Photos: Video game sharpens Minn. soldiers' skills

Issues Jeffrey Thompson Jeffrey Thompson ·

1 A group of 44 National Guard soldiers work with the Virtual Battlespace 2 training program at Camp Ripley in Little Falls, Minn. Jan. 30, 2013. The program, designed for the U.S. Army, is a multi-player computer simulation environment used to sharpen techniques, tactics and communication. 
2 A National Guard soldier trains on the Virtual Battlespace 2 program at Camp Ripley. VBS2, a first-person multiuser program, uses Afghanistan as a backdrop for its counter insurgency training missions. 
3 Staff Sgt. Nathan Jones, right, drives a simulated vehicle during a training session on the computer-based Virtual Battlespace 2 program. 
4 Staff Sgt. Matthew Moritz, second from right, talks with simulation coordinator Capt. Shawn Frey, during a virtual training session. Staff Sgt. Mortiz was acting as the platoon leader during the computer-based Virtual Battlespace 2 training operation. 
5 Sgt. 1st Class Nick Conkright of Kentucky concentrates on the computer-based maneuver simulation program. Conkright is part of a group of National Guard soldiers from across the country who traveled to Camp Ripley to participate in virtual training sessions. 
6 A group of National Guard soldiers listen to a briefing following a virtual training session. 
7 The Engagement Skills Trainer is demonstrated at Camp Ripley. The trainer allows soldiers to fire simulated weapons and react to a real-time hostile environment. 
8 Curt Anderson, left, and his roommate Devon Brothen, play the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 video game at their home in Minneapolis, Minn. Feb. 6, 2013. The National Guard soldiers, who both served overseas, often play the first-person shooter game but they agreed it doesn't accurately mirror real combat environments or the virtual training environments they encountered in the Guard. 
9 Curt Anderson concentrates on playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 at his home in Minneapolis, Minn. Anderson said he often played the first-person shooter game with his fellow National Guard soldiers while deployed to Kuwait. 
10 Curt Anderson plays Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 at his home in Minneapolis, Minn. Anderson said he and his roommate play the video game an average of 6-8 hours a day. 
11 Devon Brothen plays Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 at his home in Minneapolis, Minn. The Call of Duty video game is a first-person shooter game that challenges players with a variety of missions and storylines.