Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

MEJ: Gaming Middle East Conflicts

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One of the important challenges of promoting conflict simulation as a tool of analysis or experiential learning is that of broadening the conversation beyond the existing gaming community to other professional colleagues. Consequently, I’m very pleased that the latest issue of the Middle East Journal (Winter 2013) has published a review essay of mine that examines “gaming Middle East conflict” through lens of four fairly recent boardgames: Oil War—Iran Strikes, Persian Incursion, Battle for Baghdad, and Labyrinth.

The review can be found here (pdf posted with the permission of MEJ).

10 responses to “MEJ: Gaming Middle East Conflicts

  1. Robert 22/02/2013 at 10:49 pm

    Imagine my surprise when Google Analytics told me a visitor was coming from a PDF file! Thanks for the mention of Fardh al-Qanoon. This article intrigued me into wanting to give Persian Incursion a try.

  2. Jeffrey Dougherty 08/02/2013 at 5:59 pm

    Thanks for the mention and a good evaluation of Persian Incursion. Very interesting to read about the other games as well.

  3. John Curry Editor History of Wargaming Project 07/02/2013 at 10:08 am

    Interesting evaluative article. Some wargames have educational value, but not all. The clever trick is working out which games are the more valuable ones. Good piece of work.

  4. Rex Brynen 07/02/2013 at 8:31 am

    Bill: I don’t think a game has to be accurate to be used for teaching, provided it is briefed/debriefed properly. On a couple of occasions, for example, I’ve set the computer game Tropico (in which the player is the rather cartoonish leader of a small island republic) as an assignment, and then had students critique its representation of politics and economics in a developing country. It worked very well–but I certainly wouldn’t use Tropico as an analytical tool to understand (say) Cuban or Jamaican politics.

  5. Bill Haggart 07/02/2013 at 2:27 am

    Hi Rex. Yes. Great article. Thanks for sharing that outside the Journal… In the article, you make a distinction between games that are ‘analytical tools’, and one that can be ‘teaching tools’ in that one can fail to be an analytical tool, but still be used to teach. What do you see as the criteria for each?

  6. Rex Brynen 05/02/2013 at 10:13 pm

    Oh, that should be an interesting conversation!

  7. Volko Ruhnke 05/02/2013 at 10:13 pm

    Very nice!

    Interesting that you cited Tom Grant’s critique of Labyrinth: He has invited me to do his podcast, so I’ll be following in Brian’s august footsteps!

    Best regards, Volko

  8. Rick Riensche 05/02/2013 at 8:16 pm

    Nice article! I especially like that the mention of the complexity in Persian Incursion gives me an excuse to beat one of my favorite drums ;-) That being my belief that bridging the gap between “cardboard” and “digital” games will open up new and exciting avenues for bringing together best of both worlds (e.g., digital games that remove the need to roll hundreds of dice and physically manipulate markers to track status, while maintaining the flexibility and transparency that often make board gaming a preferred choice).

  9. brtrain 05/02/2013 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks for the mention of A Distant Plain!

  10. Charles Cameron 05/02/2013 at 3:27 pm

    Heh — so that’s a book review?

    I know, I know, the future is just not very evenly distributed…

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