Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Simulation and gaming miscellany, 19 April 2015


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

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The recent memo by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work challenging the US military to “reinvigorate, institutionalize, and systematize” wargaming seems to have had some effect—although whether it results in tick-the-box activities, greater attention to what was already being done, or genuine innovation remains to be seen.

One activity that reflected the call for greater use of wargaming was recently undertaken by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command Analysis Center:

Addressing this challenge, the Training and Doctrine Command Analysis Center recently teamed with the Special Operations Forces Element, Department of Joint, Interagency and Multinational Operations, Command and General Staff College to conduct a wargame event using Synthetic Staff Ride: Mindanao.

SSR: Mindanao is a low-cost, table-top wargame designed to challenge players with a complex environment, encourage peer interaction and applications of negotiation and leadership skills, apply strategic thinking and serve as a practical exercise examining Phase 0/1 Shape and Deter operations.

The synthetic staff ride, wargame structure provided by SSR: Mindanao offers a robust option to explore soldier, staff, U.S. Army, Department of Defense and whole-of-government interactions and operations in the future operating environment. An environment where the United States must work with international partners (nations and non-state actors) to achieve both U.S. and collaborative objectives.

The wargame was designed and developed by TRAC in collaboration with the Center for Naval Analyses, the Unrestricted Warfare Analysis Center, CGSC’s Digital Leader Development Center, and the Capabilities Development Integration Directorate of the Mission Command Battle Lab. The Army Research Institute, the TRADOC G-2 Intelligence Support Activity, the Naval Post-Graduate School, and the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies provided playtest support.

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The January 2015 issue of the NATO Joint Air Power Competence Centre Journal, Colonel Uwe L. Heilmann of the German Air Force praises manual wargames (or “manual simulation systems”) as a “$50.00 Cognitive Swiss Army Knife.” Specifically he argues that manual simulations are typically cheaper and more flexible than computerized simulations, which also tend to hide their assumptions and models within the “black box” of software code.

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The Humanitarian Academy at Harvard will conduct the simulation exercise for its current Humanitarian Response Intensive Course on 24-26 April 2015:

The Humanitarian Response Intensive Course is offered each year to professionals from around the world at Harvard University. Through presentations and hands on table top exercises offered by faculty and guest lecturers who are experts in their topic areas, participants will gain familiarity with the primary frameworks in the humanitarian field (human rights, livelihoods, Sphere standards, international humanitarian law) and will focus on practical issues that arise in the field, such as personal and team security, rapid assessments, application of minimum standards for food security, shelter, WaSH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and operational approaches to relations with the military in humanitarian settings. Throughout the class, students will participate in pre-assigned learning teams to complete in-class projects designed to compliment a humanitarian case study. At the conclusion of class, student teams will present an aid delivery proposal designed to meet the needs of the population portrayed in the humanitarian case study.

Participants will utilize knowledge of the humanitarian field gained in the classroom learning sessions during a three-day field simulation exercise. Attendees will spend two nights in the forest and participate in a complicated disaster and conflict scenario. During the simulation, participants will work in teams representing different humanitarian nongovernmental organizations and will engage with a wide range of local and non-state actors (roles developed and filled by faculty, course alumni, and affiliates) to create a service delivery plan.

The simulation will be held rain or shine.

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hanshakeCRISP and the Egyptian Center for Development Services (CDS) have been conducting a series of simulation games in Egypt with support from the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations and funds from the German Federal Foreign Office:

The specially developed simulation game takes place in the fictional country of Zamposia – the demographic, economic and socio-cultural key data, as well as Zamposia’s political system, reflect the current situation in Egypt, however. During the simulation game, the participants are invited to examine social conflicts and, ideally, to arrive at a joint, viable solution.

The participants analyse the decision-making process together during the final assessment of the simulation game. Democratic principles and the role of civil society are also discussed in the process.

The participants believe that the Simulating Egyptian Transition project has helped them to achieve a greater understanding of social participation at a number of different levels: “Thanks to the simulation game, I have become much more aware of my rights as a citizen and have come away with a number of ideas about the contribution that I myself can make to society”, said Samaher Gamal (22) from Aswan. Zina El Nahel (25), from Cairo, said that the opportunity to find out first hand about the needs of young people from Upper Egypt was an extremely enriching experience.

Creating civil society networks

CRISP project manager Andreas Muckenfuss highlights an important aspect of the project, namely the fact that young socially active people with an interest in politics from throughout Egypt can meet here, establish contacts and discuss different problems in their communities. In a large country like Egypt, there is a great interest in taking advantage of such an opportunity. The organisers received over 600 applications for the 13 simulation games last year.

The Nadi El Mohakah club (Simulation Gamers Club Egypt), which intends to host the Zamposia simulation game in the future, was set up at the end of the project. The club comprises some 30 trainers from various regions of Egypt who completed training on the simulation game method last year. These trainers will now organise the simulation games throughout Egypt – in cooperation with the various youth centres that have been set up and managed by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in recent years.

