Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Simulation and gaming miscellany, 12 December 2014


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

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Looking for that little something to make your next military exercise or tactical drill more realistic? Tom Mouat recently shared a picture from the I/ITSEC military modelling, training, and simulation conference that showed products from SensoryCo, a company that specializes in visual, tactile, and olfactory effects for both serious and entertainment purposes. After all, what game is complete with the odour of vomit?

You’ll find a full list of their odours (which include “bad breath,” “Middle East cooking,” and sarin, among many others)  here.

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g59-LibertyDeath-P500-1The sixth game in the GMT Games COIN series—Liberty or Death: The American Insurrection—is now available for pre-order on their P500 list. You’ll find PAXsims reviews of previous instalments here.

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The US Navy has announced that it will be constructing a number of “small surface combatants,” based on the less-than-successful hull of the littoral combat ship. Back in October, Kyle Mizokami used the PC game Command: Modern Naval/Air Operations to examine how the LCS would fare against a Chinese destroyer and corvette. Bottom line up front: the US vessels don’t survive the (simulated) encounter. You can read all about it at War is Boring.


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guardianboardgamesThe Guardian has run a series a of articles celebrating that “board games are back.”

Tell most people that you’re a “gamer” nowadays and they’ll subconsciously add the prefix “video”. But while digital games are grudgingly acknowledged as part of the entertainment mainstream, the past decade has also seen unexpected growth in an industry that many assumed would become redundant in the era of screens: tabletop board games.

Sales are still dwarfed by the latest PC and console blockbusters, but the past four years have seen board game purchases rise by between 25% and 40% annually. Thousands of new titles are released each year, and the top games sell millions of copies.

To successive generations raised on the Mega Drive, PlayStation and iPhone, the concept of sitting around a table rolling dice and moving pieces may seem positively archaic. But beyond mass-market titles like Monopoly and Guess Who, a community of independent designers and publishers has been steadily producing innovative, exciting and beautiful games offering experiences beyond even those of the most sophisticated gaming hardware.

Owen Duffy argues that this is “Board games’ golden age: sociable, brilliant and driven by the internet.” In the Observer (via the Guardian website) also Will Freeman examines “why board games are making a comeback.” The Guardian’s Tech Weekly podcast discusses if the”board-game revival [is] down to computer games’ popularity?” Games writer Ellie Gibbons notes that “board games don’t just bring us together – they remind us how to play.” Alex Hern shows “how the boundary between board and video games is blurring.” There is also a profile of “12 board games to make you a better person,” and Guardian writers pick their favourites with advice on how to start your own collection.

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On a similar note, back in June the sports and popular culture blog Grantland featured an article on Diplomacy, “The Board Game of the Alpha Nerds.” We didn’t notice it at the time so we’re posting it now.


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