PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Monthly Archives: March 2010

blub blub blub…

The sound you hear is me drowning in emails this week—I’m in the middle of running the annual Brynania civil war simulation at McGill, and I’ve been reading an average of 1,800 emails a day from my 100+ students. We’ve also endured two server crashes, one of which took place during a simulated coup attempt, thereby adding even more realism to the government’s orders of a communications blackout! I’ll post about it later, when it’s over, and I’ve caught up on sleep.

In the meantime, I came across this while looking for something completely different: a British Red Cross disaster simulation. It isn’t for training purposes but rather for fund-raising, but its interesting nonetheless.

You’ll also find some discussion here.

h/t A Humourless Lot: Logistics for Health and Aid blog

EVOKE update

A few more discussions from about the net on the World Bank’s EVOKE project, and the broader use of serious social networking games:

Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.

As of the afternoon of March 16, over 9,800 participants from over 130 countries have registered to play.  This figure is almost double what we had projected for the entire 10 weeks of the game.  Just under 20% of total visitors to the site (50,457 unique visitors) have registered to play….

Urgent Evoke is shaping up to be the most popular game of its type by far, which is a testament to its message and marketing power. At the rate it’s growing, it could have up to tens of thousands of players by the time it’s finished. A big reason why Evoke is popular is because of its simple and attractive Obama-like promise: “You can become a superhero. You can change the world.”

  • Invoke—The Game A discussion of both EVOKE and its INVOKE parody, at the Persuasive Games blog.

Invoking EVOKE

Well, it was bound to happen: a website parodying the World Bank’s EVOKE social networking/game project. You’ll find it at INVOKE: An ARG to Save the World Bank.

As for the actual EVOKE project, I’m too busy enjoying food from (hypothetical) floating Tokyo greenhouses while dancing the night away in (simulated) Rio on (virtual) Piezo-electric power-generating dance floors to write a full review at the moment. However, I’ll be posting a full review at some point in May, when the project approaches its end.

In the meantime, you’ll find some coverage at InventorSpotFox NewsHuffington Post, the Alternative Reality Gaming Network, and elsewhere.

NDU South Asia crisis simulation report

From the Institute of National Security Studies at National Defense University, a report on a recent South Asia crisis simulation:

Perspectives from Fragile Crescent: A South Asia Crisis Simulation

February 24, 2009

By Christopher S. Robinson, Steven J. Tomisek, and Kenneth Kligge

In February 2009, as national security experts were discussing proposals for U.S. strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, a small group of senior governmental officials from the executive and legislative branches gathered at the National Defense University (NDU) in Washington, DC, to participate in Fragile Crescent, a South Asia crisis simulation exercise. The exercise posed a number of hypothetical scenarios intended to stimulate thinking about current and future challenges in South Asia. The Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) Center for Applied Strategic Learning at NDU developed the exercise and hosted the event. This report recaps the highlights of the exercise and discussions among experts.

how not to run a simulation in the Caucasus…

It seems that Georgia’s Imedi TV has done its own version of Orson Welles’ famous 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast, Caucasus-style:

As al-Jazeera reports:

“Russian tanks have invaded Georgia and the country’s president has been killed.”

That is what Imedi TV, one of Georgia’s most popular television channels, reported on Saturday night. It also broadcasted video of what appeared to be the Russian army in the country.

In reaction, many Georgian residents rushed into the streets in panic and emergency services were flooded with phone calls. Even a number of heart attacks were reported to have occurred.

But when the broadcast turned out to be untrue, widespread panic across the country turned into anger.

The pro-government channel later apologised, saying it was a mock newscast to show “what the worst day in Georgian history might look like”. It also said it “should have clarified” that the programme was a fake TV report.

You’ll also find coverage at CNN, and elsewhere.

empowering creative geniuses everywhere

As we have in the past, PaxSims is pleased to present a guest post by Skip Cole from the United States Institute of Peace—where, among other things, he’s been working on the USIP Open Sim Platform. Comments are welcomed below, or Skip can be reached directly at rcole (at) usip.org.

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What if anyone who wanted to create a simulation could do so? Would it change the world for the better, or for the worse? What would get created? How would people spend their time?

Very soon we will find out. The world is moving quickly in this direction. The cost of creating simulations is going down precipitously, and soon creating a simulation will be as easy as writing a book. Not that writing a book is particularly easy, but it is something that pretty much any human can do. (Just perusing a bookstore is enough to convince one of that.)

