How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY GAMING

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Does playing video games and desktop simulators, such as Microsoft Flight Sim, prepare you to become a fighter pilot?

As a fighter pilot, much of our training takes place in a simulator, which is the ultimate video game. Stepping into these rooms, you’re dwarfed by a giant sphere that projects a 360-degree view of your surroundings. After climbing into an exact replica of the cockpit, a motor then pushes you into the middle of the sphere and it’s fights on—You’re anywhere in the world with any weapons you want and adversaries that can be dialed-up in difficulty as needed. And it’s not just you in there, other pilots are in their own pods fighting alongside you on the same virtual battlefield.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
The inside of the cockpit of an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Full Mission Simulator accurately replicates all sensors and weapons to provide a realistic mission rehearsal and training environment for pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Flying a modern fighter is difficult—these machines are designed to merge man and machine into a lethal combination that can have a strategic level of impact on the battlefield. The stick and throttle alone have dozens of buttons on them. Most of these buttons can give 5 or more commands—forward, back, left, right, and down—as well as short pushes and long pushes and multiple master-modes that completely change the function of each button: It’s a PlayStation or X-box controller on steroids.

Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, my generation was one of the first to have widespread access to video games. Nintendo, Xbox, PlayStation, N64—I played them all growing up. Using a controller was second nature by the time I got to pilot training. Now trainers like the T-6 and T-38 don’t have a lot of buttons on the stick and throttle—they’re designed to teach students how to fly. However, the F-16 was a huge jump where we learned not just to fly the aircraft, but to employ it as a weapons system.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
The F-16 comes with a few more buttons than your average X-Box controller. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

There we learned what, at the time, seemed like complex sequences to track targets, launch missiles, and drop bombs. What I noticed was that my time playing video games allowed me to synthesize information while quickly and accurately passing decisions I made off to the jet. Many of my classmates also played video games growing up and collectively, the feedback we received was that we were a lot more advanced than our instructors were when they were in our position.

Now, a decade later, I can say the next generation, who grew up with smartphones and iPads, have an even greater capacity to process the multiple streams of information coming at them than older pilots like myself. The avionics in jets like the F-35—which are essentially 2 large iPads glued together—are second nature to them. So, to answer the question, do video games help prepare you to become a pilot? The answer is yes, to an extent.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
How else are you supposed to master the wing-mounted laser blasters that come on the F-15? (Ace Combat 7)

For future fighter pilots out there, I would say a couple of hours a week can help with processing information, making quick decisions, and accurately passing it off to the controls. Anything more is likely a detriment in that it is taking time away from other things you could be working on. As for the type of video game, it doesn’t matter. Realistic fighter simulators like DCS aren’t any better than Mario Kart: The procedures and tactics in civilian sims are off by enough that it won’t give you an advantage by the time you’re flying the real thing. If it helps stoke the passion, great, that’s the most important trait for success, but not playing them won’t put you at a disadvantage.

MIGHTY GAMING

The Navy will recruit drone pilots using video games

Can a video game help the U.S. Navy find future operators for its remotely operated, unmanned vehicles (UxV), popularly called drones?

To find out, the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute and Adaptive Immersion Technologies, a software company, are developing a computer game to identify individuals with the right skills to be UxV operators. The project, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), is called StealthAdapt.


“The Navy currently doesn’t have a test like this to predict who might excel as UxV operators,” said Lt. Cmdr. Peter Walker, a program officer in ONR’s Warfighter Performance Department. “This fast-paced, realistic computer simulation of UxV missions could be an effective recruitment tool.”

Since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began, UxV have played ever-larger roles in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and other missions. Consequently, there’s an increasing need for well-trained UxV operators.

In recent years, the Air Force established its own formal screening process for remotely piloted aircraft operators, and the Marine Corps designated an unmanned aviation systems (UAS) career path for its ranks.

The Navy, however, doesn’t have an official selection and training pipeline specifically for its UxV operators, who face challenges unique to the service. For UAS duty, the Navy has taken aviators who already earned their wings; provided on-the-job, UAS-specific training; and placed them in temporary positions.

However, this presents challenges. It’s costly and time-consuming to add more training hours, and it takes aviators away from their manned aircraft duties. Finally, the cognitive skills needed for successful manned aviation can vary from those needed for unmanned operators.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
A MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle prepares to land after a mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The Reaper has the ability to carry both precision-guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

StealthAdapt is designed to address this issue. It consists of a cognitive test, personality assessment, and biographical history assessment. The cognitive exam actually is the game-based component of the system and takes the form of a search-and-rescue mission. Each player’s assignment is to rescue as many stranded friendly forces as possible, within a pre-set time limit, while avoiding fire from hostile forces.

If that’s not stressful enough, players must simultaneously monitor chat-based communications, make sure they have enough fuel and battery power to complete missions, memorize and enter authentication codes required for safe rescue of friendlies, decode encrypted information, and maintain situational awareness.

“We’re trying to see how well players respond under pressure, which is critical for success as an unmanned operator,” said Dr. Phillip Mangos, president and chief scientist at Adaptive Immersion Technologies. “We’re looking for attention to detail, the ability to multitask and prioritize, and a talent for strategic planning — thinking 10 moves ahead of your adversary.”

To maintain this pressure, players complete multiple 5- to 10-minute missions in an hour. Each scenario changes, with different weather, terrain, number of friendlies and hostiles, and potential communication breakdowns.

After finishing the game portion, participants answer questions focusing on personality and biographical history. Mangos’ team then crunches this data with game-performance metrics to create a comprehensive operator evaluation.