Vision for Egypt in 2025

The aim is for the Simulating Egyptian Transition project to be continued directly in order to pursue these thought processes. A decision was taken to draw up a Vision for Egypt in 2025 as a follow-up project. The project will ask participants how they envisage peaceful coexistence among all Egyptians in the year 2025. Participants will work together to draw up recommended courses of action for civil society, the donor community, the private sector and state actors during the project.

CRISP is a Berlin-based NGO that works in the fields of civic education and civil conflict management. On their website they further describe the Egypt 2025 project:

The project ”Vision for Egypt 2025” intends to create a long-term vision for Egypt for the year 2025. The vision will include a social, an economic as well as a political dimension and in doing so, we want to set a landmark for upcoming decisions.

This is why together with our partner CDS in Egypt we did starting end of March our Info-Tour and visited 7 cities in Upper Egypt and the Delta Region:

( Alexandria,Port Said,Sharkeya,Minia,Assiut,BeniSuweif and Cairo ) to gather the different conflicts they have in those areas,find partners and spread awareness about this year’s project.

Beginning of April we had our Kick-Off Seminar with 30 participants from ”Nadi Al Mohakah” translated ”Simulation Game Club” that we created last year with our Simulation Game trainers and facilitators.

Together with them we created the Simulation Game ” El Wasaaya”. This Simulation Game will be implemented starting next May until September in 10 different governorates with the help of our trainers and partners.The goal of those workshops is to create a vision for peaceful co-existence in Egypt 2025. How to open communication channels and how to create trust for co-operation of the different sectors  those are all questions that will be answered by the participants from all over Egypt in the 10 workshops.

We wish our trainers fun and success during the next implementation phase.

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Can online gamers help improve humanitarian response? The Internet Response League thinks so. They hope to use Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) to help process large amounts of raw data by integrating the task seamlessly into game play.

Such a distributed computing approach has been used before to harness large numbers of computer users to undertake large computational or analytical tasks, such as searching for extra-territerial life or folding proteins. Here they hope to use Eve Online as a participation platform.

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The Reacting to the Past Consortium will hold its  Fifteenth Annual Faculty Institute on 11-14 June 2015 at Barnard College in New York City:

[T]his year’s Annual Institute promises a stellar program, including one keynote address from Sam Wineburg, prize-winning author of Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts, and another from the team of J. Robert Gillette and Lynn G. Gillette, whose presentation on active learning caused a sensation at the Lilly Conference last year. Our own Mark Carnes will provide another  talk on the theoretical foundations of role-immersion games, and we’ll have updates from our publishing partner, Norton, on new texts and support materials.

The conference will also feature concurrent sessions on various issues related to RTTP and student learning, teaching and grading,  curriculum development, and more.

And, then, of course, there are the games—a dozen of ‘em. These include the revised, Norton-published 2.0 versions of The Threshold of Democracy: Athens in 403 BCE; Rousseau, Burke, and Revolution in France, 1791Charles Darwin, the Copley Medal and the Rise of Naturalism, 1861-64Patriots, Loyalists and Revolution in New York City, 1775-76; and Greenwich Village, 1913: Suffrage, Labor, and the New Woman; along with a number of unpublished games: Frederick Douglass, Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Constitution: 1845; and Mexico in Revolution, 1911-1920The Second Crusade: The War Council of Acre, 1148The Collapse of Apartheid and the Dawn of Democracy in South Africa, 1993Challenging the USDA Food PyramidConstantine and the Council of Nicaea: Defining Orthodoxy and Heresy in Christianity, 325 CE; and Title IX and the American University. Already some of the games have been filled, so don’t wait to register. You can sign up here.

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The International Studies Journal and the United Nations Information Center in Iran will be holding their 4th annual Model UN Security Council Conference in Tehran on 20 August 2015. The registration deadline is 10 July 2015.

The programme will cover three specific issue areas:

  1. International law and security, peace and human rights;
  2. Simulation methods and Research workshops;
  3. Global and Regional initiatives to protect peace and human rights.


Preparing for a Model United Nations conference can be a very challenging task. One time before the simulation, there will be a pre-conference training workshop for the participants at UNIC-Tehran.


ISJ and UNIC will award a certificate to all participants who successfully fulfill the workshop assignments, research, and exercises.

Admission Requirements

  1. An accredited degree in law, international relations or a relevant field of study;
  2. Good command of English or French;
  3. Two recommendation letters by professors or sponsoring institutions;
  4. Your recent photograph;
  5. Letter of application including address, telephone, email and language skills(Persian, English, French);
  6. CV/Resume;
  7. Payment of 120 Euros (for Non Iran resident students) and 200 Euros (for other) upon admission. This fee covers registration, courses, booklet, ISJ quarterly magazines and lunch.

ISJ will run an small Cultural Heritage visit of Isfahan for interested participants. This one night and 2 days visits include
accommodation, museums visits, Cultural sites visits, interpreters, transportations from Tehran to Isfahan and Tehran, and meals. The fee for the participants is very modest: 500 Euros.

Application & Contacts

Please send applications by mail to:


The ISJ will facilitate obtaining the entry visa.

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