There was a clear military presence at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles last week, and it had nothing to do with terror alerts or heightened security. The U.S. Army, eager to boost recruitment among 18-to-24-year-olds, is getting into the computer-game business. In July it will release two titles: Soldiers, a Sims-style basic-training exercise based on interviews with more than 700 real-life grunts; and Operations, a fast-paced online game that puts you behind the trigger--and teaches you teamwork--in a combat situation. Operations is built with the same software as the popular shooting game Unreal, but Army know-how has made the scenarios significantly more, er, real. Both game CDs will be available for free in computer-gaming magazines. And at Army recruiting stations.
As any veteran video gamer knows, it's not the bad guys that get you; it's the sweat. For anyone who has ever lost crucial points due to a too slippery controller, a company called Nyko has come up with what it thinks is the perfect solution: air-conditioning. The AirFlo plugs into the console and keeps palms nicely ventilated while you play. It will be available for PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube in July for $50. That's twice the price of A/C-free controllers, but not any more than most video games. Cool. --By Chris Taylor/ Los Angeles