Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 19/09/2014

CFP: 2015 APSA Teaching and Learning Conference


The deadline for submitting paper prooposals to the 2015 American Political Science Association Teaching & Learning Conference is October 20. The conference itself will be held in Washington DC on 16-18 January 2015.

The theme for the 12th Annual APSA Teaching and Learning Conference is, “Innovations and Expectations for Teaching in the Digital Era,” which focuses on the challenges and opportunities of teaching in the digital age when information literacy is a critical skill and we are all “plugged in.” Panels and workshops will present research on pedagogy in the digital age; and, discuss best practices for integrating digital techniques and traditional methods to engage students and train them to think critically, write effectively, and evaluate, consume and generate knowledge of political science successfully.

The paper proposal themes include simulations and role-play:

Simulations and role play exercises help political scientists and students model the decision making processes of real-world political actors. Examples of these teaching techniques and strategies include Model United Nations, Model European Union, in-class self designed simulations, and on-line role playing exercises. Papers in this track will address such topics as: in what way can simulations and role-play expand student learning opportunities in political science? Which formats are most effective? and How do we measure the effectiveness of simulations?

You’ll find the online proposal submission form here.

In the latest issue of JDMS (October 2014)…

JDMS header

The latest issue of the Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology 11, 4 (October 2014) has now been published. I’ve included abstracts for those articles most likely to be of interest to PAXsims readers.

A review of the effectiveness of game-based training for dismounted soldiers
Susannah J. Whitney, Philip Temby, and Ashley Stephens

Computer games are increasingly being used by armed forces to supplement conventional training methods. However, despite considerable anecdotal claims about their training effectiveness, empirical evidence is lacking. This paper critically reviews major studies conducted in the past decade that have examined game-based training with dismounted soldiers. The findings indicate that these studies are characterized by methodological limitations and that the evidence regarding the effectiveness of game-based training for this military population is not compelling. Furthermore, due to methodological limitations with the studies, the possibility of negative training effects cannot be discounted. The paper concludes with implications for the scientific and military communities, as well as recommendations for the conduct of future studies in this area.

In video war games, are military personnel’s fixation patterns different compared with those of civilians?
Håkan Söderberg, Junaid Khalid, Mohammed Rayees, Joakim Dahlman, and Torbjörn Falkmer

For combat personnel in urban operations, situational awareness is critical and of major importance for a safe and efficient performance. One way to train situational awareness is to adopt video games. Twenty military and 20 civilian subjects played the game “Close Combat: First to Fight” on two different platforms, Xbox and PC, wearing an eye tracker. The purpose was to investigate if the visual search strategies used in a game correspond to live training, and how military-trained personnel search for visual information in a game environment. A total of 27,081 fixations were generated through a centroid mode algorithm and analyzed frame-by-frame, 48% of them from military personnel. Military personnel’s visual search strategies were different from those of civilians. Fixation durations were, however, equally short, that is, about 170 ms, for both groups. Surprisingly, the military-trained personnel’s fixation patterns were less orientated towards tactical objects and areas of interest than the civilians’; the underlying mechanisms remaining unclear. Military training was apparently not advantageous with respect to playing “Close Combat: First to Fight”. Further research within the area of gaming, military training and visual search strategies is warranted.

Modes of immersion and stress induced by commercial (off-the-shelf) 3D games
Stéphane Bouchard, François Bernier, Éric Boivin, Tanya Guitard, Mylène Laforest, Stéphanie Dumoulin, and Geneviève Robillard

Developing a stress-management training (SMT) system and protocol for soldiers can help them cope better with stress experienced in theatre operations. Using 3D horror games in virtual reality (VR) can present an attractive simulation method for soldiers. This study was conducted to find out whether it is possible to stress soldiers moderately using VR and which technology is more efficient to do so. A total of 47 soldiers returning from Afghanistan played two 3D first-person shooter (FPS)/horror games (Killing Floor and Left 4 Dead) on three different types of immersive technologies (a 22-inch stereoscopic monitor, a 73-inch stereoscopic TV and a CAVE™). As a control and reference comparison of induced stress, participants were exposed to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), a standardized stress-inducing procedure. Results were supporting of our work, devising an effective low-cost and high-buy-in approach to assist in teaching and practicing stress-management skills. Repeated measures analyses of variance (ANOVAs) revealed statistically significant increases in the soldiers’ respiration rates and heart rates while playing the 3D games and during the TSSTs. No significant interactions were found. Increases in physiological arousal among the soldiers were significant when comparing the baseline to the immersion and to the TSST, but not when comparing both stressors. Immersion in 3D games is proposed as a practical and cost-effective option to create a context that allows practicing SMT.

Applying reinforcement learning to an insurgency Agent-based Simulation
Andrew Collins, John Sokolowski, and Catherine Banks

A requirement of an Agent-based Simulation (ABS) is that the agents must be able to adapt to their environment. Many ABSs achieve this adaption through simple threshold equations due to the complexity of incorporating more sophisticated approaches. Threshold equations are when an agent behavior changes because a numeric property of the agent goes above or below a certain threshold value. Threshold equations do not guarantee that the agents will learn what is best for them. Reinforcement learning is an artificial intelligence approach that has been extensively applied to multi-agent systems but there is very little in the literature on its application to ABS. Reinforcement learning has previously been applied to discrete-event simulations with promising results; thus, reinforcement learning is a good candidate for use within an Agent-based Modeling and Simulation (ABMS) environment. This paper uses an established insurgency case study to show some of the consequences of applying reinforcement learning to ABMS, for example, determining whether any actual learning has occurred. The case study was developed using the Repast Simphony software package.

The Simulation and analysis of a strapdown antenna platform in kinetic interception progress
Guo Yue, Liu Xinxue, and Pan Lefei

Limitations on the “better information system” solution to the problem of lapsed government operating funds
Jack Brimberg and WJ Hurley

Key factors that affect the performance of flares against a heat-seeking air-to-air missile
Raghav Harini Venkatesan and Nandan Kumar Sinha

A demonstration of ABM validation techniques by applying docking to the Epstein civil violence model
Jeffrey Appleget, Robert Burks, and Michael Jaye

The increased focus of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) on irregular warfare and counterinsurgency has served to identify the lack of credible models and simulations to represent the relevant civilian populations – the centers of gravity of such operations. While agent-based models (ABMs) have enjoyed widespread use in the social science community, many senior DoD officials are skeptical that agent-based models can provide useful tools to underpin DoD analysis, training, and acquisition needs mainly because of validation concerns. This paper uses docking and other forms of alignment that enable the linking of the Epstein civil violence agent-based model results to other models. These examples of model-to-model analysis could serve to assist and encourage DoD ABM human domain model validation efforts.

Location and visualization of the communication problems in a simulated Slovenian Armed Forces tactical radio network
Saša Klampfer, Matjaž Fras, Gregor Globačnik, Jože Mohorko, and Žarko Čučej

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