I spend my days trying to bring us to this future. But many other people are also helping us get there. A similar (and you are going to have to bear with me a bit on this) effort has just come to fruition in the creation of Gratuitous Space Battles (GSB). At first blush, our two efforts might seem completely different, but at a deep level we do have a lot in common.

Let me first describe both tools. In GSB you create a fleet of space ships, and then send them off to die in glorious battle. GSB is about mindless diversion and heavy weaponry. It is about maximizing unreal destruction and the creation of beautiful visuals, most of which involve interstellar clouds being lit up by laser fire and things being atomized.

The simulation creation tool that we have created, the USIP Open Sim Platform (USIP OSP), is designed to help people in peacebuilding missions do a better job. Some decisions, such as where to dig a simple well in a village, can become surprisingly important, and getting them wrong can lead to a cascade of problems. Figuring out where to dig that well is almost never a matter of hydrometry. It is a matter of figuring out who to talk to and how. These are tricky, sticky and at times very tedious problems. But what can be at stake are many real lives. As Aldous Huxley put it, “Proverbs are always platitudes until you have personally experienced the truth of them.” We allow the students to experience the truth of our lessons Without anyone actually dying.

OSP screenshot—click to enlarge.

So, sure there are a lot of superficial differences between the USIP OSP and the GSB: Ours is open source, their’s is for sale. Ours is strategic, their’s is tactical. Ours is ‘serious,’ their’s is fun. We use human intelligence, they use artificial intelligence. Their’s is about war, our’s is about peace. They have excellent, excellent visuals, and we . . . don’t.

But for all of the differences, both tools empower the simulation author to create a virtual experiences. The author creates, pushes a button and then things go. In both cases the simulation author can then learn from the experience. In fact everyone exposed to the simulation will learn from the experience and the be able to go on and build better simulations. “A world of simulation builders! You say. You must be mad Cole, Mad!”

But yes, that is exactly what we are coming to, and the sooner the better. Human in the loop simulations will expand our collective understanding of how people are and how they interact. The more of this understanding that we all share, the more sophisticated we all become. And finding ways to extricate ourselves from the serious problems that we have managed to get ourselves into will require all of that sophistication and then some.

So Rock On GSB! I salute you and your virtual ships. You are the harbinger of greater things to come. And if we ever do get into a planetary war against evil bug like creatures, I am sure you will show us the way. But if those bug like creatures ever decide to talk and negotiate, we will have your back.

Skip Cole

NASAGA 2010 conference: call for papers

The North American Simulation and Gaming Association has released a call for papers for its October 2010 conference:

NASAGA 2010 Conference:
A Chance for Knowledge, Skills and Learning

October 13-16, 2010

Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver
Vancouver, British Columbia

Call for Participation

If you are interested in presenting, send your conference proposal as a Word document on or before April 15, 2010. You may submit more than one proposal, but it is unlikely that more than one will be accepted. Be sure to include the following information on each proposal submitted.

Who Are You?

  • Name (as you would like to see it in the program)
  • Email Address
  • Mailing Address
  • Telephone Number
  • A brief 100-word bio
  • (Repeat the information for each co-presenter)

What’s Your Session?

  • Title (Make it informative and catchy. Limit to 40 characters, including spaces.)
  • Session Description (In 100 words or fewer, describe your session. This description should help participants make an informed choice.)
  • Session Objectives (List two or three bulleted items to specify what participants will achieve as a result of attending your session)
  • Session Method (Identify whether your session will use demonstration, panel discussion, activity-and-debrief, etc. Keep it as interactive as possible.)
  • Audio Visual Requirements (All rooms will have one flip chart. Specify any other items you will need.)
  • Time (Sessions will 90 minutes.)

Who Should Attend Your Session?

  • Level (specify beginner, intermediate, or advanced)
  • Job functions (such as trainer, facilitator, consultant, or researcher)

Format

Send your proposal as a Word document to proposal@nasaga.org.

Deadline

Please ensure your proposal reaches us on or before April 15, 2010.

NASAGA has also organized a game competition, the results of which will be announced at the conference.

UPDATE: While I’m at it, I should probably also mention the next annual conference of the International Simulation and Gaming Association, which will be held in Spokane, WA on 5-9 July 2010. You’ll find a .pdf of their call for papers here.

