Testing begins on video game for intelligence analysis
Testing began Monday on a video game created by OU researchers to prevent the effects of biases on decision-making.
An OU team of researchers received a $10.7 million grant in October to create a video game for the Air Force Research Laboratory to combat the effects of biases, which could lead to costly mistakes in decision-making for intelligence analysts, according to Daily archives.
Erika Philbrick, The Oklahoma Daily
Students signed up to play the game and check for coding typos and other obvious problems, play tester and communications senior Chelsey Schuessler said.
October: Researchers receive $10.7 million grant to create video game
February: Game finished development and returned to the university
Monday: Testers began playing game to find bugs
August: Research will start to see if game prevents biases in decision-making
Source: Norah Dunbar, team leader
“I’m the editor for the game,” she said, equating the experience to revising a paper.
The play testing for the game is done in the OU K20 center on the research campus. In the 2-D game, students play in first-person mode as an intelligence analyst.
“[The game is] almost like a board game where you’re trying to solve a mystery, but we tried to gear it more toward the intelligence agencies,” research team leader Norah Dunbar said.
The game has come a long way since its conception, researcher and graduate communication student Cindy Vincent said.
“The design is looking cool versus the original design, which was pretty simplistic,” Vincent said.
The first time any of the researchers played the game, it was done with pen and paper, Dunbar said.
“On pen and paper, you don’t get that natural intuition that you get maybe playing it on the computer,” Vincent said.
Since October, when the team first received its funding, the game has had two developments, Dunbar said. First, researchers sent the game to the Morgridge Institute for Research in Wisconsin to be developed.
Dunbar and her group of researchers also hired “like crazy,” including a production manager and an entire team of programmers and artists. In all, six people on campus are dedicated to the game, Dunbar said.
On Feb. 3, the game was handed off to OU from the Morgridge Institute, which finished developing the whole game and one mini-game within it. A little more than a week ago, Dunbar and her team played the game’s first prototype.
“It’s still pretty bare-bones,” Dunbar said.
Despite the game being unfinished, Vincent said she still was able to find parallels between this game and games she has played in the past.
“Growing up, it reminds me of games like ‘Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego?’ or spy games like that,” Vincent said.
Now, the developers are working on fixing the kinks in the game and developing smaller parts, which Dunbar calls mini-games.
During the summer, the team will run pilot tests on the game, and in August, the real experiment will begin when OU students become test subjects to see if the game is working and meeting its educational goals, Dunbar said.
“It has to be fun, but it still has to teach people something,” Dunbar said.