U.S. Navy turns to online gamers to fight piracy

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May 16, 2011

This month, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is rolling out its first ever internet wargame intended to tap the minds of online gamers in order to find solutions to real-world problems facing the Navy.

Scheduled to run for three weeks, the MMOWGLI – the Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet – exercise will recruit more than 1,000 online players to suggest ways of combating piracy off the coast of Somalia.

“MMOWGLI is an online game designed to find and collectively grow breakthrough ideas to some of the Navy’s most complex problems–those 21st-century threats that demand new forms of collaboration and truly outlying ideas,” said Dr. Larry Schuette, ONR’s director of Innovation, whose office is managing the project.

The piracy scenario was chosen as a means to demonstrate the platform, but MMOWGLI itself can be applied to any scenario, officials said.

ONR intends to produce varying results from a diverse group of players drawn from the ranks of academia, defense, and government and nongovernment organizations. The plan is for MMOWGLI to identify solutions to difficult challenges by tapping into the intellectual capital of a broader community.

“We hope MMOWGLI will help us to understand what happens when your insights are combined with the observations and actions of another player,” Schuette added. “Will that fusion result in a game-changing idea or solution, or will the MMOWGLI platform teach us something about our traditional thought processes?”

“At this stage, however, MMOWGLI is a simply a pilot/demonstration project,” Jensen said. “Therefore, we are exploring whether doing something like MMOWGLI within Navy is feasible, and if so, what we might learn from the experience.”

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Institute for the Future and the Naval Postgraduate School are partnering with ONR on the MMOWGLI project.

The MMOWGLI game can be found at http://mmowgli.nps.edu/

Via Office of Naval Research

Image courtesy stock.exchng

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