PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Recent simulation and gaming publications, 22 August 2019

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PAXsims is pleased to present a selection of recently-published items on simulation and serious gaming. Some of these may not address peacebuilding, conflict, or development issues at all, but have been included because of the broader perspective they offer on games-based education or analysis.

Articles may be gated/paywalled and not accessible without institutional access to the publication they appear in.


Victor Asal, Justin Conrad, and Steve Sin, “Back to the future: teaching about the end of the world,” European Political Science (online first, 2019).

The paper examines the challenges of teaching about the impact of nuclear weapons on international relations to students who were born after the Cold War and suggests a variety of pedagogical approaches for helping them understand this impact including readings, media, and simulations. We first discuss the value of a multi-methods approach to teaching about nuclear weapons and then discuss resources for these different approaches. For readings, we identify key writing framed as debates that have worked with undergraduates like Waltz and Sagan as well as key articles and literature reviews and historical literature about the actual use of nuclear weapons during World War II. We then discuss different multimedia such as movies and music. Finally, we discuss in class simulations with a focus on Nuclear Diplomacy, providing some examples of student reaction to playing these simulations.


 

Mauricio Meschoulam, Andrea Muhech, Tania Naanous, Sofía Quintanilla, Renata Aguilar, Jorge Ochoa, Cristobal Rodas, “The Complexity of Multilateral Negotiations: Problem or Opportunity? A Qualitative Study of Five Simulations with Mexican Students,” International Studies Perspectives, Volume 20, Issue 3, August 2019.

Education in International Relations requires continual evolution. One approach is the use of negotiation simulations for complex issues. Despite the extensive literature on the subject, there is a lack of qualitative research on this approach, particularly in Latin America and Mexico. This paper presents the findings of a qualitative research on five simulations with Mexican students. The five exercises were characterized by the application of elements that are not usually included in traditional simulations, such as a multiweek phase of prior negotiations, the use of Twitter, the introduction of nonstate actors, a gala dinner, and a continuous feed of real world news. We investigated 118 participants through 30 in depth interviews analyzed with NVivo, a systematized analysis of 118 reports, documents and tweets, and a pre-post questionnaire applied to the fifth group. The results in the five simulations were highly positive. The students reported a greater awareness of the complexity of international negotiations. Such awareness can present both a risk and an opportunity: a risk because those circumstances caused discouragement and frustration in many participants, and an opportunity because those same circumstances, properly channeled, triggered parallel skills, and creative thinking. Therefore, the role of the facilitation team was fundamental.


 

LtCol Jim Sinclair, “The Evolution of Australian Army Training Adversaries, 1948-2018),” Australian Army Journal 15, 1 (Autumn 2019). (pdf)

One of the essential requirements for Army training is the creation of
a contemporary and relevant training adversary which allows tactics, techniques and procedures to be tested and weapons and equipment
to be evaluated. This is an important part of Army’s value proposition to government that it can provide directed capability. In most cases, the training adversaries developed by the Australian Army in the past have represented opponents the Army was actually fighting or generic opponents it was unlikely to fight. This led the Australian Army to train for operations against an adversary it was unlikely to fight rather than preparing for probable future conflict.

In 2015, Army adopted the United States (US) Army Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE). DATE provides a sophisticated operating environment and adversary construct which is constantly updated to reflect current real-world operations. The adoption of DATE will transform Australian Army training by providing a contemporary, reality-based training adversary, allowing Army to train for contemporary operations and conduct mission rehearsal exercises against a contemporary adversary for the first time.


 

Walter W. Kulzy III, “(Design) Thinking Through Strategic-Level Wargames for Innovative Solutions,” Phalanx, 52, 2 (June 2019).

…Using design thinking as a process to create prototype environments within a wargame is an effective approach. Decision makers are exposed to these prototypes and challenges to comprehend systematic relationships of actors and the secondary and tertiary effects of their decisions. By iterating through this environment, deeper understandings lead to new and useful strategies.


Edward Castronova, “American Abyss: Simulating a Modern American Civil War,” Journal of Games, Self, & Society 1 (2019).

