The cable television show, "Arena," will highlight the new video game, "America's Army: Special Forces," early next month. Two four-player teams will compete in simulated combat missions using advanced virtual reality pods created by Honolulu company Atlantis Cyberspace Inc.

Virtual combat game
moves to small screen

Atlantis Cyberspace reaches a deal
with the Army and G4 cable TV
network to air the new video game

A Honolulu-based company that develops virtual reality game pods is hoping that its new relationship with the Army -- involving the telecast of simulated combat -- will give it an edge in the billion-dollar market for military simulation.

Atlantis Cyberspace Inc. made its major debut on Oahu at Schofield Barracks in 1999, when it unveiled a virtual reality arcade that let military folks play shoot-em-up in a virtual battlefield.

Now, the company has struck a partnership with the Army and the G4 video-game cable television network, in which G4 will broadcast the Army's newest simulated combat video game, played on Atlantis' virtual reality pods.

The Army introduced the computer game "America's Army" last year to boost recruiting efforts, amid the war on terror and before the war in Iraq.

The G4 show "Arena" will highlight the new game, "America's Army: Special Forces," in the final 11 episodes of its second season, to air early next month. In the episodes, two four-player teams will compete in simulated combat missions from the America's Army game. Players don weapons and helmets with goggles and headphones that take them into the virtual world, and teams coordinate strategy on an intercom. Viewers on television get to watch the action, from multiple perspectives.

G4, owned by the largest U.S. cable-television operator Comcast Corp., is on Oceanic digital cable Channel 437 on Oahu. The channel targets young adults from 12 to 34.

It will be simulated warfare on television, the next step in a marriage between the entertainment media, one that will play out amid the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. The show will have commentators.

The idea of putting virtual-reality combat games on television came from Laurent Scallie, president of Atlantis Cyberspace, who is originally from Paris.

"I envision this going way bigger scale than what it currently is," he said.

Atlantis contacted the Army to talk about using the Army's games for recruitment purposes, and Scallie said he pitched the idea of a television show to promote the game. Col. Casey Wardynski, project originator and project director, liked the idea. So does G4.

"Working with G4 and Atlantis Cyberspace to feature our game on the Arena show is a great opportunity for us to showcase the America's Army: Special Forces game," said Wardynski.

America's Army, the computer game, is rated T for Teen and can be downloaded for free from Web sites linked to

Atlantis, based at Honolulu Community College in Kalihi, flew people to Hollywood in the past week to tape the virtual shows.

Atlantis has its research and development in Hawaii, a showroom in Palo Alto, Calif., and a sales office in the Army simulation hub of Orlando, Fla. Four years ago, when Atlantis set up its virtual reality pods for game play at Schofield Barracks, Scallie already had his eye on a further relationship with the military.

Modeling and simulation is an $8.8 billion industry in central Florida, where the Army's Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation is based.

"The idea is that the same technology that is used for the video games and basically the recruiting can be modified for training purposes for the U.S. Army, and that's the angle we're interested in," Scallie said.

Atlantis has improved its virtual reality pods, such as allowing game players to shoot at enemies while hiding safely behind a wall corner, and integrating real field weapons, such as M-4 carbine rifles. The company, which has 10 employees, is shifting from the entertainment business to military training, Scallie said.

"Basically, there's a huge need for training applications, for infantry, marines, special operations, law enforcement," he said. "It all kind of started with 9/11, obviously."


E-mail to Business Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --