Virtual Worlds Enlist as Military Operations Simulators

Size0-army_mil-38704-2009-05-29-160552 A few weeks ago, Pixels and Policy took a look at how virtual worlds might be helping the U.S. Army look for promising new recruits.

Today we take a look at the policy applications of a defense-themed virtual program.

The University of Maryland's Institute for Advanced Computer Studies has interesting ideas on the future uses of virtual worlds in combat. Find out just what the military has in store for the Metaverse.

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Virtual Extremism: How Social Media Gave Terrorist Groups a Second Wind

It's no shock that militant groups around the world make use of mass communication tools like the Internet in order to recruit new faces and keep isolated cells informed of worldwide developments. The power of virtual communication is again in the spotlight after Islamic militant group Al Qaida used Internet message boards to announce their intent to bomb South Africa's World Cup this June.

There is valuable knowledge to be gained by understanding why militant groups – including American-based right-wing militias recently raided by the FBI – are turning to New Media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and free message boards in order to organize and promote their messages. But don't expect to find an Al Qaida fan page on Facebook – in many cases, the social networking of militant organizations is rudimentary and easily destroyed: The perfect cover in an age of increasing anti-terror surveillance.

Let's take a look at how global militant groups are falling in love with the message-amplifying power of virtual communities, and why some in the United States intelligence community are wary of the virtual world's potential to serve as an unwitting base for real-world radicals.

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University Finalists are the Real Winners of the Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge

Back when Pixels and Policy was just starting out, I wrote a piece about the United States Army's ambitious Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge, a program designed to find new and innovative methods for military training and research built in virtual environments. Now the Army has announced its finalists, and the non-government winners are surprising.

As it turns out, the list of non-government finalists (conveniently provided by Virtual Worlds News) samples heavily from universities with robust virtual worlds and Second Life programs. As I've reported in the past, large-scale adoption of virtual world degree programs is significantly reshuffling the power structure in American colleges, and the Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge provides the best evidence yet that universities needn't be Ivy League to grab major kudos from Uncle Sam.

Let's take a look at what the Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge results mean for the future of virtual worlds both in higher education and the traditionally tech-phobic public sector.

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Army Veteran Builds Virtual Support Center for Army Families

Army-second-life You'd think after three successful decades working with the military, Jaque Davison would welcome retirement.

You'd think years watching the human cost of a professional Army would make anyone welcome a break.

As Pixels and Policy reports, Jaque Davison didn't retire from the Army to sit around. He built a virtual world to provide much-needed support to the families of men and women sent overseas.

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Virtual Combat and Evolving Perceptions of Warfare

Call_of_duty_2_screenshot Never before have individuals seeking entertainment had so many options.

As technology improves, gamers can engage in photorealistic and increasingly tactile simulations across a wide fantasy spectrum.

As a recently-released war simulator surpasses $300 million in sales, The Washington Examiner asks why millions of players are interested in virtual war and why the answer may have a wide impact on the future of combat.

Pixels and Policy investigates.

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The U.S. Army Embarks on Virtual Worlds for Amputees

Avess_02_small Yesterday we discussed how virtual worlds are expanding our perceptions of body modification and increasing understanding about injuries that result in amputation.

Mental perceptions may be evolving, but what about ensuring access to virtual worlds for those with disabilities?

Pixels and Policy looks at the growing trend in developing an amputee-friendly Metaverse, and the role new "accessible worlds" will play in improving the lives of amputees.

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Army Virtual Worlds Challenge May Pass Up Second Life

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The Department of Homeland Security was an early adopter
of virtual tech in Second Life, and NASA continues to be a dominant
presence in the Metaverse. But now the Army is doing what it does best:
dumping a whole bunch of money into virtual worlds.

There's only one problem: Second Life may not reap the benefits of the latest cash drop.

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