Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

What Do NDU Gamers Do All Day?

Ever wondered what the National Strategic Gaming Center at National Defense University does? Now you know:

Gaming the 21st Century: National Strategic Gaming Center

Joint Force Quarterly 52 (1st Quarter, 2009).

The discipline has long lacked an energized professional discourse about how games are best put together and what consumers can (and cannot) learn from them. This lack of substantive activity is costly to the wider policy and analytical community, whose members are left with few reference points for evaluating how seriously they should take the findings from games and how useful participation in them might be, and with little awareness of the interesting topics and exercises being run throughout the national security community. Despite some admirable attempts to stimulate debate and research, even Defense Department university-based wargaming groups have avoided publishing, lecturing, and generally competitively comparing ideas about why and how we do what we do.

A research initiative launched in 2008 seeks to fill this void and to invite colleagues in other gaming shops and the wider policy community to engage with us by participating in events, criticizing, contesting, elaborating, or extending research ideas. We want to challenge practitioners to reexamine how they write games and draw conclusions. We similarly wish to encourage and enable consumers of games to critically assess them. Our overarching focus is on gaming 21st-century challenges-both identifying issues and trends that could be well served by gaming and weighing whether and where exercise design needs to adapt in order to reflect these new issues.

You’ll also find an earlier and more detailed piece on Strategic Gaming for the National Security Community in Joint Force Quarterly 39 (4th Quarter 2005).

Hat-tip to NDU’s Margaret McCown for passing on what promises to be the first of a regular series of articles on their activities—and apologies to the late Richard Scarry for the blog post title.

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