In 2017, over 400 civilian and military volunteers participated as StealthAdapt research subjects at various Navy and Air Force training centers. Mangos and his research team currently are reviewing the results and designing an updated system for validation by prospective Navy and Air Force unmanned operators. It will be ready for fleet implementation in 2018

Mangos envisions StealthAdapt serving as a stand-alone testing and recruitment tool, or as part of a larger screening process such as the Selection for UAS Personnel, also known as SUPer. SUPer is an ONR-sponsored series of specialized tests that assesses cognitive abilities and personality traits of aspiring UxV operators.

MIGHTY GAMING

​The best military games we played at gamescom and PAX West

In the summer, gamescom and PAX West bring out the best in gaming announcements as developers and publishers get the hype trains rolling right into the holiday season. This year was no exception. There are a lot of great games on the horizon, but this year, we’ve got our eyes glued on three shooter titles specifically.

Here are the games, in no particular order, that await your itchy trigger finger.


How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

(Deep Silver)

‘Metro: Exodus’ (PS4/XBO/PC)

I’ll admit, getting some time with Metro: Exodus at gamescom was my first hands-on experience with the lauded series, but it wasn’t my first rodeo in the virtual apocalypse. Despite this minor detail, I was able to jump right in and start exploring the newest title set in a grim future.

It was explained to me that Exodus moves the Metro series away from its traditional, predominantly underground setting into a more balanced mixture of surface and subterranean exploration. The demo environment that I explored was well designed, rich with details to remind players they’re playing a post-apocalyptic RPG. Hidden in the environment (and on corpses) are materials you can use to craft a variety of helpful consumables. One of the coolest features put on display was the ability to customize weapons to fit different situations.

Combat was smooth and accommodates a variety of different gameplay styles. Instead of stealthily picking off my opponents, I tend to lean toward going full Rambo on every enemy in sight, but both approaches seem to get the job done. After a quick developer assist (I explored a little too much and got lost — did I mention how great the environments are?), I dispatched the demo’s boss mob by spending all of my ammo and finishing it off with a very satisfying melee strike.

Exodus seems like a perfect fit for fans of Bioshock, Dead Space, Far Cry, and other shooter RPGs.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

(The Farm 51)

‘World War 3’ (PC)

World War 3 is an upcoming Battlefield-like multiplayer shooter developed and published by The Farm 51, a small indie studio based in Poland. While WW3 is themed around a theoretical conflict, it’s based on real-world tensions in Eastern Europe.

Gameplay is straightforward enough, but fine-tuned. There’s a good balance of combat classes, weapons, consumables — everything you’ve come to expect from a modern shooter. What stands out about this game, however, is that nearly everything is customizable and the array of selections is huge. Configure your own load out using everything from dozens of different types of head accessories to a variety of mounted vehicle weapons. With a little sleuthing, I even found that one of the more creative developers snuck a nuclear warhead into the mix — just for fun.

The developers on the floor reiterated several times that everything in their game (well, maybe not the nuke) will be unlockable through playing and not microtransactions. While it seems a little unfair to compare this game to AAA giants, like Battlefield, everyone I chatted with at PAX and gamescom seemed ready to draw the comparison. Regardless of whether the title can measure up to multi-million dollar blockbusters, the best part about this game is the indie price. Early access opens up for PC gamers on Steam later this year and gamers can expect to drop between and to join in on the international conflict.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

(EA DICE)

‘Battlefield V’ (PS4/XBO/PC)

Speaking of AAA titles, World War II is back with EA’s latest title, Battlefield V. EA DICE, longtime developers of the Battlefield series, is hoping to provide a vastly new and improved experience over their original title, Battlefield 1942, which celebrated its 16th birthday this week.

This launch comes on the heels of EA trying to recover from bad publicity stemming from the overwhelmingly pay-to-win gameplay that shipped with Star Wars Battlefront II. It seems EA has learned a little bit from their last release as they’ve made it a point to announce that Battlefield V will not feature any loot boxes or other forms of game-altering monetization. This statement may help soothe the ruffled feathers of the recently upset playerbase, but it also leaves the door wide open for DLCs and other types of traditional paid content.

During my brief time with the game, there’s no question that it’s a solid tribute to previous games in the series but, at the same time, there haven’t been any groundbreaking changes made. This fact didn’t seem to matter much for the masses of gamescom attendees who happily lined up and waited for up to 5 hours just play a single match. That being said, there’s a lot left to be announced and much of the game’s content is still hidden away, including the new, not-yet-demoed “Battlefield Royale” mode and the single-player campaign.

They say you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken — and there are a lot of people out there just waiting for their next Battlefield fix, which they’ll get on November 20, 2018.

MIGHTY GAMING

EA revives WWII-era codebreaking with Battlefield Enigma

We all know that EA enjoys creating games as much as they love playing them. It appears EA have created a game of their own based on the World War II message encryption machine named Enigma. If you head over to the unlisted EA page, you will find a screen with five simple icons to guide your curiosity.


How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Of course, any would-be codebreaker who scored higher than a 0 on their ASVAB will see that the circles with the binocular and headphones icons are the only clickable items. After navigating through the login screen and into the first puzzle, you’ll be presented with eight boxes. The boxes are filled with the characters “X 0 6 R 5 R S Y” — this is a ciphertext.

The basic idea behind cryptography is that every character written in ciphertext represents a corresponding character in plaintext — the original, unencrypted message. During the Second World War, Germany’s secret messengers weakened the strength of a ciphertext by constantly using the same words in the exact same order for every message. When these weakly encrypted messages were intercepted, the repeated pattern proved an easy way for British code-breaking experts to translate seemingly scrambled communications. EA’s puzzle, however, isn’t so simple. The page only provides extremely cryptic clues, like a this picture of a partly-opened bookcase.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

A little bit of internet sleuthing later, I broke the code by definitely not searching through Reddit. My precision employment of Google-Fu didn’t result in breaking into the German intelligence network, but rather revealed that I had a chance to win a trip to this year’s Gamescom convention in Germany. While a free trip to the world’s largest gaming convention is a straightforward reward, the breaking of the real Enigma code opened up an ethical dilemma.

