The Virtua Corps: Rossignol at the Escapist

By Kieron Gillen on January 29th, 2008 at 2:33 pm.

Jim is away today. Don’t be sad. He left something for me to post later and until then you can get your Rossignol fix over at the Escapist, where they’ve just published his Virtua Corps article. It’s about hardcore Solder-Sim fanatics online.

One of the finer pleasures of being a journalist who spends too much time in the depths of PC gaming is the number of encounters you have with the platform’s various subcultures. Over the past five years, one in particular has fixed me with a mixture of dread and amazement: It’s the community that surrounds the hardcore soldier sim.

Idle, completely pointless and completely unprovable boast: I was the first person who started referring to the whole sub-genre as Soldier Sims. I’m all about the morning neologisms, me, even if they’re not really very clever at all. Anyway – read the rest of Jim’s article over here.

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9 Comments »

  1. The_B says:

    Bagsy Jim’s stereo!

    (Wait, he has one right?)

  2. MCHN says:

    The last hardcore Solder-Sim I played was a real toughie – trying to complete a whole printed circuit board in under a minute.

  3. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Virtua Corps, surely?[/pedant]

  4. Kieron Gillen says:

    I really can’t read.

    KG

  5. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Interesting article. I guess I’ve been peripherally aware of the soldier-sim community for a while, but I don’t think I ever realised quite what lengths they go to nor their influence on Bohemia.

  6. Dinger says:

    Heh.

    It’s at this point the lines begin to blur. Does the fact that what started out in the realm of videogames has become a tool of the military say something about human nature? When does it stop being about entertainment? Are the soldiers who use this stuff to train allowed to say they enjoy it? In fact, are those people who gravitated toward this in the first place simply inclined to becoming soldiers, even if that soldiery is imaginary? More importantly, for observers like us, does the relationship of some people with these games, and the kind of things they push these games to do, speak of a more honest approach to admitting what games might be: surrogate experience for those kinds of actions that the modern world denies us? There’s a reason why all those history books are full of blood and guts, after all.

    Quick answers:
    A. Sure does.
    B. When you have to do the same exercise over and over again, nary an enemy is in sight, and the trainers are scoring you.
    C. Yup, even better if they organize “Training Sessions” in their free time. That’s a selling point, as I understand it.
    D. It’s greatly variable. Some have no inclination whatsoever; others have become combat KIAs. I’m sure there’s a couple good articles on those subjects alone.
    E. Hey, look at it this way: FPS have shown that a lot of people like violence. And most males have some inclination for team sport. A combined-arms simulation presents us with a complex situation, requiring a range of people with different areas of expertise, and the requirement that we work in groups to win or lose. The fact that it’s a combat simulation makes it “deep”: there’s already a large amount of tactics and procedures that can be adopted without much work.
    OFP/ArmA gives us a huge battlespace to work in. It has another huge advantage: it’s eminently scriptable. So if you’re like me, and generally suck at being a footsoldier (well, “doesn’t excel” would be better), can’t keep a tank in one piece, and have an online handle that translates into “Crashes Aircraft Regularly”, you can always develop your own specialty. How about artillery? Sure, I can make that.

    So sure, there we are, on a LRRP, humping 3 clicks in through forest when we spot our first sign of the enemy. We go to the reverse slope, but too late: a patrol comes across us. Soon our squad is pinned is down as an enemy company 150 meters to our west opens up. While the other guys take shots at the baddies who try to move up, I slap my back to a tree and get ahold of the FB for a danger close mission. The battle rages. A minute and a half later, maybe 2 minutes, there’s a rumble in the distance. Then the shells rip over head and airburst in the trees just behind where the enemy has been shooting at us. Soon the air is filled with smoke and bodies.

    Suddenly we start getting hit from the south. “Flanking to the south.” Now the firefight gets serious. I adjust fire…

    Anyway, yeah, we’ve all got tons of good “war stories” from OFP. Good times.
    (Not all history books are full of blood and guts, btw)

  7. Johnny Law says:

    If you want to get a nice bit of startlement at how hardcore those folks can be, see http://dslyecxi.com/armattp.html

  8. Geoff says:

    MCHN appears to have beaten me to the soldering joke. I probably would have asked something lame, like whether it supports rosin core, or whether the UI feedback includes burning your fingers.

  9. Brer says:

    Regarding Dylsecxi’s (excellent) site:

    It’s worth noting for people that don’t go to his front page and look at his older posts, that Dslyecxi is an ex-marine (EAS-ed in AUG05) and has since found employment at a company that provides training and simulation systems for militaries (that look like they beat the -hell- out of the chintzy little mechanical M-16 simulator I spent a little time with when I went through BCT at Fort Knox).

    And really, SOME sort of TTP is really necessary for team play in most of these shooters. They’re unforgiving enough that a failure to communicate and coordinate quickly and efficiently can spell rapid death for your entire unit. Dslyecxi’s is a bit more thorough than average, but even in simpler games most successful teams have TTPs, even if they’re as simple as coordinating medic support in TF2 so there’s no “MEDIC!” spam obscuring meaningful communcation and making sure that there’s always a good balance of classes going into a CTF match.