A few days ago, on the SIGGRAPH blog, I remarked on the number of simulations directed towards military applications. Now this kind of thing has been going on for a while within the graphics community, and I am sure none of them are surprised by this.
However, in what can only be viewed as a sign of the times (no pun intended), both the New York Times Magazine and the September issue of Wired carry articles describing the level of sophistication military simulations have reached in training soldiers for combat situations. Both articles focus on a particular software package called Full Spectrum Warrior as one of the primary candidate tools for training soldiers (FSW is available as a commercial tool; the military version has more features and more accurate military plans than the commercial version).
The focus (contrary to the popular impression conveyed by games like Doom and Quake) is not on first-person orgies of murder and mayhem; many of these simulations, and indeed many games nowadays, focus more on story telling and scenarios/strategies. Some military training game don't even allow the player to fire a weapon, requiring that they handle situations without the use of force.
The NYT article gets bonus points for managing not to mention Ender's Game. The Wired article stays strong for a while, and then flubs the ending, not only mentioning the book, but mangling the title.
p.s The game industry is paying their PR staff well...here's how games are taking over Hollywood
p.p.s More coverage of this on /. (follow the links in the blurb)