Using the troves of decrypted messages, Allied intelligence experts were now able to piece together the German military’s movements and, therefore, would be able to outmaneuver them. The overuse of such information, however, would undoubtedly tip off the enemy to the fact that their encryption system was broken and needed to be changed.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

The brain of the Enigma machine. Using this plugboard, which is located below the keys, was used to swap letters. It supported up to 13 connections — here, only two, ‘S’ with ‘O’ and ‘A’ with ‘J’, have been made.

Unfortunately for American gamers, it appears that only those in certain regions are eligible to have their gamescom-related travel expenses covered by EA. In a way, this situation also mirrors what happened historically during the war. The US was largely excluded from the highly secretive, British-led, Enigma code-breaking process.

This is region restriction is only good news if you happen to already be stationed in South Korea, Japan, England, or Australia, otherwise you’ll need to pull out some real code-breaking alongside some serious cash to afford entry to the already nearly sold-out convention.

MIGHTY CULTURE

The Army wants more soldiers, and it’s using esports to put a ‘finger on the pulse’ of potential recruits

After whiffing on its recruiting goal in 2018, the Army has been trying new approaches to bring in the soldiers it needs to reach its goal of 500,000 in active-duty service by the end of the 2020s.


The 6,500-soldier shortfall the service reported in September 2018 was its first recruiting miss since 2005 and came despite it putting $200 million into bonuses and issuing extra waivers for health issues or bad conduct.

Within a few months of that disappointment, the Army announced it was seeking soldiers for an esports team that would, it said, “build awareness of skills that can be used as professional soldiers and use [its] gaming knowledge to be more relatable to youth.”

By January 2019, more than 6,500 soldiers had applied for a team that was expected to have about 30 members. In September 2019, the Army credited the esports team, one of two new outreach teams set up that year, as having “initiated some of the highest lead-generating events in the history of the all-volunteer force.”

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Staff Sgt. Michael Showes, far right, with fellow Army Esports Team members and a game enthusiast at an exhibition in San Antonio, January 19, 2019.

US Army/Terrance Bell

“It’s essentially connecting America to its Army through the passion of the gaming community,” Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Jones, noncommissioned-officer-in-charge of the team, said in January 2019.

Team members who were competing would train for up to six hours a day, Jones said at the time, and they received instruction on Army enlistment programs so they could answer questions from potential recruits.

“They will have the ability to start a dialogue about what it is like to serve in our Army and see if those contacts are interested in joining,” Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, said in early 2019.

Thousands of soldiers play esports, Muth said, and the audience for it has grown into the hundreds of millions — West Point even recognized its own official esports club in January — but the appeal wasn’t obvious at first to Army leaders, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Friday.

“This was one [idea] that when the first time Gen. Frank Muth briefed … Army senior leadership, we’re like, ‘What are you talking about, Frank?'” McCarthy told an audience at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

“We’re about 18 months into it,” McCarthy said, and with that team, Army recruiters were “getting their finger on the pulse with 17- to 24-year-old Americans. What are they into? How do they communicate? And [finding] those right venues and shaping our messaging to talk about here’s the 150 different things you can do in the Army and the access to education and the kinds of people that you can meet and being a part of something as special as this institution.”

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The Army Esports Team trailer at ArmyCon 2019, October 12, 2019.

Army Esports Team/Facebook

In 2019, the Army rolled out an esports trailer with four gaming stations inside, as well as a semi-trailer with eight seats that could be adjusted so all eight players played the same game or their own on a gaming PC, an Xbox 1S, a PS4 Pro, and a Nintendo Switch, Jones, the NCO-in-charge, told Task Purpose in October.

One of the senior leaders dispatched to an esports event was Gen. Mark Milley, who was Army chief of staff at the time and is now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is the president’s top uniformed military adviser.

“He said, ‘You’re going to make me do what?'” McCarthy said Friday. “Then when he went, he learned a lot, and he got to engage with young men and women, and what we found is we’re getting millions of leads of 17- to 24-year-olds to feed into Army Recruiting Command to engage young men and women to see if they’d be interested in a life of service.”

The esports team is part of a change in recruiting strategy, McCarthy said, that has focused on 22 cities in traditional recruiting grounds in the South and Midwest but also on the West Coast and the Northeast with the goal of informing potential recruits about what life in the Army is actually like as well as about the benefits of serving, such as money for college or soft skills that appeal to employers.

The service has also shifted almost all its advertising spending to digital and put more uniformed personnel into the Army Marketing Research Group to take more control of its messaging.

McCarthy on Friday called it “a comprehensive approach” to “improve our performance in a variety of demographics, whether that’s male-to-female ratios or ethnicities.” That geographic focus yielded “a double-digit lift” among women and minorities, McCarthy said last year.

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Army Gen. Frank Muth, back row, third from right, with members of the Army Esports Team in front of USAE gaming truck, in Washington, DC, October 14, 2019.

US Army Esports Team/Facebook

The outreach hasn’t been universally welcomed.

After the 2018 recruiting shortfall, service chiefs, including then-Army Secretary Mark Esper, said schools were not letting uniformed service members in to recruit. Anti-war activists attempted to disprove that claim by offering ,000 to schools that admitted to barring recruiters.

Suggestions the Army start recruiting children in their early teens also received criticism for both its impracticality and the harm it could do to the military as an institution.

But recruiting has improved year-over-year, hitting the goal set last year and being ahead of pace now, McCarthy said.

“This has been a major turnaround, because I think we just got a little lazy and we started losing touch with young men and women … but you have to sustain this,” McCarthy added. “We’re in a war for talent in this country — 3.5% unemployment, they have a lot of opportunities.”

