Announcing the 2011 Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge!

Tami Griffith is a Science and Technology Manager for the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Simulation & Training Technology Center. She specializes in games and virtual worlds for training. She is the originator of the Federal Virtual World Challenge and has been a leader in extending the Army into various virtual environments. She is currently exploring ways to improve a user’s sense of presence using low-cost off-the-shelf technology with current emphasis on neural-navigation.

Virtual environments allow users to have the sense that they exist in a different place. That place may allow them to defy physical laws, float in space, stand on the ocean floor, or it may replicate the real world very closely. These environments may facilitate meetings with shared documentation or collaboration on complex 3D models or they may involve individual quests. There are thousands of virtual environments available, from ToonTown to Second Life, each with their own strengths. They are easy to access and many are free. Because virtual environments are easily accessible simulations, they have piqued the interest of many people within the U.S. Government for a variety of uses.

Federal Virtual Worlds ChallengeThe Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge began in 2010 as a way to explore the potential uses of virtual environments for training and analysis. The goal was for world-wide developers to share their concepts with the U.S. Government as well as the public in general. The results were announced at the 2010 Defense GameTech Users’ Conference and can be seen in the video above. Additional video footage can be seen in another Armed with Science blog post by Dr. Curtis Conkey titled “Meet the Winners of the Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge” in June of 2010.  $50,000 in travel and cash was awarded to the winners of the 2010 challenge.

This year’s Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge is focused on Artificial Intelligence. We’re very excited because we expect to see true leaders emerge in this vast research area. The criteria for entry are intentionally unconstrained to promote creativity and innovation. Artificial Intelligence includes adaptive learning systems, intelligent conversational bots, adaptive behavior (objects or processes) and a host of areas that haven’t even been considered, yet.

In 2011 there be a $25,000 Grand Prize, as there was last year, but there is a significant increase in the amount each winner will receive in each category:   1st place will receive $5,000, 2nd will receive $3,000 and 3rd will receive $1,000. Travel accommodations will also be provided again for the non-government winners to the DoD GameTech Conference, held in Orlando on March 22-25, 2011.

The expectation is that what we learn from the entries will set us on the road to better tools that can benefit the entire modeling and simulation community. So whether you’re a developer with something significant to share, or an end-user, the Federal Virtual World Challenge has a lot to offer.  If you are interested in becoming a Government evaluator, please email If you are a developer, the due date for entries is December 6, 2010. Either way, I look forward to your involvement!

You can also support the Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge on

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  • Michael Jorge

    I am glad there is now medical treatment for TBI. A lot of our servicemen are exposed and are in danger getting this illness which may affect their lives even after several years of their tour of duty. I saw some persons suffer from this illness and their lives are shattered. I just hope studies will continue to prevent this injury to our servicemen.

  • Davidstarkey83

    I would love to be a part of that group that goes out Kayaking together, whoa, that looks like fun, plus you are with other TBI comrads. I was at Ramstein AFB Germany when our Headquarters got blown completely to smitherins! I was only 100 paces away, got knocked-out and the V.A. will not treat me nor gather info or intel, it's almost like it never happened, because I wasn't seen at the clinic for brain injuries, even though it's obvious, I sustained a concussion from the explosion. I live in Fayetteville Arkansas now and wish somebody would help me. I'm prior Air Force, recieving 30% service connected disability, live alone and am deeply depressed. Amn David N Starkey; 632 w. putman Fayetteville Arkansas 72701. 1-479-313-1235, if you can help or know someone that can, please help me. Thanks – and god bless you, and God Bless America!

  • Davidstarkey83

    I also have “Pigment Dispersion Syndrome” – that's where your eyes cannot dilate due to your iris being stuck to your inner eye lens, they associate that with head trauma, or a blow to the head.

  • Patricia Thompson

    I am just wondering if super ball rubber would work if it surrounded the outside of military vehicles would I.E.D.S bounce off and grenades and such? If it was thick enough it would work I am sure.I believe if someone would build a vehicle as such and test it would be the next thing in military materials tech…

  • Patricia Thompson

    I believe continued virtual reality and also real life therapy too and learning programs both manual and computerized…Because I have P.T.S.D. and TBI from civilian trauma and I had problems worse 12 years ago than now I believe that I am better than I was before my injuries .I don't talk about it on the computer because I am a abuse victim and they live in the area where I live and own a computer.Someday I can talk to you maybe more privately..Thankyou..

  • Aegis

    Some great work being done on link between TBI and PTSD by Michael Kelley

    Attended a lecture of his at Aspen, seems to be going in the right direction.

    regards Aegis58

  • Armed with Science

    David, thanks for your comment, and I'm sorry to hear about what you're going through. Please let me forward this along to one of my colleagues and then get back to you. Take care. ~John | AwS Team

  • DCoE Comm

    I'd like to recommend contacting the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Outreach Center. The center is staffed by trained health resource consultants with expertise in psychological health and traumatic brain injury who are available 24/7 and can provide responses to your specific questions and needs. Information can be provided by phone, e-mail or live chat. If you have made contact with the Outreach Center and you’d like to share your thoughts with other bloggers, please feel free to do so. Toll free number: 866-966-1020E-mail: chat: , if you'd like to participate in conversations about psychological health and traumatic brain injury concerns with other servicemembers, veterans, family members please visit our page on Facebook at . We post relevant and current information here daily and have quite an active fan base–we'd enjoy your participation! Thank you for reaching out and thank you for your service and sacrifice to our nation. If you find our resources helpful, please share them with others-we're all in this together!