The US Navy will launch an online video game to help develop strategies to combat Somali pirates. The game is called Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet (or MMOWGLI for short). The Office of Naval Research developed it and they said their goal is to “encourage out-of the box thinking about contemporary anti-piracy issues.”
According the MMOWGLI scenario briefing, players will begin the game in “Move One” where they’ll learn background information on the piracy problem that’s taking place off the coast of Somalia and the people and groups involved, and then gamers will choose to play as a character from one of three groups.
1. Blue Force (the good guys)
2. Red Force (pirates)
3. White team (a neutral role like a hostage)
Then begins “Move Two: Attack at Sea” where players face “multiple near simultaneous attacks on ships transiting the Red Sea to the Horn of Africa.”
The game doesn’t have high-tech graphics or anything like that. Actually, the scenario is written on a wall similar to a facebook or twitter posting, players will then respond to it by commenting and then other players will vote on the best response. Players, of course, are limited to their team.
Finally, “Move Three” where plans are initiated. Spec Ops forces move in, you pay the ransom, or sink a ship. Whatever was voted the best idea.
The game is basically crowdsourcing—get everybody and anybody to participate. Navy officials said they don’t expect the game to actually solve the piracy problem rather they’ll have a plethora of plans to follow and getting into the minds of all the players.
The ONR said they expected to have about a thousand military and civilian participants and planned to launch on May 16, but due to the overwhelming number of participants, they postponed the game’s release. I guess it must be true because, why not? Here’s a preview of the game:
Awesome! Right? Just kidding. It’s no Call of Duty or Rainbow Six, but you have to give it to them, it is a cool idea.
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