$10.7 Million Military Game Project Begins Testing Phase

Testing began on a video game created by researchers at the Oklahoma University funded by a $10.7 million grant it obtained in October of last year from the U.S. government. University students signed up to play the game and check for coding typos and other obvious problems, play tester and communications senior Chelsey Schuessler told the UO Daily. In the next phase of the project, which begins in August, researchers will test the game to see if does what it is intended to do: prevent biases in decision-making.

Testing began Monday on a video game created by OU researchers to prevent the effects of biases on decision-making. The game was developed for the Air Force Research Laboratory to combat the effects of biases in combat theaters. Such biases can lead to costly mistakes in decision-making for intelligence analysts, according to Daily archives. Research team leader Norah Dunbar describes the game as a computerized 2-D "board game where you’re trying to solve a mystery, but we tried to gear it more toward the intelligence agencies."

The game has come a long way since its conception, according to researcher and graduate communication student Cindy Vincent. "The design is looking cool versus the original design, which was pretty simplistic. On pen and paper, you don’t get that natural intuition that you get maybe playing it on the computer."

The first time they played the game (in its conceptual stages), it was done with pen and paper, according to what Dunbar said. Dunbar also said that the game has had two phases of development since October: researchers sent the game to the Morgridge Institute for Research in Wisconsin to be developed. They also hired a production manager and an entire team of programmers and artists. Six people on campus are dedicated to the game, Dunbar said.

While the design is "still pretty bare-bones" by Dunbar's own description, the project is taking shape into what the original design purpose required. Despite the game's unfinished state, Vincent said she sees parallels between this game and games she has played in the past.

"..it reminds me of games like ‘Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego?’ or spy games like that," Vincent said.

At this stage of development, the team is working on fixing bugs, typos and creating mini-games. The team will run pilot tests on the game in early summer, leading up to serious experiments in August that will use OU students to test the effectiveness of the software.

"It has to be fun, but it still has to teach people something," Dunbar said.

Source: OU Daily

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