In recent years, modeling and simulation technology has become increasingly important to both the entertainment industry and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). In the entertainment industry, such technology lies at the heart of video games, theme park attractions, entertainment centers, and special effects for film production. For DOD, modeling and simulation technology provides a low-cost means of conducting joint training exercises, evaluating new doctrine and tactics, and studying the effectiveness of new weapons systems. Both the entertainment industry and DOD are aggressively pursuing development of distributed simulation systems that can support Internet-based games and large-scale training exercises. These common interests suggest that the entertainment industry and DOD may be able to more efficiently achieve their individual goals by working together to advance the technology base for modeling and simulation. Such cooperation could take many forms, including collaborative research and development projects, sharing research results, or coordinating ongoing research programs to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort. (p. 1)

In October 1996 the National Research Council’s Computer Science and Telecommunications Board held a workshop that brought together members of the entertainment and defense industries to discuss common research interests in modeling and simulation. These discussions illuminated possible areas for cooperation and also brought up for consideration possible cultural and logistical obstacles to collaborative success.


The following research areas were identified as possible areas of collaboration between the defense and entertainment industries:

  • Technology for immersion: Immersive virtual environments rely on a cluster of technologies that include graphics software for creating complex visual environments, and technologies that track participants’ physical orientation and gaze, facilitate the creation of realistic virtual terrain, and provide users with sensory stimuli (sounds, smells, vibration, etc.).

  • Networked simulation: DoD and the entertainment industry both seek to create a network infrastructure capable of handling large-scale networks of users. This will require developing higher bandwidth networks to handle the flow of large amounts of data, reducing bandwidth requirements using multicasting and area-of-interest managers, and minimizing signal latency.

  • Standards for interoperability: In order to maximize the usefulness of simulations, both groups should be able to work with other programs in a meaningful and coherent fashion. Interoperability requires common network software architecture with standard protocols that allow interaction between simulators and facilitate the construction of large simulations from existing subsystems. The development of a virtual reality transfer protocol is also crucial to facilitate large-scale networking of distributed virtual environments.

  • Computer-generated characters: One of the greatest challenges in creating a useful simulation,


The first paragraph of this summary is excerpted from Modeling and Simulation: Linking Entertainment and Defense (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997).

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement