Military turns to video games for help with combat strategy

Government awards contract to games developer Slitherine

Credit: Dineshraj Goomany/CC BY-SA 2.0

The military is trialling the use of off-the-shelf video games in training and strategy exercises.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory – the government’s military research unit and an arm’s-length body of the Ministry of Defence – has agreed a £1.5m two-year deal to work with Surrey-based games developer Slitherine. The company produces a wide range of historical, military, and strategy games, with titles including the Field of Glory and Battle Academy series of games.

DSTL has been assessing the viability of using commercially available games in “military-decision support”.  The research body noted that “traditional analytical tools are often not as user-friendly as commercial games and can require significant experience to operate”.

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After some successful early explorations in using consumer products, the Royal Navy is now trialling the use of one of Slitherine’s games “for educational purposes” it added.

Rob Solly, DSTL’s division head for defence and security analysis, said: “We are excited to be working with a non-traditional supplier such as Slitherine, supporting the UK’s prosperity agenda. We are always looking for creative, collaborative solutions to the challenges of effective and user-friendly wargaming and simulation.”

While consumer video games have a role to play, DSTL said that its own simulation modelling tools are still a crucial component of military strategy training, as are physical war games.


Sam Trendall

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