“We travel to a lot of American cities, and we meet with mayors and superintendents of schools and other civic leaders to try to educate those influencers, to try to help us in recruiting, and it’s yielded tremendous benefit.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

Microsoft will make a Netflix-style gaming service

Microsoft’s Xbox One is losing to Sony’s PlayStation 4 — badly.

With nearly 80 million PlayStation 4 consoles in the wild, Microsoft’s Xbox One is getting trounced. Estimates put Xbox sales number somewhere in the range of 30 to 50 million — Microsoft stopped reporting hardware sales numbers some time ago.

But don’t count Xbox out just yet.


Between its Netflix-like Game Pass service, the company’s game streaming ambitions, several new studio acquisitions, and the brilliant decision to add backwards compatibility, Microsoft is building a strong foundation for the future.

Here’s a look into the future of Xbox, straight from Microsoft’s Xbox leader Phil Spencer:

1. Creating the Netflix of gaming with Game Pass.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
(Microsoft)

For $10/month, Xbox Game Pass offers access to over 100 games. That includes every first-party game that Microsoft makes, loads of indies, and — as of very recently — some heavy-hitters from third-party publishers like Bethesda Softworks.

Instead of streaming the games, a la Netflix, you download each game to your Xbox console. As long as you’re paying for Game Pass, you keep all the games you download.

Best of all, any new Xbox One games that come out from Microsoft are included with Game Pass.

When “Forza Horizon 4” arrives this fall, you could drop $10 on a Game Pass subscription to download and play the game — a whopping $50 savings over the normal $60 price of a new game. Microsoft’s betting that you’ll like the arrangement so much that you’ll keep paying for the service every month, like Netflix.

“We’re finding people in Game Pass actually play more games,” Xbox leader Phil Spencer told me in an interview in June 2018, at E3, the annual video game trade show in Los Angeles. “And they’re trying some franchises where, if they had to buy the franchise — even if they’re $30, $60, whatever the amount might be — it’s way easier for them to be invested at $10/month.”

In the long term, Spencer said the goal for Game Pass is offer a safe platform for potentially risky, creative games.

“I want it to be a place where creators feel like they can take risks in things that they wanna do, and know that they have an audience of people who are already invested in the service, such that the marginal cost for them to click on the next icon and give it a try is very, very low.”

The comparison to Netflix becomes apt once more. Netflix funds lots of creative, bizarre stuff because it can afford to fail — with millions of paying subscribers, Netflix has a sturdy financial foundation from which to experiment. It also has a large platform to surface content that otherwise might get lost in a digital storefront.

2. Building a platform to let people play games anywhere, whether you own a game console or not.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
(Microsoft)

On a stage in the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles on June 10, 2018, Xbox leader Phil Spencer offered the clearest picture yet into Microsoft’s vision for the future of the Xbox brand.

“Our cloud engineers are building a game streaming network to unlock console-quality gaming on any device,” Spencer said. “Not only that — we are dedicated to perfecting your experience everywhere you want to play. On your Xbox, your PC, or your phone.”

It’s an echo of sentiments he’s expressed previously, but it’s the most definitive testament to Microsoft’s plans for the future of gaming.

“There are 2 billion people who play video games on the planet today. We’re not gonna sell 2 billion consoles,” Spencer told me in an interview following his stage presentation. “Many of those people don’t own a television, many have never owned a PC. For many people on the planet, the phone is their compute device,” he said. “It’s really about reaching a customer wherever they are, on the devices that they have.”

That said, logic dictates that the ability to stream “console-quality gaming on any device” depends on some pretty major upgrades to internet speeds around the world. It also faces hurdles like the uncertain future of net-neutrality laws and consumer internet data caps.

In the meantime, Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform offers an infrastructure that few other companies have. “Fifty data centers in different parts of the planet? Billions of dollars of investment in building that out? It allows us to accelerate our growth in this space,” Spencer told me.

3. Building the next Xbox.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
The Xbox One X (left) and Xbox One S (right).
(Microsoft)

In a surprise move, Spencer outright announced Microsoft’s work on the successor to the Xbox One.

You read that correctly: Microsoft has already announced the next Xbox, after the Xbox One.

“The same team that delivered unprecedented performance with Xbox One X is deep into architecting the next Xbox consoles,” he said on stage on June 10, 2018. “Where we will once again deliver on our commitment to set the benchmark for console gaming.”

Of note, Spencer said “consoles” — as in Microsoft is apparently working on more than one future console. Perhaps a smaller, less expensive, streaming-focused Xbox, in addition to a more traditional, larger, $300 to $400 Xbox?

Spencer didn’t specify, but did offer more information on the announcement during an interview with Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann in June 2018. “Everybody knows what’s happening,” Spencer said in reference to Sony and Microsoft making new consoles. “It’s this kind of unsaid thing, of, like, ‘Well, they shipped Xbox One X. They didn’t lay off their whole hardware team. What do you think they’re doing?'”

He said the announcement was a means of easing potential concerns of longtime console buyers: “It’s not tomorrow, but I didn’t want people to think that we’re walking away from that part of the brand and the business, because it’s really important to us.”

In terms of what that console (or consoles) will actually be, Spencer isn’t offering any major details just yet. From the sound of things, we’re still a few years away from new consoles.

4. Buying several game studios to build new franchises.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
(Microsoft)

If there’s one thing Microsoft is lacking, it’s major first-party game franchises. Even if such franchises existed, Microsoft only owns so many studios capable of producing blockbuster games.

“Halo” and “Forza” and “Gears of War” are all important franchises — to say nothing of “Minecraft,” still one of the biggest games on the planet. With the exception of “Minecraft,” many of these franchises are suffering from franchise fatigue.

Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Nintendo’s Switch, meanwhile, are getting huge first-party games — games that can only be played on their respective consoles — like “God of War” and “Super Mario Odyssey” that re-invented staid franchises.

And that’s why Microsoft just announced the acquisition of five studios. “We know that we want to create new franchises,” Spencer told me. “We really thought we needed five or six new teams, and products that we really believed in.”

“We are committed to building an industry-leading first-party studios organization,” Spencer said on stage. “And we are making one of our greatest single year investments in teams by adding five new creative studios.”

Why not buy one big publisher, like EA or Activision, with a bunch of major game franchises? It’s complicated, but here’s Spencer’s answer: “I couldn’t find a collection out there in one entity to do it.”

5. Multiplayer gaming that crosses Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, PC, and mobile platforms.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
(Microsoft)

Microsoft’s been banging the drum for interoperability between competing game consoles for awhile now. Ever since announcing the “Better Together” update for “Minecraft,” which allowed players on all “Minecraft” platforms to play the game together, the entire game industry has begun moving toward cross-platform multiplayer.

It makes a lot of logical sense if you think about it: Games like “Call of Duty,” “Overwatch,” and “Minecraft” are functionally identical across platforms. Why shouldn’t I be able to play “Overwatch” on Xbox One with my friend on PlayStation 4?

The reason, of course, is business.

Sony’s in the lead by a large margin, and has no real incentive — financially — to work with Microsoft on getting cross-platform play working between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. That’s become a less defensible position for Sony to take as more and more huge games offer cross-platform play, such as “Fortnite” and “Rocket League.”

In sort, it makes Sony look like the bad guy for not offering players a choice that the competition is championing.

“I just get stuck in who this is helping,” Spencer told me. “It doesn’t help the developer — the developer just wants more people to play their game. It doesn’t help the player — the players just want to play with their friends who also play games on console.”

It’s hard to argue with his logic, even if it is easier for him to say from second place.

Get the latest Microsoft stock price here.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

Watch this YouTuber take on the DoD Cyber Awareness Challenge

All members of the Department of Defense, including troops, must undertake an annual training to test their knowledge of cyber awareness. A few years back, they changed the test up just slightly to make it far less of a bore and more like a crappy 90s text-based video game.

Everyone freaking hates this training and, if it weren’t mandated at the Pentagon level, no one would willingly subject themselves to it. That is, of course, with the exception of YouTube’s biggest star, PewDiePie.


How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

He had only the trophies and Jeff to keep him company.

(PewDiePie)

Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, known by most as “PewDiePie,” grew in popularity through his video-game related content — particularly his “Let’s Play” format, through which fans could watch him play games as he delivered hilarious commentary.

His videos have actually created success for many smaller, indie games, particularly in the horror genre. He’d showcase otherwise-ignored games, give them a glowing review or overreact to intense moments, and his rabid fans would immediately buy said game, propelling it into the spotlight. He has since become the biggest YouTuber, currently sitting at 65 million subscribers.

Recently, he finally took on the dreaded Cyber Awareness Challenge — with commentary provided throughout, of course. Being the avid gamer that he is, the ‘Challenge’ proved trivial, but he actually took it far more seriously than anyone in the military does.

Unlike the god-awful test of old, the modern training awards “trophies” for getting everything correct, so PewDiePie gave it his all.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

That’s literally the exact same answer that everyone gives for that question. The dude stole a phone in the Pentagon… You better go grab that phone!

(PewDiePie)

As he slogged through, he coincidentally ripped the exact same moments of the training that troops mock relentlessly. The training wastes no time in offering pieces of painfully obvious guidelines. For example, the very first tip the government puts out there in promotingcyber awareness is “don’t look at pornography at work.”

He also ran into many of the overly stupid characters that populate the training, like Tina, the coworker that constantly tries to get you to download stuff, and Jeff, the IT manager that tells you just how proud of our work he is in the most monotone fashion possible — but for some odd reason only has a box of tissues on his desk?

Pewds, who never served in the U.S. military, was ill-prepared for many of the minute details — like taking your CAC/PIV out of the computer whenever you walk away — but actually did very well. He did, however, fallfor some of the traps that seem to violate common sense.At one point in the training, your phone is stolen and you’re given the opportunity to chase down the thief, and so he did. But the correct answer is to”alert the security POC.”

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

BZ, PewDiePie. You managed to sit through the same crap all troops do without clawing out your eyes. BZ.

(PewDiePie)

PewDiePie passed the DoD Cyber Awareness Challenge with flying colors and was given the Certificate of Completion that every member of the Department of Defense needs to turn in.

He says he’ll print it, which is exactly what you’re supposed to do. Instead of turning it in to his S-6 to reinstate his government computer permissions, I’m sure he’ll hang it on his wall or something.

To watch the same training that sucks the soul out of the military (complete with hilarious commentary), check out the video below.

MIGHTY GAMING

These vets made a one-shot video simulating ‘Call of Duty’

U.S. Army vet Gregory Wong is no stranger to making fan films. His Jurassic World fan films and their behind-the-scenes extras have 2 million+ views on YouTube alone thanks to the military perspective he and his teams brought to the franchise.

An avid airsofter and gamer, Wong enjoys bringing those tactics to life after his military service.

Most recently, he teamed up with some fellow veterans and civilians to create a one-shot style video that emulates the experience from the new Call of Duty game.

Check it out right here:


CALL OF DUTY IN REAL LIFE | CLEAN HOUSE MODERN WARFARE – SIONYX

www.youtube.com

“Since everyone, both civilian and military, has been sinking their time into the game, it felt like a fun opportunity to explore and experiment by emulating the most talked about portion,” shared Wong.

The video also uses a color night vision camera built for outdoor use — and a little help from post-production.

