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Ever wanted to fight Somali pirates without leaving the safety of your computer? Well, believe it or not, the United States Navy could use your help.
MMOWGLI is a new video game project (that's Massive Multiplayer Online WarGame Leveraging the Internet, by the way) that is being used to crowdsource ideas on how to fight off maritime terrorists and hopefully secure the Horn of Africa.
Planned for launch on May 16th, MMOWGLI is the product of years of research. It'll include more than 1,000 players, both military and civilian, and is the first effort by the American military to introduce crowdsourcing (and the dreaded gamification) into traditional military wargames.
MMOWGLI was developed by the Office of Naval Research to focus exclusively on combatting piracy in Somalia and surrounds - but the intention is that the gaming platform will later be adapted to suit other military locations around the world.
Dr. Larry Schutte, Director of Innovation at ONR explains:
"We hope MMOWGLI will help us to understand what happens when your insights are combined with the observations and actions of another player--will that fusion result in a game-changing idea or solution, or will the MMOWGLI platform teach us something about our traditional thought processes?"
Instead of a dungeon master, a "control team" will keep an eye on proceedings, trying to make sure that things stay relatively realistic and that "no one pulls a Leroy Jenkins".
You don't have to just play the good guys, either. MMOWGLI lets you step into the shoes of the pirates themselves if you don't want to be a member of a joint military/commercial multinational anti-pirate task force.
The game will explore safe shipping options through the Gulf of Aden and Horn of Africa, negotiating all of the logistics involved in that journey. Arm your ships and sort out the fun parts - the financial, jurisdictional and temporal difficulties of getting the military involved in supporting cruise ships or commercial fishing.
Then you can set off on your journey - and face the inevitable pirate attacks. Will your preventative plans handle the assault? If not, try, try again!
Individual players can also team up to rescue hostages, raid pirate camps and attack Somali ships (or offer humanitarian assistance to the country, if that's how you roll).
The final stages of the game reportedly involve micro-management of hostage rescues (and pirate attacks), to ensure the best chance of success.
The hope, of course, is that the game spurs "out-of-the-box thinking" when it comes to anti-piracy strategy, with the intention that the games (and the gamers) will come up with "novel combinations and complex interactions of ideas", the sort of thing that may not otherwise come out of traditional wargame approaches.
MMOWGLI was developed by ONR with some help from the Naval Postgraduate School and the Institute for the Future. If you head to the website right now, you can sign up to be involved when the game launches later this month. Are you up for it?
Source: Fast Company
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I like video games, fishing, Depeche Mode, long walks on the beach, writing discussion papers and cups of tea. Not necessarily in that order.
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