• Virtual Force on Force
  • Mission Critical Operator
  • IAEA
  • HumanSim: Combat Medic

What We Do

At the Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates we create immersive, 3D interactive learning solutions and high-fidelity synthetic virtual environments. Our goal is to create realistic, detailed training, entertainment, and educational solutions to improve your safety, security, and way of life.

With over a decade of immersive content development experience and the resources of over 1000 employees at ARA, we provide the rare combination in this market of depth and breadth of a mature 3D software development team along with the longevity and financial stability of over 35 years of growth at ARA.

Serious Games

Game technology for education, training, strategic messaging, mission planning and rehearsal, and scientific visualization.

Virtual Worlds

Computer-based, simulated 3D environments. Many users interact via avatars in a real-time, 24/7/365 virtual world platform.

Simulations for Learning

Representations of real life that accurately demonstrate a physical or simulated process or phenomenon. Provides effective training and practice in a safe, controlled environment.

Terrain Modeling

Rapid generation of synthetic environments for training and testing. Intuitive technologies to build and share environment databases.

Live-Training Software

Common software for military tactical engagement simulation systems. Provides common software core for engagement adjudication, injury/damage assessment, treatment/repair, logistics, and device integration.

Emergency & Crisis Management

Training systems for first responders and incident commanders to handle mass casualty incidents such as earthquakes and terrorist attacks.


Our Portfolio

For a quick introduction to a wide range of our portfolio of projects,
please download this PDF (10 MB).


Immersive Environments

GO PLATFORM | Creativity Unleashed

The ARA-Virtual Heroes’ Go platform is a browser-based single/multi-player immersive virtual world platform based on the Epic Games Unreal ® Engine 3 that can be used to solve your education, training, and simulation needs.

The Go platform is web-accessible through a simple browser interface, and a sample plugin is available below to allow visitors to meet and converse in a 3D lounge/showcase demo environment. Browsers currently supported by Go are: Internet Explorer v7-v11 and Firefox. Contact us for more information!

GO Platform

Past Projects Available to the Public

  • Moonbase Alpha Button Zero Hour: America's Medic Button
    Mission Biotech Button

Unreal Engine Web Player


The ARA Unreal Engine Web Player is a revolutionary PC browser plug-in that, for the first time ever, allows content created with Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) and Unreal Engine 3 (UE3) to be streamed to and run within a web browser, supporting single and multiplayer gameplay.

We initially developed this plug-in capability for the Air Force, to serve as a foundation for delivering realistic 3D simulations and training courses to AF service members with the strength of full Unreal Engine content and the simplicity of a one-time browser plug-in install.

The Web Player allows users to access immersive, real-time, 3D content at any time, from anywhere in the world, and supports PC browsers, including Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Virtual Heroes is a leading industry expert in the creation of 3D training programs and simulations. We also offer hosting solutions so that your content is accessible whenever your users need it, on demand. Please visit our GO Platform Portal or contact us for more information.


Prominent Clients


Who We Are

Virtual Heroes Staff Members 2015
Virtual Heroes

ARA’s Virtual Heroes Division has a remarkable, successful track record designing and releasing immersive, virtual-world-based serious games and Advanced Learning Technology (ALT) applications. We are uniquely qualified to provide commercial-quality, immersive, and 3D virtual world content.


Awards & Accolades

  • Triangle Business Journal Logo Thumbnail

    2011, 2013-2016 Top Game Developer

    (Triangle Business Journal)

    The Triangle Business Journal in Raleigh, North Carolina has selected Virtual Heroes as one of the Top Game Developers, ranked by the number of Triangle-area employees, in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

  • Serious Play Gold Award 2015

    2015 International SERIOUS PLAY Conference Awards

    (Combat Medic)

    This recognition program honors outstanding titles that deliver a high quality of engagement and measurable training or learning opportunities. The Serious Play Conference is produced by the Serious Games Association, an international organization for the entire serious games industry.

  • Best Places To Work 2015

    Best Places to Work for 2015

    (Orlando Business Journal)

    Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) has been named one the Orlando Business Journal’s Best Places to Work for 2015. The lists rank Orlando’s top employers, as voted by employees. Over 8000 employees in Central Florida answered an anonymous employee survey, dealing with such topics as benefits, work environment, and teamwork.