“We used editing software to give it that iconic green look,” Wong divulged. “It’s a good exercise for making fan projects with limited budget but high attention to detail. We were fortunate to have gear from one of the companies that actually supplies the CTSFO (British national police force like FBI SWAT or FBI HRT).”

Also read: Some veterans went balls out and made a ‘Jurassic Park’ fan film

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Wong’s team used the Aurora, a day/night camera with true night vision that uses Ultra Low-Light IR sensor technology that delivers true night vision capability in monochrome or in color. They also shot with gear from c2rfast, Airsoft Extreme, and PTS Syndicate.

The Clean House mission in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare takes place in a large house that the player must infiltrate, eliminating enemies and protecting hostages. Forbes magazine called it the “finest single-player FPS experience in years.”

Check out the video above and see what you think.

MIGHTY GAMING

How Call of Duty is returning to help our real-life war heroes

Since 2009, the Call of Duty Endowment has been making strides in helping out the real-life heroes upon which the Call of Duty series is based. Now, the newest installment in the series, Call of Duty: WWII, is once again offering gamers the chance to give back to our nation’s war fighters — and get some really sweet loot in the process.


The deal here isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it is effective. The developers over at Sledgehammer Games, Inc. are again putting out some cosmetic DLC that offers gamers some nifty swag in exchange for putting some cash towards helping veterans find jobs after they leave the service.

They’ve began this trend with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare when they offered players a sweet red, white, and blue skin for their weapon, giving fans of the series the chance to showcase their commitment to helping veterans. Shortly after the release of Call of Duty: WWII, players once again had a chance to chip in and, in return, receive a helmet with the C.O.D.E. emblem on it.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
My character still rocks the helmet even after I’ve unlocked plenty of others in the game.
(Activision)

This time around, the pack is called the “Fear Not Pack.” It comes with a new Monty uniform, two calling cards, two player emblems, a weapon charm that’s a Scottish Terrier wearing Teddy Roosevelt’s glasses, and a green “Viper” weapon skin.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
(Activision)

You can pick up this new pack for $4.99. Playstation 4 players can snag an exclusive premium, animated theme for an additional $3.99. Or, you can get it all bundled up with last year’s Bravery pack for a grand total of $9.99. Both packs are now available for players to purchase.

No matter what your stance is on buying in-game cosmetics, remember, it’s all for a good cause. All of the proceeds go towards placing veterans in high-paying, high-quality jobs — and things are going well. The Call of Duty Endowment first set out to place 25,000 veterans in great jobs by the end of 2018. Due to an overwhelmingly positive reception and avid participation from the players, they met that goal two years early. They’ve since revised their goal. Now, they want to place 50,000 veterans by the end of 2019 — and you can help.

Check out the video below to learn a little more about the organization and how they’re helping our nation’s vets.

“The continued support from Sledgehammer Games, PlayStation, and Xbox for Call of Duty® in-game items this year is vital to our mission of helping veterans beat unemployment and underemployment as they transition back into civilian life. Via these programs, we have raised more than $3.8 million toward helping veterans into meaningful careers,” said Dan Goldenberg, Executive Director of the Call of Duty Endowment. “We want to thank Call of Duty gamers and our partners for their continued support, without which we could not be have helped more than 6,000 vets.”

ACTIVISION and CALL OF DUTY are trademarks of Activision Publishing, Inc. All other trademarks and trade names are the properties of their respective owners.

MIGHTY GAMING

Here’s how you can play in the new Call of Duty esports league

Everyone’s favorite gaming franchise, Call of Duty, launched its esports league Jan. 24 to the excitement of fans across the globe. Owned by Activision Blizzard, the Call of Duty franchise continues to be their most popular brand and the company is hoping to capitalize on that success with this new league.


That’s right: thousands of people are gathering in stadiums to watch other people play video games. Just like toddlers like to watch toy unboxing videos, middle-aged women like to watch other people buying houses, gamers came out in droves to watch some of the best in the world go head to head playing Call of Duty.

The league makes sense: one of the Call of Duty titles has been the best-selling game in the U.S. for nine of the past 11 years, according to market analysis firm the NPD Group.

According to ESPN’s Jacob Wolf, Call of Duty League franchise owners paid million or more to secure their place in the Call of Duty League, which boasts 12 professional teams, representing 11 markets across North America and Europe. The teams are:

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Call of Duty Esports League Teams

Here is the rundown of the Official Call of Duty League Rules:

  • Pro teams compete in 5-vs-5 Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare multiplayer matches, on PlayStation®4.
  • Call of Duty League matches will be played around the globe in the home market of each team in the league.
  • The league features the best Call of Duty esports players from around the globe.
  • Players are paid; starting salaries range around k.
  • At the end of the regular season, the top 8 ranked teams, including four wild card spots will advance to the playoffs.
  • During the Call of Duty League Championship Weekend, the final six Playoffs teams will face off in double-elimination competition until the final two pro teams go head to head in the Call of Duty League Championship.
  • Teams will be battling to take home the glory of being the best in the world and reportedly over million in prizes. Yes, we said million.

Want to get in on this? There are plenty of ways for fans to get involved, according to the Call of Duty League website:

Launching later this season (2020), fans may sign up as duos to compete in Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare “Gunfight” matches for a chance to win prizing and to compete at a Call of Duty League event. More details about the City Circuit will be announced in the coming months.

Additionally, throughout the season the Call of Duty League will unlock new opportunities for spectators and amateur players to participate online and at league events to be announced in the future.

Here are the results from opening weekend.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

Call of Duty League Standings


Fans can vote for their favorite players on the website as well as see league standings. Get ready to buy all the merch.

