Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Administration Developing Videogame to Teach Lying under Oath

From the Associated Press –

The Bush Administration, known for its generous funding of high-tech videogames, is developing a new game that is designed to prepare members of the Executive Branch for testifying before Congress.

Known as “serious games,” these educational games to train members of the tech-savvy “digital generation” were first developed by the military for combat simulations and preparation for defensive maneuvers. Then taxpayer-funded “game designers” branched out into more “complicated scenarios” for soldiers, such as learning Iraqi Arabic to aid in a reconstruction project or supervising elections in insurgent areas. Now these games are also used by civilians to prepare for terrorist attack, identify weapons of mass destruction, or locate suspicious individuals trying to enter the country.

Users can play the new game, “I Solemnly Swear” (or “ISS” for short), in one of two modes: “I Can’t Recall” mode or “It’s Classified.”

In “I Can’t Recall,” players have to assert that they forgot important meetings with senior government officials while demonstrating that they have otherwise excellent memories. Feats of memorization performed in the “virtual hearing” include knowing the phone number of an attractive lobbyist/underage page that they may have shared an elevator with two years ago and reciting at least a hundred decimal places in the number pi.

For “It’s Classified,” players’ avatars must insist that increasingly ludicrous situations cannot be discussed because they have been deemed “classified.” To win the game, top-scoring members of the administration must swear that the following well-known public pieces of information are classified: what the initials “CIA” stand for, the address of the White House, and the last name of the Vice President of the United States.

Says the game’s developer Ian Bogost of the studio Persuasive Games, "ISS finally offers civilians a chance to experience what it's like to be a politician, including the complexity and nuance of decision-making at that level of governance."

Cross-posted at Sivacracy

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