U.S. Navy Aims to Prevent Sexual Assault Through Video Game Avatars
July 26, 2013 11:28 AM
It will be a role-play, scripted performance through avatars
The U.S. Navy has been looking for ways prevent sexual assault within the military, and it landed on the idea of using video game avatars.
The Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) has decided to employ a video game company to create avatar-based sexual assault training for sailors
in the U.S. Navy
. The training aims to protect sailors (mostly women) from sexual advances from others, and helps them learn how to deal with these issues if they arise.
NAVSUP is paying game and animation company Organic Motion Inc. a total of $83,000 to develop the training system. That's $23,000 for computer hardware, $16,000 for each avatar and script and $4,500 each for two training sessions.
Organic Motion will be bringing its Live Interactive Virtual Environment (LIVE) software to the table, which will allow sailors to create holograms that they can roleplay with. It uses advanced motion capture technology to take a sailor's scripted performance and turn it into projected character animation in real time.
It works by creating three avatars, where each represents a Navy recruit playing in the game. Each will also be assigned a script written by Organic Motion and the Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), which they must act out. The avatars will perform these verbal and non-verbal cues with the other avatars as a way of showing appropriate and inappropriate ways to handle a sexual assault.
Organic Motion will launch a pilot program for the avatar training system over a three-month period, where Recruit Division Commanders (RDCs) -- who train Navy recruits -- will learn the software in order to teach it to recruits.
"I believe that an avatar-based system will dramatically improve the overall quality of training provided to our instructors and students," said Rear Adm. Dee Mewbourne, commander, Naval Training Command. "In concept, an avatar-based system can be created with such remarkable realism that it suspends the disbelief of the participant, thus enabling more realistic role-play scenarios that are commonly used to instruct interpersonal skills."
"The pilot is intended to show that avatar technology can help leaders recognize emotional distress and build mentorship and counseling skills when dealing with sensitive topics, like sexual assault. Because our people are the foundation of our success in the Navy, strong interpersonal skills are fundamental to our profession."
The contract for the avatars was awarded on July 19, and the first avatar must be developed within 25 days of the award date. The third avatar and script must be sent online within 90 days.
Just last month, the House of Representatives passed
a $638 billion defense bill
that includes punishments for members of the armed services found guilty of rape or sexual assault. It requires a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for those convicted, and higher rank officers found guilty would be dismissed of their positions. Furthermore, military commanders would not be able to overturn convictions in rape and sexual assault cases.
Here's a demo of Live Interactive Virtual Environment (LIVE) software in action. This particular demo showcases a number of scenarios including an armed terrorist situation:
"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
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