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This Government ‘Training’ Program Looks A Lot like Grand Theft Auto

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a government-funded training program Monday to help prepare first responders for active shooter situations and other scenarios, costing taxpayers more than $5 million.

DHS contracted Cole Engineering Services, Inc (CESI) to develop the product, known as the Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE) platform. The simulation technology corporation has received more than $185 million in government contracts since 2008, $85 million of which went toward “training aids,” and “operational training devices.”

The DHS called the program “cutting-edge gaming technology” in a Monday press release.

“It is essential that responders have every tool at their disposal to prepare for and respond to critical incidents,” the release read. “When decisions must be made in a matter of seconds, every bit of training helps to save civilian and responder lives. EDGE harnesses the power of cutting-edge gaming and defense technology to make training accessible, engaging, and affordable to all responders.” (RELATED: Sailors To Shoot ‘Magical Spells’ In Navy-Funded Video Game Training)

EDGE game (Screenshot, DHS.gov)

EDGE game (Screenshot, DHS.gov)

CESI builds “modeling and simulation-based technologies that enable learning by providing technical engineering services that achieve desired results and by developing serious gaming,” according to the corporation’s website.

EDGE game (Screenshot, DHS.gov)

EDGE game (Screenshot, DHS.gov)

EDGE was developed using the Unreal 3 engine, the same tool used to create Mortal Kombat, Bioshock, and dozens of other commercial video games. It features online multiplayer matches where first responders can select and customize their characters and classes to match their real-life jobs before taking on dangerous training scenarios such as shootings, robberies, fires, and medical extractions. While EDGE only features a single environment on its release, a San Francisco hotel, a school environment capable of similar scenarios is planned for release this fall.

EDGE Game (Screenshot, DHS.gov)

EDGE Game (Screenshot, DHS.gov)

Copies of EDGE are now available to all first responders nationwide.

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