The United States Navy has begun crowd sourcing ideas for fighting Somali pirates using a massively multiplayer game, according to a Fast Company report. Using a new game platform called MMOWGLI (Massive Multiplayer Online WarGame Leveraging the Internet), U.S. military forces and Civilian players on converging on virtual pirates. MMOWGLI is the product of years of research, and will feature 1,000 military and civilian players. It will launch on May 16. The new program is the first effort by the military to integrate both crowd sourcing and gamification into traditional military wargames.
MMOWGLI was developed by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to test the feasibility of using massively multiplayer online games to solve difficult strategic problems like real-world high seas piracy. The MMOWGLI game launching in May focuses on combating Somalian piracy, but the gaming platform is designed to be open enough that it can be adapted to other military hotspots and situations.
According to Dr. Larry Schutte, Director of Innovation at the ONR, "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?"
Play sessions are managed by a control team that assume the role of a dungeon master, monitoring events to make sure no one pulls a "Leroy Jenkins" and to make sure things don’t go outside the goal of a given scenario.
MMOWGLI players assume the roles of members of a multinational anti-pirate task force or the pirates. In the early stages of the game, players are responsible for securing safe shipping passages through the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Aden. They will have to handle the logistics of arming ships, planning for pirate attacks, and dealing with challenges like financial, jurisdictional and temporal difficulties of military action to support commercial shipping and cruise ships.
Once that is settled the pirate attacks begin and players are forced to deal with how their plans failed or succeeded. Players work together to arrange hostage rescues, raid pirate camps, and get involved in humanitarian assistance to Somalia. In the final stages of the game, players micro-manage their hostage rescues and pirate attacks to maximize the chance of success.
Source: Fast Company