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Real Blackwater Soldier Talks Virtual Warfare and the Kinect

Published 2 years, 6 months ago by John Gaudiosi

The military has embraced videogames on many levels over the years. From the online America’s Army game that was created to show future soldiers what their specialty would encompass to virtual reality simulators like the Dismounted Soldier Training System (DSTS) from Intelligent Decisions, which allows squads of soldiers to train in combat zones before embarking on dangerous missions. Now, the growing number of ex-Special Forces soldiers have something to play while home or abroad, as does the general public that’s hooked on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3.

505 Games enlisted Zombie Studios to work with private military security firm Blackwater on the world’s first military shooter designed exclusively for Kinect for Xbox 360. Frank Rincon was one of the key soldiers involved in the development of the Blackwater game. Rincon served eight years as a U.S Marine with six years in Special Operation in Recon Battalion and Force Recon. He was part of a security team assigned to a High Risk Client in Greece that was the supplier of all Petrochemical needs to the U.S. Forces and their Allies during the Gulf War. He worked for Blackwater USA and deployed primarily to Iraq obtaining C1 status and program manager for both private and government contracts.  He is currently working for private military contractor XE.

“We did some shooting packages overseas where you walk into a room with screens on three walls, and you can use weapon systems to just shoot blank bullets at these targets,” said Rincon. “As far as what the technology is today, I’ve been out of the Marine Corp since 1990, so the technology now has grown in leaps and bounds, especially for truck drivers, tank drivers, planes, and helicopter pilots. A lot of this stuff has really revolutionized their training.”

Rincon has already seen the new Blackwater game impact fellow soldiers and help keep them in shape, something that gamers will soon discover when they try out the Kinect title.

“A lot of guys who were playing Call of Duty and SOCOM would sit there in the game rooms, which we’re fortunate to have a lot of over there in the military,” said Rincon. “They’d just sit there playing with the controller, eating food, drinking beer. And they’re just moving their thumbs around and talking back and forth, because there’s not a lot of interactivity with those games. The next thing you know, two or three hours goes by and you’ve just sat and played games.”

Rincon brought the Blackwater game over to some friends who are die hard Call of Duty fans and they were able to get into it pretty quickly.

“At first, the guys were actually tired,” said Rincon. “They were actually exerting themselves too much because they didn’t realize you could actually crouch and peer around the corner and do all of these cool things in the game. They got more into it after I showed them all of the options.”

The fact that this game will help get kids moving is something that Rincon especially likes about the project that he worked so closely on.

“You don’t just sit on your butt and shoot people,” said Rincon. “You have to shoot and move, duck and cover, run, and do a lot of things to stay alive. It’s all physical with Kinect. You can’t play this game for two or three hours straight without taking a rest, but that’s fine. It gives a person an idea of what an operator might actually have to go through in doing some of this stuff.”

Although he played games back in the arcade era, Rincon is not a gamer and doesn’t like the typical game controller. But he found the accessibility of the Kinect something that drew him into the game experience. He even now bringing his Kinect with him overseas on assignment.

“This game gives you an idea of what it’s actually like to do some of the things we do when we’re providing protection for Americans and their assets,” said Rincon. “I also like that the Blackwater game is different from a lot of other games because it really cut back on the bloodshed. When we eliminate a threat, or we destroy something, you don’t see the body parts fly all over the place. You don’t see blood everywhere. That’s not what we’re going for. We’re not going for that ‘wow’ factor. I think you desensitize yourself to a lot of things when you see a lot of that stuff.”

Although the Blackwater mission doesn’t really change, even from country to country or from theatre to theatre, Rincon believes this game could become a franchise. He said different combat scenarios come up in the field and the game could explore additional locales moving forward.

“Hopefully, this game shows the world what Blackwater does,” said Rincon. “And gamers enjoy the experience and the interactivity that the game introduces to the genre.



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