Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Rubel: Wargame rules as intellectual catalysts

Phalanx 50-3The most recent (September 2017) issue of the Military Operations Research Society’s Phalanx contains a thoughtful piece by CAPT Robert (Barney) Rubel on the role that wargame rules and adjudication can play in encouraging—or stifling—creative thought:

One of the more trite phrases one hears today is the injunction to “think out of the box.” The intent of the phrase is to stimulate creative thinking; to come up with ideas that perhaps do not conform to existing frameworks. This, of course, is easier said than done, the attempt to do so being akin to trying to make a list of things you would never think of. There are any number of individual and group techniques that have been developed to facilitate the process of brainstorming, but perhaps overlooked in the literature is the potential for wargame rules to act as catalysts for out-of-the-box thinking.

The subtle, nonintuitive, and perhaps threatening information and ideas that can emanate from a game can be termed “whispers.” Games often produce more information than their designers intended or expected, often equivocal and open to interpretation. When that threatens organizational equities, ears are deadened to the whispers. Game sponsors, players, umpires, and even analysts are almost never objective about their games, so it requires an appreciation of how novel thinking can emerge from a game in order to take the steps necessary to achieve sufficient objectivity to detect the whispers (Rubel 2006).

You’ll find the full piece here.


2 responses to “Rubel: Wargame rules as intellectual catalysts

  1. brtrain 19/10/2017 at 2:08 pm

    Oh, and Phalanx looks a lot flashier than it used to!

  2. brtrain 19/10/2017 at 1:32 pm

    Well done CAPT Rubel.
    Not everyone can hear the whispers, not everyone groks the metaphors used in putting a design together.
    Of course, as a civilian designer my problem-thinkers are the rules lawyers, who argue about all the things I wrote… or when they run out of querolousness there, about all the things I didn’t write.
    I suppose this helps if you regard a game as a puzzle to break, or a question to merely evade, but doesn’t help otherwise.

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