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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s new game

I have a challenge for Jack Thompson. If taking on Rockstar’s line of ultra-violent games wasn’t enough of a lawsuit for him, maybe challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s upcoming game would be. Or maybe Michael Moore’s up to the challenge? Didn’t think so.


America’s Army and Full Spectrum Warrior were entertaining combat simulations. Their subversive training qualities had gone relatively unexplored outside of flight-simulators (at least in the public market). Even for people who aren’t enthused with the idea of The Iraq War (I.E. “The War on Terror”), FSW provided a highly detailed battlefield simulation with awesome squad-based gameplay. It also proves the training channeled through a popular medium concept to be commercially feasible on gaming consoles.

Next in line is a game tentatively titled “Ground Truth”. It focuses on emergency personnel training. So far, it’s only scheduled for release on the PC, with a three-year development timeline. Already one year in, $600,000 has gone into the project. Whether or not it will be set for commercial release has yet to be decided. Its fate depends entirely on Homeland Security. If the final product stands as a useful means for training up-and-coming emergency personnel, then that might squander any chance of the potential retail version. Or maybe it will be distributed in the vein of America’s Army. That is, via free promotional downloads.

Ground Truth is spearheaded by a gaming enthusiast turned computer scientist, Donna Djordjevich, who promises the visuals to be competitive with current console standards. Sandia National Labs is in charge of Development, in partnership with University of Southern California graduates.

It’s apparent that the team is committed to bringing about a full-blown representation of terrorist attacks and natural disasters, which will immerse the player completely. But is society ready to experience these high-pressure situations in such a realistic manner?

Djordjevich tells ABC News:

“It is a sandbox. They’re able to play through it and say, well, that idea obviously didn’t work out, but I’d rather have them make the mistake in the video game than in reality.”

When all is said and done, this disaster-simulator could either be an inspiring treat for people who’ve always held emergency workers on a pedestal, or a depressing simulation that makes you feel responsible for the failure to prevent thousands upon thousands of deaths. Damn. Despite the best of intentions, you can be sure there will be some kind of outcry, closer to the release of the final product. Disasters are, after all, fairly touchy subjects.

Via: ABC News

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in July 2007. Get in touch on Twitter @Calvin_Kemph.

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