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Never Get Them Wet
June 5, 2011 4:43 PM   Subscribe

MMOWGLI is an upcoming online wargame designed by the US Office of Naval Research to help find solutions to the problem of piracy. Players will either assume the role of an anti-piracy task-force or of pirates. Rather than being an action game MMOWGLI will relay on players providing short, Twitter-like solutions to tactical scenarios.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn (45 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
In case it's not absolutely clear, the kind of piracy they're talking about is the "people on a boat" kind, not the "unauthorized bits" kind.
posted by leviathan3k at 4:50 PM on June 5, 2011 [8 favorites]


MAN CUB!
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 4:54 PM on June 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


I admit I do not understand why the traditional solution to piracy cannot be applied pretty much the same way they've been used for hundreds if not thousands of years.
posted by Justinian at 4:55 PM on June 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, we already have the answer: If the Navy really wants to "find solutions to the problem of piracy", it need onlysit in the background and do nothing while a functioning state department builds a major diplomatic effort to reduce the root causes: pollution and commercial seafood looting.
posted by anarch at 4:58 PM on June 5, 2011 [7 favorites]


Can't we just sue them?
posted by swift at 4:58 PM on June 5, 2011


I like games, Twitter, and pirates but I feel like 4chan (or something) is going to ruin this somehow.
posted by autoclavicle at 4:59 PM on June 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was disappointed this wasn't the piracy game I imagined, which was a combination of Mercenaries and an a game like Escape Velocity. You start out with a small boat and a weak gun and eventually build your way up to being a powerful pirate. Maybe a bit tasteless, and the water physics would be really hard to get right, but it would be really fun if done well.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:00 PM on June 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


I admit I do not understand why the traditional solution to piracy cannot be applied pretty much the same way they've been used for hundreds if not thousands of years.

You mean, help stabilize the government-less country where the pirates come from, bolstering their economy and providing viable, sustainable alternatives to looting? Or blowing them the f**k out of the water?
posted by filthy light thief at 5:01 PM on June 5, 2011


the kind of piracy they're talking about is the "people on a boat"

Hardly worth it. Satellite internet sucks.
posted by ryanrs at 5:05 PM on June 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


You mean, help stabilize the government-less country where the pirates come from, bolstering their economy and providing viable, sustainable alternatives to looting? Or blowing them the f**k out of the water?

Generally speaking? Both; you need a carrot and a stick.
posted by Justinian at 5:06 PM on June 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also: Convoys. Are these pirates tougher than Nazi U-boats? One suspects not. Convoys pooling their resources to afford escorts have been effective forever.
posted by Justinian at 5:08 PM on June 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Generally speaking? Both; you need a carrot and a stick.

Eh. I don't know about that, the Royal Navy just shot everything that had weapons on and wasn't RN.
posted by jaduncan at 5:10 PM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's "Letters of Marque" in Somali?
posted by pompomtom at 5:13 PM on June 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Eh. I don't know about that, the Royal Navy just shot everything that had weapons on and wasn't RN.

I'm not sure you can get away with that sort of thing anymore. The stabilize-the-government thing would probably be secondary to the blow-everything-out-of-the-water thing, admittedly.
posted by Justinian at 5:17 PM on June 5, 2011


Anyone know where I can get a torrent of this game? (heh)
posted by ShutterBun at 5:17 PM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


players providing short, Twitter-like solutions

Trends - Horn of Africa - change

#biebernavy
#5waystokillapirate
RIP Blackbeard
#theloveboat
Steven Seagal
#captainslogLOL
Apple
♥ NATO ♥
#jacksparrow
Stewie Griffin
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 5:24 PM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


This reminds me a bit of Nation States.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:25 PM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here, I found the perfect introductory video for the game.
posted by anarch at 5:28 PM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Indian Navy's ROE are pretty much shoot on sight off Somalia right now. It's what got them the hostage crisis.

