Despite worries about tough economic times, this year’s Defense GameTech 2012 Users’ Conference in Orlando, Fla., saw record numbers of attendees — nearly 800 of them, up from 600 last year.
There were also record numbers of volunteers, sponsors and exhibitors, which conference chair Michael Macedonia said left the exhibition space continually jammed. Quantum3D displayed their recently upgraded ExpeditionDI, a suit that uses motion sensors and a headset to transport soldiers to a virtual world. Training Brain Operations Center Systems Integration Modeling and Simulation (TBOC SIMS), an organization within the Army, displayed the Virtual Battle System 2 (VBS2) Land Navigation Trainer.
“We had more exhibitors than ever, and we had more people visiting exhibitors than ever,” Macedonia said.
It was standing room only in the dozens of tutorials that ranged from creating mobile applications to using specific game engines.
“There were people who wanted to learn how to use these new technologies, people from industry seeing what others were doing, and government folks doing comparison shopping,” Macedonia said.
In addition to the standard sessions and keynote speakers, there were also industry announcements at the conference. Epic Games announced a contract allowing the FBI to use their game engine, Unreal Engine 3, for training purposes. Frank DiGiovanni of the Department of Defense unveiled the beta version of the Virtual World Framework, an open architecture platform that allows developers to build components for a “3D internet.” Engineering and Computer Simulations announced that the National Guard Bureau selected them to continue developing the Arlington Hall Station Emergency Preparedness Trainer.
People left the conference buzzing about the artificial intelligence in games used for training, the keynote by Google’s Michael Jones, the rise of medical training games in the industry, and the winners of the Federal Virtual Worlds Competition.
While the government previously coordinated GameTech through Team Orlando, control this year transferred to the National Center for Simulation, which will run the conference in the future.
“I expect that the Navy and Air Force will participate even more,” Macedonia said. “We saw growth in those areas this year, but I think we’re going to see a really big growth next year.”