The United States Navy has commissioned Organic Motion to create a Kinect-enabled simulation game that addresses the issue of rape. Rape and sexual harassment have been a topic of heated debate in Washington this month as lawmakers such as New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (supported by republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky) seek to move the oversight of rape cases from the military to civilian courts. Mainly Gillibrand is seeking this solution because the U.S. military seems to be pretty horrible at handling this sort of thing in the opinion of lawmakers.
But the U.S. Navy hopes that this simulation and other sensitivity training will help it to keep its members from engaging in behavior that ranges from highly inappropriate to illegal.
The Kinect-based video game is an avatar-based simulation that allow officer trainees to play out various scenarios. The games task players to take the form of various characters, allowing them to perform as different genders or races.
Details about the simulation are still mostly unknown, but a contract obtained by CNS News reveals that the Navy is spending around $83,000 on the program, which is expected to be completed in the next three months.
"The system will not use pre-programmed branching scenarios to determine the responses for the avatar," states the contract. "It will instead animate a human agent using a [Kinect] interface. The system shall allow a subject matter expert to determine the appropriate response to both verbal and non-verbal cues so that the student receives improved feedback regarding their actions."
According to further details from the contract, the program is being used to train "Sexual Assault Prevention and Response" to Recruit Division Commanders, Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Victim Advocates at Naval Service Training Command located in Great Lakes, Ill. The Navy says it will evaluate the effectiveness of the game before it goes into wider use.
"It provides the ability to change characters (gender, race) and environments facilitating greater student engagement," added the contract. "Avatars will be uniform in their ability to convey emotion through verbal and nonverbal gestures, possessing the level of realism required to create engaging interactive learning sessions."