There's nothing stupider than a crowd. Take an average, intelligent person and put him in an emergency and he'll likely remain calm and await instructions. Put him in a crowd and he'll start screaming, looting and overturning cars. Right?
Well ... not really. That's why we have crowdsourcing.
"Crowdsourcing" is one of those business buzzwords that actually represents something very simple: letting crowds of strangers do your work for you. But it's not just about convincing a bunch of bored people to do grunt work for free -- when you see what the masses of untrained non-experts are capable of when they put their heads together, it's almost magical.
5Learning War Tactics From War Gamers
Obviously, no random StarCraft or Tower Defense-playing teenager is going to know more about military strategy than a trained professional with combat experience. The rules are completely different and, well, those are just games, right?
But what if you created a war game that mimicked the "rules" of actual war -- the units have the same capabilities of actual units, the map is similar to an actual map and all of the real-world complications have to be dealt with. And let's say you let hundreds of players -- untrained people just like you -- play it for weeks and months. Is it possible that, in a big enough pool of players -- some of whom are of above average intelligence and many of whom are a little bit crazy -- that you'd wind up inventing creative strategies that not even veteran military leaders would come up with?
It would be like Ender's Game, but with more homoerotic subtext.
It's not just some war gamer geek's dream -- the military is betting on it. Meet MMOWGLI, aka Massive Multiplayer Online WarGame Leveraging the Internet. MMOWGLI is a game with a purpose: fighting pirates. And not just any pirates -- Somali pirates, the modern scourge of the sea.
Look at them, circumnavigating your DRM and not giving a fuck about copyright.
The U.S. Navy wanted creative tactics to defeat the pirates, as well as ways to anticipate what a notoriously unpredictable enemy would do next. So why not throw the scenario out to the crowd in the form of a video game, effectively getting hundreds of people to run the simulation over and over and over again? You have hundreds of gamers playing through these encounters from different angles, providing far more examples to study than the real world could ever supply.
We understand all of these words, but the sentences are giving us some difficulty.
The way that this game works is you get to play as either the pirates or the anti-pirate task force. And it's realistic down to the finest detail -- if you're on the anti-pirate side, you have to deal with "... the logistics of arming ships, the likelihood of pirate attacks and the financial, jurisdictional and temporal difficulties of military action to support commercial shipping and cruise ships." Pirate players have to come up with detailed attack plans, and anti-pirates have to work through the logistics of hostage rescue if they succeed.
"Shit, it's boobsmcgee900!"
In some ways, it's the super-realistic, micro-managing game that hard core RTS players have been asking for since the 1980s. And you're playing alongside members of the military, there to make sure people aren't just cheating their way to victory ("What? The pirates could have aimbots!").
It's one of those ideas that is so ridiculous that it makes perfect sense. The same weaknesses in security that players notice in the game will be noticed by the pirates in real life. What you lose due to a lack of realism, you make up for with sheer volume. Oh, and the players are all doing it for free.
When you've cleared the oceans and confiscated their parrots, tell them who sent you.