UrbanSim on “Armed with Science”

The US Department of Defense’s DoD Live website recently (3 March 2010) featured an interview with Dr Andrew Gordon of USC on the development of the UrbanSim counterinsurgency simulation in its Armed with Science section.

You’ll find the audio and transcript here.

The World Bank EVOKEs the power of social network gaming

The World Bank is also getting into the use of online games to engage youth (especially in Africa) with EVOKE, a newly-launched social networking game.

This isn’t entirely a game in the usual sense, although it has objectives and puzzles and rewards. Rather, it seems to be using those mechanisms to get young people engaged in a sort of online conversation, to exchange views and ideas, and to interact with more experienced “mentors.” The website integrates blog posts, videos, background materials and a graphic novel style story-telling.

World Bank Institute Launches Online Game EVOKE, a Crash Course in Changing the World

Winners to earn mentorships and scholarships

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2010 – The World Bank Institute has launched an online multiplayer game, EVOKE, designed to empower young people all over the world, but especially in Africa, to start solving urgent social problems like hunger, poverty, disease, conflict, climate change, sustainable energy, lack of health care and education.
Over 4,000 participants from more than 120 countries and territories pre-registered to start playing on March 3. They will be challenged to complete a series of ten missions and ten quests — one per week, over the course of the ten-week game.
“EVOKE helps players learn 21st century skills to become the social innovators who shape the future,”said Robert Hawkins, a Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank Institute, and Executive Producer for the game. “Top players will also earn real-world honors and rewards, namely mentorships with experienced social innovators and business leaders, and scholarships to share their vision for the future at an EVOKE Summit to be held in Washington DC.”


Players who successfully complete ten online missions in ten weeks will also be able to receive a special distinction: World Bank Institute Social Innovator – Class of 2010.
The project began as a response to African universities’ desire to engage students in real world problems and to develop capacities for creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial action that will be the engine for job creation now and in the future.
“An evoke is an urgent call to innovation,” says the game’s creative director, Jane McGonigal. “When we evoke, we look for creative solutions and learn how to tackle the world’s toughest problems with creativity, courage, resourcefulness and collaboration.”


Set in the year 2020, the game’s story follows the efforts of a mysterious network of Africa’s best problem-solvers. Each week, as players unravel the mystery of the Evoke network, they will form their own innovation networks: brainstorming creative solutions to real-world development challenges, learning more about what it takes to be a successful social innovator, and finding ways to make a difference in the world.
“In the world of the EVOKE graphic novel, the people most prepared for the problems of the future are the ones who are grappling with them today,” says EVOKE story director Kiyash Monsef. “And that’s exactly what our players are doing by participating in this game. They’re preparing for the future.”


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For more information, please visit www.urgentevoke.com
Watch the game trailer at: http://vimeo.com/9094186

KEY FACTS ABOUT EVOKE:

  • The game is free to play and open to anyone, anywhere.
  • The game begins on March 3, 2010 and runs for 10 weeks.
  • Developed by the World Bank Institute, the learning arm of the World Bank (http://wbi.worldbank.org/wbi/), and sponsored by InfoDev (www.infodev.org) and Korean Trust Fund on ICT4D which funds cutting edge projects supporting ICT and sustainable development.
  • Directed by Jane McGonigal, award-winning alternate reality game director (www.avantgame.com)
  • Developed by Natron Baxter Applied Gaming (http://natronbaxter.com/)
  • Art for the graphic novel is by Jacob Glaser (http://www.jacobglaser.com/index.html).

While it is certainly innovative, on a quick few minutes of play-through I found it all rather complicated, lacking in either engaging competition in a game sense, or a fluid and obvious social networking interface. Of course, I’m not the target audience, and perhaps it works better when combined with some offline instructional support. Then again, I’m not exactly a social networking neophyte or RPG newbie either. As for the message on innovation and social development, I’m not sure that jazzing it up in clothing of secret future superheroes fighting global problems informs more than it distorts and confuses. As for Japan facing a famine in 2020? It is certainly a nice role-reversal on the Africa-in-peril theme, but it all seemed a bit of a stretch.

It will be interesting to see what the reaction to this one will be.