It's a pity that other navies didn't take as rough a line hitherto; the economics of the situation leave lots of budget for the pirates to arm up, and the actual offshore operatives are expendable. Right now I think it might be past the point where it's easily containable (especially since nations are dubious about arresting pirates due to the fact they might claim asylum).
posted by jaduncan at 5:29 PM on June 5, 2011


Wait, so this is essentially Ender's Game meets Zork meets Somali pirates? It's no flying car, but well-played nonetheless, The Future.
posted by onebadparadigm at 5:31 PM on June 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Justinian: "I admit I do not understand why the traditional solution to piracy cannot be applied pretty much the same way they've been used for hundreds if not thousands of years."

Keelhauling?
posted by brundlefly at 5:49 PM on June 5, 2011


ShutterBun: as far as I can tell it's not so much a game you download as much as a website you sign up for and wait to get an invitation to. I'm signed up and on some waiting mailing list. I'd be lying if I said I didn't wonder if it's all some giant metagame. Likes within likes.
posted by BeerFilter at 5:52 PM on June 5, 2011


(especially since nations are dubious about arresting pirates due to the fact they might claim asylum)

You don't arrest pirates, you sink them.
posted by Justinian at 6:11 PM on June 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll just leave this here.
posted by gimonca at 6:22 PM on June 5, 2011


Well the pirates are pretty careful actually to not hurt hostages, reduces the ransom. And AFIK, currently in Somalia, holding a ship hostage is not illegal, well essentially nothing is illegal as there is no government and no laws. No other government wants to invade and take over, it would require a seriously brutal regime to keep control, and that makes for really bad press, and just does not work well, read Black Hawk Down.

No government or military actually wants to catch any of the pirates either, just way too expensive and embarrassing, they just release many.

And the pirates keep a very low profile, look like fishermen and there is no shortage. If a few don't come back to the pirate port, outfitting a few small boats is a small investment for a 5-10 million dollar payout. Shall we just sink every fishing boat? Would not go over well, eh?

Let out mercenaries? What if they sink an honest Yemenite that is distantly related to the king, that would be an incident, probably very expensive.

The game looks like a grad student project that's getting some press, I've seen some pretty out there research projects from NPS in graphics, this is likely more about getting a grant than actually solving the problem but if it does, perhaps it would be a conduit for creative solutions. I expect most will be crazy stuff like mining the pirate harbors or robot killer sharks.

I'd really like to sail through there one day so I hope something comes out of this.
posted by sammyo at 6:25 PM on June 5, 2011



The game looks like a grad student project that's getting some press, I've seen some pretty out there research projects from NPS in graphics, this is likely more about getting a grant than actually solving the problem but if it does, perhaps it would be a conduit for creative solutions. I expect most will be crazy stuff like mining the pirate harbors or robot killer sharks.


why wouldn't mining the harbors work? because it would kill innocent people?

we already have killer trained dolphins. hmm...
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:42 PM on June 5, 2011


The solution is simple. Release millions of sterile parrots into the area. The parrot population will shortly drop to nothing. No Parrots. No pirates.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 6:51 PM on June 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


My browser warns me that the site is using an untrusted certificate issued by Go Daddy.

I think I understand now why the Chinese have been having some success breaking into sites.
posted by zippy at 6:55 PM on June 5, 2011


regular helicopter overflights out of Djibouti + gunship patrols for stop-and-search of vessels in the Gulf of Aden. If said vessel is found to have unauthorized weapons, the crew is arrested and sent to Camp Lemonnier for military tribunal, the vessel is sunk. Those convicted of piracy are hung. a policy of non-negotiation for any hostages taken, plus the promise of massive (as in, send in the Legion to rescue hostages and kill anyone and destroy anything that stands in their way) retaliation should have the effect of making it too costly for the pirates to operate. The problem has been, of course, that shipping companies and many nations have been too willing to negotiate with the pirates, which undermines any attempt to enforce the rule of law and deter further acts of piracy.
posted by Chrischris at 6:58 PM on June 5, 2011


Why not build bigger ships with more guns on them? It's always worked in the past.
posted by sneebler at 7:07 PM on June 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


You have died of scurvey.

posted by blue_beetle at 7:25 PM on June 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


They really need to rethink their priorities here, lest global warming spiral out of control.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 8:15 PM on June 5, 2011


What's "Letters of Marque" in Somali?

who, exactly, would be issuing these letters of marque?
posted by russm at 9:28 PM on June 5, 2011


gunship patrols for stop-and-search of vessels in the Gulf of Aden. If said vessel is found to have unauthorized weapons, the crew is arrested and sent to Camp Lemonnier for military tribunal, the vessel is sunk.