  • 2011 NASA Group Achievement Award

    2011 NASA Group Achievement Award

    (Moonbase Alpha)

    NASA’s most prestigious awards are presented to a number of carefully selected individuals and groups of individuals, both Government and non-Government, who have distinguished themselves by making outstanding contributions to the Agency’s mission. After a rigorous review, NASA’s highest officials present medals and certificates at the annual awards ceremonies at NASA Headquarters and Centers.

  • Wake Tech Business Leader

    2008 & 2009 Wake Tech Business Leader

    (Computing & Engineering)

    In 2008, Virtual Heroes collaborated with Wake Technical Community College and Eisai Pharmaceuticals on the NC BioNetwork Project wherein 10 students learned how to create a video game to provide a controlled and instructive training environment for Eisai Pharmaceuticals’ tablet manufacturing process. In sponsoring this program, Virtual Heroes contributed to a pool of skilled potential employees.

  • 2005-2007 Military Training Technology

    2005-2007 Military Training Technology

    (MT2) Top Simulation & Training Companies

    Virtual Heroes creates collaborative interactive learning solutions for the federal systems, digital health and corporate workforce training markets. The company advances instructional design, digital engineering, project management, modeling and simulation, courseware development and assessment to provide unprecedented immersive training experiences.

  • 2011-2015 Military Training Technology

    2011-2015 Military Training Technology

    (MT2) Top Simulation & Training Companies

    Military Training Technology Magazine selected ARA and Virtual Heroes as a ‘Top Simulation and Training Company′. Sponsored by KMI Media Group, this annual process recognizes the companies that have made the most significant contributions to the training community with their products and services.


    2009 Global Business Coalition, Business Excellence Award

    (Pamoja Mtaani)

    The Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GBC) presented their 2009 Business Excellence Awards to eight innovative companies combating global disease. “These award winners are doing exactly the kind of thing that all companies can and should do.” said John Tedstrom, GBC’s President and CEO. “They don’t just talk, they take action. And their action saves lives.”

  • 2010 Best Government game

    2010 Best Government Game, I/ITSEC, Serious Games Showcase & Challenge

    (Moonbase Alpha)

    Virtual Heroes’ Moonbase Alpha STEM education-focused game won the Best Government Game category at the Interservice and Industry Training, Simulation, & Education Conference (I/ITSEC).

  • 2011 Serious Play

    2011 International SERIOUS PLAY Conference Awards


    This recognition program honors outstanding titles that deliver a high quality of engagement and measurable training or learning opportunities. The Serious Play Conference is produced by the Serious Games Association, an international organization for the entire serious games industry.


Team Players

  • Randy Brown | Division Manager

    Mr. Randy Brown is the Virtual Heroes Division Manager at Applied Research Associates, Inc., creating immersive training and education content for commercial, medical, and government customers.  Randy has over 25 years' experience in the software development industry.  Prior to joining Virtual Heroes, Randy developed interactive 3D graphics software at Amoco, Digital Equipment, Ex Machina, Data General, SAS Institute, Southpeak Interactive, and the Research Triangle Institute of North Carolina.  Randy has worked with a wide range of commercial, government, and private organizations, directing content related to science, oil exploration, graphics libraries, visualization, training, education, simulation, and gaming.  Randy holds an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.S. in Computer Science from Oklahoma State University.

  • Jeff Lyons | Group Leader

    Mr. Jeff Lyons is a Group Leader for the Virtual Heroes Orlando office of Applied Research Associates, Inc.  Jeff has been with Applied Research Associates since 2006, specializing in simulating weapons effects in real-time for the live, virtual, and constructive domains.  Jeff's accomplishments include helping to develop a complex radar simulation for the F-35 radar system.  In addition to having expertise in modeling and simulation, Jeff is well-versed in engineering design and analysis, holding a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Florida State University and a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  • Steve McIlwain | Senior Producer

    Mr. Steve McIlwain is a Senior Producer for the Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates, Inc.  He has over 10 years of production experience in the 3D animation and interactive entertainment industries.  Prior to joining Virtual Heroes, Steve worked at Walt Disney Feature Animation and Blizzard Entertainment.  Steve specializes in production management, macro/micro scheduling, team building, and finance.  He is passionate about creating virtual worlds that educate, inform, and inspire.  Steve holds a B.S. in Marketing and an M.B.A. from Azusa Pacific University.

