Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 20/02/2010

simulation papers at APSA’s 2010 TLC

As it does each year, the American Political Science Association’s recent Teaching and Learning Conference had several sessions devoted to the use of simulation and role-playing in the classroom. You’ll find many of the 2010 TLC papers (on these and other topics) can be downloaded via the Social Science Research Network.

CFP: The International Journal of Role-Playing

The (online, blog-based) International Journal of Role-Playing is calling for submissions for its 2nd issue, due to be published in 2010:

The International Journal of Role-Playing invites researchers, designers, developers, academics, artists and others involved in the growing field of research related to role-playing to submit articles. The IJRP is a peer-reviewed journal, and welcomes submissions from any sphere of interest, knowledge network, research field or de-development sector that directly or indirectly relates to role-playing interests.

Potential topics include but are certainly not limited to the following:

• Role-playing games, e.g. frameworks, storytelling and graphics; art, design and creative industry

• Role-playing culture, psychology, media, economics, and sociology

• Role-playing technology, surveys, vocabulary, training and education

• Other aspects of role-playing and related research and development

The International Journal of Role-Playing is a biannual international journal that covers all aspects of role-playing, irrespective of the medium, platform or intent. The IJRP specifically aims to act as the focal point, for pushing the limits of role-playing knowledge, and to improve sharing of knowledge across the knowledge networks involved with role-playing- and related work, notably the industry, the academia and the arts. The journal will encourage the exchange of ideas and experiences, and will be a free, online forum where knowledge can be harvested. In realizing that the knowledge networks involved with role-playing- and related work are based in a variety of interest spheres, which write and publish their work in different ways, the IJRP will accommodate the knowledge sharing principles of the various networks.

The call for papers can be found at the link above.

The Mandelbrot Development Project

A few years ago, the International Development Research Centre’s Economy and Environment Programme for Southeast Asia commissioned a role-play simulation to examine environmental and decision-making issue, revolving around a proposed mining project in an ecologically sensitive area of a fictional SEA-type country:

The Mandelbrot Development Project is a hypothetical development project ina developing country. The project design is based on typical circumstances in a hypothetical low-middle income country (Mañanaland), and draws on actual conditions from a cross-section of real-life projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian Ocean island states, the Indian sub-continent, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean. The case study site features a coastal region (Deli Province) with typical bio-geographic and socio-economic conditions of high poverty levels, environmental degradation from deforestation and marginal agriculture, and an artisanal fishery industry. The area also features a recently established terrestrial biosphere reserve (Deli National Park) of international importance, and ecotourism around a marine park area (Deli Archipelago) is slowly being developed close to the sea-side provincial capital of Fort Brot. The Mandelbrot Project is composed of a number of regional development activities that include : (i) a mining project to extract ilmenite; (ii) a port expansion component required for the mining development; and, (iii) associated infrastructure.

The case study exercise provides a role-playing context (“game”) for students of environmental economics. The purpose of the exercise is not so much to have students undertake an environmental economics study, as it is for students to gain an understanding of the decision-making and policy formulation dynamics that often surround such studies.

Students are divided into groups of 10-15 people, with each person representing a “player” in the game. The players are invited to a half-day meeting to consider the development options for the province, and to determine whether the Mandelbrot project should (i) proceed immediately; (ii) proceed in some modified form; (iii) be abandoned; or (iv) be deferred until further research is done. The Project itself will be funded through the following formula: 25% private sector; 25% government contribution; 50% international assistance. All players in the game are given the same background information, which consists of an invitation to participate, a list of participants, and an economic consultant’s report. The meeting is chaired by a representative of Central Government who, in tandem with a representative from an international development agency, is tasked with garnering input from various stakeholders in the province.

The full files for running the simulation (including general information, specific role briefings, and spreadsheets) are available for download from H.J. Ruitenbeek Resource Consulting here. The simulation requires some familiarity with economic and business analysis, but certainly could prove quite useful in university courses in environmental economics, as well as for professionals in this area.

News Games

For those who haven’t seen it yet, a research team at Georgia Tech has an excellent blog on News Games that examines “the ways videogames can be used in the field of journalism, providing examples, theoretical approaches, speculative ideas, and practical advice about the past, present, and future of games and journalism.” There is a lot of interest here, from games about the news and current affairs, to advocacy games, to entertainment software that intersects with contemporary issues. Have a look!

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