Some recent items on conflict simulations and serious (or not-so-serious) games that may be of interest to PAXsims readers:
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A recent issue of the Journal of Political Science Education 10, 4 (December 2014) has an article by Mary McCarthy on “The Role of Games and Simulations to Teach Abstract Concepts of Anarchy, Cooperation, and Conflict in World Politics“:
Games and simulations are increasingly used in courses on international politics. This study explores the hypothesis that games are better than simulations (as well as only reading and lectures) in introducing students to abstract concepts integral to an understanding of world politics. The study compares a two-level Prisoner’s Dilemma game created by Joseph K. Young with a role-play simulation of India-Pakistan negotiations over nuclear disarmament in the 1990s. The study subjects are 149 undergraduate students. The findings suggest that, although an active-learning activity (game or simulation) promotes greater student learning than reading and lecture alone, whether the activity is a game or a simulation generally does not make a statistically significant difference with regard to knowledge gained. This is with the exception of the importance of regime type, which was understood better by those who played the game, and the effect of anarchy, which was better understood by those who were part of the simulation. Student perceptions of learning also tended to be higher among those who played the game.
I’m not at all convinced, however, that it is possible with this sort of research design to evaluate the question of abstract games versus immersive simulations—the findings simply show the relative impact of this game, and this simulation, embedded in this particular curriculum with this particular player group. there are good games and bad ones, as well as effective and ineffective course integration.
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In PS: Political Science & Politics 48, 1 (January 2015), Richard Arnold examines “Where’s the Diplomacy in Diplomacy? Using a Classic Board Game in ‘Introduction to International Relations’“:
One of the challenges of teaching American undergraduates in an “Introduction to International Relations” course is finding a way to make topics and themes seem relevant to students. This article recounts the author’s experiences using the board game “Diplomacy” in his course. The game places students in the role of decision makers in the international arena and simulates the international politics of pre-World War I Europe. In addition to being a powerful simulation of the difficulties of international relations, the game teaches students about one of the most debated wars in the history of the discipline.
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On 26 March 2015 a one-day conference on “Simulation in der Ausbildung erfolgreich anwenden”[Successfully applying simulation in education] will be held in Hamburg, coorganized by the Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg and the General Staff College of the German armed forces. With apologies for the Google translation:
Managers must often make decisions in a very short time. In addition, a networked environment ensures that not all the consequences of a decision are immediately visible. Experience proves to be a decisive advantage in such situations, sometimes is even necessary for a successful action. An increasingly important opportunity to build this wealth of experience to provide simulations. These teach, in a virtual environment, the contexts and consequences of decisions – risk for decision-makers and their environment, buth with no impact on real processes. This method is increasingly recognized as a key technology in education.
While training with simulations have become indispensable in aviation or medicine, there is still a lot of potential in the economy. This event offers the opportunity to experience simulation as a training method in various fields of application and experience as well as to share expertise in successful application.
You’ll find additional details here.
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Following on from Connections, Connections UK, and Connections Australia, a Connections Netherlands is in the work—possibly to be held in October 2015. PAXsims will bring you additional details when they are available.
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The second issue of YAAH! magazine (from Flying Pig Games) will feature tow Brian Train abstract game designs, Army of Shadows and Uprising. Read more about it at Brian’s blog.
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Brian has also posted his impressions of the Connections 2014 interdisciplinary wargaming conference, held at Quantico in July. You’ll also find that at his blog.
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Matt Kirschenbaum (University of Maryland) is interested in learning a lot more about sandtables: their origins and history, design and construction, and current usage in both recreational and professional gaming. If you have anecdotes of insights to share with him, email him.
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Settlers of Catan as a Hollywood movie? Apparently that’s exactly what could be happening. According to Time magazine:
Producer Gail Katz has acquired the movie and television rights
The popular board game The Settlers of Catan could actually hit the big screen.
Gail Katz, a producer known for Air Force One and The Perfect Storm, has acquired the movie and television rights to adapt the strategy game, according to Deadline. In the game, players are tasked with developing strong communities and outwitting competitors for natural resources on the make-believe island of Catan.
Katz said in a statement that she was introduced to the game by her college-aged kids and called Catan “a vivid, visual, exciting and timeless world with classic themes that resonate today.” More than 22 million versions of Settlers have been sold, and downloads have topped 1.6 billion.
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In Quebec, board games meet the politics of language:
The Game of Life is usually fairly simple — unless, it seems, you’re the owner of a store specializing in board games that does business in the province in Quebec.
The owner of Chez Geeks on St. Denis St. received a letter from Quebec’s language authorities about the way he does business.
Giancarlo Caltabiano says the OQLF is faulting his store on several points, including for speaking to his customers in English.
Caltabiano also says the OQLF has a problem with what he’s selling, and how he’s selling it. He was told that any board game he sells must have a French equivalent — otherwise it can’t be sold. And, it seems, he also isn’t able to keep versions of an English board game in stock if the French versions are all sold out.
“Some of my board games come from the United States, so they don’t have a French equivalent. I have flyers up explaining the game. Apparently, that’s not allowed.”
You’ll find more on the story here and here.
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Some more red teaming wisdom from the folks at Red Team Journal: