UPDATED 12 September 2009

Vindication for the First Person Shooter Video Game Players: Recession-Proof Military War Practice

One of the common, hypocritical insults serving Soldiers hurl at civilians is that "they only think they know war from their Nintendo or playstation" and should accordingly be silent as the former goes about botching military activities "real-time" using the latter's tax dollars--and the until recently--good name of America. Its an insult that does have some basis in that moving a joystick controller rapidly a fraction of an inch doesn't equate into holding up a 7+ pound shoulder weapon or moving your body loaded with "100 pounds of lightweight equipment" over rugged terrain against enemy fires in real time-however--the one thing third-person (watch behind back of the figure shooter you control) and first-person (FPS) video game players know how to do that American Soldiers don't--is to CHANGE THEIR BODY POSITIONS CONSTANTLY (kneeling, crouching, prone etc.) in order to not present themselves as easy targets to the enemy. The British Army calls this "changing levels". In disturbing contrast, Americans are CONSTANTLY milling around and standing in the open; you can see this in WW2, Korean and Vietnam war footage--as well as video from today's Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Soldiers Milling Around in Vietnam & Iraq Today



The root cause is that we teach Soldiers to be blind obedience, lemmings who constantly need someone above them telling them what-to-do and when-to-do-it, coupled with a lack of Maneuver Agility Fitness (MAF) since we waste each day doing sports attire physical "training" in showy, parade ground formations instead of wearing ALL our combat gear in small, decentralized formations and honing fire & maneuver skills to a high degree. Another contributing factor to our lack of MAF is our excessive Soldier's loads that fatigue our men such that they are not able to do much more than stand and be easily hit by the enemy as our heavy casualties in Iraq/Afghanistan prove.

So rather than insulting the FPS community, we should be exploiting their realistic simulation technology to get our real-time act together in a low-cost, recession-proof way as the "America's Army" video game and gun controller ("Gun-Con") developers have known for a long time and tried to further the cause. However, if the kinesthetic divide between the physical and mental is not bridged, the insults will remain and playing FPS video games will not invigorate us into having the necessary MAF to be successful on non-linear battlefields (NLBs) where the enemy can attack at any direction at any time. Several companies have already bridged this gap in a hyper-expensive manner--which is great for racketeering a problem--but results in one simulator on an Army post that has to be shared by 100+ company-sized units for 52 weeks of time per year. What we need is EVERY Soldier in EVERY unit to have MAF skills perfected to a high level by DAILY fire & movement training which can be done with innovate dry firing drills (IDFs) using issue weapons and no ammunition while wearing full combat gear--SO THERE IS NO EXCUSE.

What FPS video games can do is to "sweeten the pot" by making IDFs more challenging and demanding by essentially adding a simulated visual situational reality on a large screen TV. F.A.T.S. in Army service as the "Engagement Skills Trainer" or EST does this for up to a small squad--but requires a huge $ purchase price by the Army using special dummy weapons of our M16/M4s assault rifles/carbines, M249 light machine guns etc. that have air hoses connected to them to operate the bolts which cocks their hammers so every time you squeeze the trigger they can drop at the realistic pressure also known as "force feedback" in the gaming community. However, the air hoses ruin any kind of short distance movements and throw off the aiming of shoulder weapons by their weight and tension. EST is moot point for a local unit war practice MAF revolution because it is too expensive and results in a post stovepipe of too many units trying to operate just one or too few systems.

MAF FPS Simulator Version 1.0

What I propose is that every company-size unit in the Army set aside a corner of a building interior (preferably a pair of 20-font ISO shipping containers joined together sideways ie; "BATTLEBOXes") large enough for a 4-man fireteam to be 5 meters apart. Another option would be two 9'6" tall FORTY-foot High Cubes joined at the sides with the adjoining sided removed. If they are going to aim UP at targets then something different (a Steelmaster building with an ISO on one end for locking storage) would be better yet affordable. The local tech college just bought a used one for about $2300 bucks--delivered. At the front on a wall is the largest screen TV they can obtain connected to a video game like XBOX360, PlayStation 2/3 or Wii that has a good FPS maneuver & fire game like Modern Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, America's Army etc. Computer PC FPS games are also an option--but getting a large-screen for them is costly. Mounted actions in armored personnel carriers like M113 Gavins must be represented in these video games since if we cannot get to the fight there will be no dismounted actions to follow. The PS2 game Battlefield 2: Modern Combat offers mounted & dismounted infantry actions from APCs. I suggest getting a GameShark CD (cheat disk) and inserting it first into your game console to unlock all the vehicle/scenario options without having to play all the game levels with limited life which could turn into a monumental struggle.

