New video game-like programs are enabling the U.S. military to train for deployment in the middle east. One program is modeled off the urban planning computer game SimCity.
January 12, 2010, 11am PST | Nate Berg
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"As part of their training, Peltier, Payne, Moore, Mindak, and five other lieutenant colonels in the Army's School for Command Preparation, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, were wrestling with Sadiq in a new computer game called UrbanSim. Rolled out last May, UrbanSim allows U.S. officers to practice counterinsurgency without suffering real-world consequences.

As the men hunched over their computers trying to decide how to handle Sadiq and a range of other problems, Matthew Bosack, his crisp blue shirt a sharp contrast to the officers' combat fatigues, peered over their shoulders with a slight smile. 'The cocktail-party explanation: I say I make SimCity Baghdad,' said Bosack, a project manager at the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies, which developed the game. 'You're basically the mayor. But instead of tornados, earthquakes, and Godzilla running around your city, it's insurgents.'"

The simulation is being used to prepare soldiers for deployment in a variety of places, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Published on Friday, January 1, 2010 in The Atlantic
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