Virtual Army Experience
The Virtual Army Experience is a mobile U.S. Army mission simulator created by the America's Army Development Team and is hosted at various events around the United States such as NASCAR, 6 Flags Amusement Parks, state fairs and air shows. The Virtual Army Experience ( also known as the VAE) provides participants with a virtual “test drive” of the Army focused on operations in the Global War on Terrorism.
The Virtual Army Experience provides participants with a virtual test drive of the Army, with a focus on operations in the Global War on Terrorism. The core of the 10,000–square-foot VAE is the America’s Army: Special Forces (Overmatch) computer game, rendered with state-of-the-art Army training simulation technology to create a life-size, networked virtual world. The VAE highlights key Soldier occupations, Army technologies, operating environments and mission profiles, within a fast-paced, action-packed, information-rich experience that immerses visitors in the world of Soldiering in the U.S. Army. Participants employ teamwork, rules of engagement, leadership and high-tech equipment as they take part in a virtual mission.
The VAE can be deployed in its full scale rendition, or may be broken down into two smaller versions enabling it to appear at two separate events simultaneously.
Inside the VAE are real, repurposed HMMWVs and either ground stations or a Black Hawk Helicopter station depending upon the configuration. Each HMMWV faces a huge screen upon which the virtual mission is displayed and can seat five participants including a driver. The driver navigates the virtual terrain while the remaining occupants are armed with modified M249 Squad Automatic Weapons. The ground station participants simulate an Overwatch position and are armed with AT4 rocket launchers. The Black Hawk holds four participants each armed with M4 assault rifles and simulates flying an escort route.
The simulator features special effects such as the HMMWV pitching and shaking as it moves over the virtual terrain, and simulated explosions caused by enemy fire and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). The Instructors give a short briefing explaining how to use the equipment, and during the simulation, point out IED's, terrorists, civilians, and allies. The entire experience lasts approximately 19 minutes, and requires that participants register with the VAE if they wish to use the simulator.
Participants receive video briefings by Soldiers who embody the training, Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) and abilities that make the U.S. Army the world’s premier land force. In the Joint Operations Center, participants receive a briefing that covers intelligence, force protection, signals, support and the current situation, to prepare them to enter a virtual combat operation. Participants then enter the mission simulator area where they execute a simulated operation in the War on Terrorism. Forty participants, who are split into two teams, fall in on six HMMWV simulators modeled on vehicles employed by Army Special Forces, and onto two Overwatch or covering positions where participants employ light arms and TOW anti-tank missiles. Working as a team, participants are charged with executing the ground and aerial components of a raid on a terrorist stronghold. Upon mission completion, participants move to the After Action Review area where they receive a debriefing on their performances.
The VAE also includes activities ranging from multiplayer versions of the America’s Army computer game, briefings by America’s Army Real Heroes, PackBot Robot operator training and a robot agility course. Throughout, Soldiers guide activities and stand ready to discuss Soldiering with participants.
- Inside the Joint Operations Center, participants are briefed on their mission by virtual members of the team. They also receive a battle update briefing by one of their Mission Commanders.
- Participants will be assigned to one of eight elements (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf or Hotel) in two teams of 20 participants. Within these elements, participants are assigned to specific duties, ranging from TOW gunner to CROWS gunner to HMMWV GMV driver.
- Participants then move to the Mission Simulator where they participate as a member of a combat team in an operation in the War on Terrorism.
- The teams fall-in on six HMMWV GMV simulators and onto two Overwatch positions where participants employ light arms, including M4 rifles and M249 SAWs (Squad Automatic Weapons) and TOW anti-tank missiles in actions against virtual enemies rendered by the America’s Army game.
- The VAE features actual Army combat systems adapted for use within the VAE. These systems employ laser engagement and force feedback technology to replicate the feel and function of Army equipment.
- Upon completing their mission in the Mission Simulator, participants will move to the After Action Review area to receive a recap of their team’s performance.
- As with the America’s Army game, the VAE is designed to provide visitors with a high-fidelity, information-rich experience in which participants can take part in a virtual test drive of Soldiering in the U.S. Army.
- The VAE is featured at large events across the country. The exact dates and locations for 2008 will be listed online at the VAE website as they become available.
- America’s Army Real Heroes (Soldiers who have distinguished themselves in combat and earned citations for bravery and valor will appear with the VAE at select locations.
- Scenarios presented within the VAE Mission Simulator comport with ESRB standards for a teen rated game. Also, as with the America’s Army PC game, VAE participants operate under rules of engagement and laws of war in order to achieve mission success.
- The VAE supports up to 180 participants per hour (including the convoy simulation and game stations).
- Attended 39 events that included air shows, music festivals, amusement parks, spring break, NASCAR and NHRA races, and urban expos.
- Attracted nearly 51,000 enthusiastic participants across the United States in 2007.
- Immersed 9,000 pre-prospects in a high-impact, vivid Army experience early in their process of forming life course objectives.
- The total VAE immersive experience takes approximately 20 minutes.
- Received Event Design Magazine award for Best Outdoor Consumer Experience, http://www.eventdesignmag.com/viewmedia.asp?prmMID=561&prmID=1.
- Was featured in the cover story in AdWeek Magazine, November 2007, http://www.adweek.com/aw/esearch/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003676881.
- Provided the intellectual foundation and creative inspiration for other Army event marketing efforts ranging from educational programs to visitor measurement systems.
- In 2008, America’s Army assets will be deployed in USAAC Pods throughout the country.