Sandia Labs 'Ground Truth' Video Game
|Modeling, simulation, and, yes, gaming, have been around Sandia for
years. But Donna Djordjevich, a USC alumna and self-described
“obsessive-compulsive gamer,” is a true believer who suggests Sandia could
do even more to take advantage of our current video game culture, perhaps
even integrating gaming in a formal way into the lab’s homeland security
program activities and elsewhere.
Her team of security specialists from Sandia Labs and dedicated
"gamers' from the University of Southern California have
designed a game to help train
first-responders protect their communities from terrorist attack and
Ground Truth is part of the “real-time strategy” genre of
video games and an example of the “serious games” movement. A 2006 article
in the New York Times titled “Saving the World, One Video Game at a
Time” asserts that this “new generation” of video games “can be more than
just mindless fun, they can be a medium for change… (The movement) is a
partnership between advocates and nonprofit groups that are searching for
new ways to reach young people, and tech-savvy academics keen to explore
video games’ educational potential.”
of the game’s early scenes, the Ground Truth player learns about the
accident and sees that police have responded to the scene.
|Players of the game can view the action from several vantage points.
Here, fire trucks and police cars can be seen from building level. The
exclamation points in red depict 9-1-1 calls that may offer valuable
information to players, such as medical symptoms that citizens may be
experiencing. Other icons re identified in the legend in the left-hand
Visuals call to mind “SimCity”
Visually, Ground Truth looks somewhat like the popular “SimCity”
city-building simulation game, with a nameless urban environment at the
center of the action.
The current scenario involves a chlorine spill, and users are required to
move pieces around – much like a chess game – in order to best mitigate the
consequences of the incident. They can choose from various functional
“pieces,” including Firefighters, Police Officers, Hazmat teams, or they can
activate Staging and Medical Staging areas.