The Army is capitalizing on many soldiers' love of video games to help its leaders deal with sexual assault and harassment within the ranks.
The ELITE-SHARP Command Team Trainer -- an interactive game-based training tool launched April 1 to coincide with Sexual Assault Prevention Month -- was based on the already successful ELITE Lite counseling program that debuted 18 months ago, an Army statement said.
Both tools, which feature animated sexual assault and harassment scenarios that demonstrate correct and incorrect ways to handle such situations, are available at milgaming.army.mil.
The new game -- primarily developed at the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies -- includes an interactive portion where leaders meet face to face with virtual soldiers who have been victims of sexual assault or harassment.
The ELITE, or Emergent Leader Immersive Training Environment, tools allow the Army to move away from the "old paradigm" training, such as PowerPoint slides, videos and classroom discussion, that some have deemed ineffective, the statement said.
Engaging with avatars also provides trainees with a higher quality experience, said Maj. Greg Pavlichko, chief of the Army's Games for Training program at the Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
"If you and I are in class together and we are discussing counseling or SHARP, and we are then asked to (role-play) -- I'm the person with the bad behavior and you are the leader that is asked to counsel me, well maybe I don't care, maybe I'm a terrible actor, maybe I'm just not into it," he said. "So your experience is very dependent on the student population and basically how into it they are."
Pavlichko, who expects the ELITE platform to become even more interactive in the future with artificial intelligence, said he's seen attitudes about games evolve in the training community.
"Games are fun. Training is not supposed to be fun," he said. "But then after enough senior leaders see the capability, they see its potential, they understand its potential."