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Serious Gaming for Public Order Management

Police forces need ongoing training for commanders to improve their skills in maintaining public order in their area of operations. Serious gaming proves to be an effective and efficient learning tool for this purpose. Q-tility has performed an explorative V&V study to a demonstrator Public Order Management (POM) serious game for the Dutch military police. The study results proved its added value for training as well as provided valuable recommendations for more effective use of the serious game.

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Serious gaming technology undergoes an extremely rapid evolution, driven by both the push of developments in entertainment gaming community and the pull from an emerging military, incident management and public safety gaming community. US Marines and Army, UK, NLD, Canadian and Australian Armies have adopted games as essential training platforms for small infantry units and combined arms training. Each training method has its advantages and drawbacks. Validation of the use of serious games is an important tool to find out what contributes to the training goals. In general, serious games do not replace live training. But serious games are observed to enhance analysis and planning and have substantial added value for training of tactics and command and control.

V&V approach and added value

The Dutch military police forces, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (KMar), uses a demonstrator Public Order Management (POM) serious game to train their public order and riot commanders. This POM game developed by TNO can potentially be used for a number of training objectives. With V&V the KMar instructors want to find for what objectives the game is already suited, and what needs to be adapted in order for the game to have utility for the full set of training objectives. The added value of Q-tilities V&V approach is that it takes more than just the technical game aspects into account: we also examine and give advice on the required personnel, effective and efficient use of a game in combination with other available training methods and even gaming relevant policies that can enhance the added value of the game. The KMar trainers and various subject matter experts hired by Q-tility derived the acceptance criteria from the main goal: the game must ensure that training objectives are achieved more efficiently and effectively. The V&V tests consisted of two full training sessions, 4 days in total, in which KMar personnel used the POM game as they intend to use. Tests included interviews, observations, 360° assessment, and hardware and software inspections.

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The V&V results confirmed many of the strengths and weaknesses of the game. The added value of V&V is that now sufficient - and independently obtained - data is available to back up these claims. The POM game developers also appreciated the independent view on the usefulness of the game to prevent tunnel vision in the development team. Immediately after the V&V tests the KMar has started implementing changes to allow for efficient and effective use of the POM game.

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