Crowdsourced Collaboration: ONR Seeks Players for Futuristic Online War Game

Office of Naval Research
Corporate Strategic Communications
875 N. Randolph St., #1225-D
Arlington, Va., 22203-1771
Office: (703) 696-5031
Fax: (703) 696-5940
E-mail: onrpublicaffairs@navy.mil
Web: www.onr.navy.mil
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For Immediate Release: March 15, 2017

By Warren Duffie Jr., Office of Naval Research

ARLINGTON, Va.—Think of military-themed multiplayer games, and first-person shooter successes like “Call of Duty” or “Halo” likely come to mind.

On March 27, however, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) will sponsor the launch of a different kind of multiplayer online war game—hoping to recruit a community of more than 1,000 players to collaborate on solving real-world problems facing the U.S. Navy.

Interested players can enroll at https://mmowgli.nps.edu/singularity/signup. The game can run in any web browser on a personal computer or laptop.

Scheduled to last one week, the Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet (MMOWGLI) exercise will crowdsource online players to determine ways to address what’s known as the “Singularity”—the potential future emergence of “greater-than-human” intelligence resulting from increasingly powerful technology.

“Technology has advanced to the point that we can see the Singularity on the horizon,” says Dr. Eric Gulovsen, ONR’s director of disruptive technology. “What we can’t see, yet, is what lies over that horizon. That’s where we need help from players. This is a complex, open-ended problem, so we’re looking for people from all walks of life—Navy, non-Navy, technologist, non-technologist— to help us design our Navy for a ‘post-Singularity’ world.”

During the game, players can post ideas, and interact with each other to build, counter, debate, re-direct or call for further expertise. Ideas that prove especially popular and achieve a critical mass can be elevated to action plans for further development or adoption.

“Singularity” is only the latest topic tackled by MMOWGLI since it first was launched in 2011. Past games focused on combating piracy off the coast of Somalia; reducing the Navy’s reliance on fossil fuels; and streamlining the acquisition process.

“MMOWGLI was designed to identify solutions to difficult challenges by tapping into the intellectual capital of a broader community,” said Garth Jensen, director of innovation at Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock, who is leading the project. “It can be applied to any scenario.

“We mainly want to understand what occurs when your insights merge with the observations and actions of another player,” he continued. “Will that combination yield a game-changing idea or solution, or will the MMOWGLI platform teach us something about our traditional thought processes?”

Warren Duffie Jr. is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.

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Office of Naval Research
Corporate Strategic Communications
875 N. Randolph St., #1225-D
Arlington, Va., 22203-1771
Office: (703) 696-5031
Fax: (703) 696-5940
E-mail: onrpublicaffairs@navy.mil
Web: www.onr.navy.mil
Facebook: www.facebook.com/officeofnavalresearch

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