After the earthquake that devastated the capital, aid was slow to reach the slums of District 3. Poor coordination resulted in duplication of effort in some areas, and shortages of essential aid supplies in others. The port and airport remained severely damaged, creating transportation bottlenecks. The latest reports suggested a cholera outbreak too. It was no surprise that social unrest was growing.
The vignette above is drawn from AFTERSHOCK: A Humanitarian Crisis Game. AFTERSHOCK was developed for classroom use to highlight the challenges of multilateral coordination in the context of a natural disasters or complex humanitarian emergencies. The game has spread well beyond its initial use at McGill University, and has been taken adopted for professional training of aid workers, peacekeeping personnel, and military officers. This article briefly describes the genesis of the project, the development and production of the game, and some thoughts about using it in the classroom.
You read the whole thing here.
The NATO website briefly summarizes a North Atlantic Council crisis simulation for European university students held in Forli, Italy last week:
“How does the North Atlantic Council (NAC) respond to an emerging crisis situation?”
That was the question posed to 28 students from leading European Universities from throughout Europe, including Cork, Dublin, Bath, Lisbon, Palermo, Istanbul and Pavia, as well as the European University Institute in Florence, in a realistic re-enactment of a NAC session.
Based on the Memorandum of Understanding with NATO, the University of Bologna, School of Political Sciences, hosted the 9th North Atlantic Council Simulation (NATO Model Event) in Forli, Italy, 8-9 October 2015.
During the NAC simulation, the students explored, discussed and seek resolution to a fictitious scenario, led by Lieutenant Colonel Alfonso Alvarez, Commander Matteo Minelli and supported by Ms Tracey Cheasley, Mr Nicola Nasuti, Ms Cristina Siserman from Allied Command Transformation Strategic Plans & Policy Branch (ACT SPP) and Lieutenant Commander Dave Jones from ACT StratCom.
As an evaluation, the students participating to the event stressed that the realism of the discussions, decision-making and eventual consensus on actions, cannot be overstated and that they are very glad to be able to take part in this simulation.
Finally, Lieutenant Colonel Alvarez mentioned his gratitude to return to the University of Bologna to stage the NATO Model Event this year.”The Sala del Consiglio, Fondazione Cassa Dei Risparmi Di Forli is a perfect venue for the event and we are welcomed here with most gracious hospitality. It is a real honour to showcase our NAC simulation here at the university with such enthusiastic and well-prepared students.” he added.
As part of SACT’s Educational Outreach programme, NATO Model Events are held in Turkey, Italy and the USA throughout the year to help students and faculty members learn more about NATO and to understand more about the countries that they represent and that make up the Alliance.
A recent article by Quintin Smith in The Guardian highlights those aspects of the boardgaming experience that digital games cannot truly replicate.
Surely there’s nothing a board game can do that a video game can’t do better, right?
After all, board games are so limited. You have to fit them on a table, and make them out of real, tangible stuff. Video games can do whatever you can imagine!
And the best video games should already be stealing from board games. I think game designers ought to be out-and-out burglars, pausing their larceny only to remix and rethink the latest haul of ideas.
But there are also things that make board and card games great that can’t be stolen. At least, not yet. Those elements that exist only within the sphere of real-life cards, smiles and dining room tables.
He goes on to identify three characteristics of boardgames that are hard to replicate with artificial intelligence or in a digital environment: bluffing, physicality, and ownership. (Be sure to read the readers’ comments too for further thoughtful discussion on the topic.)
According to research highlighted in the New Scientist, the placebo effect works in videogames too:
Even in virtual worlds, life is what you make of it. A study has found that gamers have more fun when they think a video game has been updated with fancy new features – even when that’s not true.
Paul Cairns, a professor of human-computer interaction at the University of York, UK, wondered if the placebo effect translates into the world of video games after watching a TV programme about how a sugar pill had improved cyclists’ performance.
“People have a preconception that a little round white pill that doesn’t taste nice will have a certain effect on their physiology,” says Cairns. “It’s changing your perceptions of the world around you in some profound way.”
To test their idea, he and colleague Alena Denisova asked 21 people to play two rounds of Don’t Starve, an adventure game in which the player must collect objects using a map in order to survive.
In the first round, the researchers told the players that the map would be randomly generated. In the second, they said it would be controlled by an “adaptive AI” that could change the map based on the player’s skill level. After each round, the players filled out a survey.
In fact, neither game used AI – both versions of the game were identically random. But when players thought that they were playing with AI, they rated the game as more immersive and more entertaining. Some thought the game was harder with AI, others found it easier – but no one found it equally challenging.
“The adaptive AI put me in a safer environment and seemed to present me with resources as needed,” said one player.
“It reduces the time of exploring the map, which makes the game more enjoyable,” said another.
A different experimental design, with 40 new subjects, confirmed the effect. This time, half of the players were put in a control group and told that the game was random, while the other half thought the game had built-in AI….
Ahmed Moussa is a controversial Egyptian television host known for his strong support for former Egyptian dictator Husni Mubarak. He’s also a strong supporter of Russian intervention in Syria, and recently broadcast apparent satellite images that showed Russian helicopters at work, hunting down terrorists…
…except that it was actually imagery from the 2010 video game Apache: Air Assault.