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US Gives Raytheon $10.5M For 'Serious Games'

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  • by tryptogryphic (1985608) on Friday November 18, 2011 @11:49PM (#38106082)
    ...it's good to see our government spending money on games.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Good also seeing my tax money bailing out rogue bankers who then turn around and slap big "bonuses" onto themselves.
      The 99 gets screwed once again.

      • by MBraynard (653724)
        I'm going to stab at your ignorant meme.

        Bankers paid back all of the money from TARP with interest. It netted the US treasury a profit to spend on Pell Grants, food safety, and whatever other benevolent things you think government does.

        The portion of TARP that did loose money was that which was invested in GM and Chrysler. Many billions lost - but that was solely to bail out the unions, not the companies. If they had gone into bankruptcy, they would have shed their union obligations and continued making c

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @01:48AM (#38106618)

      You know, that's a pretty small budget for a modern AAA game, seeing how this is a government contract it'll probably be based on the old Infocomm text game engine.
      HA! catchpa: derision

      • by fwice (841569)

        A snapshot of one of BBN's other training games (VESSEL) is available on their website. While not quite on the same level as Farcry, it does a little bit better than text only :]

        http://bbn.com/technology/immersive_learning_technologies/vessel [bbn.com]

        • by blackicye (760472)

          A snapshot of one of BBN's other training games (VESSEL) is available on their website. While not quite on the same level as Farcry, it does a little bit better than text only :]

          http://bbn.com/technology/immersive_learning_technologies/vessel [bbn.com]

          This is true, and additionally most military grade simulators generally don't look like Farcry, I've worked on a $30 million dollar Lockheed flight simulator, and in the early 1990s it had probably graphics on par with microsoft flight simulator 98, or thereabouts.

          I've also played with an Infantry simulator that was built on the operation flashpoint engine..fun stuff.

      • What's more, more than 50% will probably be eaten up by 'overhead' costs. Or in other words, I would bet way less than 50% of the money will go into actual game development. Of course the way big companies bill, it will all look like it is going towards game development. But of the 150 to 200 dollars an hour towards development they will likely charge, the actual developers, artists (if a graphics based game... I didn't see anywhere it has to be), testers, architects, analysts, behavioural scientists, etc
    • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday November 19, 2011 @01:53AM (#38106628) Homepage

      Despite snarky ignorance, even during a deficit, training for various Federal employees and various research efforts continue. The world doesn't stop just because we're in a deficit (as we have been for decades).

      • Hey, at least that's ~1.25 fewer drones at $8m apiece [newsmax.com] flying around blowing up innocent people [nytimes.com]. I'm all for the US simply wasting money rather than wasting innocents and creating the conditions for more terrorism.
        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          In Pakistan, the drones have killed 2000 militants and 138 civilians.

          That is a fucking phenomenal record. There is no valid argument to be made about whether or not drones work well and minimize civilian casualties, the only argument is whether the US should be in Pakistan at all.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by ThatsMyNick (2004126)

            I am surprised 138 of the killed were classified as civilians. I would expected everyone killed to have been named as a terrorist (afterall no one can really prove someone is not a terrorist)

            • Maybe some of your assumptions are just plain wrong and should be reconsidered, in light of actual facts rather than guesses?

              Naaaaah, cant be.

            • I am surprised 138 of the killed were classified as civilians.

              Under 2s I suspect.

          • by hairyfish (1653411) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @05:16AM (#38107186)
            Define "militant". Taking up arms in your own country to defend against a foreign invader hardly justifies being murdered.
          • by gl4ss (559668)

            In Pakistan, the drones have killed 2000 militants and 138 civilians.

            That is a fucking phenomenal record. There is no valid argument to be made about whether or not drones work well and minimize civilian casualties, the only argument is whether the US should be in Pakistan at all.

            phenomenal record of what? pakistani is full of civilian militants.

          • because , as far as our government is concerned, the drone program doesnt even exist?

            or are you dealing in CLASSIFIED material here? oh, then, expect a knock from the FBI to take you away any day now

            • Id assume he got it from this classified website [wikipedia.org]...

              According to the Long War Journal, as of mid-2011, the drone strikes in Pakistan since 2006 had killed 2,018 militants and 138 civilians.[501] The New America Foundation stated in mid-2011 that since 2004 2,551 people have been killed in the strikes, with 80% of those militants. The Foundation stated that 95% of those killed in 2010 were militants.[498]
              Im sure that info is TS/SCI, and that agents will be around to nab us all shortly.

      • I completely understand you're point and appreciate you identifying the filament of my original joke...but I simply don't feel this kind of money, on this kind of training is a priority right now given what's currently going on.
      • by slick7 (1703596)

        Despite snarky ignorance, even during a deficit, training for various Federal employees and various research efforts continue. The world doesn't stop just because we're in a deficit (as we have been for decades).

