Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 29/04/2013

Papers, Please

While it doesn’t really count as a peace and conflict educational simulation—unless, that is, you are training people to be border guards for a faintly East European 1980s-era communist dictatorship—I wanted to give a quick mention to Papers, Please. This quirky, sardonic little game is still in development, but a fully playable beta is downloadable  from the website of  designer Lucas Pope. I loved it, right down to the blocky, pixelated graphics reminiscent of an earlier time.

Papers, Please

A Dystopian Document Thriller.The communist state of Arstotzka has ended a 6-year war with neighboring Kolechia and reclaimed its rightful half of the border town, Grestin.Your job as immigration inspector is to control the flow of people entering the Arstotzkan side of Grestin from Kolechia. Among the throngs of immigrants and visitors looking for work are hidden smugglers, spies, and terrorists. Using only the documents provided by travelers and the Ministry of Admission’s primitive inspect, search, and fingerprint systems you must decide who can enter Arstotzka and who will be turned away or arrested.

Pope also has a few other interesting quick games on the website, including 6 Degrees of Sabotage (a surveillance tape whodunit) and Republia (in which you are a newspaper editor attempting to make the regime look good while attracting readers).

h/t David Brynen

Welcome to Tahrir Square: A classroom simulation of the Egyptian revolution


Ora Szekely (Department of Political Science, Clark University) has passed on to PAXsims a classroom simulation she designed that explores the February 2011 overthrow of the Husni Mubarak regime in Egypt. Ahlen wa sahlen fi Midan Tahrir! (Welcome to Tahrir Square!) takes 60-90 minutes, and is designed for up to ten players: the Egyptian government (2 players), the Egyptian army, the Muslim Brotherhood, the liberal opposition (2 players), the US (two players), Saudi Arabia, and Jordan:

The date is February 2nd, 2011: protests have been ongoing in Egypt for a week

  • For Jordan and Saudi Arabia
    • Will you ignore them? Aid the government? Push for reform?
  • For the US:
    • Will you pressure Mubarak to step down?
  • The Egyptian government and army:
    • What will you do to retain power?  And for the army, how loyal are you, and to whom?
  • For the opposition:
    • How committed are you? Will you use violence? Or will you stick to peaceful methods?
  • There will be five 10 minute rounds.
  • During each round, you must each make a couple of choices, as indicated on your information sheets.
  • The decisions you make will effect what everyone else does, in one way or another.
  • All of the players have certain private information about their own incentives, preference, and what they will be forced to do under what circumstances.
  • Civil war, for the purposes of this simulation, is defined as two consecutive rounds in which both protesters and the army use violence
  • If Mubarak does step down by the end of the fifth round, we will hold elections. Any of the Egyptian players can run in them

The simulation makes clever use of private information to shape game play. Mubarak can be overthrown through particular configurations of either domestic or international pressure, although these may not be clear to everyone at the outset. Uncertainty is introduced via the roll of a die at key junctures, notably in determining whether soldiers open fire on demonstrators or the eventual outcome of possible elections. There are also a selection of random events to use, one per phase. Some actors are two-party teams, thus creating a sense of their internal policy divisions.

For more details, see her powerpoint briefing for students (pptx), the role description sheets (docx), and the random events (docx).

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