Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 26/03/2012

simulations miscellany, 26 March 2012

PAXsims may be a bit quiet for the next week or two, since Gary is off on mission for a couple of weeks doing something fragile-and-conflict-affected-states related, while I will be hidden in my secret jungle hideout* masterminding a civil war** in a distant land.***

In the meantime, we leave you with a few pieces of recent simulation-related news:

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Over at Kotaku, Michael “that man is everywhere writing about simulations” Peck offers his thoughts about the pleasure of huge wargames. It certainly brought back happy memories teen years spent playing Next War (SPI, 1978—with 2400 counters) or War in Europe (SPI, 1976—with 3600 counters).

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NATO will be holding a  workshop on Commercial Technologies and Games for Use in NATO in Genoa on 16-18 April 2012.

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The Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation (March 2012) has an article by David Chris Arney and Kristin Arney on “Modeling insurgency, counter-insurgency, and coalition strategies and operations.” I’m unclear, however, where the underlying COIN model derives from—it seems to be built on a series of hypothesized relationships that may or may not derive from the social science literature on insurgency (very little of which is cited in the article or the prior work upon which the article is based), but in most cases seem to have been built into the model because they sound about right.

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World Politics Review (12 March 2012) had an article by Thomas Barnett on “The New Rules: In Gaming the Future, Don’t Bet Against the Millennial Generation” in which he argues that the current generation of digital game-playing youth will have a substantive advantage in future problem-solving because of their videogame experiences:

We’re not just talking about rewiring the brain here, a serious enough scientific matter in itself, but rather the Millennial generation’s mental expectation of being able to re-engineer solutions from the inside out. Critics often rightfully accuse today’s political leaders’ tendency to keep trying the same sad solutions over and over again, despite their track record of consistent failures. Clearly, the Millennials will not suffer that decision-making deficiency. Raised on videogames, they have no problem trying 47 possible approaches before finding the solution. They don’t consider that path failure, but a rather enjoyable search — a “game,” if you will.

As someone who teaches 18-20 somethings, I am constantly impressed by the skills and dedication of the latest generation, and more than a little annoyed when they are denigrated. However, by the same token, I’m not at all convinced that there is somehow a massive videogame-inspired generational shift that marks a new era of inventive problem solving. Beware the gaming hype…

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The peaceconferencing simulation played at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, California (using the Open Simulation Platform first developed by USIP, and further developed by Skip Cole and Sea Change Simulations) is currently featured on the US Department of Education’s Open Innovation Portal.

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* More accurately, my basement.

** Well, a simulated civil war.

*** Brynania.

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