The video game market has stormed the U.S. like a commercial juggernaut. PricewaterhouseCoopers, a global professional services and consulting firm, estimates that consumer spending for console and handheld games will reach $11.7 billion in 2012, a noticeable increase over the $8.6 billion in 2007 the firm recorded.

This upturn means that games about shooting, beating and blowing up people are on the rise. But there's a lesser-known game genre whose chief goal is training and educating, rather than entertaining vicariously through digital violence.

TruSim, a division of Blitz Games Studios in the UK, develops serious games for the growing market of training simulations for the health-care, military and corporate arenas. The developer's latest innovation is Interactive Triage Trainer, a prototype designed to train first responders on how to prioritize casualties after a catastrophe.

A gameplay video reveals that players are transported to a city street that's been ravaged by a bomb blast. You can tell it's just a game, but the graphics are realistic enough to inform the user that this playing experience is an impressively three-dimensional rendered affair that's on par with much of what's available for the current generation of home video game consoles.

As the scenario begins, the sidewalk is a mess of broken glass, overturned chairs and wood and metal bars, and three civilians have suffered varied injuries. In the game, players move the cursor to look around the scene, but in the video the player immediately starts sorting the people who need urgent attention from those who don't. This is done by instructing everyone who is well enough to walk to go to the ambulance crews -- an action called a mobility sieve. Then the player can focus on the remaining people who are too injured to move themselves.

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Hilton Collins, Staff Writer Hilton Collins  | 

Hilton Collins is a former staff writer for Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines.