Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 08/04/2016

Harassment in gaming


Graphic by Tom Mouat.

Recently PAXsims explored some of the barriers to women in wargaming. While our initial focus was on professional educational and analytical gaming (a topic we’ve explored before), discussion soon moved on to address those factors that might deter women from entering or enjoying the wargaming hobby. It’s fair to say that I was taken aback by the vitriol that was generated by some hobbyists when I suggested more female wargamers would be a desirable thing. (Conversely, the professional national security gamers who commented universally agreed.)

Since then, a Tumblr post by Emily Garland entitled “Tabletop Gaming has a White Male Terrorism Problem” has sparked much discussion in the boardgame and RPG communities. It details her experiences of harassment, sexism, and gender-based intimidation, including a successful sexual harassment case she brought against the gaming shop where she once worked. You’ll find some very thoughtful discussion of the issues she raises in this very long thread in the forums, at the Ferrett Steinmetz blog, and in an excellent article by Aja Romano at VOX which should be read by everyone in the gaming community.

Sadly, debate on the topic at BoardGameGeek was much less helpful and was ultimately locked down by the moderators, while some the sexist responses on wargaming forums are too depressing to even link.



This isn’t new—FLOOD! was released back in 2014 or so, as part of a larger package of educational resources—but well worth looking at: a game on flood mitigation and emergency response by CAFOD, the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. The game was developed by  Terrorbull Games, an iconoclastic game developer known for War on Terror: The Boardgame, The Hen Commandments (“chicken-based, religion-building party game”), and Crunch (an international finance game for “utter bankers”), among others.

Flood main page

FLOOD! is nicely put together. Players are faced with having to balance between immediate response actions (evacuating, protecting, or rescuing the affected population, or building flood barriers) and more strategic enabling initiatives (fund-rasing, developing local partnerships, or on-the-ground-assessment). Resources are limited, as is time.

The game comes with a Powerpoint that walks the players through each turn, and a full game can be played in about half an hour. The game is intended for secondary school school audiences aged 13 or older, but—since it is fast and easy to play—could also work well with university or other participants as an ice-breaker or to spark discussion.

You’ll find the game and other educational resources here (CAFOD), and additional information on the game design here (Terrorbull).

For other games that examine floods and similar emergencies, see:

h/t Tom Mouat 

Simulation & Gaming, April 2016


The latest issue of Simulation & Gaming 47, 2 (April 2016) is now available. This issue features a selection of papers first delivered at the International Simulation and Gaming Association’s (ISAGA) 2014 conference.

Symposium issue:
45th ISAGA Conference, July 2014, Dornbirn, Austria (Part 1)


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