The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has begun updating its Battlespace2 and other simulations to bring them in line with commercial wargames like Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3.
Andrew Poulter heads up the technical team behind the war-game and said that while back in the 80s and 90s, military simulations were state of the art, today they have fallen far behind commercial alternatives in terms of graphics and plot. With that in mind, the MoD has been investing heavily in what's known as "Project Kite" (knowledge information test environment), designed to bring the training software to the forefront of military shooters.
Some of this is down to the current generation of new recruits having been raised on shooter titles from both the Call of Duty and Battlefield series. This means they've been used to high quality first person shooter games. Taking a step down in graphics and immersion is hardly a way to train a soldier how to react in certain situations.
Another aspect of the software's revamp is that with dwindling budgets due to economic cut backs, virtual training is cheaper than its real world alternative. However, this doesn't mean that it's less effective. The Guardian has a quote from Poulter that claims a commander from Afghanistan considered the training "invaluable. It is being taken seriously. It's not just a game," said Poulter.
This is the part that the MoD is keen to work on. While commercial games "may look graphically beautiful, they have to be entertaining rather than realistic" said Poulter. Simulations like Battlespace2 and its potential sequels are designed to test how soldiers will react in certain situations as well as training them to react quickly to orders.
That doesn't mean it's not fun at all though. "It is certainly a lot more fun than going through lists of checks and box-ticking," Poulter continued.
"We want them to think 'I would quite like to do a bit more of that kind of thing'. So they might spend 10 minutes [on a simulation] after reading papers in the morning, or in their spare time."