In MENTAT, security analysts play the role of an agent trying to solve mysteries through the acquisition of clues and other data pertinent to cases. Players receive a storyline which they must analyze and then go out into the “field” to interview potential suspects, witnesses to the crime. They must then analyze the results of those interviews and determine the viability of the information gathered. Through this, players will hopefully learn to mitigate so-called “Cognitive Biases” that often cause real life analysts the miss key elements in an investigation, or force them to go down investigative paths that lead nowhere.
MENTAT was developed by BreakAway in partnership with BBN-Raytheon, Sigma, University of Central Florida, etc. as part of a 5 team game design contest financed by intelligence agency IARPA, who was trying to develop games that would help their analyst mitigate Cognitive Biases, such as Confirmation Bias, Fundamental Attribution Error, Bias Blind-Spot, etc. The goal was to present a more light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek mystery game that you take the player (agent) through a series of scenarios that would mitigate each bias and allow IARPA teachers the ability to determine, through player feedback, whether their biases were begin effectively mitigated.