Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Simulations miscellany, 4 May 2014


Some recent items on conflict simulation and serious games that may be of interest to PAXsims readers:

* * *

Thomas Schelling will be the keynote speaker for this year’s Connections interdisciplinary wargaming conference (4-7 August 2014, at Marine Corps Base Quantico):

There is no Nobel Prize for wargaming, but if there was, Professor Thomas Schelling would have one to go along with his 2005 Nobel Prize in economics. While he is best known as a game theorist and nuclear strategist, his contributions to the field of wargaming have been hugely significant.  An advocate for the unique analytic value of gaming, while at Harvard’s Center for International Affairs he wargamed with RAND at Camp David and undisclosed locations.  His writings pioneered the application of wargaming to diplomatic deliberations and international political-military crises.  I can think of no better Keynote, especially in a year when our theme emphasizes understanding across international wargaming cultures and across wargame applications.

You’ll find information on the Connections conference here.

* * *

lossless-page1-220px-MCWAR_Logo.tifLast month, the US Marine Corps War College used the commercial wargame Darkest Hour as the basis for a WWII strategy exercise:

  1. Background. From March 31- April 2, 2014, the Marine Corps War College (MCWAR) conducted a strategy exercise on World War II. The exercise put the school’s 30 students (military officers at the lieutenant colonel and colonel rank as well as a handful of senior government civilians from the interagency) into Allied leadership positions at the joint staff and theater command levels (USA, UK, and USSR). The exercise leveraged the commercial wargame Darkest Hour to provide a gaming environment in which the students could develop strategy and make decisions.
  2. Educational Objectives. The exercise was designed to meet learning objectives for MCWAR’s War, Policy, and Strategy (WPS) Course (our “history” course). This immersion in WWII was intended to imprint on the students’ minds, through experience, the strategic issues of WWII. Of particular focus was the interaction between Allied staffs and between national and theater commands. And, as the exercise progressed, the students assessed their strategies and made strategic decisions on the direction of the war. Making those decisions as a coalition made conducting the war that much harder. The following were specific educational objectives:
    1. Evaluate the World War II strategic setting and historical strategic decisions.
    2. Develop and implement a “theory of victory” with corresponding objectives and strategic concepts.
    3. Conduct national level and theater level resource prioritization decisions.
    4. Conduct strategic negotiations and diplomacy.
    5. Conduct coalition planning and decision making.
  3. Student Organization. The 30 students were divided into US, UK, and USSR teams. Within each country, students formed joint and theater staffs. While the students were initially assigned to staffs as depicted in the below diagram, the students re-organized themselves to streamline their command and control—consolidating US and UK into one Europe and one Pacific theater, unlike the below diagram. They merged the Pacific Theater 1 and 2 cells with the UK SE Asia cell to form one combined Pacific Theater staff. The students did the same for the European Theater, combining the US and UK theater teams into one combined team. Each of these two theater commanders (Pacific and Europe) then performed a dual reporting function to the USA and UK joint staffs….

You’ll find a slide presentation on the resulting campaign here, and a full after action report on the exercise by LtCol Tim Barrick here. The latter is especially useful reading for those who might be considering adapting commercially-available war-games for classroom use.

h/t Robert Hossal

* * *


A call for papers has been issued for the 2014 conference of the North American Simulation and Gaming Association, to be held in Baltimore on 8-12 October 2014.

The North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA) is a community of practice of trainers, educators, game designers and facilitators working on the design and implementation of serious games, simulations, and other experiential activities. For decades, NASAGA has been promoting professional networking, providing training and education, and advocating the use of experiential activities to industry and academia through its annual conference.

The North American Simulation and Gaming Association invites proposals for our 2014 conference in Baltimore, MD. NASAGA is a games and learning conference with particular interest in work involving non-digital games, simulations, mixed or alternate reality, locative games, classroom and training exercises, and playful learning. Our theme this year is “Playing Stories, Sharing Worlds, Learning Games.” We particularly welcome work that connects with this year’s theme and engages the potential of playful narratives for learning, experiential education, and learning game design. We welcome proposals from practitioners, educators, designers, researchers and gamers. NASAGA is not a conference for reading papers: session proposals should be hands-on and engaging. This may include playing a game or prototype and debriefing, roundtable discussions, collaborative design, facilitated activities, and any other interactive format. To allow for this active learning, sessions are scheduled in timeslots of 60 or 90 minutes, although you can also propose an extended session to allow for an unusual learning experience.

We also invite researchers, including students, to consider submitting to our poster session to share ongoing research or design proposals. NASAGA invites proposals from researchers working on the theory and application of games and simulations for learning challenges, including but not limited to active learning methods to increase engagement, retention, and performance. We invite the submission of 300-500 word abstracts for poster presentations on all topics related to games and learning.

* * *

journal_coverThe May 2014 issue of the Journal of Simulation is now available. It includes an article by M. Peng H. Chen and M. Zhou on “Modelling and simulating the dynamic environmental factors in post-seismic relief operation:”

This paper introduced dynamic environmental factors into the disaster-relief supply chain to characterize the dynamic relations and provide support to further decision-making in relief operations. A system dynamic model was presented to describe the processes of delivering emergency supply. The researches in post-seismic rapid damage assessment of road networks and injured were referenced, and the impacts of dynamic road condition and delay in information transfer (information delay (ID)) were simulated and analysed. Simulation results indicate that (1) the road condition influences the system performance significantly; and (2) the transport time of relief supplies (transport delay) is a function of the road capacity and the in-transit volume, so the mechanism of considering the feedbacks of these two factors is important to maintain the stability of the relief system. Further analysis of the system behaviours reveals that (3) the ID affects the relief head-quarter (the upper stream) and the disaster-affected town (the lower stream) in different ways; and (4) the choice of the inventory planning strategies is a choice about how to reduce the impact of ID and make full use of the capacity of the damaged road networks.

* * *

img_2112The Interuniversity Consortium for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies at McGill University recently held a simulation exercise to prepare students for the challenge of a future zombie apocalypse on campus. In addition to honing student skills, it also provided interesting empirical insight into the anticipated survival rate of various population subgroups:

  • McGill University faculty members: 100%
  • McGill University graduate students: 50%
  • Fictional TV stars: 0%

You’ll find full details of this sophisticated educational exercise here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: