An Oklahoma research team led by communications professor Norah Dunbar and the Air Force Research laboratory have managed to score an unprecedented grant of $10.7 million USD to develop a video game to train intelligence officers in the government.
Dunbar, along with Scott Wilson, associate director for Innovative Technologies at the OU K20 Center, is overseeing the development of the game, which is called Intelligence Crisis: codename MACBETH (or "Mitigating Analysts Cognitive Bias by Eliminating Task Heuristics").
The game, which has to be in the prototype phase of testing in nine months, is being designed to combat the affects of biases when it comes to decision making. Dunbar says that thorough examination of evidence can help intelligence officers avoid making bad decisions. Bias and quick decisions can have the opposite effect. After the prototype is built, it will be vigorously tested by students and some intelligence agents in Washington D.C.
"We’re designing a game that’s going to be basically like being an intelligence agent … You’ll meet witnesses. You’ll gather information. You’ll have to look at maps,” Dunbar said. Later stages of the game will be geared more toward a third-person experience, Dunbar said.
“It’s pretty aggressive,” Wilson said. “It’s exciting, but there are pretty big milestones we’re going to have to beat in order to deliver.”
The aggressiveness of the timelines does not allow for the normal student participation anticipated in projects similar to this.
While the grant goes to the OU team, the group is being helped by groups across the country such as the Morgidge team in Wisconsin and another team from the University of Arizona led by Judee Burgoon, director of human communication research.
On the size of the grant, Dunbar admitted being very surprised by the large amount.
“I’ve never had a grant this big," said Dunbar. "In social sciences, a $500,000 dollar grant is a big grant … this $10 million grant knocked everybody’s socks off."
Image provided by Shutterstock. All rights reserved.