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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Serious Games... and World of Warcraft

Today I'm on my way to Washington DC and the Serious Games Summit. Right now I am on a layover for several hours in Denver... not far from where my faculty advisor, Dr. Jock Schorger lives, but he's away on vacation.

Earlier this week I got an apportunity to begin the book Serious Games: Games that Educate, Train, and Inform by Michael and Chen and plan to finish it tonight in time for the summit tomorrow. I'm about half way through, but while I am on the ground and online, I am going to take a break and see how well it works playing World of Warcraft over airport Wi-Fi.

When I put both of these things in the title of this post, I realized this is also an opportunity to blog about a passage of the book I read on the last leg of the trip...
Noting the usefulness of multiplayer simulations, the military has been eying the potential of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs). Robert Gehorsam, now C.E.O. of Forterra Systems, approached the militarty in 2002 with an idea for using technology from There to simulate "warfare against insurgents in urban settings." There is an MMOG that pays particular attention to realism, especially in regard to player avatars. The realism of virtual worlds makes MMOG's ideal for dealing with urban warfare situations, such as occupation and dealing with insurgencies. In October 2004, Joint Forces Command officials tested the waters by conducting the largest real-time computer urban warfare simulation in history with gamers at three different sites controlling up to 100,000 entities.

In a December 2004 Millitary Simulation & Training article examining the capabilities of MMOGs. Jason Robar of the AISA Group wrote, "It is clear that a technology that can host 600,000 concurrent players in an environment of competing guilds and clasns, each a politico-military organization, has some military applications." MMOGs he went on, "offer some compelling new capabilities that may be able to augment and enhance how warfighters and the intelligence community prepare and train for... the 21st century."

... with MMOG technology bringing together troops from around the world, ... operations can be done for much less expense and with much more secrecy.

This passage turned me on to There, which looks similar to Second Life, and worth a look. Perhaps it might be useful for one of the projects we have underway at the OCDE. Also, Terra Nova posted excerpts from a related interview with a There excec, but the links they provide are now dead.

I look forward to seeing how MMOGs appear in the other parts of this book, particularly the section on education. (This reference was in the Military section, as you might imagine.)

I have been downloading a patch for World of Warcraft while typing this out (I normally play on my desktop PC), and it is eating up harddrive space... I had to ditch 1.3 GB of unwatched Rocketboom (I'd been saving for a plane flight) to make room. :(

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