Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Simulations miscellany, 11 June 2014


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

* * *

At Ideas.TED, game designer Brenda Romero discusses how a manual game can illustrate the economic dynamics of undocumented workers in the restaurant industry:

IMG_2489_1024px“There are five players and they’re all restaurant owners. The rules are modeled on real-world economics. Which means that if one of us chooses to use illegal, undocumented labor, pricewise we will destroy everybody else.

In its fourth iteration now, the game is looking at this system that propagates disparity because it needs to, while externally talking about how it’s all wrong. It’s a system that is blind to its brokenness. It’s a system that requires disparity. In play tests, some really unique things happened, right from the prototype. I had glass beads out, those flat marbles you use in vases with flowers, and people just naturally picked up brown ones to go in the kitchen, which was horrifying. They picked up the clear beads to be front of house.

The one point in the game that really bothers me is the disposable nature of the workers when they’re represented by game pieces. This isn’t like Monopoly, where you get a fake $200 bill or four houses. I’m exploring using real people in the game, so that when you hire them you see these real people — not resources, but real people with real lives. If I use real people, I would probably have them waiting around on chairs, just standing in small groups like the guys standing around in front of Home Depot. It should reflect reality — you’re not pulling them out of a bag. I want people to leave this game having a feeling for the actual people behind the system. We see the system as way too abstracted. We caused this problem, it’s because of us.”

* * *


Registration is now open for the Connections 2014 interdisciplinary wargaming conference. Matt Caffrey has provided this update on this year’s plans:

Colleagues, In recognition of his life time of contributions to national defense and the field of wargaming it is the  unanimous decision of planning team  to dedicate Connections 2014 (Quantico MCB, VA, 4-7 August ) to the memory of Colonel Morgan.

For those of you not lucky enough to know him; as a captain he helped convinced the Air Staff to fund printing commercial style wargames and then designed both, as a Lt Col he let innovative wargaming efforts at Air Command and Staff College and as a civilian he advanced the state of wargaming used to help prepare The Air Forces young Lieutenants and Captains. He was also a successful designer of commercial wargames.  His titles included the very successful Flight Leader. He also contributed to many computer wargames. Lt Col Gary Morgan USAF (ret.) passes away on 21 May. Through sheer luck I was able to attend Mo’s funeral in Alabama.  I was – well – moved by the size of the contingent from the Squadron Officers College.

During Connections  2012  I think it was Ellie Bartels that suggested we add “and sustain” to our original mission of “advance the art, science and application of wargaming.”  Mo’s passing clarifies just how prescient her suggestion was.  Our goal to ensure Connections 2014 is worthy of his memory and effective in passing on knowledge of a field he nobly advanced.

I believe we are on track to reach that goal with Nobel Laureate Professor Thomas Schelling our lead Keynote, excellent tutorials in advance of Connections proper and our most international, our broadest set of speakers to date.  However, Connections has always been about connecting contributors to the field of wargaming.  To be truly successful Connections 2014 needs – you.

With zero registration fee and lodging on base there is nothing we can do to make Connections less expensive.  For those who still cannot attend lice we are working with our marine Corps hosts to make as much of Connections as practical available via VTC

Please go to our website to learn more and register.  Please register as even though there is no fee we need to know how many participants to expect.  Registering for virtual participation lets us know who to contact with instructions on how to connect.

However you can participate you will be contributing to an effort to advance and sustain a field that Mo Morgan spent his life making more effective.  I can think of no better way to honor his memory.


Matt Caffrey

PS. I’ll be at Origins Friday and Saturday. If any of you are attending I hope to see you there.

* * *
Registration is also now open for the 2014 annual conference of the North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA), to be held in Baltimore on 8-12 October 2014. Details can be found here.
* * *
Zach Morgan’s blog Useful Historian has recently had a couple of articles posted on learning history through boardgames. You’ll find them here:
* * *
On the subject of teaching history with games, have you ever wondered how accurate is the game Crusader Kings 2 in portraying medieval Europe and India? There was an excellent discussion on this a few weeks at Reddit, which examines a number of issues related to history and game design.
h/t Jack McDonald (@jackmcd83)
* * *

After considerable controversy, it has been confirmed that Final Fantasy XIV will enable same-sex marriage by a player character in a forthcoming patch.

That, of course, will place the  fictional world of Eorzea ahead of thirty US states….


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: