Business in Virtual Worlds

Government Looks At Impact of the Virtual on the Real

Following a request for information from the US government’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA), Federal Computer Week (FCW) has helped to clarify what interest, exactly, the federal government has with avatars and so-called immersive environments.

The quick backdrop: the gov is seeking RFI’s to find:

focused, quantitative research to understand how virtual worlds and immersive games may have RW effects, particularly those effects that could positively impact individual and group analytic performance. What are the important VW (and RW) environmental variables that control the strength and persistence of such effects? Examples of variables include, but are not limited to: degree of fidelity, image and sound quality, level of immersion, amount of repetition, social effects, narrative structure, language skills, and cultural background.

As vague as that sounds, FCW contacted the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for clarification.

“Most prior research has looked at gross level, short term effects. We are interested in measuring the effects of methods using [virtual environments] as compared to [non-virtual environments],” ODNI said to FCW. “What aspects or features of the virtual environments contribute to the real world effect? Can we measure the persistence of these effects for a week, a month, or a year? These are the sorts of metrics that we are interested in.”

The ultimate goal, according to FCW, is so that intelligence agencies might be able to improve training in these virtual environments.



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