Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 28/04/2012

The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends

Documentary film-maker Jay Cheel has put together an enjoyable little video that looks at the group dynamics of multiplayer board-gaming, through the lens of his own informal gaming group and a game of Settlers of Catan. As he notes on his blog:

Here’s a new short that I filmed with some friends over the past month. It’s a 10 minute documentary called “The Politics of Competitive Board Gaming Amongst Friends”; a title that pretty much sums up the content. Over the last year, me and my group of friends have become quasi-casual board gamers. It all started with the occasional game of Dutch Blitz and Speed Scrabble, but when The Settlers of Catan was brought into the mix, we were all hooked. The others have had some fun with other similar games (Pandemic, Power Grid, Carcassonne), but I don’t think any of them come close to the fun of playing Catan.

A little while ago, our friend Gerry had a bit of an outburst during one of our matches. He blew up at us all and then went home, claiming he’d never play with us again. It was an awkward moment that I immediately thought was worthy of some discussion. Our “in game” personalities are quite different from the “real” us, so I thought it might be interesting to talk to those involved and see what sort of insight they have on each others gaming personalities. Also, the idea of handling such a trivial subject in such a serious manner was irresistible. This is a comedy, first and foremost.

It’s worth noting that I was actually present at this game and was sort of involved in the outburst. Or at least I felt some of the fallout from it. I decided to leave myself out of the story simply due to logistics and practicality. I shoot all of my own stuff, so I didn’t feel it was necessary to put myself on camera (which I’m frankly not interested in anyways). It’s also worth noting that Gerry has consistently blown up at every single game since this one.

Regular gamers will recognize many of the personalities, quirks, and group dynamics in evidence: the intensely competitive players and the more laid back ones, trash-talking, friendship, and players with thin skins. Differences in background, age, and formal education also make an appearance, as does the importance of snacks.

Oh, and yes—that annoying player who takes forever to make his or her move, even though they’ve had ages to plan it. We’ve all been there…

h/t Purple Pawn

simulations miscellany, 28 April 2012

A few recent items that might be of interest to PAXsims readers:

  • Drew Hamilton has reviewd Phil Sabin’s recent book Simulating War at Times Higher Education. It is good to see the book getting notice outside the wargaming community, since it has much to offer to both teachers and historians.
  • Robert Hossal—a student in Phil’s conflict simulation course at King’s College London—has finished his class assignment/wargame of the 2007 Baghdad security plan, Fardh al-Qanoon. You’ll find both the game and his reflections on the design process over at his Smart War blog.
  • Strategy & Tactics Press will be launching a new war-game magazine on the modern era, Modern War, in June.
  • There’s been loads of excellent discussion lately at both the Simulating War Yahoo group, and over at the Wargaming Connection website.
  • Earlier this month, Catalysts for Change—a “48-hour online game to engage people around the world to reimagine the future of poverty and global well-being”—was held. The game (which is more of a crowd-sourcing/social media tool) was produced using the Foresight Engine platform designed by Jane McGonigal and developed by Institute for the Future (it all looks very MMOWGLI-like). I’m afraid that I was rather underwhelmed by the general quality of the discussion. Measuring the impact on social engagement is a a trickier issue, though—do initiatives like this lead to social activism, or digital slacktivism?
  • NATO recently released its first serious training game app for mobile devices, an Android version of Boarders Ahoy! The game is designed to improve maritime interdiction skills, or more precisely boarding and search procedures. You can read about the game’s development on the Caspian Learning website, and the game itself can be downloaded from the Google Play marketplace.

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