Coming soon: a PC combat game that shoots back
The Sun-Herald | April 3, 2005
By Frank Walker
A combat simulator developed for the US military that "shoots" back, delivering an electric shock strong enough to knock down players, could be the next big thing for home-computer games.
A Texas-based company, VirTra Systems, is selling the combat simulator to military and police forces around the world. Its spokesman, Steve Haag, said Australian armed forces had expressed an interest in getting one.
Players enter a platform with a 360-degree screen that shows scenarios such as freeing hostages, street gun fights, taking out suicide bombers and team attacks on enemy positions. And VirTra takes the simulations a step further by enabling the computer game to "shoot back".
If a player fails to kill an enemy in time and the enemy is able to shoot back, the simulator delivers a powerful electric shock through the player's hips. You definitely know you have been hit," Mr Haag said. "It has the same power as a stun gun. It knocks you down.
"You have to continue to work through the pain and keep on fighting, as that is what you need to do - to keep on fighting even when wounded.
"You have to regain your composure, shake your head, and get back in the fight as your life and your unit's life depends on it."
Those who play on PCs would love a game that shot back, said David Wildgoose, editor of the game magazine PC Powerplay .
"People are already talking about something like that," he said. "It is possible, and is just waiting for somebody to really integrate it into a game."
Wildgoose has noted that there are already controls that shake and hum as players drive or fly, and a few years ago a company sold a vest that vibrates as things happen on the screen.
Mr Haag said the US military had embraced the technology as trainees were getting rapid heart rates, sweaty palms and fear during the simulation, just like they might get if they were shot.
The US military had used the simulator at fairs as a recruitment tool, he said.
In a promotional video on VirTra's website, a TV reporter trying out the simulator yells: "Hey, shooting people is fun."
Mr Haag said it was only a matter of time and demand before the system could be sold to the public as a computer game.
"This is ultimate shooter video game," he said.
"We use real actors, not computer graphics, and when you shoot them they fall, but if you don't get them properly they will keep coming.
We can put in smells and vibrations."