Chinese soldiers are being encouraged to indulge their patriotic enthusiasm via computer games like Command & Conquer: Red Alert and its homemade shooter game Glorious Mission to hone their skills for national defense in the real world.

The People’s Liberation Army Daily says that artificial intelligence, computer games and wearable devices will be new tools to train commanders and new recruits in real-time strategy games with inputs from the country’s intelligence system to mock wartime conditions, and a raft of parameters adjustable to simulate different combat scenarios.

While the Command & Conquer franchise is a familiar name to some, what is Glorious Mission?

Modelled on the Call of Duty series, the game was also developed to train people in combat skills and technological awareness in its non-public, military version – set as a territorial row between China and Japan.

Glorious Mission has been criticised for trivializing the reality of war by presenting conflict as a video game, but an updated version has gone a step further by allowing gameplay on the Diaoyu Islands, or Senkaku in Japanese, which has been at the center of the bitter spat between Beijing and Tokyo over the past decade.

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A Japanese Imperial Army flag is seen at the bottom of a screen grab of the game. Photo: Glorious Mission

These games, which are enhanced from commercial versions – and not available to download, aim to help trainees devise strategies and coordinate units against a foe marshaled by artificial intelligence, similar to Google’s AlphaGo in the board game Go, the PLA Daily reported.

Artificial Intelligence or AI is regarded as a “personal coach” in the game as it formulates counterstrategies in the battle according to the level of the trainee: it gets shrewder when the trainee tries to outwit the foe.

Gaming performance could also serve as a reference for appraisal and promotion.

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A street setting in the game Glorious Mission.

Xinhua has also revealed a trial scheme using wearable gear to train snipers and members of special operations regiments in PLA’s Southern Theatre Command, in a system tailor-made by domestic tech firms under the PLA’s supervision.

It’s said that streets and urban surroundings in the software mocks commercial and office buildings in Hong Kong’s Central and downtown Taipei, among other cities.