Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 20/08/2019

Simulation and gaming miscellany, 20 August 2019


PAXsims is pleased to present some recent items on conflict simulation and serious (and not-so-serious) games that may be of interest to our readers.

Aaron David and Brian Train suggested material for this most recent edition.



At Open Democracy, Luke Cooper reports “We wargamed the last days of Brexit. Here’s what we found out.

A group of us recently participated in a simulation game to model the future of the Brexit process. By assuming different roles amongst the forces in conflict over the future of the United Kingdom, we hoped to gain a greater understanding of the process and what might come next. We solicited the help of Richard Barbrook, an academic at Westminster University, and director of Digital Liberties, a UK-based cooperative that has pioneered the use of participatory simulations to anticipate political scenarios. His book, Class Wargames, applies the ideas of the French situationist, Guy Debord, who advocated the use of strategy games as performative, even theatrical, exercises to understand one’s political opponents and their strategic thinking. Barbrook designed the game, which he called, Meaningful Votes: The Brexit Simulation.

Collaborating on this initiative with the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM) and the ERSTE Foundation in Vienna we assembled a group of participants in Vienna comprised of civil society, journalists, academics and intellectuals.They were a mixture of nationalities, from Austria, the Balkans, the United States and Britain, and held a plurality of political views from left to right. For mainland European participants the game provided an opportunity to empirically rationalise a crisis that many had found inexplicable; for example, the refusal hitherto of the British parties to find a compromise on Brexit in Parliament is highly alien to those used to the political systems with a culture of building consensus (often with proportional representation), that exist in Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. Each participant took on the role of a faction within Parliament with the game beginning after the defeat of the heavy defeat of the First Meaningful Vote on 15 January 2019.



At War on the Rocks, Jared Samuelson argues that NATO navies need to do better and more realistic wargaming.

NATO’s navies should draw a lesson from history and begin wargaming for a potential future European conflict now. Fortunately, NATO can use an existing foundation to do exactly this with “War at Sea,” a game the U.S. Naval War College’s Joint Military Operations department originally developed in 2017 and has continuously revised since. So, what is the problem with existing NATO naval wargaming? It is high time to tackle this question. In answering it, I draw on my own experience with “War at Sea” — in my capacity as the U.S. Navy liaison officer at the German Armed Forces Staff College — to explain how this game can help plug an important gap in the alliance’s training efforts. Given the minimal additional investment in both time and money required, this wargame offers a golden opportunity for NATO to begin the learning process to succeed in a future conflict.


The UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has contracted the commercial digital wargame designer Slitherine to develop and adapt hobby games for serious wargaming purposes.

You’ll find the press statement on the project here.



The US Air Force wants wargames that would allow it to explore the use and implications of directed energy weapons, including lasers and high powered electro-magnetics. According to NextGov:

The Air Force Research Lab issued a request for information Friday seeking a vendor that can provide wargame modeling and simulations that include how energy weapons are being used today and how they will be used in the near future.

“The purpose of these [military utility] studies is to determine if and how well AFRL/RD and industry technologies can help address warfighter needs and gaps including complementing current fielded technologies and those under development by others,” the notice states.



Registration for the October MORS Cyberspace Wargaming & Analytics workshop is now open.


James Vaughan (CEO & Founder, Ndemic Creations) discusses how “0 to 120 Million: Infecting the World with Games that Make You Think,” in his keynote address at the recent Games4Change Festival.

Our PAXsims review of one of their games, Rebel Inc, can be found here.


The folks at the TESA Collective (designers of Rise Up!) have announced a new board game project: Strike! The Game of Worker Rebellion.

HappyCorp, the richest company in the world, has just unleashed its most evil plan yet: turning Mercury City into an entirely corporate-run city. From the schools to the sidewalks, everything will be owned and run by HappyCorp, and every resident will become a HappyCorp employee. There will be no more minimum wage, no more public services, and no more unions. HappyCorp has already begun unleashing its Smile Drones to convert the city’s infrastructure, crush protests, and ensure every resident watches its Commercial Breaks.

Players take on the role of the Strike Council to lead a city-wide strike of workers against HappyCorp’s take over, while also fighting for better livelihoods for all. Players will use energy tokens to grow their ranks, mobilize their workers, and complete strike cards. As the Strike Council scores victories for workers around the city, they will gain the support of more allies, from the dockworkers to the teachers, and build new bases of support from the manufacturing district to the university.

So do you have what it takes to lead the worker rebellion to defeat HappyCorp? Or will you soon be an employee of HappyCity?



Prolific wargame designer Brian Train was recently interviewed by Harold Buchanan for his Harold on Games podcast.


It includes the story of how Brian and I met, and a little about We Are Coming, Nineveh! (28:22), which should be available for preorder from Nuts! Publishing later this year.


On the subject of Canadians, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE)—Canada’s super-secret signals intelligence agency—have been making use of an “Ottawa-based escape room company to help grow its recruitment levels and raise its profile.” According to the CBC:

Starting in September, wannabe code breakers (and average revellers looking for a night out) can take a crack at solving cyberattack scenarios at the Escape Manor in the city’s Hintonburg neighbourhood.

The goal, said CSE spokesperson Ryan Foreman, is to attract new recruits to help the agency collect foreign intelligence and thwart cyberattacks.

“The idea behind our partnership is to bolster our recruiting efforts and build awareness of who we are and what we do,” he said in an email to CBC News.

“This is an ideal venue for us to reach people with these interests who may not be aware of CSE or have ever considered career opportunities in Canada’s security and intelligence community.”

The Recruit will be a narrative game involving a cyberattack by the fictional adversary known as The Syndicate.

There is no word yet on whether the adventure will include such hyper-realistic Canadian intelligence community challenges as trying to get paid properly on the federal government’s Phoenix payroll system or dealing with apparently endless access to information (ATIP) requests.


In an interview with Game Informer, the designers of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare argue the game isn’t “political.”

As a number of commentators have noted, theirs seems to be  a very narrow definition of politics.


Seven Board Games designed for use in education have been cited for excellence in the 2019 Serious Play Award Competition. You can find out about them at the (for-profit) Serious Play conferences website.


LECMgt-Logo-with-text.pngThe LECMgt blog contains a short interview with your very own PAXsims editor, on the subject of PAXsims itself.

You’ll find it here.


On a final note, with the ongoing US debate over mass shooting once again in the news in recent weeks, we thought we would post this informative infographic from Vox.



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