Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Simulations miscellany, 6 October 2012

Once again, PAXsims is pleased to offer some recent tidbits of gaming and simulation-related news.

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The current election campaign for State Senate seat #25 in Maine has been rocked by the shocking and scandalous news that Democrat candidate Colleen Lachowicz plays an orc rogue in World of Warcraft. According to a press release issued by the state Republican Party:

Candidate’s Bizarre Double Life Raises Questions

– October 4, 2012

Posted in: Press Releases


Contact: David Sorensen, 207-205-7793
Communications Director, Maine GOP

Democratic Senate Candidate Colleen Lachowicz’s Disturbing Alter-Ego Revealed

 Online comments raise questions about candidate’s fitness for office

AUGUSTA – Colleen Lachowicz, the Democratic candidate for State Senate District 25 (Waterville), has been living a time-consuming double life as a member of the World of Warcraft community. World of Warcraft is an online gaming network where people play a fantasy role-playing game in an imaginary world called “Azeroth.”

Today, Colleen is playing at level 85–the highest level one can attain. Studies have found that the average World of Warcraft gamer is 28 and spends 22.7 hours per week playing.

Her character in the game is called “Santiaga,” an Orc Assassin Rogue, and Lachowicz lives vicariously through her, making comments about World of Warcraft and other topics on the liberal blog, The Daily Kos. Here is a sampling of Lachowicz’s comments:

“So I’m a level 68 orc rogue girl. That means I stab things . . . a lot. Who would have thought that a peace-lovin’, social worker and democrat would enjoy that?!”

“Yes, I am seriously slacking off at work today. And I called my congresswoman’s office today. And told them I would probably be calling everyday.”

“I spent my day leveling my alt — an undead warlock…”

“I’m lazy, remember?”

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I may have to go and hunt down Grover Norquist and drown him in my bath tub.”

“Or my dream from election season last year where John McCain sat at my childhood dining room table and I reamed him a new a**hole about Sarah Palin.”

“I like to stab things and I’m originally from NJ…. what’s your f***ing point?!”

“Do not send me a campaign contribution or I will have to stab you! Seriously!”

“Yes, join us! We’re progressive… in fact we joke about being a socialist guild.”

“I love this diary because it sums up the teabagger mindset.”

“These are some very bizarre and offensive comments, and they certainly raise questions about Lachowicz’s maturity and her ability to make serious decisions for the people of Senate District 25,” said Maine Republican Party spokesman David Sorensen.

The Maine Republican Party will make an effort to give voters all of the information about candidate Lachowicz. To that end, the party has established a website,, where people can see Lachowicz’s online activity for themselves. In addition, a series of mail pieces will be sent to the voters of District 25, including the one below.

Voters should have all the information they can obtain about those who choose to run for office. The Maine Republican Party will present that information to them and let them decide who is most able to represent them effectively.

You’ll find more of the story via Reuters, BBC News, Jezebel, and Kotaku.

We at PAXsims are, needless to say, completely and utterly shocked that anyone would ever play a rogue in a role-playing game, or show any affinity for orcs whatsoever. Certainly we would never do anything as ridiculous as that. No sireee.

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At the website mental_floss, D.B. Grady offers a brief overview of 5 Fictional Countries Where the U.S. Army is Trained to Fight.

When the U.S. Army trains for battle, it strives for immersion and realism. To help prepare soldiers for the overwhelming nature of invading a country where the language is unknown and the culture is mostly alien, the U.S. Army invents fully realized countries, from international dynamics to currency. Here are a few fake countries where the United States is prepared to fight.

To that list we could add the Republic of Florabama, where I’m proud to have once role-played (a rather murky) part of the opposition movement that brought President Ortega to power. Below is one of the rather tongue-in-cheek videos we generated during the exercise.

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GAMEON-ARABIA’2012, the 3rd annual Pan-Arabic Simulation and AI in Computer Games Conference, will be held at the Arab Open University in Muscat, Oman on 10-12 December 2012.

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Virtual Mediation Lab (a project devoted to “mediation skills development around the world with Skype”) recently featured a blogpost about Kristen Drucker’s continuing peaceconferencing  initiative, which uses the Open Simulation Platform. (h/t Skip Cole)

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The Educator’s Edition DVD of the video World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements (together with Facilitator’s Guide) is now available. For more on the project and John Hunter’s work, see the website

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Two more articles from our forthcoming special peacebuilding issue of Simulation & Gaming are now available “online first” from SAGE:

In this article, the authors discuss the development of the SUDAN GAME, an interactive model of the country in the time period leading up to the Sudanese referendum on the secession of the South. While many simulations are designed to educate about their subjects, the SUDAN GAME is intended to be a prototype for policy making via gameplay. It is implemented within COSMOPOLIS, a massively multiplayer online game that is currently undergoing development. In this article, the authors discuss the game’s design and how it can be used for policy development, with a focus on the underlying model and some discussion of the COSMOPOLIS implementation. They situate the game relative to other games that have crowdsourced serious problems and discuss the meaning of the policy solutions and collaboration witnessed along players. They conclude with a discussion of future development to be done to improve and expand upon the concepts used in their game.

This article reflects critically on simulations. Building on the authors’ experience simulating the Palestinian-Israeli-American Camp David negotiations of 2000, they argue that simulations are useful pedagogical tools that encourage creative—but not critical—thinking and constructivist learning. However, they can also have the deleterious effect of reproducing unequal power relations in the classroom. The authors develop this argument in five stages:
1. They distinguish between problem solving and critical theory and define critical thinking—something not done by the simulation orthodoxy.
2. They describe the Camp David simulation. This is their contribution to the relatively small corpus of literature on simulating Palestinian-Israeli relations.
3. They review the constructivist learning and peer teaching accomplished through their simulation. This section is notable because it is authored by a graduate student who participated in the simulation as a meaning maker.
4. They review the manner in which simulations promote creative, not critical, thinking, and reproduce asymmetrical power relations.
5. They reflect on the overall utility of simulating the Camp David negotiations in the classroom.

A subscription to S&G is required to access the full text.

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