Do you wander around your house, punching out your finger-gun from the low ready, practicing room clearing? Sure you don’t; neither do I. And I’ve only been embarrassed about it a couple of times. I think many of us seek out opportunities to practice our skills whenever we can.
First-Person Shooter video games take us on exciting missions in exotic locales. The danger is not real, but the format is much like a simulator for teaching search techniques. While not a scenario trainer like, say, a FATS machine, an FPS game can give you reps in considering tactical angles and problem solving.
In the confines of a video game, you can practice slicing the pie, hallway movements, room entry, fields of fire, and threat identification. In some FPS’s you can dial down the number of adversaries to make it more like a building search, rather than a straight-up firefight.
I have found that some of the older games like the Rainbow Six series have missions in single player mode that let you clear specific areas, such as the British SAS’s Hereford Kill House. This type of structure provides great practice for room clearing either by street officers or SWAT members.
My SWAT team created two small plywood-walled Simunitions shoot houses for team use and use by department patrol officers. The issue is that you can’ t just practice in them whenever you want. Despite some movable walls, the wooden layouts are also limited. Neither are factors with digital interior constructs.
Other game series such as Call of Duty, Battlefield 1942, Medal of Honor, Delta Force, or Ghost Recon are outdoor movement laboratories. Though they are geared toward military doctrine, we have all seen how the lines have blurred between military and police when operating in hostile environments. The military has more broadly adopted MOUT-type training, and civilian police departments have added rifle skills to their daily diets.
The U.S. Army has adopted two dozen versions of video game simulations and spends between $10 and $20 million a year for this kind of technological training. Other military video trainers include battlefield tanks, combat airplanes, and submarine navigation. I would call those an electronic endorsement, of a sort.
A word about video games and artificial intelligence: don’t get all wrapped up about your adversaries. Some game AI’s have enemies that will run endlessly at a wall or get stuck in a door. Other games have computerized foes that will whack you at four thousand yards with a Nambu pistol. That is not what is important. Have fun, play the game, but practice a few sound tactics in there.
No, I’m not advocating that we all go out and spend a paycheck on video games (slaying a few Zombies can also be good training, right?). However, I will suggest that if you are a player of first-person shooters, dial them down a notch and use them as another way to think tactically in the “three dimensional” arena.
(Screenshots: UbiSoft Games)