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Real and virtual worlds collide for Green Dragon

by Volvo Ocean Race media 15 May 2009 20:53 BST
Marijn Harinck CEO, United Games and Ian Walker, Skipper of Green Dragon, announce a collaboration between the sailors on Green Dragon and the community of players in the Volvo Ocean Race virtual game © Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race

Ian Walker's Green Dragon team has announced a unique partnership with the Volvo Ocean Race Game ahead of leg seven, which takes the fleet from Boston to Galway, Ireland, starting on Saturday.

The arrangement will give the game playing community on the Volvo Ocean Race Game the ability to interact with the Green Dragon afterguard as skipper Ian Walker and navigator Ian Moore make their weather routing decisions during the leg.

Here's how it will work: Every twelve hours during the leg, the virtual skippers in the Volvo Ocean Race Game will be sent a poll from Green Dragon. It will include a description of the current situation (details on weather conditions, boat condition and the crew) as well as an outlook for the next 24/36/48/72 hours.

Each of these polls will include at least three options for the route the team should sail. The poll will be posted on the game website for an hour, and the game players will have an opportunity to vote on the preferred route. The results of that vote will be communicated to the entire fleet, including Green Dragon, by the Duty Officer at Volvo Ocean Race headquarters.

Green Dragon may then, at the discretion of the skipper and navigator, follow the guidance of the online community. If the team decides not to take the advice, they will send an explanation for their reasoning.

This interaction between the real and virtual worlds is unprecedented in sport and marks the first time an online game playing community has been in active communication with a professional sporting team during live competition.

"I'm excited by this new project between Green Dragon and the Volvo Ocean Race Game," said Knut Frostad, the CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race. "The interaction between the game community, which has more than 200,000 players and the sailing team, will be very interesting to follow. I think it will give the game players a real insight to the difficult decision-making process that the sailors face time and again, each and every day, when they are at sea racing."

"This virtual-real-teamwork idea is fascinating," said Green Dragon skipper Ian Walker. "It will be a completely new experience for us and will add a new dimension to sailing. For Ian (Moore) and me, it means opening up our decision making process to the world, and the rest of the fleet. But the more we can get people to understand what really goes on, on board, the better."

The Volvo Ocean Race Game has been an unqualified success. With over 200,000 players from around the world, it is the largest active online sailing community ever. The game allows players to compete against each other, as well as the Volvo Open 70 fleet on each leg of the race.

"We are very excited to be part of such a pioneering and exciting project. This joint effort between the real and the virtual world could be an immense milestone for the future of online game playing and I am sure that this is only going to be the first step," said Marijn Harinck, the CEO of United Games, the publisher of the Volvo Ocean Race Game.

Leg seven, which takes the real - and virtual - Volvo Ocean Race fleets from Boston to Galway, is scheduled to start at 13:00 local time (17:00 GMT) in Boston Harbor on Saturday.

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