Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 22/11/2010

recent articles from the Training & Simulation Journal

Michael Peck covers serious games and other issues as US Editor at the Training & Simulation Journal, and has had several recent pieces that would likely be of interest to PaxSims readers:

Less is more: Easy-to-learn games offer big lessons for West Point

T&SJ, August 24, 2010

There is a computer game for just about everything today. Marksmanship. Convoy security. Proper dental hygiene. But a game on military logistics? Who could possibly make a game out of schlepping Fuel Convoy A down Road B to Depot C?

Jim Lunsford can, and he’s doing pretty well at it. The retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel has carved himself a niche in the world of defense simulations, with customers including the Army’s Command and General Staff College (CGSC), the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Air Force Research Lab and the Ukrainian military.

Lunsford’s games are the polar opposite of the U.S. military’s traditional big, one-size-fits-all simulations. Instead of complicated, high-fidelity designs that stumble over their own complexity, Lunsford and his company, Decisive Point, produce small, tightly focused games that cover everything from tactics for platoon leaders to counterinsurgency to logistics and force structure. With tightening defense budgets and the U.S.’s insatiable appetite for training games, Lunsford’s smaller, cheaper approach might be the wave of the future….

Engage the heart, teach the mind: Randy Hill, Institute for Creative Technologies executive director

T&SJ, August 24, 2010

The Institute for Creative Technologies is a research center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Funded mostly by the U.S. Army, ICT applies the talents of Hollywood and the video game industry — also located in the L.A. area — to create immersive military simulations. ICT executive director Randy Hill spoke with TSJ’s Michael Peck….

Thought control: Brain-computer interface holds potential for realistic training

T&SJ, October 01, 2010

Back in 1982, when the coolest Apple gadget was an Apple II computer glowing in glorious monochrome green, there was a movie called “Firefox.” Clint Eastwood played — as only Clint Eastwood could — a crazy, two-fisted American pilot who steals an experimental Soviet fighter. But the real star of the movie was the Firefox, a Soviet jet armed with thought-controlled weapons.

Twenty-eight years later and thought-controlled aircraft are as elusive as action heroes who can act. But thought control is coming. Slowly, tentatively, Army researchers are beginning to explore how to use human thoughts to control avatars in training simulations. Instead of hitting a keyboard or struggling with a joystick, a user would control a mechanical device or command an avatar in a computer game just by thinking…

Man or machine? Virtual humans are a heartbeat away from running the class

T&SJ, October 01, 2010

Legendary mathematician Alan Turing devised a simple test to establish a machine’s ability to demonstrate intelligence. Put a human and a computer behind separate curtains. Have a human judge communicate with them. If the judge can’t tell which is flesh and which is metal, then we have an intelligent computer.

Those who fear a Terminator-esque future should relax. Computers have yet to pass the Turing test. Perhaps they never will. But virtual humans are coming. Not Schwarzenegger-like killers, but computer-controlled personalities that can serve as teachers and mentors….

Game Review: Unleash your inner imperialist—Quirky ‘Victoria II’ works as a nation-building simulation

T&SJ, October 01, 2010

Nation-building may be all the rage, but how can we make a functional nation out of Afghanistan if we can’t even model how a nation works? For all of our impressive visuals and kinetic modeling in virtual simulators, a good but playable political-military simulation has proved elusive.

Enter the Swedes. From the land of the smorgasbord comes “Victoria II” (, a global political-military simulation of the dawn and sunset of the Age of Imperialism, 1836 to 1919. Players can opt to play as one of more than a hundred nations, from Great Britain and the U.S., to Argentina and Persia, to a host of small Asian and African states long faded into words in a history book (c’mon, you know you want to play the mighty Empire of Bhufan)….



Technology-enhanced roleplaying (TERP)

Skip Cole at the United States Institute of Peace has sent on to us his powerpoint presentation from the recent USIP Open Simulation Platform conference, in which he emphasizes the concept (and educational utility) of TERPs—technologically-enhanced role-play.

Why TERPs?

  1. Allows people playing your simulation to act more as they would in the real world: communicating via email and chat, working on draft agreements together, etc.
  2. Allows people to be physically located in different places.
  3. Allows the linking-in of real time data available on the web (such as current articles and videos) to your simulation.
  4. Reduces the work on instructors running the simulation, thus increasing the chances that it will get played.
  5. Allows the automated tracking of data (how student’s respond to events, for example) allowing ‘accessible experience’ to accumulate.
  6. Opens the door to further automation, such as the addition of hard constraints, by keeping your data in a standard format (XML).
  7. Provides places to put information (such as your objectives, audience, plan for playing it, etc.) to help make sure one has all bases covered.
  8. Opens the door to improved sharing and collaboration by keeping the design considerations together with the simulation.

Is the TERP concept a useful one? Have a look at the powerpoint (link above), and let us know what you think.

European Conference on Games-Based Learning 2011

A call for papers, workshops, and tutorials has gone out for Fifth European Conference on Games Based Learning (ECGBL 2011), which will be held in Athens on 20-21 October 2011:

Over the last ten years, the way in which education and training is delivered has changed considerably with the advent of new technologies. One such new technology that holds considerable promise for helping to engage learners is Games-Based Learning (GBL). The Conference offers an opportunity for scholars and practitioners interested in the issues related to GBL to share their thinking and research findings. Papers can cover various issues and aspects of GBL in education and training: technology and implementation issues associated with the development of GBL; use of mobile and MMOGs for learning; pedagogical issues associated with GBL; social and ethical issues in GBL; GBL best cases and practices, and other related aspects. We are particularly interested in empirical research that addresses whether GBL enhances learning. This Conference provides a forum for discussion, collaboration and intellectual exchange for all those interested in any of these fields of research or practice.

The conference committee welcomes both academic and practitioner papers on a wide range of topics using a range of scholarly approaches including theoretical and empirical papers employing qualitative, quantitative and critical methods. Action research, case studies and work in progress/posters are welcomed approaches. PhD Research, proposals for roundtable discussions, non-academic contributions and product demonstrations based on the main themes are also invited.

You’ll find further details at the link above.

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