Development of a distributed multi‐player computer game for scientific experimentation of team training protocols

Publication Date01 Feb 2004
AuthorSen Cao Richard,Richard A. Volz,Jamison Johnson,Jonathan Whetzel,Dianxiang Xu,Maitreyi Nanjanath
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Library & information science
Development of a
distributed multi-player
computer game for
experimentation of
team training protocols
Sen Cao
Richard A. Volz
Jamison Johnson
Maitreyi Nanjanath
Jonathan Whetzel and
Dianxiang Xu
The basic thrust of our research is studying the
use of intelligent agents in a variety of ways to
enhance the training of teams, such as
firefighters or NASA flight controllers, that
must work together to accomplish a common
goal. Our studies are conducted by a research
team composed of both cognitive psychologists
and computer scientists, and our results are
validated by rigorously conducted formal
experiments. As a vehicle for conducting these
experiments, a computer game that requires
both complex cognitive and motor skills is used.
The particular game being used is named Space
Fortress (SF) (Mane and Donchin, 1989), and
was developed more than a decade ago to
reflect the kind of activity required in many real
situations, e.g. piloting an aircraft in hostile
surroundings. For a variety of reasons, this
game had to be redeveloped to accommodate
current research directions, incorporate many
significant new features, and be compatible
with advances in computer hardware and
The goals of our game development are
non-traditional with respect to most of the
computer game world. Rather than focusing on
highly sophisticated graphical displays and
intriguing game scenarios, we are primarily
concerned with the ability to conduct scientific
experiments in a rigorous manner that permits
flexible experiment design, can capture
extensive data on the conduct of the game, and
can easily incorporate intelligent agents in
various roles to facilitate training.
In this paper, we present the development of
a new generation SF, which we call Revised
Space Fortress (RSF). In the next section, we
describe the experimental procedures we wish
to support and introduce the original SF game.
Following this, we discuss the requirements for
the system, and then focus on the design.
Following this, we discuss validation of the
implementation and initial experimental
The authors
Sen Cao is a Research Assistant, Richard A. Volz is Royce E.
Wisenbaker Professor of Engineering, Jamison Johnson and
Maitreyi Nanjanath are Research Assistants, Jonathan
Whetzel is a Student Technician and Research Assistant, and
Dianxiang Xu is a Research Assistant, all in the Computer
Science Department, Texas A&M University, College Station,
Texas, USA.
Training, Protocols, Psychology, Intelligent agents, Cognition
To support research on using intelligent agents in team
training, a distributed multi-player game in Java that
executes in real time was developed. Basing development on
the game
Space Fortress
, which has been widely used by
cognitive psychologists for studying training protocols,
typical experiments involved in excess of 100 trials of the
game under different training conditions. Describes the
design of this game to achieve these features and real-time
performance in the Java environment.
Electronic access
The Emerald Research Register for this journal is available at
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is
available at
The work in this paper was funded by DoD MURI
grant F49620-00-1-0326 administered through
The Electronic Library
Volume 22 .Number 1 .2004 .pp. 43-54
#Emerald Group Publishing Limited .ISSN 0264-0473
DOI 10.1108/02640470410520104

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