Army deploys about 300 online gaming systems
VILSECK, Germany — The Army has developed its own online gaming system — the MPOG — and is deploying hundreds of the devices to bases around the world.
The MPOG, which stands for multi-player online gaming system — is a console that combines a 26-inch flat screen monitor with a high-speed gaming computer and Internet access, according to Susan Maddy, a business development analyst with the Army Recreational Machine Program.
Her office administers slot machines and gaming machines on Army bases worldwide, she said. But, she added, arcade-style video game machines, such as Time Crisis, have fallen out of fashion.
That’s why the Army developed MPOG.
Maddy said the MPOGs play dozens of the latest online games including HALO, Battlefield II: Special Force, Counter Strike, Day of Defeat and Unreal Tournament.
They also can be used to surf the Internet and shop online, she said.
Twenty of the machines, valued at more than $7,000 each, were unveiled in Vilseck’s new Java Cafe coffee shop, which opened at the Langenbruck Center on Friday.
Soldiers from Vilseck’s 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment were quick to take advantage of the new devices.
One of the first 2nd Cav customers at the Java Cafe — Pfc. Lee Serna, 20, of Corcoran, Calif. — used a free half-hour MPOG time card to fire up a game of Half Life: Opposing Force.
Serna said he’s not willing to fork over $60 to play the game on his barracks Internet connection, but doesn’t mind paying $7 to try it out for an hour on the MPOG.
Another 2nd Cav soldier, Pfc. Jeff Kempton, 21, of Green Bay, Wis., used an MPOG to e-mail a friend in the States.
Maddy said 300 MPOGs have been deployed worldwide since the program started last year. Most are in the States, but the devices are also up and running at Grafenwöhr, Kaiserlautern and Hanau in Germany, as well as Camp Red Cloud and Yongsan Garrison in South Korea.
So far no MPOGs have been sent downrange, but 60 more of the devices will be deployed to stateside bases this year, she said.
The MPOGs can be used to play online games against people connected to the Internet using other devices such as the X-Box or a personal computer, Maddy said.
“We are looking at tournaments with installations competing against each other,” she added.
People can buy MPOG time using a Visa or MasterCard or with cash, she said.
At the Java Cafe, which sells Starbucks coffee, customers can also purchase WiFi time to surf the Internet with their laptop. WiFi costs $3.50 an hour, $9.50 a day, $24.50 a week or $45 a month and the accounts can be uses at other Army facilities, Maddy said.