Gaming for technology readiness

DARPA's multiplayer gaming platform for problem solving

Would you like to play a game? The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency hopes so.

DARPA wants to build a gaming and social media platform that will engage a diverse community of creative minds to solve emerging science and technology problems.

The Gamifying the Search for Strategic Surprise (GS3) platform will serve as a “digital crucible” where teams of deep thinkers from a wide range of disciplines can work together to quickly solve problems relevant to DARPA’s mission of preventing technological surprise.  After an inaugural group of invited players test the platform, it will be opened to the public.

DARPA also plans to develop a mechanism to identify and quickly fund research opportunities that emerge from this collaborative process.

SG3 is based on a small study that indicated a well-structured and well-executed online discussion platform could improve science and technology analysis by using gaming and social media technologies and techniques to facilitate interactions.

As envisioned by DARPA, the platform would support thousands of users on a variety of platforms, including mobile phones, tablets, and desktop/laptop browsers. Users would be able to easily communicate, aggregate and share insights. On the back end, the system would support evidence-based analysis and provide appropriate user management, security, data protection, and database infrastructure.

With GS3, DARPA hopes to conduct “the exploratory stages of research and development, substantially faster and better by creating a dynamic environment,” said John Main, a program manager in DARPA's Defense Sciences Office.  “Insights from a variety of individuals can reveal unexpected opportunities.”

This is not the first time DARPA has looked for innovation through gamification.  The agency tested a game called Binary Fission, for example, to put a fun front end on the highly technical task of identifying software vulnerabilities.   

Proposals for the GS3 platform are due by Jan. 6, 2017. More information is online here.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at or @sjaymiller.

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