Intelligence and military agencies license the game engine behind Gears of War and Mass Effect to simulate decision-making, medical, and crime-scene scenarios.

Elizabeth Montalbano, Contributor

March 28, 2012

2 Min Read

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The FBI and other federal agencies are leveraging a popular computer gaming engine to train personnel for a variety of real-world scenarios.

Through reseller Virtual Heroes, Epic Games has licensed its Unreal Engine 3 to the intelligence agency and other government entities--including the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA) and the Army--to use in decision-making, medical, and crime-scene training simulations, according to Epic Games.

Virtual Heroes, a division of Applied Research Associates, is licensing the engine through a new partner network--the Unreal Government Network (UGN)--that is sponsoring gaming projects for government partners.

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Unreal Engine already powers a number of popular computer games, including Gears of War and Mass Effect. The U.S. military and other government organizations are increasingly seeing the benefits of using games like these as inspiration for new training tools for their staff.

"We recognize the growing market needs of our government customers and are excited to have Virtual Heroes provide a full spectrum of focused services and support using our game engine technology," said Epic Games president Michael Capps in a press statement.

Through UGN, the FBI Academy is using UE3 to develop a multiplayer crime scene simulation game to use in training agent recruits. The engine also could find itself as the basis for more widespread training use by intelligence agencies through a partnership between the IARPA and Virtual Heroes as part of IARPA's Sirius program.

Sirius is aimed at developing so-called "serious games" that result in better decision-making by intelligence personnel by teaching them to recognize and mitigate effects of the biases they have when analyzing information, according to IARPA. The research agency is using UE3 as part of a $10 million, multiyear contract with Virtual Heroes/Applied Research Associates to support the Sirius program, according to Epic Games.

The Army--which already is using video games and virtual environments for training--also is leveraging UE3. However, instead of using it as part of creating training environments for soldiers--as previous game-inspired simulation work has done--the military arm will use UE3 in two medical applications.

The Army will use the engine in a platform for medical education and training called HumanSim, as well as the basis for an anesthesiology training application for Army physicians developed by Duke University's Human Simulation and Patient Safety Center, according to Epic Games.

Attend InformationWeek's IT Government Leadership Forum, a day-long venue where senior IT leaders in government come together to discuss how they're using technology to drive change in federal departments and agencies. It happens in Washington, D.C., May 3.

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