PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

simulations miscellany, 27 May 2012

I’ve been a bit slow posting in recent weeks, in part because I was away hanging around in Alabama bars while trying to overthrow the corrupt and dictatorial regime of “Florabama.” Under the wise leadership of opposition leader David Ortega—and with a little help from our friends—I’m pleased to say that we succeeded.

As might be expected, I role-played the brutally efficient but politically dubious ex-Colonel Rey Borge in the exercise.

Meanwhile, in other simulation-related news…

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The US Navy’s Energy and Environmental Readiness Division (OPNAV N45), together with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Naval Postgraduate School, recently convened another run of its MMOWGLI (Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet) crowd sourcing platform on 22-24 May, this time focusing on the issue of energy and naval operations.

You’ll find media coverage of the experiment here, herehere, here, and here (among others).

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At Foreign Policy magazine, Michael Peck interviews military futurist Peter Singer about how the next iteration of the popular Call of Duty video game series will depict and incorporate future technologies.

The Internet has been abuzz over details — and several intriguing YouTube videos — of the upcoming “Call of Duty: Black Ops II,” scheduled to hit shelves in November. A sequel to the 2010 blockbuster “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” the latest iteration of the video game continues the saga of American and Russian operatives immersed in a complex 1960s Cold War plot. But much of the sequel takes place in 2025, when the United States is confronting China and when America’s high-tech arsenal of robotic vehicles is hacked, hijacked, and turned against its makers. Although the dark plot sounds like science fiction, it is actually based on solid real-world analysis provided by defense futurist Peter Singer, author of the bestselling Wired for WarForeign Policy spoke with Singer about his work on the game…

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University of Waterloo professor Neil Randall will lead a major new SSHRC-funded research project on immersive digital games, the  The Interactive and Multi-Modal Experience Research Syndicate:

Randall said the research will focus on three areas of gaming — the immersion experience, the relationship among gamers and addiction.

Randall, who heads the university’s research centre called The Games Institute, said the biggest part of the research will be on immersion.

“What does immersion mean? How do people get immersed in games? How do you study it? How do you quantify it?” Randall said. “Immersion is what all game companies are trying for to make sure people really want to play their game.”

For more on the initiative, see the article here.

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Over at the wargaming site Grogheads, Christopher David has started a “developer’s diary” that documents his efforts to develop a card-driven game that examines insurgency and counter-insurgency in Afghanistan. According to Christopher, the focus of the game will be “how does the policy/strategy context shape tactics and the outcome of conflict?”

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Back in February, Brenda Brathwaite gave a TED talk on “Gaming for Understanding.”

It’s never easy to get across the magnitude of complex tragedies — so when Brenda Brathwaite’s daughter came home from school asking about slavery, she did what she does for a living — she designed a game. At TEDxPhoenix she describes the surprising effectiveness of this game, and others, in helping the player really understand the story.

Brenda Brathwaite designs games that turn some of history’s most tragic lessons into interactive, emotional experiences.

For decades, Brenda Brathwaite has been a major figure in the field of game design. Famous for her work on the role-playing series Wizardry, she’s also known for her work on Def Jam: IconPlayboy: The Mansion, and Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes. Inspired by her daughter in 2008, she began work on her non-digital series, The Mechanic Is the Message, dedicated to expressing difficult subjects through interactive media. Train, a game derived from the events of the Holocaust, won the Vanguard Award at Indiecade in October 2009.

You’ll find her blog on applied game design here.

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There is always interesting stuff to read at Wargaming Connection, but I thought I would flag in particular a recent post by Paul Vebber on a talk by Peter Perla at the Naval War College on “next generation wargaming.” It’s well worth a read.

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If you missed the presentation earlier this month by Phil Sabin at National Defense University on “The Continuing Merits of Manual Wargaming,” you’ll find the video of the event at the NDU Center for Applied Strategic Learning website. There was also a liveblog of the event at GrogNews at the time, and a lively discussion afterwards at BoardGameGeek.

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