ADL bibliography on electronic games and simulation

The US government’s Advanced Distributed Learning initiative (“The ADL Initiative develops and implements learning technologies across the U.S. Department of Defense and federal government. We collaborate with government, industry, and academia to promote international specifications and standards for designing and delivering learning content.”) has a useful bibliography online of studies dealing the teaching and learning effectiveness of computer fames. You’ll find the listing here.

more online development games

I’ve posted below two more online games that I probably should have included in my earlier post on sustainable development games. At some point I may collect all these into a single page of gaming and simulation resources.

* * *

Jason: Energy City

JASON is a project sponsored by National Geographic that seeks to motivate students (K-12) to learn about science. The Energy City game focuses on sustainable development issues:

The sun rises over the bustling city. Buses rumble by, cars creep down the street, and buzzing alarm clocks prompt sleepy residents to flip a switch and get ready for their day. This is a routine familiar to city-dwellers around the world. Right now, many of those cars, buses, and lights are powered using non-renewable energy resources. But that won’t always be the case. To create a sustainable future, you will need to design a new energy portfolio to sustain the city into the future. Are you up to the challenge?

It is set in the context of the industrialized world, with options (such as fuel cell research and nuclear power plants) that don’t apply in most development contexts. However, the game play is fluid, intuitive, informative, and complex, with players required to balance economic costs, air quality, and general environmental conditions, as well as demands from stakeholder groups. Very well done (and fun to play too)—indeed, the basic mechanics could easily be adapted to other social and economic challenges.

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Ayiti: The Cost of Life

The focus here is not on sustainable development per se, but rather on the economic barriers to education in Haiti (and, by extension, other low income countries. According to the developers:

Global Kids’ Ayiti: The Cost of Life was funded by the Microsoft Corporations US Partners in Learning and designed in collaboration between Global Kids Playing 4 Keeps program’s youth leaders at South Shore High School in Brooklyn, NY and the game design company GameLab.

The biggest design challenge was creating a game that realistically and sensitively illuminated the challenges posed by poverty in daily life (specifically, in the pursuit for the global right to an education) but that was still truly enjoyable and satisfying to play. Extending this challenge, it was imperative that the game be replayable such that each session would expose to the player more of the subtleties of the relationships between the different underlying economies. The economies of the game are balanced with such guile that at first the game seems unbeatable. We assure you, though, there are ways to keep your entire family healthy and happy and educated!

I don’t doubt that there are ways to win, but honesty forces me to acknowledge that I wasn’t able to to keep the (simulated) kids in school—they were pulled out to work when some of the family fell ill, and in the end everyone died of cholera…

The website also includes resource and curriculum materials for teachers.

virtual cultures, virtual wars (or: how I plan to spend my summer holidays)

A hat-tip to PaxSims reader Carolin Kaltofen for pointing out two recent articles of interest on the military’s use of computer-based simulation for training. (Keep the suggestions coming please!)

The first is a short piece by Katie Drummond in Wired’s Danger Room blog on the Pentagon’s use of video games to teach cultural sensitivity and awareness:

New Pentagon Sim Teaches Troops to Play Nice

By Katie Drummond, 26 February 2010

The Pentagon’s added yet another video game to their growing collection. This time, they’re investing in a “First Person Cultural Trainer” designed to teach one-on-one cultural sensitivity to American troops.

The Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) is backing University of Texas researchers to create the game, which is a 3D sim with scenarios in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Troops play themselves, and interact with Iraqi and Afghan civilians in replications of local villages.

It’s a project that’s been in the works for three years, and uses cultural data provided by the military. The goal of the game is to enter a village, learn about the social structures and relevant issues, and then “work with the community” to successfully finish assigned missions.

There’s more information on the First Person Cultural Trainer here, on the UT Dallas website.

Meanwhile, Peter Singer has published a longer piece entitled “Meet the Sims… and Shoot Them” on the Brookings Institution website, examining the use of  video games for military training:

The country of Ghanzia is embroiled in a civil war. As a soldier in America’s Army, your job is to do everything from protect U.S. military convoys against AK-47-wielding attackers to sneak up on a mountain observatory where arms dealers are hiding out. It is a tough and dangerous tour of duty that requires dedication, focus, and a bit of luck. Fortunately, if you get hit by a bullet and bleed to death, you can reboot your computer and sign on under a new name.