We will exploit the U.S. Army's excellent dismounted infantry FireTeam Leader (FTL) tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) which has the other 3 team members do exactly what he does as he is focused on the enemy as a fighting leader example. 3 actual unit weapons like M16/M4 carbines are then slightly modified by adding to their triggers a press switch connected to a VISIBLE RED LASER pointer so when they squeeze the trigger it will shine a red dot onto the TV screen. M9 Beretta 9mm pistols would use Laser Snap Caps which are dummy rounds which when you dry fire emit a red laser beam through the barrel. The Beretta is a DOUBLE ACTION pistol in that you don't have to cock it; just squeeze the trigger to fire. It's a heavy pull but every shot thereafter is single-action when you shoot real, live bullets. The war practical value of IDFing from just double action is stronger fingers.

The FTL operates the FPS game controller as he "steers" his team through the game scenarios as he would in real life--albeit he'd have a weapon in his hand. Whatever the FTL does mentally, the 3 other Soldiers do PHYSICALLY; if he's standing they stand, if he kneels; they kneel...if he rotates towards a point on the screen, they do the same, gaining a muscle memory benefit. Tape or mats on the ground as a sort of "body mouse pad" would limit their walking so they stay within sight of the TV screen but they must actually walk or run in place if the FTL on the TV screen does it. If the FPS game has the ability to fire rockets like the 84mm M136 AT4, disposable tubes need to be fitted with visible red lasers to be IDFed so high explosive weapons effects are factored into how we fight and not just garden-hosing kinetic energy (KE) bullets.

Indirect fire weapons like the M203 40mm grenade launcher will not be simulated properly by the red laser aligned linearly to the barrel shooting the KE 5.56mm bullets. Those with M203s will have to use their sights and place them on the TV screen and dry fire them; but much war practice can be had doing this especially if they use dummy 40mm grenades and actually load them to fire each time. Hand grenade throwing can be simulated by covering dummy grenades with foam so they don't damage anything when they land indoors.

When the FTL fires, the other 3 members do the same shining their red laser dots onto the targets or the areas the FTL says to fire where enemies are expected to be but concealed. A tap on the trigger pressure switch is for single shots and a steady squeeze for burst or automatic fire. The video game will not reward the other 3 member's mimicking of the FTL, but we are all adults here knowing that real war benefits are being gained.

Soldiers should count as they fire their weapons and when they get to less than 30 actually remove the empty magazine, place it on a carabiner/snap link by a pull-carry loop or inside a dump pouch or pocket and insert a new magazine which ideally should be loaded with dummy rounds to simulate weight. This is realistic because if you exchange magazines BEFORE shooting your last 30th shot, THE BOLT (carrier group) WILL STAY FORWARD and not run out and lock to the rear.

All 4 Soldiers should rotate taking turns being the FTL so it should take 2-4 hours per fireteam to give everyone 30 minutes to 1 hour as the FTL and 1.5 to 3 hours as other team members. So if the local unit has a car wash/bake sales it should be able to purchase a MAF FPS Simulator Version 1.0 set-up, and each 8 hour day have 2-4 fireteams go through it. Since there are 6 fireteams in a platoon and 3 rifle platoons in a rifle company, it'll take roughly one week to have every fire team go through at different times. Of course, this could be spread out over each month resulting in twice-a-month every fireteam getting MAF sim time.

MAF FPS Simulator Version 1.1

Another possibility is to have all 4 FT Soldiers kitted out with red-lasered weapons and have a 5th Soldier operate the game controller according to what the FTL does in the center of the formation. There will be some "lag" time in translating what the FTL does onto the TV screen but as Soldiers get skilled this manually-created interface can be very good. Of course the FTL can talk to the game controller to coach him/her to do what he intends.

MAF FPS Simulator Version 1.2

The FTL could have a realistic gun-con like the Logic 3 replica of a MP5 SMG called the PX098 which has force feedback and a laser red dot pointer and play "rail shooter", "laser blaster" arcade-style shooting video games designed to work with it like Resident Evil or Shoot 'Em Up or Time Crisis 1/2/3/4.


