Virtual environments are synthetic computer simulations that represent activities at a high degree of realism, and which are presented to a user in such a way that s/he temporarily suspends belief and accepts them as real environments (see Witmer & Singer, 1998). Virtual Environments (VEs) allow people to communicate as avatars, which are digital visual projections that represent a synthetic reality (Fox & Ahn, 2013), so that individuals can change aspects of their identity, or even create a novel, entirely fictitious, and unrepresentative online identity. Virtual environments have numerous applications for military and defence purposes, ranging from allowing personnel to experience realistic high-pressure situations with a sense of presence but in the absence of real-world risk, to modelling threats to national and international infrastructure to improve resilience. Additional and emerging opportunities also exist for communication and intelligence gathering purposes, exploring online social cognition and group behaviour, and for understanding how to mitigate the negative effects of combat-related stress disorders, for example.
Djaouti, D., Alvarez, J., Jessel, J. P., & Rampnoux, O. (2011). Origins of serious games. In Serious games and edutainment applications (pp. 25–43). London: Springer.