America’s Army is a video game — a “tactical multiplayer first-person shooter” in gaming lingo — that was originally developed by the U.S. military to aid in its recruiting and training, but is now available for anyone to play. Among the most downloaded Internet games of all time, it is perhaps the best known of a vast array of video game-based military training programs and combat simulations whose scope and importance are rapidly changing not just the video-game marketplace, but also the way the U.S. military finds and trains its future warriors and even how the American public interfaces with the wars carried out in its name. For all the attention to the strategic debates of the post-9/11 era, a different sort of transformation has taken place over the last decade — largely escaping public scrutiny, at modest cost relative to the enormous sums spent elsewhere in the Pentagon budget, and with little planning but enormous consequences.

Singer also has an earlier piece on the same topic (“War Games“) at Foreign Policy Magazine which briefly described and offered screenshots of  several of the software packages involved.

Singer, of course, is the author of Wired for War, an excellent book examining the rise of robotics and other technologies in modern warfare. (For a fuller discussion of that book and the issues it raised, see last year’s online  symposia at Complex Terrain Laboratory.)

Both articles raise a number of important points. Drummond notes the difficulty of capturing the complexities of interpersonal and intercultural interaction in a computer simulation, as well as the danger that players will game the game (that is, achieve more through their innate understanding of game mechanics and cues than develop actual cross-cultural expertise):

The Pentagon have already invested in simulation games to train for war-zone combat, improve recruitment and help treat post-traumatic stress. But cultural sensitivity might be one of the most important, and most difficult, tasks to master through virtual reality. Trying to effectively replicate a nuanced, genuinely human, interaction seems nothing short of impossible. Characters in the University of Texas game can express four “emotions”: anger, fear, gladness and neutrality.

As one game expert tells Danger Room, “even moderately intelligent people will end up being able to exploit the game in order to pass. It’s one thing to know which line of dialogue will make virtual villagers like you. It’s another to say that in real life.”

Singer highlights an even broader set of operational, practical, and even social issues, ranging from the perspectives that simulation-based training may impart, to the impact of first-person-shooters and other military entertainment software on public attitudes to warfare and killing:

But there are many concerns about what these dramatic changes mean for war’s future. With only so many hours in the day, some in the military worry that video games are beginning to edge out real-world training. Navy Capt. Stephen David complained in the service’s in-house journal that the virtual vets arriving aboard his ship lacked “the requisite familiarity with even the most basic shiphandling skills.” Others raise what is called the “O’Brien Effect,” referring to the time talk-show host Conan O’Brien challenged tennis champion Serena Williams to a match, only to defeat her on the Nintendo Wii. At some point, piloting a plane in combat is different from piloting a computer workstation, just as hitting a real tennis ball is not the same as hitting the Wii version.

The real danger of militainment, though, might be in how it risks changing the perceptions of war. “You lose an avatar; just reboot the game,” is how Ken Robinson, the Special Forces veteran who produced Army 360, put it in Training & Simulation Journal. “In real life, you lose your guy; you’ve lost your guy. And then you’ve got to bury him, and then you’ve got to call his wife.”

This is not just an issue for the military, but also for a broader public that has less and less to do with actual war. As Celeste Zappala of Philadelphia, a mother who lost her son in Iraq, told Salon, “I’ve always believed when people participate in virtual violence, it makes the victims of violence become less empathetic and less real, and people become immune to the real pain people suffer.” But for most parents, having to send their children to war is not something they worry about, even as it becomes something that more of them play at.

It is a topic I’ll be looking at in a few months, since I’ll be soon starting an SSHRC-supported research project on the “Simulating Strife.” I’ll probably post the full project description to PaxSims in the summer, when I have my other current projects out of the way. In the meantime, however, here’s the short version as a foretaste:

This research project is about the political implications of simulation—or, more specifically, the increasing use of peacebuilding simulations in education, the military, and international organizations. “Peacebuilding” is understood broadly in this case to include processes of civil conflict and peace negotiations, humanitarian and development assistance in fragile and conflict-affected countries, insurgency and counterinsurgency (COIN), peacekeeping and stabilization operations, and war-to-peace transitions. The kinds of simulations addressed by the research will be those that involve one or more human “players,” regardless of whether outcomes are machine- or human-moderated. As a result, the project will not examine the use of wholly autonomous agent-based modeling, although it certainly will examine simulations in which artificial intelligence (AI) determines the behaviour of some of the actors involved.

