Games for Training: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  • Thursday, April 12, 2012
  • 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
  • UMBC Technology Center 1450 South Rolling Road ● 3rd Floor, Cafeteria ● Halethorpe, MD 21227 ● 410-455-8670


5:30 PM - 6:00 PM Registration
6:00 PM - 6:30 PM Networking
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM Program/Q&A
Registration is closed
The notion to use computer games for military training is almost irresistible. Unfortunately, unstated, unexamined assumptions about learning and the character of and driving forces behind commercial games can lead the unwary down the rosy path to unpleasant results if we don’t keep the goal of proficiency “gains” ahead of blind use of “games.” Our presenter will discuss a handful of lessons learned while developing and deploying two training systems within DARPA’s DARWARS (DARpa's universal, persistent, on-demand, fill-in-your-own-adjective-here, WARS) program, and of the highly popular America's Army game. Perhaps the lessons from these cases will constrain the dark side of computer-based training from tainting other efforts to deliver experiential learning by light-weight simulations. He will end with his dream (with apologies to Martin Luther King) that someday training games/simulations will be judged by the character of their content rather than the color of their pixels. 

Our presenter: Ralph E. Chatham - explorer of exotic trade spaces, asserts that people are more important than hardware. At DARPA he co-opted computer games to teach soldiers languages and culture, and let Soldiers virtually experience ambushes. He managed the only large-scale, scientifically valid experiment quantifying human detection deception, and explored how team communications could automatically measure soldier, pilot or physician team performance.

Physicist and retired submariner, Chatham has chaired expert panels on, e.g., bistatic radar and Training Superiority; built lasers; was a 1980 astronaut finalist (deemed too susceptible to motion sickness and sent back to sea); and remains an award-winning storyteller.

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