  • Marcia Clover | Senior Producer

    Ms. Marcia Clover is a Senior Producer for the Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates, Inc.  With almost 20 years in the interactive and e-Learning industry, Marcia is very passionate about leveraging technology and user experience design to deliver effective and impactful learning experiences.  Throughout her career, Marcia has designed, developed, and managed many projects, including those in the pharmaceutical, retail, advertising, and real estate industries.  She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and an M.S. in Instructional Technology from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

  • Wesley Milks, Ph.D. | Group Leader

    Dr. Wes Milks is a Group Leader for the Virtual Heroes Division in Orlando.  He has over 20 years experience performing systems engineering and architecture development for large, software-intensive systems.  He was chief architect for the Common Training Instrumentation Architecture (CTIA) and Warfighter Simulation (WARSIM) programs.  He was also selected as the Standards Category Coordinator for System Design & Architecture coordinating architectural standards for Army simulation systems.  In addition to architectural work, Wes performs operations research and experimental analysis including leading the experimental design, data collection, and analysis for DARPA's Real-time Adversarial Intelligence and Decision making (RAID) project.  Wes holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Ohio Northern University, an M.S. in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M, and a Ph.D. focused on Operations Research from the University of Central Florida.

  • Tim Walker | Technical Lead & Program Manager

    Mr. Walker is the Virtual Heroes Division of ARA technical lead and program manager for the Assimilation of Sources for a Cohesive Environment Description (ASCEND) program.  Previously, he served in the same role for the Interactive Terrain Generation (ITG) software suite, including the Rapid Unified Generation of Urban Databases (RUGUD) tool, the Urban and Underground Model Generator (U2MG) tool, and the Virtual Infrastructure Protection Editor (VIPER) tool.  Prior to his time at ARA, Mr. Walker worked on the CCTT PPSS project for three years, applying previous coursework in graphics and simulation to design/implement new requirements and otherwise maintain the CCTT SAF simulation system.  He also worked with the OTB Army team for one year, implementing HLA interactions and introducing functionality required to effectively use the CTDB terrain and MSDE scenario formats.

  • Brad Willson | Game Design Lead

    Mr. Brad Willson is the Game Design Lead for the Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates, Inc.  A nine-year veteran of the game industry, Brad began his career at Rockstar San Diego as a Development Support Supervisor, where he worked on various commercial game titles including the Midnight Club series, Table Tennis, and Red Dead Revolver.  He joined Virtual Heroes in 2006, with the goal of incorporating his commercial game experience into games that had a true altruistic focus.

    At VH, Brad works to create, drive, and deliver the overall creative vision for the numerous serious games in development.  Brad creates compelling software designs from conflicting viewpoints, communicates the designs to the development team, and translates the designs into detailed software mechanics, gameplay progression, and interface flow.  Brad holds a B.S. in Wildlife Science from Purdue University.

  • Oliver Gray | Game Programming Lead

    Mr. Oliver Gray is the Game Programming Lead for the Virtual Heroes Division of Applied Research Associates, Inc. He has worked at Virtual Heroes in the serious games industry for 7 years, working exclusively with the Unreal Engine. Prior to joining Virtual Heroes, Oliver attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill to earn his Bachelor of Computer Science, then attended North Carolina State University to earn his Masters in Computer Science.

  • Ingrid Silva | Assistant Division Manager

    Ms. Silva is the Virtual Heroes Assistant Division Manager at Applied Research Associates, Inc., directing and overseeing daily operations of the division.  She has been in the modeling and simulation industry for 18 years, 15 of those with Applied Research Associates.  Prior to joining ARA, Ms. Silva worked at the Bank of New York.  Ms. Silva specializes in financial and proposal management.


Stay in Touch!

News & Events

Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TC3) Live Training
August 25, 2016

Virtual Heroes Brings Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TC3) to Squad Overmatch

Virtual Heroes is bringing Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TC3) to the Squad Overmatch study, named the Army Modeling and Simulation Office’s #1 Team Training program of 2014.

Serious Play
August 10, 2016

ARA VP Randy Brown Interviewed at Serious Play Conference

Virtual Heroes’ Division Manager and ARA Vice President Randy Brown was interviewed at the 2016 Serious Play Conference. The Get Social Health podcast spoke with Randy and three other visionaries in the serious-game space.

2016 Serious Play Silver Award
June 23, 2016

Mission Critical Operator Wins Silver in Serious Play Competition

Virtual Heroes’ game Mission Critical Operator has been awarded a silver medal in the 2016 International Serious Play Competition.


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