Spy Tech: From Interactive Museums To Serious Games
Serious Games for critical thinking skills
Via: Business Week and ABC News
Spy Museum - Your Mission: Learn the Craft of Espionage Through Top-Secret, Interactive Exhibits.
In an age of Google, YouTube and Sony's PlayStation, museums have to work a lot harder to make subject matter culturally relevant to young people.
The International Spy Museum is the only museum in the United States dedicated to the world of espionage, where you can learn how a spy operates.
Visitors to the interactive “School for Spies” can simulate aerial surveillance missions over Soviet shipyards and those who stop in at the “Operation Spy” will be able to team with others in a top-secret mission of audio decryption, safe cracking, and polygraph testing.
School for Spies - You'll learn how spies disguise themselves with fake hair and face-altering makeup and how Hollywood helped develop ingenious disguise techniques for the CIA. Some of the family programs include workshops on disguise-making, as well as on making and breaking secret codes and inventing concealment devices.
On display are classic hidden spy craft tools such as buttonhole cameras, lapel knives, lipstick pistols, and hollowed-out coins concealing microdots.
Other exhibits include a re-created tunnel beneath the divided city of Berlin during the Cold War and an exhibit on escape and evasion techniques in wartime.
You’ll see weapons, disguises and even a "fully loaded" getaway car, and test your spy skills with computerized games.
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency has just taken delivery of three PC-based games, developed by simulation studio Visual Purple under a $2.6 million contract between the DIA and defense contractor Concurrent Technologies. The goal is to quickly train the next generation of spies to analyze complex issues like Islamic fundamentalism.
Given a choice between a droning classroom lecture or a videogame, the best method for teaching Generation Y was obvious. "It is clear that our new workforce is very comfortable with this approach," says Bruce Bennett, chief of the analysis-training branch at the DIA's Joint Military Intelligence Training Center.
Wired.com had an opportunity to play all three games, Rapid Onset, Vital Passage and Sudden Thrust. The titles may conjure images of blitzkrieg, but the games themselves are actually a surprisingly clever and occasionally surreal blend of education, humor and intellectual challenge, aimed at teaching the player how to think.
All three games put the player into the shoes of a young, eager but sometimes hapless DIA analyst.
Rapid Onset can best be described as Zen Buddhism meets the National Intelligence Estimate. It begins with the rookie analyst dreaming of meeting a white-robed guru on a mountaintop. The guru proceeds to throw him off the mountain; clinging to a rope, the analyst can only climb back up if he recites the Eight Questions of Intelligence Analysis.
The DIA has about 2,000 analysts, but the agency has been tasked with training another 2,000 in the U.S. military combatant commands, many of whom work overseas far from training facilities.
With classroom space and instructors at a premium, Bennett estimates that every hour spent training with a game saves one hour of classroom instruction, plus travel time and expense.
The next step is to figure out a way to use gaming technology for training in working with other agencies -- an oft-noted weakness within the intelligence community. "Maybe it's pie in the sky, but can we link multiple computers, so that I can have eight or 10 people in the room playing the same game," Bennett says. "I can be the DIA guy, someone else in DIA can play the CIA guy, and somebody else can be an FBI or a DEA person. If we don't share information, we lose the game."