        Keep those printing presses rolling, boys and girls. And when it takes a wheel-barrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread, maybe the new Hitler will come along and set you free.

        • Is ignorance that great painful? Or do the drugs you're on keep it under control?

          • by slick7 (1703596)

            Is ignorance that great painful? Or do the drugs you're on keep it under control?

            The only thing that keeps our economy going is war, bankster war. A war that the banksters fund, both sides. Regardless of who wins or loses, the banksters win.
            If drugs or stupidity are involved, then it's to the banksters advantage to maximize them. Occupy Wallstreet is NOT about supporting the banksters.
            Get with it Slick!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's good to see one of our largest employers giving more opportunities for work in the middle of one of the worst spates of unemployment in our history, yes.

      Jeez, do the "Government should spend less" people not know that in times of economic hardship, government is supposed to spend *more* to equalize the less spending done by companies/consumers? If the government decided to chop their budgets by trillions tomorrow, you'd see the rate of unemployment spike due to all those federal jobs being cut which wo

      • gimmicks, it should be spending it on something that provides actual value to someone, somewhere, hopefully that the private economy isn't producing. it would be like if the government decided to start manufacturing bottled water. 1. nobody needs any more bottled water, the shelves are overflowing with it 2. its a pointless, idiotic product in the first place, and 3. its a complete waste of taxpayer dollars. wasting money is not the same thing as stimulating the economy.

        • gimmicks, it should be spending it on something that provides actual value to someone, somewhere, hopefully that the private economy isn't producing

          You should be pleased then - because this software meets both criteria. For training and research, it provides actual value to me the taxpayer. And nobody in the private sector is producing these kinds of 'games'.

          it would be like if the government decided to start manufacturing bottled water.

          No it isn't. You, like so many others here, are getting hung

    • by perpenso (1613749) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @03:37AM (#38106918)

      In the middle of the greatest deficit it's good to see our government spending money on games.

      Serious games are actually useful and they can save not only money but lives. One area of serious gaming are training simulators. Think beyond flight simulators. They are serious games that teach soldiers how to interact with members of a very different culture. There are serious games that present fire fighters with different types of chemical spills to see how they handle it and react to unfolding events. This particular game also has a very serious and seemingly worthwhile goal:

      "The goal of the Sirius Program is to create experimental Serious Games to train participants and measure their proficiency in recognizing and mitigating the cognitive biases that commonly affect all types of intelligence analysis. The research objective is to experimentally manipulate variables in Serious Games and to determine whether and how such variables might enable player-participant recognition and persistent mitigation of cognitive biases. The Program will provide a basis for experimental repeatability and independent validation of effects, and identify critical elements of design for effective analytic training in Serious Games. The cognitive biases of interest that will be examined include: (1) Confirmation Bias, (2) Fundamental Attribution Error, (3) Bias Blind Spot, (4) Anchoring Bias, (5) Representativeness Bias, and (6) Projection Bias."
      https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=1793ab48906acabaf923c76486c29c0f&_cview=0 [fbo.gov]

      • in iraq, in afghanistan, in the BP oil spill, in Katrina, in the Texas refinery explosions, in the West Virginia coal mine explosion, ... i can see "useful" and "saving lives" right around the corner with all this "training" and "education" we give "the warfighter" and our "men and women in uniform".

      • Wow. That is actually quite awesome. Considering that overcoming cognitive bias could be beneficial to pretty much anyone in any environment. And that lessening cognitive bias on a large scale could only be beneficial to our species and planet.

        Sadly, a great many people will oppose the concept or resource allocation toward it due to cognitive bias.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Raytheon is part of the military industrial complex. There's no such thing as "deficit" for them.

      If murder and oppression are your business and you've got connections to the government, you'll sooner see more taxes for lower/middle class citizens before you see a rejected project proposal worth millions.

    • Of all the crap they blow money on at least this actually makes sense; video games have proven their worth time and again as a training aid. Are they still using that system with an M-16 and an NES? Hilarity.

    • by RingDev (879105)

      This isn't just a "Video Game", it's an intelligence platform. It's coming from IARPA, cousin of DARPA, you know that wasteful part of the government that blew all that money on some stupid thing called "the internet". I hear it turned out to be nothing more than a series of tubes that dumptrucks get stuck on.

      -Rick

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Although the biases they show are true problems, it almost seems like it could also do conditioning, unaware of the player's conscious mind.
    Secondly, it really seems like our government is going out in all directions(such as pizza) just to avoid the money problem. They're in constant denial..

