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GCN : May 2013
get into gaming, because that's what so- ciety as a whole is doing. "We are at the point now where everyone is pretty much a gamer," Taylor said. "Whether it's play- ing Words With Friends on their phones or enjoying the spectacle that is BioShock Infinite, there is something for everyone and something for every screen." He's seen many successful government and industry partnerships involving games, like Zero Hour http://virtualhe- roes.com/projects/zero-hour-americas- medicAmerica's Medic title, which trains first responders on what to do in the event of an earthquake or terrorist at- tack, all safely conducted in a virtual 3D world, just like a commercial first-person shooter game. Taylor said that games are the best training medium for most situations for three reasons. First, they provide instant feedback, allowing players to auto-cor- rect themselves as they go without hav- ing to wait for test results to be returned. Second, games with a high graphical quality are simply more exciting and in- teresting than simple textbook reading. And third, people have a natural com- petitiveness that games inspire. Players want to advance, get to the next level or earn a higher score. When that goes hand in hand with learning, everybody wins, he said. And the results are impressive. Taylor pointed to a study by Dr. Traci Sitzmann of the University of Colorado Denver which showed that employees who played seri- ous games as part of their training had 11 percent greater factual knowledge, a 14 percent higher skill level and a 9 per- cent higher retention rate compared with those who had not used training games. Taylor also sees more gaming in gov- ernment's future. "Our industry is so innovative, just look at all the new tech- nologies that can become learning tools," he said. "Look at Microsoft Kinect. It can record voice and motion in a way that was not conceivable a few years ago. Now we see it used in everything from hospital operating rooms to teaching music. Gov- ernment, like society, is seeing that games are not the boogeyman. They have value and will become more a part of life." For those like NASA's Laughlin, who believed in the power of games all along but 10 years ago worried about admitting it, that new shift in attitudes is refresh- ing. Today when he walks into a room full of government employees and asks if anyone is familiar with gaming, lots of hands go up, and without the reserva- tion, he says. • GCN MAY 2013 • GCN.COM 21 Wi-Fi capabilities. In addition to driving the simulation for the soldier, it also sends out positional data to other participants and back to the operator running the exercise so that everyone is experiencing the same conditions. A big advantage Pedry sees with ExpeditionDI is its ability to replicate the mission environment that a solder is going experience in the theater of operation. "The most dangerous time for soldiers is right when they first get in the theater," he said. "But ExpeditionDI can be programmed to look like where they re going." When Pedry tested the system, he did so with a squad of troops with mixed levels of experience. Some, like him, had seen real combat. One man had not yet deployed outside the United States. After a few runs through di erent missions, it didn t matter. They were operating like an experienced unit. They had made their mistakes and learned from them in the virtual world. The fact that some of them "died" didn t matter. Death in ExpeditionDI is nothing more than a learning experience. --- John Breeden II