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Games Go to War

May 7, 2011

DARPA – the US agency who makes weapons and stuff, are taking the non-game area of submarine design, and gamifying it.  The aim is to crowd-source information on the subject, via a game:

DARPA wants you to help it develop better anti-submarine warfare tactics and it has designed a sub-hunting computer game it wants you to play. DARPA is “crowd-sourcing” the solution to finding and tracking adversary submarines. You play the sub-hunt game and report your tactics back to DARPA. DARPA will then incorporate the collective knowledge it thus receives into the software it is developing for a new sub-tracking robot. Click here to download the game – and don’t tell your boss I sent you.

Sub-hunting is not the only task for which DARPA has turned to crowd-sourcing. In February, DARPA crowd-sourced the design of a new tactical vehicle that would perform either reconnaissance or battlefield delivery and evacuation missions. DARPAhoped to attract the interest of service members, auto enthusiasts, designers, and engineers and offered a $10,000 reward for the top design.

Now discussions of the ethics of games are not a new topic, but until now they’ve tended to be about violent content and the like. Helping in the design of weapons systems is a whole new question of ethics…

(Also posted on P2P Foundation Blog. Thanks to Michel for the link.)

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