Navy prepping launch of MMO to fight at-sea piracy

The U.S. Navy is enlisting the help of gamers to help it solve the issue of at-sea piracy. The game will launch on May 16 and run for three weeks.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

The United States Navy will soon launch a Web-based wargame aimed at helping fight at-sea piracy.

The game, called Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet (MMOWGLI, for short), will launch on May 16. However, it's not your typical MMO, like World of Warcraft. According to the Navy, more than 1,000 players will be charged with solving "real-world problems facing the Navy."

"MMOWGLI is an online game designed to find and collectively grow breakthrough ideas to some of the Navy's most complex problems--those 21st century threats that demand new forms of collaboration and truly outlying ideas," Larry Schuette, the Office of Naval Research's director of innovation, said in a statement.

Gamers will be posed with issues and will need to share what they believe, is the best solution to the respective problem. After that, their solutions will be voted on by other players who can also adapt the ideas to make them more useful.

"The plan is for MMOWGLI to identify solutions to difficult challenges by tapping into the intellectual capital of a broader community," the Navy says.

Though the Navy is only limiting that community to 1,000 players, it will be quite diverse. According to the Office of Naval Research, the players will be "drawn from the ranks of academia, defense, and government and nongovernment organizations." The Web site that will be home to the game is currently allowing users to register for consideration.

"Your idea could spark a dozen more from other people," the site reads. "Your approach could be the missing perspective the problem needs. Your winning strategy could save lives and transform global defense. You won't know unless you play."

Looking ahead, the Navy isn't quite sure what it plans to do with MMOWGLI. Garth Jensen, director of innovation at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock division, said that the game is still very much in its early stages. And it may or may not survive following this test.

"At this stage, MMOWGLI is a simply a pilot/demonstration project," Jensen said in a statement. "Therefore, we are exploring whether doing something like MMOWGLI within Navy is feasible, and if so, what we might learn from the experience."

Once MMOWGLI launches, it will run for three weeks.

(Via Wired)