There developers creating "virtual Earth"

The Department of Defense is commissioning a re-creation of the entire planet from online-sim maker.

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As a rule, the developers of There prefer calling their creation a "virtual world" rather than a "game."

Now it looks like that statement will no longer be hyperbole.

According to a report on the BBC and HomeLAN Fed, the Department of Defense has commissioned the Menlo Park, California, company to create a replica of the entire planet. According to the report, the Earth sim will be to scale, featuring real-world distances--so if a user's avatar wanted to spend three months riding a bike around the Australian coastline, it could.

Besides offering simulated warfare, the virtual Earth will also help soldiers hone their social interaction skills and practice noncombat duties like peacekeeping, policing, and reconnaissance. Although the only city currently in the sim is Kuwait City, the Defense Department plans to add many major metropolises by the time the Earth simulation goes live in September 2004.

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