Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Simulations miscellany, 11 July 2013

Various bits of recent simulation and serious games-related news that may be of interest to PAXsims readers:

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The Training & Simulation Journal is no more, with publication having been ended by its publisher, Gannett.  (h/t Mike Peck) Presumably, though, occasional reporting on military simulation will continue to appear in Defense News.

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In this era of budget-cutting, does the military need to use more manual boardgames? Robert Hossal thinks so. (h/t Robert Hossal)

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Interested in history and gaming? The excellent academic blog Play the Past is looking for contributors.

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According to an article posted by the British Psychological Society, a simulation/experiment conducted earlier this year at the London Science Museum has shown that the stress brought on by a zombie apocalypse would likely cause you to make bad tactical decisions:

You’re in a room full of lumbering zombies and you want to get out quick. Here’s a tip: the stress of the situation will make you favour the exit that you’re most familiar with even if that’s the busiest way out. Give yourself a better chance by checking that there isn’t a quieter way to escape the flesh-munchers.

This is the lesson from a study conducted by researchers at the ZombieLab event held at London’s Science Museum earlier this year.Nikolai Bode and Edward Codling presented 185 participants (90 women; average age 25) with a computer simulation showing a top-down view of a corridor and a zombie-filled room with two available doorways on opposite sides.

“Our approach has revealed what can only be described as nonrational human decision making under the influence of the motivational, potentially stress-inducing, treatment,” said Bode and Codling. “We suggest that in evacuations with higher stress levels evacuees will be more likely to use known exit routes and less able or willing to adapt their route choices, even if this results in longer evacuation times.”

An obvious weakness of the research is that it was based on a computer simulation. Bode and Codling acknowledged this and said their approach presented a mid-way between purely theoretical studies and real-life evacuation drills. Another criticism is with the believability of the horror scenario – if the zombies were rushing to exit the room, why follow them?

These findings would certainly help to explain much of the stupid behaviour of survivors in both The Walking Dead and World War Z.

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Back in 2010, Lee Sheldon at Indiana University ran his course on multiplayer game design as if it were a multiplayer roleplaying game, with students divided into competing guilds and earning experience points for various tasks that translated into their overall course grade. Earlier this year he shared his thoughts on “designing coursework as a game” in a talk at the ATLAS (Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society) Institute of the University of Colorado – Boulder. (video below)

One response to “Simulations miscellany, 11 July 2013

  1. Ronald Skip Cole 12/07/2013 at 4:00 am


    The Training & Simulation Journal is no more. That is really sad and unexpected.

    When we got an article in there about the open simulation platform, someone I really respect (hint: he wrote ‘The Art of Wargaming’) said to me “You made the big time.” Now that big time is no more.

    I’m in the middle of a busy and hectic day (and yes it is 3:50am, and yes, I suspect this is typical for many of us), but I think that a short reflection on the dynamics of incentives and rewards in our world is in order. If a journal on ‘Training and Simulation’ cannot commercially survive in a billion dollar sector, what can we learn from that?

    Journals survive by selling advertisement. Why is advertising so useless in this sector?

    I think I know, but I’d sincerely like to hear what other people think on this.

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