The research project will seek to answer several sets of questions:

  • How are such simulations used, and with what educational, training, or planning goals in mind? How are requirements determined within organizations, and in what ways has the growth of computer-based simulation and instruction changed the training doctrines of organizations involved in peacebuilding?
  • Upon what theoretical models (if any) do the simulations build, implicitly or explicitly? To what extent, and in what ways, do they embody particular ideologies or world-views? How have these been derived, and embedded? To what extent are users of the simulation (teachers, trainers, planners) aware and sensitive to them?
  • How are these assumptions and views imparted to the participants? Does the nature of the simulation have effects on the way in which participants absorb lessons from the process, and the degree of confidence they place in the simulation’s intrinsic assumptions?
  • How is this shaped or reshaped by the growing capabilities of technology (in terms of graphic realism, interface, and AI), as well as the functional need of the simulation to maintain a degree of “playability”?
  • To what extent have participants’ expectations of professional simulation been affected by the rapid growth of entertainment simulation, including in particular those computer and video games that address conflict issues?
  • Most important of all, what impact might all of this have on either policy or practice? How might the simulation experience inculcate particular views of the world and the way it operates, and how might these reshape individual and organizational behaviour in fragile and conflict-affected countries?

A secondary focus of the research project will be the simulated depiction of counter-insurgency and stabilization operations in popular culture through video and computer games. Here, the research project will probe the extent to which attitudes and perspectives encouraged through “virtual” COIN may shape the policy-orientations of gamers as citizens, voters, activists, or soldiers.

Within political science, the literature has almost entirely focused on describing and evaluating classroom use of simulations, with some attention to its potential use as a research tool. An even larger literature can be found in educational psychology and other social science literature. Again, however, there is little if any attention to the social and political implications of the simulation as process that embeds and imparts a range of theoretical and even ideological assumptions to its participants.

This disconnect is particularly striking when one considers the sheer scale of resources being devoted to simulation, especially within Western militaries. The modeling and simulations division of just a one US defence contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, employs some 700 specialists in this area—equivalent to almost half of the entire membership of the Canadian Political Science Association. A quick search of the US military’s Defense Technical Information Center database find more that two hundred unclassified reports on wargaming insurgency alone, all outside the mainstream political science literature. The Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference, devoted to military training and simulation, draws some 18,000 delegates to its annual meeting. Yet, as an academic field political science has almost entirely failed to examine this phenomenon.

Needless to say, I very much welcome contact with other researchers interested in this area—feel free to drop me a note: rex.brynen (at) mcgill.ca.

Connections 2010

The Connections 2010 interdisciplinary wargaming conference will be held in Dayton, Ohio on 24-26 March:

Since 1993 Connections has worked to advance the art, science and application of wargaming by bringing together all elements of the field (military, commercial and academic) so they can exchange info on achievements, best practices and needs.

The theme of Connections 2010 is enhancing wargaming ability to anticipate the future of warfare. We explore that theme through; two keynotes, four panels, three working groups, demos and a play test. See agenda. Still, many believe the most valuable element of Connections is the chance to meet leaders from across the branches of wargaming. This year Connections will also part of Big Week.

h/t BayonetBrant at Small Wars Council.

Games for Change Festival 2010

The 7th annual Games for Change Festival will take place in New York on May 24-27, 2010:

The Annual Games for Change Festival brings together the world’s leading foundations, NGOs, game-makers, academics, and journalists to explore how best to harness this incredibly powerful medium to help address the most critical issues of our day, from poverty, climate change, global conflicts, to human rights. Every year, the festival doubles in size and brings in new, high-impact partners.

The festival includes 4 exciting days of panels, keynotes and brainstorming sessions, as well as funders’ meetings, press briefings, a private journalists dinner, birds-of-a-feather gatherings and the usual excellent networking opportunities. This year also features the always popular Expo and reception where attendees can play these new games first-hand.

Called “the Sundance of video games” for “socially-responsible game-makers” we’re promoting a new genre of video game – games to change the world – for the better.

Join us in this exciting and important new field!

Full agenda to be announced shortly.

UrbanSim video

We’ve blogged in the past (here and here) about the UrbanSim counter-insurgency training simulation. For those interested, you can find a video of a presentation on UrbanSim made at the October 2009 Counterinsurgency Leaders Workshop at the COIN Center at Fort Leavenworth. There’s also a podcast of the same presentation available through iTunes.

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