The U.S. Navy will soon be launching an MMO project focused on simulating and crowdsourcing strategies for battling Somali sea pirates.
The Massive Multiplayer Online WarGame Leveraging the Internet project
(MMOWGLI), launching Monday, will allow over 1,000 military and civilian players to work together to generate "out-of the box thinking about contemporary anti-piracy issues" according to a Fast Company report
A planning document for the project
outlines three distinct gameplay phases, focused on protecting sea lanes, preventing attacks on civilian and merchant ships, and rescuing hostages in a coastal Somalian town.
Players are briefed with a mix of real world facts and fictional situations provided by the game, and develop high-level strategies in groups under the guidance of a "control team" that monitors player actions for griefing and other game-breaking behavior.
While game-like simulations have been part of U.S. military training for years, this is believed to be the first attempt to integrate crowdsourced brainstorming for real-world strategies from players on such a scale.
"We hope MMOWGLI will help us to understand what happens when your insights are combined with the observations and actions of another player," said Dr. Larry Schutte, director of innovation at the Office of Naval Research, which led development on the project. "Will that fusion result in a game-changing idea or solution, or will the MMOWGLI platform teach us something about our traditional thought processes?"