Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

simulations miscellany: 28 January 2012

Some recent items that might be of interest to PAXsims readers:

  • Over at Play the Past, Jeremy Antley examines the challenge of modelling counter-insurgency operations through the lens of Volke Ruhkne’s forthcoming game Andean Abyss, Brian Train‘s counterinsurgency gamesand Robert Hossal‘s ongoing simulation course project on the Baghdad security plan. There are also subsequent comments by Matthew Kirschenbaum, Volke Ruhnke, and Robert Hossal (and possibly others too after I post this). Go join the conversation!
  • Last week, the British broadcast and telecommunications regulatory authority Ofcom ruled that ITV had mislead viewers by claiming that video from the Arma series of combat video games was actually footage of the IRA attempting to shoot down a British helicopter in Northern Ireland  in June 1988. (That this wasn’t the real thing ought to have been immediately apparent: the IRA attempts used machine guns, not truck mounted ZU 23 AA.) In any case, this led the BBC’s picture editor Phil Comes to post an interesting piece on how the quality of computer and video game imagery is increasingly blurring the boundaries between the real and the virtual. To illustrate the point, the website features some war photography by photojournalist John Cantile, and then reproductions generated by the makers of the Arma series, Bohemia Interactive Studios. I’ve included on pair of examples at the right, but see the full article for more.
  • Elementary school teacher John Hunter has made Time Magazine’s list of “12 Education Activists for 2012” for his work on the World Peace Game:

Hunter, an elementary-school teacher, is a legend in his home state of Virginia, where the World Peace Game he designed in 1978 allows fourth-graders to game out various scenarios of global doom or global cooperation. The game, which is played on a huge multi-level board and is a bit like an analog version of The Sims, got traction nationally when Charlottesville-based filmmaker Chris Farina turned it into a documentary film that had many screenings last year and is still making the rounds at film festivals. As World Peace and Other Fourth-Grade Achievements has quietly circulated in the education world, Hunter has given TED talks and addressed audiences around the country about the game’s power to inspire students and teachers. The film, which emphasizes not only children’s optimism, but also the game’s power to teach collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, speaks to a lot of people in education. When I moderated a screening at Harvard last year, several audience members were moved to tears. The film should see wider distribution in 2012, and Hunter has started a foundation to advance the work behind the World Peace Game and hopefully spawn high-quality imitators.

One response to “simulations miscellany: 28 January 2012

  1. Skip Cole 16/02/2012 at 11:38 am

    Thanks for sharing the information about John Hunter. I hope that he and educators like him can help turn education around. Certainly our work with Peaceconferencing is to help make things like this more scalable: so to conduct the game does not take ‘highly passionate’ instructors, but can be done by normal instructors working with limited time and funding.

    I just watched the TED talk, and it was excellent. I do question the wisdom of one country just giving money to another country so we all can ‘win.’ Do-gooderism without understanding has had highly pernicious effects, but if his influence helps make education more interactive, I am all for that.

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