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U.S. Navy To Launch MMO Focused On Anti Sea-Pirate Strategies
U.S. Navy To Launch MMO Focused On Anti Sea-Pirate Strategies
May 11, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

May 11, 2011 | By Kyle Orland
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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?"


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Comments


Adam Bishop
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"The U.S. Navy will soon be launching an MMO project focused on simulating and crowdsourcing strategies for battling Somali sea pirates."



An MMO about solving 3rd World poverty, neat!

Tim Carter
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An MMO about teaching high-order concepts, such as respect for the rule of law, and that tribalism is, ultimately, learned helplessness.

Dustin Chertoff
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Given that this is a game designed at the Institute of the Future, maybe we will finally get to see Jane McGonigal game that people can play. :)

Aaron Casillas
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We assume we are not shipping inside Somali waters and staying instead in international waters riiight?

Tim Carter
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Take a look at the map. You notice how the path to the Suez Canal takes ships really close to Somalia? Did you think that pirates were able to harass ships because they were sight-seeing?

Bart Stewart
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Say what you like about the funding for this project; at least they came up with a clever acronym for it.



Maybe for the follow-on they can implement Basic Activities Leveraging Oceanic Operations (BALOO)....

Ardney Carter
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Given what you actually DO in the game I doubt dev costs could have been that absurd:



"Here’s how you play it.

“This isn’t World of Warcraft,” Schuette says. That’s an understatement. MMOWGLI tweaks the choose-your-own-adventure style of a war game. On Monday, after you visit a website hosted by the Naval Postgraduate School and sign up for the game, you’ll see a pirate scenario pop up onto your screen:

‘Three pirate ships are holding the world hostage. Chinese-U.S. relations are strained to the limit and both countries have naval ships in the area. Humanitarian aid for rig workers is blocked. The world is blaming the U.S. for plundering African resources.’

What do you do? Two text boxes pop onto the screen. The first reads “Innovate,” and asks: “What new resources could turn the tide in the Somali pirate situation?” The second reads “Defend” and asks: “What new risks could arise that would transform the Somali pirate situation?” Beneath either are two boxes to import and record your brief answer: 140 characters.

“You’re tweeting, basically,” Schuette explains.

Then comes the crowdsourcing. During the first week of the game, your fellow players will vote on your suggestion. If they think it’s noteworthy, they can tweak it. New cards allow players to Expand (“Build this idea to expand its impact”), Counter (“Challenge this idea”), Adapt (“Take this idea in a different direction”) or Explore (“Something missing? Ask a question”).

Players are awarded points based on the number of affirmations their ideas get from their peers. “Based on that, we invite you to the next round,” Schuette says. There are three rounds, with each lasting a week, so the ideas can marinate. “People with good ideas will win.”

At the end of the third week, the game will display “a logical treeing of those ideas,” Schuette says. “This is almost systems analysis, as opposed to wargaming"



Source: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/05/navy-crowdsources-pirate-
fight-to-online-gamers/

Joshua Sterns
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I wonder if this is only limited to Somali. One reason piracy is such a problem because it's nearly impossible to police all the waterways of this planet.



I also wonder if you are allowed to tweak the conditions of Somali. Can you increase aide, and attempt to promote job growth? Can you choose what nation will be investing or building the infrastructure that is so desperately needed? Increases the well being of said nation would really cut down on piracy.



Fun stuff, and a very neat idea. :)

Tim Carter
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Unfortunately, aide destroys job growth. If, for example, you wanted to create a clothing shop, you have no way to compete against the the aide organizations that send used clothing from developed countries and give it away for free in Africa.

Mark Morrison
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Great out of the box thinking Josh! Probably what the game is supposed to spark in interested parties minds. Tim's statement reminds me of something an intolerant political party would preach. How can aid destroy job growth? There are so many different ways aid promotes job growth including a safe bed to sleep in at night, free vaccinations, job training, and how about http://www.kiva.org/. Add to that the clothing, pharmaceutical, and food companies that make tons of money from selling (via UN subsidies for example) their products as aid, and think about all of those who are employed and distribute that aid in those countries.

Adam Bishop
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Tim's not entirely wrong. There are ways to provide aid that are harmful to local economies, and ways to provide aid that are helpful. There are certainly aid organizations that do create problems for local economies by, for example, providing cheap or free clothing, thereby eliminating the ability for local manufacturers and vendors to make a living. There are other ways to provide aid that are quite helpful, though, like education, skill training, technology transfers, etc. "Aid" isn't necessarily good in all situations, but if it's properly targeted and fully thought through it can be.