Basically your plan is to arrest every local in the area and sink their boats. Everyone is armed, there is no one to authorize their weapons. Then to create a military tribunal in a foreign land to try foreign nationals, which we would then be responsible for housing or killing.

I am speechless at your brilliance.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 9:52 PM on June 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't know why the whole 'seafood looting and waste dumping' is always brought up in conversations about what to do about piracy. Even if it was true (and I've always found the waste dumping in particular to be both implausible and poorly supported), it wouldn't justify piracy. It's not as if the shipping companies are responsible for either.

I also don't think it would have anything to do with the solution, because piracy is far more lucrative than fishing ever was and attracts a different sort of person anyway. Even if you fixed the fisheries, they're not going to stop attacking ships.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:07 PM on June 5, 2011


who, exactly, would be issuing these letters of marque?

Congress?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:57 PM on June 5, 2011


who, exactly, would be issuing these letters of marque?

Congress?


Congress would issue Letters of Marque to the Somalis in question so at to make them no longer "pirates"?
posted by russm at 1:44 AM on June 6, 2011


No, it'd issue letters of marque to bored Americans and their allies so they could mount guns on their yachts and blow Somali pirates to bits for fun and profit.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:57 AM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


like that guy from 4chan who went to Afghanistan to catch bin Laden? what could possibly go wrong?
posted by russm at 2:16 AM on June 6, 2011


I'm honestly a little taken aback at the suggestions to just blow suspected pirates out of the water... read the link in this comment. It seems that the situation might be a little more complex than is portrayed in most news stories about Somali piracy.

How do the privateers tell who's a pirate and who's a legitimate fisherman? Shouldn't they be actually attacking a boat to be considered pirates?
posted by dubold at 2:20 AM on June 6, 2011


How do the privateers tell who's a pirate and who's a legitimate fisherman? Shouldn't they be actually attacking a boat to be considered pirates?

A vessel towing a bunch of RIBs with big outboards on them is the traditional giveaway. Not much call to get the fishing nets out quite that fast.
posted by jaduncan at 4:11 AM on June 6, 2011


MMOWGLI is running on a slightly modified version of the Foresight Engine from IFTF.
There have been several of these brainstorm discussions lately, one on re-visioning medical research (sponsored by Myloin Repair Foundation), one on smart grid technology (sponsored by IEEE).

I've found the Foresight Engine to be an interesting way to create a moderated, capsulized discussion. I'm not sure, though, about the value of the wild breadth of the responses it delivers. I'm not sure it's much of a game though.


I registered for MMOWGLI, but haven't heard anything other than "delay in start due to great interest".

The article in Wired on the economics of Somali piracy had a flash game game developed to illustrate the article.

Other postings to the Blue on Somali piracy are tagged Pirates+Somalia
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 11:07 AM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I registered for MMOWGLI, but haven't heard anything other than "delay in start due to great interest".

Who could have predicted that the Internet would be interested in pirates?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:20 PM on June 6, 2011


like that guy from 4chan who went to Afghanistan to catch bin Laden? what could possibly go wrong?

Who cares? If the pirates die, yay. If the privateers die, well, that's a risk they took. If innocent civilians die, maybe stay the fuck away from the African coast if you can't handle yourself, yeah?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:14 PM on June 6, 2011


Who cares? If the pirates die, yay. If the privateers die, well, that's a risk they took. If innocent civilians die, maybe stay the fuck away from the African coast if you can't handle yourself, yeah?

Says the keyboard Rambo.
posted by schwa at 8:47 PM on June 13, 2011


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