Call it gamers vs. pirates. The U.S. Navy is reaching beyond its traditional arsenal of ships, Marines, and SEALs to combat Somali pirates and seeking out the wisdom and skills of Internet gamers, The Washington Post
|Navy-supplied photo shows Somali pirates.
As part of a project called MMOWGLI, which stands for Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet, the Navy will bring together a mix of government and outside experts using virtual simulation and social media. The players will work to respond to a series of scenarios involving ships high jacked by Somali pirates, the Post reported.
The game will not involve virtual commandoes skulking through dark and stormy docksides taking out bad guys, turning instead to video clips and storyboards, posing problems such as, “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,” the Post reported.
Players are then asked to propose twitter-length, 140-character solutions, with participants then voting on the best, Jason Tester, a game designer from the Institute for the Future, told the Post. Following rounds of the three-week game will have teams developing action plans for the most popular ideas.
The Navy is attempting to harness the benefits of online “gamification,” the strategy of employing game-play mechanics. More than 7,000 people have signed up for MMOWGLI. Developers had expected some 1,000 would sign up for the $450,000 pilot project, the Post reported.
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