  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Friday November 18, 2011 @11:55PM (#38106114) Homepage

    They just spent $10.5 million to remake Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

  • Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by tsa (15680) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @01:40AM (#38106588) Homepage

    I've never heard of Raythorn BBN Technologies and I bet you haven't either. So here. [bbn.com]

    • by tsa (15680)

      Raytheon. Not Raythorn. *smacks head against wall* But the link is correct.

    • Re:Link (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fwice (841569) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @02:04AM (#38106672)

      I've never heard of Raythorn BBN Technologies and I bet you haven't either. So here. [bbn.com]

      you would have lost the bet. BBN is pretty well known for networking related developments (first packet switch/router, first machine-to-machine messaging/email) and acoustic developments (UN Assembly Hall, forensic analysis of the JFK dictabelt & the Nixon Tapes, `Boomerang').

      In fact, your computer probably has a fair bit of BBN code & configuration in it. Grep for 'BBN' in /etc, see what comes up.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        In fact, your computer probably has a fair bit of BBN code & configuration in it. Grep for 'BBN' in /etc, see what comes up.

        Apart from contents of various SSL certificates, I only get one hit: /etc/protocols (for windows users: that's a list of TCP and UDP port numbers).

        You said they were famous or something?

    • http://bbn.com/news_and_events/press_releases/2011/pr_sirius_111711 [bbn.com]
      Actually it looks like a good idea to me from that.
    • Re:Link (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @02:31AM (#38106754)

      I've never heard of Raythorn BBN Technologies and I bet you haven't either.

      Bolt, Beranek and Newman basically built the first generation of the internet.
      Raytheon is the single largest private employer in the state of Massachusetts.
      Apparently Raytheon purchased BBN - although for a while during the dotcom crazy they were called Genuity.

    • by thomst (1640045)

      I've never heard of Raythorn BBN Technologies and I bet you haven't either. So here. [bbn.com]

      Actually, I knew about Bolt, Beranek, and Newman [wikipedia.org] long before Raytheon acquired the company.

      Disclaimer: I've actually studied the history of the Internet ... so I'm cheating.

  • No sex scenes then? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by codeAlDente (1643257) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @02:10AM (#38106696)
    Will educational games (more serious and presumably less fun than an ordinary first person shooting rampage through a novel virtual environment) improve your ability to make decisions or track objects, analogous to the improvements documented for recreational FPS games? The US government wants to know because it's recently become clear that playing video games does improve performance. Nature Reviews Neuroscience has a nice review on the issue this week, "Brains on video games" http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v12/n12/abs/nrn3135.html [nature.com]
    • Will educational games (more serious and presumably less fun than an ordinary first person shooting rampage through a novel virtual environment) improve your ability to make decisions or track objects

      I don't see why not - simulators of varying sorts and fidelity have been doing just that for decades.

      And fun is where you find it, I loved lab time when I was in school in the Navy - the simulators were a hell of a lot more fun that lectures. Later, when I was an instructor in the same school, if I had

      • These games are designed for a general audience to mitigate generic types of cognitive biases. Simulators are designed to improve performance on specific tasks, but I am not aware that they improve performance on everyday tasks. I'm not saying that tinkering with simulators isn't fun, but it doesn't exactly have the same mass appeal as something like Grand Theft Auto. Thus given the requirements (general audience, improve generalized decision-making), my guess is that the bells and whistles that commercial
        • Since these games aren't intended for a general audience, and are intended to train a specialized audience (read TFA), your objections don't really apply. And no, simulators aren't just for 'improving performance on specific tasks', they're also for improving general skills within a specialized field. For example, when I got to my boat, I already knew what the FCS sounded like when it powered up - having powered one up in the simulator a hundred dozen times while performing other (specialized) task traini

          • From TFA: "The gaming system will focus on certain types of bias that frequently hurt effective decision-making: Confirmation bias -- the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms preconceptions. Blind spot bias -- being less aware of one's own cognitive biases than those of others. Fundamental attribution error -- over-emphasizing personality-based or character-based effects on behavior. Anchoring bias -- relying too heavily on one trait or one piece of information. Represent
            • Now you're moving the goalposts - first you claimed they were bad because they were meant for general audiences (which they aren't), now you're claiming they're bad because they're [some kind of vaguely] 'general'.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Or maybe tic-tac-toe?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Somehow I can't help but feel this money would have been better allocated to a game developer instead of a defense contractor.

    Defense contractors aren't typically know for their user friendly software, with cutting edge graphics, written by a talented team of passionate game programmers/artists using off the shelf software, built on a low maintenance proven code base, with a reasonable budget and delivered on time.

    But hey what do I know.

