US Navy Turns to Video Games To Reduce Sexual Assault

US Navy to use anti-sexual assault video game to train soldiers.

US Navy to use anti-sexual assault video game to train soldiers.
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In an effort to reduce the alarming levels of sexual assault reported yearly, the US Navy has turned to video games to get across the message that No really means No.

According to CNS News, the Navy has entered a contract with Organic Motion Inc., whereby the Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) is hashing out $83,000 to the game and animation developer to create a program for “Avatar Based Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Training.”

Organic Motion has previously developed combat readiness video games for the military, and will be using the same technology – known as Live Interactive Virtual Environment (LIVE) – to develop their sexual assault-prevention game. The program will create an immersive training environment that allows soldiers to role-play scripted scenes with holograms (avatars) of an animated actor.

LIVE demo projecting an armed terrorist situation.

The contract details how the game will work:

“The system shall allow a subject matter expert to determine the appropriate response to both verbal and non-verbal cues so that the student receives improved feedback regarding their actions. It shall also provide the ability to change characters (gender, race) and environments facilitating greater student engagement.”

A pilot program is in the works, to be put into play at the Navy’s boot camp location, formally known as the Recruit Training Command, in Great Lakes, Illinois.

Over a three-month period, the company will create an “avatar based pilot program,” which will be used to act out scenarios at the Navy’s boot camp, the Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois. The focus will be on training the Recruit Division Commanders (RDCs), because they’re the ones nurturing the newest batch of recruits. Increasing awareness right from the start can go a long way.

Rear Adm. Dee Mewbourne, commander of the Naval Training Command, is hopeful the avatar-based game with its realistic environment will greatly improve interpersonal training.

“The pilot is intended to show that avatar technology can help leaders recognize emotional distress and build mentorship and counseling skills when dealing with sensitive topics, like sexual assault.” 

The program follows a series of failed attempts under the Military’s “I Am Strong” sexual assault prevention campaign. In the past, the military has gone to some length experimenting with ways of reducing sexual assault, which include conducting searching of troop workplaces and bathrooms for degrading or objectifying material, to acting out scenarios for proper conduct, to drilling new recruits on 10 “sex rules.” Alarmingly, it seems the training had little effect. Sexual assaults rose by 37% in 2012, and interestingly, over half of the victims were male, though women were deemed more likely targets.

Do you think video games have the power to fix such a traumatizing problem? Weigh in and let us know.

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Girl, Canadian, caffeine worshipper, currently in school for book publishing. I like to write about games and complain about the lack of a good zombie RPG. You'll find me lurking on various game forums in various guises.