Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

simulations miscellany, 11 April 2013


Having now partially recovered from the 2013 Brynania civil war simulation (and the 13,148 emails that the participants made me read over that week), I’m now back to offering the usual periodic PAXsims assemblage of simulation-and-serious-games-related news.


GCN features an article on “Gaming moves to the forefront in government:”

As a learning tool, Hackathorn thinks games have no equal. “Games have a unique ability to engage people, to make them do things,” he said. “They can make a child do homework, or improve someone’s data entry skills.”

Hackathorn said that most of the current game-like efforts in government actually fall into the more general category of gamification, which is different from games. He explained that what makes games interesting to players are the elements in them, which can be broken down and applied to everyday tasks. “We can take game elements that we know players enjoy — like earning badges, getting names posted to leaderboards and reward schedules — and use them to help a player reach ‘flow,’ where time just stops,” he said. “And that can make learning effective, even for tasks that would otherwise be uninteresting” and thus difficult to teach.

President Barack Obama supports gamification efforts through the Office of Science and Technology Policy.  In 2011 he issued a call for more educational games as well as games that address national challenges during a speech at the TechBoston conference. “I’m calling for investments in educational technology that will help create…educational software that’s as compelling as the best video game. I want you guys to be stuck on a video game that’s teaching you something other than just blowing something up,” the president said.

Part of that effort led to the formation of the Federal Games Working Group, which is affectionately called the Federal Games Guild by members, a name invoking World of Warcraft, where likeminded players organize themselves into guilds. Today that group has over 200 members representing 34 agencies, four White House offices and four other federal entities. The group regularly meets to discuss gaming strategy and share experiences.

Not surprisingly for a CGN website that is all about public sector IT issues, the piece all about digital gaming only. Somewhat surprisingly, it says nothing about the largest user of digital games in the US government: the US military and Department of Defence.



Michael Peck defends North Korea from the imperialist aggressors at Foreign Policy magazine.


The latest issue of  the US Department of Defense Modeling and Simulation Coordination Office M&S Newsletter (January-February 2013) is now available. At the moment the link on the M&SCO website is wrong, but with some guessing at the probable file name I found it here.


Want see what they’ve been up to lately in terms of online learning and simulations at the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding at the United States Institute of Peace? You’ll find a video overview below.

One response to “simulations miscellany, 11 April 2013

  1. brtrain 12/04/2013 at 12:35 pm

    Hey, welcome back! 13,000 emails, geez….

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