MIGHTY GAMING

How ‘Vampyr’ is perfectly placed in World War I London

Video games are as much an artistic medium as any other form of entertainment. Some games have stories that are so well-crafted that they draw gamers into a believable, fictional world while they play. Add enticing gameplay on top of that mesmerizing story and you’ve got yourself one hell of a game.

Dontnod Entertainment’s Vampyr offers exactly that.

The game casts you as Dr. Jonathan Reid, a doctor-turned-vampire in 1918 London. This leaves the player to navigate impossible moral choices, forced to decide between abiding to the Hippocratic Oath — to first do no harm — and succumbing to the bloodlust that comes with being a creature of the damned.


Players can decide to drain the blood out of every single character they meet — turning London into a giant vampire breeding ground — or they could join the side of the light, resisting the draw to feed at the cost of becoming weaker. All of the abilities and weaknesses in the game are true to established vampire lore.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
(Dontnod Entertainment)

The heavy focus on narrative storytelling falls directly in line with the developer’s other game, Life is Strange, which earned plenty of critical acclaim. But what’s going to make this game stand out from other vampiric offerings is that it has real history carefully woven into every fiber.

Related: Why ‘Far Cry 5’ is the most veteran AF game ever

Originally, the game was supposed to be set in the 1950’s America, juxtaposing a demonic hunger with the happiness of a newfound suburban lifestyle. Instead, the developers decided to take the game to a place few others have gone: London during the summer of 1918 — just before the armistice was signed.

Stéphane Beauverger, the game’s narrative director, told Polygon,

“This war at the beginning at the 20th century is the root of so many things. It’s the beginning of communism. It’s the beginning of feminism. It’s the end of the old empires. Darwin has killed God. God is dead, now we know where we come from — it’s all genetic. It’s a brand-new era.”

This historical flare is evident from the very beginning of the game when you awaken from a mass grave. The corpses within the grave aren’t the result of warfare, but rather the Spanish Flu. The main character, Dr. Reid, is a combat medic who just returned from the front lines of the First World War. He is attacked by vampires who are using the widespread death caused by the pandemic to mask their lethal hunger.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
The only real restriction in the game is that you’ve got to end them. You still get to chose how.
(Dontnod Entertainment)

In real life, this virus took its toll on humanity — far worse than the Black Death and The Great War itself. The Black Death took 75 million lives over a decade. The war took 18 million in four years. The Spanish Flu took somewhere between 50 and 100 million in just one year. Historians haven’t nailed down when or where this virus began, but the first known case was in Fort Riley, Kansas and it was quickly spread when American GIs rapidly deployed across the world.

The close quarters, the filthy living conditions, the idiotic decision to quarter live animals alongside men, and the generally terrible hygiene of troops in the trenches meant that a single cough could kill entire platoons. The poor handling of remains meant that the virus would quickly spread. Troops who contracted the flu were shipped to every other corner of the globe and, with them, the virus spread.

Most viruses are dangerous to infants, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. Because the Spanish Flu attacked lungs and bloodstream, it was lethal even to young, healthy adults. So, how did they treat this horrific ailment in real life? Blood transfusions — which brings us right back to the video game about vampires. Dr. Reid was, according to the game, one of the world’s most renown blood doctors before becoming a vampire.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
Being a vampire gives you a different perspective on how blood transfusions work.
(Dontnod Entertainment)

The game also plays with the disillusionment of the common folk. Each and every character that roams the streets of London has their own thoughts, goals, and lifestyle. It’s up to you, as both a healer and a feeder, to discover their stories — either by befriending them or consuming their very essence.

In 1918, the world was ripe with social and political revolutions. In game, some citizens show communist sympathies while others are proponents of the first-wave feminism, which was born after women took more direct agency of their lives in the absence of nearly all the country’s men.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
All are equal prey if that’s how you want to play the game.
(Dontnod Entertainment)

Vampyr is an expertly crafted game that is definitely worth picking up for both fans of the occult or history in general.

MIGHTY GAMING

6 of the biggest blue falcons in gaming

The video game community is filled with the same amount of douchebags as regular society. The majority of gamers hop online, as they have for years, to enjoy spending some time playing their favorite title — then, some as*hole comes in and ruins it all in a blink of an eye.

It’s an inevitability. There’s always that one dick who ruins the fun for everyone else just because they can. In gaming, they’re generally referred to as “trolls,” but in the military, we call them “Blue Falcons” — or buddy f*ckers. Even the most kindhearted, polite person might unleash their inner as*hole when they’re safely behind the anonymity of their video game avatar.

At the end of the day, when these online Blue Falcons do their dirty work, no one really gets hurt — it’s still just a game and players usually just respawn somewhere else (or log off for a while). That being said, the level of time, effort, and dedication these guys put into f*cking with some random players is beyond astounding.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
(South Park Studios)


How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

But seriously though, if you’re interested getting your kids to stop playing video games – there’s definitely a market for that.

(Bluehole Studios Inc.)

Snipers

We’re not referring to the guys who pick up a rifle and camp in one spot for (seemingly) hours just to score a kill (we’ll get to that in a minute). Instead, we’re talking about the people who go out of their way in the “real life world” to hunt down someone’s virtual character — just to kill them or harass them.

This type of Blue Falcon became much more popular with the rise of game streaming. Now, some people take it as a point of pride to track down whatever high-profile streamer is on air and kill them — even if it’s against the rules. But your average stream sniper doesn’t even come close to that one time a father hired virtual assassins to hunt and kill his son’s characters in hopes that it’d make him give up video games.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

I just blame it on a terrible grenade throw.

(Ubisoft)

Team killers

Online games assume that once you’re randomly placed onto either the blue or red team, you’ll be loyal to the other players out of a mutual desire to win. Not all games have friendly-fire turned off, so it’s important to watch your aim.

