Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Discussing political simulations and gaming at the University of Exeter

Today I spent an enjoyable afternoon discussing simulations and serious games in the classroom at the University of Exeter, in a workshop organized by Prof. Mick Dumper of the Department of Politics. Slide01 In my own talk I first situated the value from using simulations. Here my bottom line was that while simulations are not always more effective than more conventional teaching techniques, they offer an opportunity for “intellectual cross-training,” can be highly engaging, and are particularly good for exploring policy processes, coordination challenges, mixed and adversarial agendas, and decision-making with imperfect information. Slide02Slide03 I then discussed examples of several different approaches to using games and simulations:

  • quick and simple in class games/simulations
  • assigning commercial games os reading or review assignments
  • roleplay and negotiation simulations
  • “game shows” for large classes
  • matrix games
  • custom-designed boardgames
  • student-designed games
  • complex and hybrid games

I went on to offer some thoughts on “best practices” for simulation/game use in an educational setting: Slide23 Slide24 Slide25 Slide26Finally I said a few words about the use of simulations for research and policy analysis. You can find the full presentation (pdf) here. Next, myself and several Exeter faculty members (Duncan Russell, Amy McKay, Sandra Kroger, and Mick Dumper, who also use simulations to explore topics ranging from global climate change negotiations to the EU, lobbying the US Congress, and the Arab-Israeli conflict) held a broader discussion with the audience on the topic.

Finally, a group of us played a game of AFTERSHOCK: A Humanitarian Crisis Game. I’m happy to report that, after initial setbacks—including transportation bottlenecks, a major aftershock, flooding due to heavy rains, and a severe outbreak of cholera—everyone pulled together well and won the game.

2 responses to “Discussing political simulations and gaming at the University of Exeter

  1. John McKeown 27/05/2015 at 10:29 pm

    Thanks Rex – and the Aftershock game was fun and also illuminates so many crisis Relief issues in a way that is really memorable.
    John (half of Carana government team).

  2. Rex Brynen 28/05/2015 at 2:44 am

    The people of Carana thank you (and your riot police)!

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