiled new roles and missions that it will incorporate into its highly successful America's Army PC game.
These roles and missions, which debuted today at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, include Special Forces, Stryker Combat Brigade and Combat Medic missions.
America's Army, which provides civilians with an inside perspective and a virtual role in the U.S. Army, has become an online phenomenon and is currently one of the five most popular PC action games being played online. Since its public release on July 4, 2002, more than 1.07 million players completed their virtual exploration of the basic training portion of the game and progressed to complete more than 130 million missions logging over 13 million hours of gameplay.
"The public's positive reaction to the America's Army game has been far stronger than our most optimistic projections," said Col. Casey Wardynski, project originator and project director. "The Game has exhibited very high levels of growth in terms of new players, repeat players and numbers of games played. This success is due to the Game's realism and its ability to engross and entertain young adults as they explore Soldiering within the U.S. Army. By embedding information about Soldiering within the popular culture, the Game has proven to be a valuable channel to place information about Soldiering within the decision space of high potential young Americans."
In addition to debuting new game content, the Army will present a set of dynamic demonstrations at E3 to highlight the high fidelity with which its America's Army game portrays Army capabilities, operations, units and technologies. Above the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) the sky will be alive with action as instructors from the Army's elite Air Assault School conduct mock air assault insertions, rappelling from a Black Hawk helicopter. Guests arriving at E3 via the convention center's South Hall entrance will have the opportunity to inspect the Army's newest armored vehicle, the Stryker. This vehicle embodies graphic user displays and situational awareness that will make any gamer's pulse race. It combines information technology with tactical maneuverability and strategic mobility to place Army combat power where and when it is needed to achieve decisive victory. Visitors will also be able to inspect an Army workhorse, a combat version of the HUMMV. In the West Hall, Green Berets from the Army's 20th Special Forces Group accompanied by Soldiers from the elite 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment will demonstrate their skills in a mock combat search and rescue mission. The Army also will conduct live tournaments including the final match between a team of four civilians and four active duty U.S. Army Soldiers in the America's Army Ultimate Arena E3 Tournament (Thursday, May 15).
America's Army was designed and developed to use online game technology as a virtual portal through which young Americans can explore Soldiering in the U.S. Army. In America's Army they can explore and dominate challenges ranging from basic training to Special Forces Assignment and Selection. They can join various elite Army units and see the power of Army teamwork, values and technology. Since the Game uses online game technology to model Soldiering, all of this occurs in an engaging and entertaining format that lowers the information search and assimilation costs formerly associated with learning about Army career opportunities.
"Our developers work closely with active duty Soldiers to create realistic experiences and that formula has turned out to be a phenomenal success," said Maj. Chris Chambers, the project's deputy director. "This coming year, we look forward to releasing game mission packs that realistically mirror the dynamic nature of Soldiering in the U.S. Army and allow players to more fully explore the technologies, opportunities, adventures and training that make the U.S. Army the world's premier land force."
With these mission packs the game will expand to include new roles presented in both single and multiplayer formats. Players will explore progressive individual and collective training events within the game. Once they successfully completed these events they will advance to multiplayer operations in small units. These new roles include skills ranging from Combat Medic to Special Forces Engineer Sergeant.
Building upon the Game's successful deployment, the Army has expanded support for America's Army to new platforms and operating systems. In June, America's Army is planned for Apple Macintosh. In July, the Army will release both client and server versions of America's Army for Linux. The Army has also established relationships and strategic plans to take America's Army to entirely new platforms.
The new game attributes featured at E3 include:
Individual training begins with classroom instruction at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where players learn the ABC's of lifesaving. When emergency situations occur command of these fundamentals of lifesaving are essential. In game, players who master these skills will bring unique lifesaving capabilities to operational missions.
Starting in June 2003, new monthly editions of America's Army will allow gamers to virtually explore the development and employment of Special Forces (SF) Soldiers.
Players will progress toward the goal of earning the right to wear a coveted Green Beret by completing missions drawn from the Special Forces Assignment and Selection (SFAS) process. Players who successfully complete SFAS during the summer and fall will advance to Special Forces Qualification Course (Q-Course) missions to explore new roles such as 18D - Medical Sergeant, 18B - Weapons Sergeant, 18C - Engineer Sergeant, 18E - Communications Sergeant, and 18F - Intelligence Sergeant.
As players successfully complete each phase of the Q-Course they will gain new attributes and capabilities that will propagate across operational missions in America's Army.
When America's Army: Special Forces is fully deployed by the winter of 2003, gameplay will culminate with missions that span the capabilities of a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) to include combat search and rescue (CSAR, to be debuted at E3), direct action, surveillance and reconnaissance, and unconventional warfare.
Stryker Combat System
This spring, the Army's first Stryker Brigade will be ready for operational employment. As this advanced organization joins the Army, the Stryker will also make its first appearance in the America's Army game. Incorporating advanced information systems, lightweight armor, a grenade launcher or a 50-caliber remote weapons station (RWS), the Stryker brings new capabilities to America's Army beginning at E3.
America's Army will also unveil other significant advances at E3. These include: implementation of OC3's Impersonator technology, new character models, a new game system interface that provides new styles of gameplay to include enhanced roles for leadership positions as part of mission planning phases, and new game modes that incorporate friendly, enemy and non-combatant AI.
To create the realistic levels presented in America's Army: Special Forces, developers worked with Green Berets ranging from the Commander of the J.F.K. Special Warfare School to cadre at events such as the Special Forces' Robin Sage training exercise at Fort Bragg, NC. The team also worked in concert with Army scientists at the Armament Research, Development & Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ, to model new systems such as the AT4, the BDM and RPG-7V that will enter service in the game this summer. America's Army developers also joined with elements of the 1st Brigade 25th Infantry Division and 3rd Brigade 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, WA to model Stryker systems and missions. Even the designers of the Game's E3 West Hall demo area relied upon combat camera reference materials recorded by Soldiers in action in the War On Terror.
America's Army is rated T for Teen and is available as a free CD at local Army Recruiting stations, ROTC Detachments and Army events, and can also be downloaded from various partners listed on the www.americasarmy.com site.