It sucks when someone on your team accidentally shoots you — but it’s infuriating when they do it on purpose… and it’s in the spawn zone. Now, the other players on your team have to either kill that douche or let them continue trolling. Either way, the other team won’t mind.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

And yet camping is a legitimate strategy in real life.

(Bungie)

Campers

Games often provide a wide-open world for players to enjoy themselves in. In fact, some games are so massive that they’re comparable to actual states in America. They’ve got all that room to play in and yet some assholes still feel the desire to hole up somewhere — to set up camp and sit with a shotgun, just waiting for you to round the corner.

“Camping,” as it’s called, is most egregious when you’re the last player alive on your team. Not only does the enemy need to search every single corner, but your teammates are often stuck waiting for a chance to respawn, too. Some game developers will put in a system that punishes “camping” after a while, but that won’t stop the dedicated.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

After a certain point in EVE, if you want to get insanely rich, you need to get nefarious.

(CCP Games)

Scammers

Remember when the internet was first introduced and everyone was extremely wary of online creeps and scammers? Well, apparently, all of that is thrown out the window when it comes to video games.

“Scammers” in online games take many forms, from people trying to sell you junk for gold to those who run extremely complex banking schemes in games like EVE Online. That’s right — in CCP Games’ space-based MMO, players would loan out virtual money to other players, manage a massive system where players have, essentially, created an investment bank, and then make off with trillions of Isk, the in-game currency.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot

To make matters worse, Lord Kazzak would heal himself with each player he killed…

(Blizzard Entertainment)

Players who bring disaster into low-level areas

In most online games, threats are appropriate to their area. If you want to fight a dangerous baddie, you’ll have to do it over there, near those other dangerous baddies. Some clever players, however, have figured out how to drag extremely tough bosses or (or virtual plagues) into major player hubs.

In the early days of World of Warcraft, players could bring a massive demon, Lord Kazzak, directly into Stormwind City, where he would proceed to evaporate players with barely any effort.

Event Crashers

On rare occasions, players band together and decide to not fight each other — usually for a good reason. Then, one person comes in and breaks the armistice when they see a good chance to kill everyone. The most famous example of this was in World of Warcraft. When a well-respected player passed away in real life, players gathered for a virtual funeral. Then, players of the opposing faction learned that they were holding it in a neutral area and without weapons and, well… you guessed it.

But this doesn’t just happen in MMOs. Recently, a Fortnite player named Elemental_Ray took advantage of an in-game event to rack up a massive kill count. Players gathered on an easily-destroyed ramp to get a good view of an in-game rocket launch. When this Blue Falcon destroyed the bottom of the ramp, it all came crashing down — firmly placing Elemental_Ray at the top of Fortnite‘s all-time leaderboard for number of kills in single match: 48.

MIGHTY GAMING

Why this glitch in a popular video game is still being studied by biologists

Most experiments in which biologists — or, more accurately, epidemiologists — study how a disease spreads are done theoretically, involving only a pen and paper. They do their best to simulate the spread of various contagions and study outbreaks of the past, but nobody would dare spread a disease simply to study it.

In 2005, however, they were given the perfect test conditions and subjects: World of Warcraft players.


World of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game made by Blizzard Entertainment set in a fantasy realm called Azeroth. In September of 2005, a new “raid” encounter — an experience that required 20 players — opened up, called Zul’Gurub. This was, basically, an ancient city loosely based on Mayan culture that belonged to a savage tribe of Trolls.

When players finally fought the final boss, the Serpent God Hakkar, they would contract a temporary “debuff” (or weakness) called “Corrupted Blood” that would slowly drain their health before spreading to another player.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
(Blizzard Entertainment)

Once a player was infected, they’d have to wait out the sickness or die in the process. It wasn’t much more than a nuisance to high-level players, as they could simply heal themselves and continue fighting, hoping to pry an epic sword from the Serpent Lord’s cold corpse. But the in-game plague didn’t just affect players.

In the game, you play one of several different fantasy roles, including paladins, druids, rogues, and (most relevant to this scenario) hunters. Hunters specialized in taming beasts that would then fight in their name. If a hunter’s pet contracted Corrupted Blood, the player could “dismiss” their pet, making it effectively disappear. The next time that pet was called to help, however, it would still have the disease — and it would still spread to nearby characters.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
Just like what would happen with the swine flu, avian flu, and many others.
(Blizzard Entertainment)

Hunters of the world would (sometimes) inadvertently bring their infected pets back to large population hubs after completing the raid. There, they’d call forth their beast without realizing it was still infected. Then, the Corrupted Blood was transmitted to other players outside of the raid. This time, the infected players weren’t powerful heroes attempting to kill a god, but rather low-level noobies that would quickly die once affected by the plague, causing it to infect others.

This spread just like a real plague. Players, in search of safety, would evacuate large cities, bringing Corrupted Blood to outlying hamlets, just as with real plagues. Some players would knowingly infect themselves just to harass other players, akin to bio-terrorism.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
But this was less about spreading terror and more about having fun with your virtual enemies.
(Blizzard Entertainment)

It was fixed within a week and the game developers apologized for the bug (even though they intentionally recreated it a few years afterwards). But this was the perfect scenario that every epidemiologist dreams of recreating without risking their medical license.

Years after the virtual incident, many researchers published documents using information gathered from the digital plague. They tracked how animals that humans keep as pets might be the most prone to infecting others. They monitored how the disease spread through major population centers and how it traveled along pathways towards the outer reaches of the game. It even simulated surprisingly lifelike actions of bio-terrorists and how they can be dealt with.

How video games really can make you a better fighter pilot
Contain and control is the key.
(Photo by Jerry Stillwagon)

All in all, it was a mild annoyance to the players but it gave the Center for Disease Control and many researchers a realistic and ethically-sound testing environment.