Charles River Analytics Developing Microgames to Teach Marines Perceptual Skills

Charles River Analytics, a developer of intelligent systems solutions, has been awarded a follow-on contract to develop Microgames for Acquiring and Rehearsing Cognitive Schemas for Perception (MARCS). MARCS is a suite of lightweight games to enhance Marines’ threat perception so they are better able to perceive threats. The contract was awarded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

MARCS supports the US Marine Corps’s Combat Hunter Program, which aims to counter threats Marines face from snipers, terrorists, and other adversaries. Marines are taught observation and tracking skills that establish baselines, or schemas, to identify what should be expected in combat settings. Existing training focuses on schemas for current deployment settings, however, these schemas can become obsolete even with small changes in those settings. MARCS teaches Marines how to adapt to these changes by playing microgames; in doing so, they create or adapt schemas and are better able to perceive threats.

Mr. Sean Guarino, Senior Scientist at Charles River, explained, “We are developing games to address critical aspects of reading the human terrain in combat settings—that is, learning how people move and behave in day-to-day activities, and identifying threatening differences from those expectations.”

In the initial MARCS contract, Charles River created game concepts to address proxemics (how distances between people impact the interpretation of the human terrain) and geographics (interpretation of behaviors in the physical terrain). In this follow-on contract, Charles River will extend these microgames and integrate them into the larger Combat Hunter training process.

This material is based upon work supported by the Office of Naval Research under Contract No. N00014-12-C-0627. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Naval Research.

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