Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 13/09/2012

PAXsims featured in Foreign Policy

PAXsims received a big shout-out today in Foreign Policy. A piece by Michael Peck on “WikiCOIN” highlights our recent cooperation with the US Army Command and General Staff College to help brainstorm ideas for a new stability operations simulation:

The U.S. Army wants you — to help to design a game that can help defeat baddies like the Taliban.

You don’t need to be a gamer or a counterinsurgency guru. Just someone who can apply a little creative thinking to help the Army’s Command and General Staff College (CGSC) design a computer simulation for its class in “stability operations” — the kinder, gentler name for the now-unfashionable concept of COIN. The target audience isn’t teenage Call of Duty players, but Army majors who finish their stability ops training with a brigade staff exercise where they roleplay the staff decisions they would be making during deployment in Afghanistan or some other un-stabilized hotspot. Thus the need for a computer simulation that can help instructors run the exercise, by handling the bookkeeping and adjudicating the results of student decisions — such as beefing up patrols in Kandahar or rebuilding infrastructure in Kirkuk.

Normally, CGSC would have sent these requirements to the Army’s acquisitions bureaucracy, which would then solicit and purchase a simulation from a contractor. Instead, CGSC opted to think outside the institutional box. They are turning to the public in a process known as crowdsourcing, soliciting input from people like you and me. Think of it as Wikigamebuilding. It’s a new concept that has been successfully used by organizations such as the Naval Postgraduate School and its MMOWGLI (Massive Multiplayer Online War Game Leveraging the Internet), where players were asked to watch an online presentation and then offer short suggestions for combating piracy.

“We’re a small team, and that can lead to groupthink,” says James Sterrett, deputy simulations chief at CGSC’s Digital Leader Development Center at Fort Leavenworth. “We’re hoping for crosschecks on our thinking. What did we miss?  Is our concept completely mad?  Is it clear?  Are there simulations out there that already do what we need?”

To get the word out, CGSC opted to post its draft requirements on PaxSims, a prominent blog on the military, international affairs, and games, run by McGill University political scientist and avid gamer Rex Brynen. You’ve got until Sept. 17 to post your comments on this PaxSims blog post….

Of course, PAXsims is also coedited by World Bank economist (and equally avid gamer) Gary Milante. Still, we appreciate the mention!

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