What We Do
From rogue pirates to shipping companies to foreign natives and international institutions, the diversity of interests and perspectives in the coming years will confound simple solutions to the dangerous piracy going on, military or otherwise. With these complex issues in mind, IFTF partnered with the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) on a project called MMOWGLI. This experimental platform builds on IFTF’s earlier successes with "massively multiplayer forecasting" platforms like Signtific Lab and Foresight Engine.
MMOWGLI goes a step further than IFTF's earlier platforms that focused more on rapid-fire ideation by hundreds and even thousands of players. The first MMOWGLI pilot launched in May 2011 with a research scenario of Somali piracy. This pilot tested the potential to turn complex chains of crowdsourced ideas into more robust plans of action, to support self-organizing strategic teams—and even networks, to expand the traditional mandate of the wargame to include diverse participants from beyond the military, and to consider responses to the Somali pirate situation that go beyond the kinetic solutions at sea.
In the partnership with NPS and ONR, IFTF laid out a vision and plan for a new kind of game that spans hierarchical ranks, crosses organizational divides, and harnesses diverse expertise. Led by Research Director of Human-Future Interaction Jason Tester, the IFTF team worked closely to consult with ONR and NPS, to translate this vision into designs for a gaming platform and an immersive gameplay experience. While NPS took the lead in applying an innovative software development environment to this already complex task, IFTF was committed to helping them design a game environment that tests not only the limits of the software but also the basic premise of the crowdsourced strategy.
The promise of crowdsourced innovation is a greater diversity of ideas as well as an expanded circle of people with a deeper understanding of complex problems. IFTF hope is that this promise can continue to be extended to include the formation of new strategic networks that can think together quickly, but deeply, and leverage multimedia to share their insights with people who ordinarily would not participate in these important deliberations.
In the News
- The New York Times: "On Our Radar: An Energy Challenge for Gamers"
- Scientific American: "Navy Recruits Players for Online War Game to Tackle Energy Challenges"
- PBS NewsHour: Calling All Gamers: US Navy Wants You!
- TPMIdeaLab: "Navy Crowdsources Future Energy Strategy with Wargame"
- SmartPlanet: "U.S. Navy turns to online gaming to solve energy woes"
- Environmental News Network (ENN): "To Help Ensure Operational Readiness, Navy Recruits Players for Online Wargame to Tackle Energy Challenges"
- Biofuels Digest: "Navy invites civic, academic, military online participants for three-day alternative energy wargame, based on 2022 scenario"
- Navy.mil: "Navy Recruits Players for Online Wargame to Tackle Energy Challenges"
- Federal Computer Week: "Navy Looks to Crowdsourcing for Problem-solving"
- Wired: "Navy Crowdsources Pirate Fight To Online Gamers"
- Fast Company: "Wannabe SEALs Help U.S. Navy Hunt Pirates In Massively Multiplayer Game"
- Armed with Science: Blog post on MMOWGLI by Garth Jensen, Director of Innovation at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division
- Office of Naval Research: official news release