StrikeCOM is a multi-player online strategy game useful for researching group collaboration. StrikeCOM is designed to foster discourse among group members and has been used as a research tool to study leadership and deception in group decision making. Researchers use this tool to examine the development of group processes, shared awareness, and communication. The groups can be face-to-face or distributed, allowing researchers to investigate how proximity and synchronicity affects group dynamics and group performance.
The game mimics C3ISR (Command, Control, Communication, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) scenarios and information gathering in group activities. Built using Java and a SQL-based collaborative server platform, the game is available for use in almost any computing environment. The U.S. Department of Defense is using the tool to teach Network Centric Warfare to battle commanders. Use of StrikeCOM over the years has resulted in a number of lessons-learned, including using simple, familiar game interfaces, utilizing full and immediate feedback, and creating a flexible technical design to meet shifting research and teaching needs.
The scenario of the game is for group members to collaborate to discover where an enemy is hiding its missiles. Each user sees a topological map and can allocate surveillance and intelligence resources to search for the hidden missiles. The information gathered by one user can be communicated to his/her teammates. Variations of the scenarios include placing a confederate on the team whose secret task is to mislead the team. This scenario allows researchers to study deception and how groups cope. Other scenarios call for the group members to communicate verbally or by instant messaging to research the effects these restrictions have on group dynamics and group performance. This scenario mimics the real-world where groups may be required to collaborate across distance and time using email or instant messaging.
CMI created the StrikeCOM game to meet requirements for advanced data collection and customizability to investigate deception detection within large groups of people. StrikeCOM is designed for flexibility and allows research into any group process or interaction. StrikeCOM provides a multiplayer game capable of supporting any number of players using any number of assets searching a game board of any definable size for any number of targets and target types that the researcher chooses to define. The game includes time stamps for each player interaction with the game. In addition, the game includes map overlays with adjustable geographic information reliability statistics, the ability to have multiple independent target types, and an optional shared results visualization scheme. The game also allows the researcher to configure the game such that any or all of these features can change as the game progresses.
StrikeCOM Research Findings
Twitchell, D. P., Wiers, K., Adkins, M., Burgoon, J. K., & Nunamaker, J. F., Jr. (2005, January 3-6). StrikeCOM: A multi-player online strategy game for researching and teaching group dynamics. Proceedings of the 38th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (CD-ROM), Waikoloa, HI.