Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 26/05/2011

General Dempsey on MMOGs and leadership development

It is now being widely reported that General Martin Dempsey, who was appointed as head of the US Army earlier this year, will be selected as the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He’s also quite the fan of massively multiplayer online games as a learning and training tool, as he noted in his Senate confirmation hearing in March:

I feel the same way today about social networking. We’ve got young men and women playing massive multiplayer online role- playing games, MMOGs as they call them, World of Warcraft and others—I mean, millions of children playing these interactive games. And they’re learning something about developing as leaders, believe it or not, because of the way these games structure, and you have to impose your own leadership into the game.

We can figure out how to leverage a game like that for leader development, linking schoolhouses across the country—I’m talking about military schoolhouses. I think we’d be onto something in helping these young men and women collaborate, meet their desire to social network, and also facilitate the kind of learning we’re going to need by introducing complex problems in that environ- ment, that we can’t replicate physically at places like Fort Hood and Fort Bragg and Fort Carson. So, I think social networking has enormous opportunities for us.

There’s no news yet on how this might affect the US military’s response to the growing hybrid threat of global Murloc proliferation.

Many thanks to USIP (while it’s still there)

We’ll have a summary of the recent NDU Roundtable on Strategic Gaming up on PAXsims in a day or two, as soon as we’ve had a chance to mentally digest all the rich discussion (which continued in the halls, over pizza, by email, and in other ways long after the event was officially finished). In the meantime, however, I thought I would post a quick thank-you to the United States Institute of Peace for acting as gracious host for the event, and for sharing their extensive experience with simulation as a teaching and training tool. Thanks are due too to the NDU Center for Applied Strategic Learning for organizing this and previous roundtables. It is always a pleasure to be in a room extracting wisdom from so many experienced professional gamers.

Unfortunately, it would appear that USIP’s very existence is once again under threat from continued budget politics in Washington. Sheesh.

After all, why would the US need a nonpartisan research and training institute that brings together expertise from the academic, military, diplomatic, aid, legal, NGO, media, business, and other communities so as to strength capacities to manage and resolve international conflict? It’s not like the US ever gets involved in counter-insurgency and stabilization operations; has global interests that span fragile and conflict-affected countries; is concerned about terrorism; is ever called upon to exercise global leadership in the face of war, humanitarian disasters or human rights abuses; has a $30b development assistance program that it wishes to spend wisely; or is the world’s top refugee resettlement country….

Side note to Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), who sounded the warning in the piece linked above: don’t make this a Democratic versus Republican issue, because it is neither accurate nor very helpful. After all, the last misinformed attempt to cut USIP’s budget was cosponsored by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). And for those of you who didn’t follow the earlier debate on the issue some months ago, have a look back at Anthony Zinni’s take on it in the New York Times.)

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