Mark Morrison
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You're right Adam. Anything used the wrong way is bad. Salt, sugar, you name it. That's not at all the point here though IMO.



Tim's statement basically says if we send free clothing (aka aid) to a 3rd world country, it's going to negate their local clothing economy. So now we should dismiss the creative approach Josh suggests in this game. When the game comes out Josh and I should play you two. You can have the ocean and we'll take land ;)



Bottom line is Josh has a good out of the box idea that was sparked by this games description. What if the player had the capability to fight the pirates from land by some sort of social and local political strategy, over time, providing better educational infrastructure, building community peer pressure against the pirates, and so on.



In real life, Josh is 100% right about affecting change in criminal cultures by supplying more positive and satisfying activities and a better living. This is called aid and in this context it is good. You and Tim are welcome to your opinions that it's not.



Criminals aren't born with a gun in their hands and an evil master plan in their back pocket. Where most of the players will sit in the ocean and play this game with guns and boats, Josh might be over in a neighboring country sending in stealth aid in various forms and organically uprooting the pirates criminal culture through civil and social warfare.

Adam Bishop
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I think you're totally right. See my initial comment up near the top:



"An MMO about solving 3rd World poverty, neat!"

Mark Morrison
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Yes you did Adam. And, that would be a great crowd source game too IMO ;)

Max Bugrov
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This is by far going to be one of the worst things that can happen to the representations of Video Games and MMO's... You all being excited about this is hella dissapointing... Besides the US acting as an imperial force in Africa continuously - throwing videogames into the mix... Time to start writing criticisms and indicts. Wack.

Daniel Gooding
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You being completely against this is what is hella dissapointing.



This will not tarnish video games in any way.

It was created to save money, and Lives.

Max Bugrov
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My question is who's lives are you worried about saving?



I'm against it at the point where the US is specifically using it to target sector of the world in which the US was responsible for destroying in the first place.



The Army already emulating CoD gameplay in billboards and slogans such as "It's not just a game anymore" or whatever they might be - is just feeding the unecessary; now with the rep war tactics via videogames, do you not see the issues that may arise? It's bad enough when video games are blamed for acts of violence, shootings, etc. but when they are being made to specifically train soldiers and it's completely out there in the media like that... There are issues with this that can't be overlooked.

Daniel Gooding
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Technically War simulation games have been around long before CoD, things like PTO.



The army emulates Call of Duty slogans, because they have a quota to fill, to make sure they always have a ready supply of people, and trying to convince the CoD crowd makes sense.



Yes the U.S. goverment stepped in to aid somalia, due to them being in a vicious civil war for years.

A civil war which had completely distroyed southern Somalia's ability to function properly, and started the offshore piracy.



While the U.S. steping in did form some political friction at the highest levels of the Somalian government, it also saved many lives.





None of this makes any correlation to you claiming that this MMO being created to crowdsource ideas will be a detriment to gaming, and MMO's as a whole.

Lamont Gilkey
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"Do what'ch want cuz a pirate is free!!"



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AzpByR3MvI

Christopher Ellington
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I'm interested to see how crowdsourcing develops in the future. We've already seen crowdsourcing puzzle games that help scientist learn about how proteins and chains of RNA develop, and they seem to have gotten some useful results out of it. I don't know if the same can be said of this game on its macro level of shipping lanes and hostage situations. I'd like to see this grow into a larger system where players can tweak and track many variables like aid, employment, poverty, etc. We may not all agree politically about how American forces are deployed overseas, but I do think we'd all like it to be as efficient as possible right?



In this game, you fold amino acids into proteins

http://fold.it/portal/



this is an RNA game of some sort

http://eterna.cmu.edu/htmls/welcome.html?AAAA

Nick Meh
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Video game strategy simulations are nothing new for Military and defense contractors folks. We have been doing it for over 15 years. Or do you think we plot our never before seen or encountered strategies on the fly?



This is just an a big event because it's the first MMO version in which there is a network setup so that hundreds of miltary strategist and contracted programers and techs can plot out stategies and simulations instead of just gathering a select few to sit around in a large room for 2 years.



Waste of tax payers money? Yeah, they should be using maps with wooden painted ships to plot out strategies still. Worked for Sun Tzu, will work for the US Military today. Ignore technology, it's just expensive.


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