A Virtual Military Organization (VMO) is a dedicated hobby organization that uses simulation to model the operations of a military. Virtual Military Organizations (VMOs) generally have a presence on the internet, similar to real military organizations. Most VMOs simulate military operations to varying degrees. A newer variant of Virtual Military is the MilSim unit. MilSim units differ from Virtual Military by placing emphasis on the simulation of military tactics in their chosen gaming platform, whereas traditionally, VMOs have placed emphasis on simulating the bigger picture, including a full military career path, logistics systems, coordinated movement of equipment around the world, and prolonged military operations. Although VMOs may appear to be a type of gaming clan, a key difference is that a gaming clan's primary purpose is to be an "organized group of players that regularly play together." VMOs are essentially role-playing environments within which an individual can immerse themselves. Realism groups are semantically similar; however, their primary focus is usually on following real-life procedures as much as possible. Therefore, tactical realism and MilSim are almost synonymous in the gaming world. A Google search for 'Virtual Military' reveals quite a few VMOs that go to varying degrees of depth to pursue their goal.
Each VMO has their own mission. Some VMOs will simulate an individual military unit, others an entire branch of the military, and yet others attempt to simulate Joint Operations with multiple branches. Most VMOs offer a rank system that provides a career path within the organization. VMOs will often offer a variety of training, in order to allow new members to familiarize themselves with the organization's doctrine.
Realism vs immersion
Each VMO chooses to either follow an immersive style, a realistic style, or a combination of both. Immersion as it relates to this topic is the pursuit of a feeling of complete saturation in a military operation, whereas realism is the rigid following of real world rules, tactics, and customs of a real-life counterpart. For some people, realism is in fact immersive, so there is an element of crossover between the two terms. While most VMOs will incorporate a rank structure, some extend that to incorporate features such as Military Logistics systems, economics models, awards and medals, and custom debriefing reports.
While each has its benefits and followers, a mix between the two seems to be the most popular option.
Some VMOs can be creative by making their own custom paint schemes, medals and award ribbons, rank insignia, weapons, vehicles, aircraft, and bases (Air bases mostly developed for Flight Simulator X).
Some groups form a historical, political, economic, or persistent battle image or reputation over time. They support various causes and styles of law and order, or internal hierarchy structures. Some groups might form specific government types, ranging from Communism to Fascism, Democracy to Monarchy, and so on. At times, there are even Anarchist rebel groups, or militias that form. Groups might grow to form into completely custom government entities or structures, and on into resembling small nations, with their own flags and codes of honor.
There are some popular games used by the VMO community, which currently include Arma 3, Darkest Hour: Europe '44-'45 and Microsoft Flight Simulator. Falcon BMS and Digital Combat Simulator are also popular. A few units play games such as Call of Duty or Battlefield, but mostly those are casual clans, although some attempt to play tactically.
It has been reported that Virtual Military groups which originated within the flight simulation genre are once thought to not be as active as previously.
Today, there are multiple groups attempting to bring back the flight simulation genre of virtual military groups/factions. The reason being, is so that multiple factions can engage over different parts of the world, using real time and weather settings, creating a realistic virtual world and possible combat scenario. This, combined with multiple factions interacting politically with trades and sometimes political disputes, using different parts of the world as their homelands, may have conflicts involving combat. Members of different groups may find their group on the brink of war with another virtual military over conflicts of interest. They may be called upon to serve in virtual combat against another group. In this, factions have their own assets, their own territory, and count possible losses when they occur. Each faction may award custom medals and awards for the service their members give. Much like a real military would. However, some groups may never enter a conflict or war, but that's not to say the group can get involved secretly, to where covert or black operations can be conducted, which would involve deep espionage, infiltration and high valued targets for pilots, special forces on the ground, and even spies infiltrating the ranks of their home factions targeted faction. Some groups develop enough and go as far as having their own custom Intelligence Agency Network. Intelligence is sometimes key in winning cold wars that may never go hot.
- Land Forces:
- 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force 2013–present
- 3rd Infantry Division; 2003–present
- 3rd MEU Realism Unit 2013–present
- 15th MEU (SOC) Realism Unit 2007–present
- 173rd Airborne Brigade 2012–present
- 29th Infantry Division 2005–present
- 506th Infantry Regiment Realism Unit Nov 2014–present
- 75th Ranger Regiment; 2000–2010
- 7th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (7CMBG); 2007–present
- 7th Cavalry Regiment; 2002–present
- 88th Airborne Division 2011–present
- 95th Battalion Realism Unit; 2012–present
- Black Watch, Royal Highlands Regiment Dec 2007–present
- Gruppe W; 2012–present
- Korps Commando Troepen; 2013–present
- Navy SEAL Team 8, 2013–present
- Navy Seal Team 10, 2014–present
- Panzerbataillon 911; 2007–present
- Royal Canadian Airborne Dragoons 2013–present
- United States Special Operations Command, 2007–2016
- Unity Security Force (USEC); 2001–present
- USMC 1st Force Reconnaissance 2008–present
- Air Forces:
- 476th Virtual Fighter Group; 2010–present
- VFA–113 Stingers
- Naval Forces:
- VUSN (virtual United States navy); 1999–present
- ITTN Factions:
- GPEO (Global Pynerian Evolutionary Organization); 2006–present, members (site/forum 206; faction 17)
- Uatia (Kingdom of Uatia); 2007–present, members (faction 15)
- Task Force 9 (not to be confused with IX Task Force); 2004–present
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- "Logistics - Unity Security Force - Virtual Military - Arma 3". usecforce.com. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
- "Behaviour, realism and immersion in games". portal.acm.org. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
- "Awards - GPEO". freewebs.com. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
- "Tactical Gamer - The PREMIERE community for mature gamers". tacticalgamer.com. Retrieved 2015-09-05.