    • by Cwix (1671282)

      The military couldn't deal with the DRM,

    • Somehow I can't help but feel this money would have been better allocated to a game developer instead of a defense contractor.

      Nope, many employees at game development studios won't pass the piss test.

      That is not a joke. That is reality. More than one non-gaming corporation that diversified into gaming was asked if the bought the game studio for the brand name or the talented people. If the later then they were advised not to bring certain aspects of their corporate policy to the game studio, in particular the piss test. It was explained that they would end up firing much of the value behind their investment.

      Besides, what mak

  • just to make L.A. Noire playable?

  • Why so cheap? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by devleopard (317515) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @03:43AM (#38106936) Homepage

    Average game development costs are estimated to be around $20M-$30M

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_development [wikipedia.org]

    ..over 20M in 2010

    http://www.gamespy.com/articles/108/1082176p1.html [gamespy.com]

    Obviously the forces driving commercial games and games for the public sector are different, but the relative cost shouldn't be ignored.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Art, animation, audio, distribution, marketing, first-party licensing. When you reduce or outright cut these sections, what happens to the game's budget?

      Looking at game teams I've been on, non-coders made up well over half the dev team, and that's not including marketing/licensing/etc.. These games obviously don't need a big budget presentation.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      haha.
      that's not the average.
      that's just the average for a big budget game that costs 20 mil.

      most games cost something like 40-300 thousand. that's just going by numbers. most of them aren't hits.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's total game costs, for big budget blockbuster projects. Game *development* budgets dropped significantly during the GFC. (Which is the reason I'm no longer a game programmer after almost 20 years in the industry, I'm far too expensive compared to US college grads with loans to pay off.) What didn't drop was the budgets for marketing, IP licensing, publishing, senior management junkets, etc. In fact, those have increased recently to take up the slack from the slashing of development costs. (Why waste m

  • Good idea ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MacTO (1161105) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @03:47AM (#38106940)

    I can use more serious games in my life. A hundred percent serious, nitty gritty political or economically serious, and even technically or ideologically serious. I don't even care if the game violates my world view. Just give me something to think about when I drop the controller and rejoin the real world. Until that happens, I will spend most of my time in literature because a good author will do more to challenge me than the typical mass media title (regardless of the media).

  • by fantomas (94850) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @05:06AM (#38107164)

    "Serious games" is a term open for laughing at - but they are used for training in a lot of domains. Another term might be "simulation" and if you start thinking in those terms you're into pilots learning to fly 747's, air traffic controllers managing crisis situations without anybody actually dying, doctors practicing surgery, and so on. These are all out there. I think the game vs. simulation definition might boil down to a simulation with a win scenario, in which case you can bring in the military using variants of Doom and other shooters to train soldiers in team work, financial traders playing sims that improve their trading behaviour, and so forth.

    In all the above, if you take data from the player, either by a sensor measuring heart rate, or just by the style of their game play, it's theorised that you can deduce emotion /cognitive biases and help people improve upon these, either by playing games in a diagnostic mode and then giving them feedback or live feedback in a didactic mode.

    Currently I am working on EU project which is investigating (amongst other things) whether serious games can be used to overcome emotion bias in financial investors: http://www.xdelia.org/ [xdelia.org]

  • This is just another money hole. Code aaaaaand flush.
  • And Raytheon gave $5.5M Blizzard for developing "Serious Games".
  • Carmen San Diego anyone?

    Jim

  • look at all these people whose livelihoods depends on the defense-industrial-natl'security complex.

    do you expect any of them to have a reasonable, disinterested attitude when it comes to analyzing this question?

    when such a large percentage of society is corrupted by the corrupt system, then real change becomes very difficult. the body of people receiving the largesse of the greed and corruption (the nomenklatura) will continue to support it, regardless of all evidence and facts, while the people suffering u

  • by Assmasher (456699) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:44AM (#38108056) Journal

    Unless it is a radar or a missile, Raytheon couldn't find its a** with both hands - especially regarding software (yes, I have experience dealing with them, know people they have hired to run software projects for them, et cetera...)

  • by DragonTHC (208439)

    I'm glad to see the money go to that stalwart of games innovation... Ratheon? The missile people?

    of course when the government wants to burn money, it dumps it into the military industrial complex.

    There are dozens of companies more qualified.

  • This was done already in the past - it's a game called Carmen Sandiego! Think about, "International Detective theme" just says it all!

  • Why is this going to foreign-intel-target Raytheon and not to an under-the-table-paid casual gaming studio spinoff/black team? Think Raytheon is subcontracting this?
  • "hidden objects in picture" game.
  • Um... the linked blog post links to an official document [fbo.gov] that was first posted in March of this year.

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