Serious-gaming’ win for Orlando business

Out of a dozen entries from across the country, a local high-tech company recently landed one of the top honors in a “serious-gaming” contest tied to the Defense Users’ GameTech Conference, an industry trade show held earlier this month in Orlando.

Orlando-based H2 IT Solutions Inc. won first place and a $10,000 award in the critical-thinking category of the Federal Virtual Challenge, sponsored by the Army Research Laboratory’s Simulation and Training Technology Center in Orlando. It was the only local winner in the contest.

H2’s virtual-rescue game, “Compound,” drew plaudits for its realistic team-building exercise set in Second Life, a computerized, “virtual world,” organizers said.

Joining H2 President Alice Hayden in the winner’s circle was researcher Filomeno Arenas of the Air Force Squadron Officer College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala. H2 developed the game through a research contract from the squadron officer unit. H2 is a client company of the University of Central Florida’s business incubator, located in the Central Florida Research Park in east Orange County.

The winners were announced at GameTech, which drew about 250 industry and military representatives to the Caribe Royal Resort from April 17 to April 19.

Scaled down GameTech

Others who took honors in the Federal Virtual Challenge critical-thinking category included Virginia-based Tech Wizards Inc. for “Outbreak,” a medical-training game (second place); and Professor Kay McLennan of Tulane University, for “Data Detectives,” a data-analysis game (third place).

In the navigation category, Ryan Frost of Northrop Grumman Technical Services took first for an immersive-training holodeck technology; Robert Daniel for “Analyst Situation Room”; and Anthony Castaneda for “Immersive Collaboration: Three Wire Systems.”

This year’s serious-gaming conference was a scaled-down event. With federal deficit-reduction budget cuts curbing travel for many in the military, GameTech’s attendance was cut by more than half from last year, organizers said. It started in 2006.

Still, the event had a lineup of prominent keynote speakers, including Frank DiGiovanni, director of training and strategy for the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; Nolan Bushnell, founder of the Atari game company; Dan O’Leary, president of game developer n-Space Inc. of Orlando; and Bruce Joy, founder of the VastPark virtual world for business training and collaboration.

Harris Corp. pressures

Harris Corp. of Melbourne said last week it received a $19 million contract to provide an advanced public-safety radio system for Spotsylvania County in Virginia. Terms call for Harris to replace the existing system and install the new one, expanding the coverage area and improving communications for law-enforcement, fire-service and medical personnel.

Still, Harris’ stock was downgraded last week by Zacks Investment Research, which cited the ongoing military spending cuts and other pressures.

The firm lowered Harris from neutral or hold to underperform, meaning it expects Harris’ share price to fall short of earlier expectations.

“Harris is suffering from tightness in the U.S. government spending for defense coupled with a slowdown in international defense expenditures,” Zack’s wrote. “The reduction in budget spending that began last month resulted in delays in tactical radio procurements coupled with the growing concern that major tactical radio orders from international markets will be postponed to later this fiscal or early in the next.”

The firm also noted that demand for some other Harris technology products has suffered in recent months.

Burnett, R. (2013, April 28). Local company take a top honor in serious gaming: Orlando company takes a top award in serious gaming trade show. Retrieved from