When we say "arcade" style shooting video games, this means the player is stationary and the imagery "comes to him" which is like the early Duck Hunt game but also exactly what happens in F.A.T.S. in Army service as the EST. Soldiers can and should crouch, kneel, stand, get into the prone firing positions but there is no figure in the computer simulation maneuvering & firing through situations and terrains. Time Crisis 4 is alone right now as a rail shooter PS3 game that has also has a FPS fire & maneuver mode using control buttons integrated in the GunCon3 pistol. Its too bad no realistic, military FPS games are currently available to exploit available gun-cons. The Logic 3 MP5 SMG has a directional pad built into the weapon's front foregrip for him to at least move his character's firing position in the video simulation which he should also physically replicate with his body. Gun-con pistols have a difficult time offering a directional pad location and have resorted to half a game controller sticking out perpendicularly. A game reviewer writes about the Namco Guncon3 used in conjunction with the game Time Crisis 4:



"Time Crisis 4 basically becomes a first person shooter but instead of aiming a little circle in the middle of the screen to shoot people, you aim with the light gun. This is great, right?

Wrong. The idea sounds interesting, but the joystick location on the gun made my wrist ache before I even came close to finishing the first stage."

Long guns like the Logic 3's PX098 MP5 SMG replica can have the D-pad located where your non-firing hand grips a forearm or forward grip naturally. What the FTL does using a gun-con would directly affect the video game and the other 3 Soldiers would chime in and mimic his actions with their M16/M4s with red laser dot pointers.

The Logic 3 Mp5 SMG replica offers bolt recoil force feedback using an electric motor powered by 4 x AA batteries. Obviously, if a M16/M4 gun-con were available with empty magazine changing, the simulation would be even more realistic....


For the folks that don't know, the Time Crisis series have always been about 1 thing: shooting. The games have typically played "on rails" meaning you control firing the gun and ducking behind cover, but the game actually moves you forward in the level as you ice terrorists in the face.

Time Crisis 4 breaks this mold a little bit by including a "FPS Mode" which can double the length of the game and is actually more fun than I thought it would be. Getting a second person into Arcade mode for co-op play is a sweet addition.



MAF FPS Simulator Version 2.0

The reader may say, what about the lack of trigger squeeze and hammer drop in MAF FPS Version 1.0...or what if 30 shots are made and the bolt locking to the rear is not simulated?

Essentially, to get Soldiers to shoot every day without going broke or having to constantly clean weapons we need a NON-PYROTECHNICAL way to simulate firing weapons and manipulate their bolts. The F.A.T.S. EST air hose thing is not an affordable option. What I suggest is an innovative inventor or small company creates a LOWER RECEIVER for the M16/M4 that is exactly the same as a real one except that its DOUBLE-ACTION in that every time you squeeze the trigger a LIGHT spring action cocks and drops a light hammer that is just enough to replicate the actual trigger pull pressure and tap the firing pin so it can activate Laser Snap Caps. This will eliminate the pressure switch temporarily attached to triggers to get a red laser light attached. All units have to do is buy the lower receivers and attach them underneath the bolt carrier group and upper receivers of their M16/M4s.

MAF FPS Simulator Version 2.1

Moreover, if a small electric motor and a CPU chip were fitted then every time 30 shots are fired it could sense this and conceivably throw back the bolt to the rear and lock it forcing the Soldier to exchange magazines and slap the bolt catch to send the bolt carrier group forward to continue firing.

MAF FPS Simulator Version 2.2

Imagine all of the above plus a Wii "zapper" gun-con capability is added so every Soldier can use his weapon to fire into the TV screen and have his shots count fully into the game play using the multiple player function. We would be simply adapting the "Wii fitness" craze to a realistic and important military function that frankly the civilian game makers with their pacifistic tendencies are not likely to develop on their own. Several FPS game players have tried to integrate Wii zappers into some more realistic form of a shoulder weapon as seen in the YOUTUBE videos below:

In Version 2.2, there would be no need for a Soldier to mimic actions via game controllers, though each Soldier having to control his movements from joysticks on his weapon will be unrealistic--since in real life he'd simply just do it with his body.

MAF Live Outdoor Simulator

The benefit of having a VISIBLE red dot laser simulation capability in all of the versions described above is that Soldiers can then go outside and do MAF and IDF drills at short ranges of less than 50 meters and observer/controllers can see their shooting points and write down their performances. The red dot "laser tag" for say individual movement technique (IMT) war practice might be visible enough to be seen if a videocamera is used to follow the actions from the BlueFor and/or the RedFor (OPFOR) points of view. Targets that will change color or show if hit by the laser beam might be available to give instant shooter feedback. Consider this MILES "laser tag"--but visible and without the beeper sounds going off-and affordable so EVERY unit can have it and practice for war with it 24/7/365.



Overview of Gun-Controllers


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MP5 SMG Replica Gun-Con



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Logic 3 Makers of the MP5 SMG Replica Gun-Con


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