Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

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)….



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