SAF hones leadership skills with shooter game

SAF hones leadership skills with shooter game

SINGAPORE - Junior commanders-to-be are leading teams to rescue hostages and defuse a bomb - virtually, that is.

A new third-person shooter game called Decisive Combat has been developed by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to hone soldiers' leadership skills. The player leads his team through missions at important Singapore establishments, such as Changi Airport.

At various points, players are prompted to make decisions that will affect the game's outcome, such as whether to radio in for orders or to storm a room.

The game is currently played by those in the Officer Cadet School and Specialist Cadet School, though that may change in the future. Mindef could not give further details.

Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Karuna Ramanathan, who was involved in the game's development, told SAF publication Cyberpioneer the "ultimate vision" is for pre-enlistees to play the game as well.

Decisive Combat speaks to SAF's attempt to engage a younger generation of soldiers, many of whom grew up playing video games, said Dr Bernard Loo, an associate professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.

While its graphics may not be on a par with best-selling games like Battlefield or Call Of Duty, according to experts, the game shines in its own way. It was named the best government game at an industry event in the United States early this month.

Decisive Combat was produced in nine months with two other agencies. Its promotional video indicates a local studio was also involved.

Mr Aroon Tan, co-founder of the gaming firm Magma Studios, said a typical top-level game takes two to three years.

But he said that is not a reflection of the SAF game's quality as little is known about it beyond promotional videos.

Mr Allan Simonsen, coordinator for the International Game Developers Association's Singapore chapter, said the game is a "serious game", whose purpose is education, not entertainment.

He added that SAF differs from traditional gaming firms in their primary roles. It thus may face smaller budgets, and also technical limitations in having to make the game available on all computer platforms.

Mr Simonsen said he estimates the game to have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, compared to the tens of millions top video games cost.

"What they've got here stands up very favourably against other serious games," he said.

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