In recent years, speculation has arisen in the United States about the possibility of a civil war. Here I introduce a paper simulation of such a war using state-of-the-art lessons about modern civil war that have been developed within the diplomatic/military/intelligence conflict simulation community. According to those lessons, counter-insurgency (COIN) operations are a beastly mess for everyone involved. The simulation allows players to see why: In a modern intra-state conflict, there are many actors at play, each with their own access to the critical resources of media, money, and arms. These actors all have asymmetric aims, which lead to constantly shifting loyalties. The result is a conflict that is unlikely to end until all of the players are completely exhausted. I developed the simulation described in this paper as a warning to those who want to take up arms: Do not.

 


9789463728010_prom.jpgHolly Faith Nelson and James William Daems (eds), Games and War in Early Modern English Literature: From Shakespeare to Swift  (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2019).

This pioneering collection of nine original essays carves out a new conceptual path in the field by theorizing the ways in which the language of games and warfare inform and illuminate each other in the early modern cultural imagination. They consider how warfare and games are mapped onto each other in aesthetically and ideologically significant ways in the early modern plays, poetry or prose of William Shakespeare, Thomas Morton, John Milton, Margaret Cavendish, Aphra Behn, and Jonathan Swift, among others. Contributors interpret the terms ‘war games’ or ‘games of war’ broadly, freeing them to uncover the more complex and abstract interplay of war and games in the early modern mind, taking readers from the cockpits and clowns of Shakespearean drama, through the intriguing manuals of cryptographers and the ingenious literary wargames of Restoration women authors, to the witty but rancorous paper wars of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.


Amanda Jaber, “Evaluating the Team Resilience Assessment Method for Simulation (TRAMS),” MSc thesis, Department of Computer Science, Linköping university, Spring 2019.

The Team Resilience Assessment Method for Simulation (TRAMS) is an instrument that consist of several measurements, such as team-member exchange, workload, the TRAMS observation protocol etc. This thesis researches the observation protocol. The TRAMS protocol is an assessment method for resilience in simulation games. The aim of this protocol is to support the identification of resilience strategies used and developed by the participants in a simulation game. It is a challenge to assess resilience in teams and that is why the TRAMS protocol has been developed. The scenario of the simulation games is a disruption for 10 days in the card payment system. During the simulation games, the participants work in teams and have to try to cope with the disruption in the card payment system. During the course of this study, 14 simulation games have been conducted with seven different teams. Each of the simulation games has been executed during one whole day, and the participating teams have in total played two games each. During every simulation game there were three observers equipped with the TRAMS protocol. To interpret the data collected with the TRAMS protocol, two methods have been used: transcription and thematic analysis. As a result, guidelines and design changes was formed. In addition, results showed that the distribution and frequency of observations of resilience strategies made were similar, that the observations noted by the observers were similar, and lastly eight themes from the data collection could be extracted:Coordinate and collaborate, Payment options, Cash circulation, Safety, Fuel and transportation, Inform, communicate and the media, Hoarding and rationing, Vulnerable groups. In conclusion, the TRAMS protocol is still under development and 15 more simulation games are planned to be conducted within the ongoing CCRAAAFFTING project. However, the protocol has been applied in this study ́s 14 simulation games so far, and the similarities in how the observers filled in the protocol and how similar the observations were, indicate that it hopefully can develop into a recognized research tool in the future.


 

4 responses to “Recent simulation and gaming publications, 22 August 2019

  1. brtrain 22/08/2019 at 11:41 am

    The American Abyss article is a good example of how to adapt an existing board game to a different conflict situation, in formats suitable for both experienced gamers and secondary school students.

  2. Rex Brynen 22/08/2019 at 12:43 pm

    As an example of how board games can be modified to model other conflict/issues, I agree. As a way of teaching about the potential for, and consequences of, civil violence in the United States? I actually think this is a good example of what NOT to do (indeed, I’ve cited it as such on a few occasions).

    To begin with, I don’t know any serious scholar of US politics or civil war who believes that a US civil war is a realistic prospect. By building a game around this, one is giving credence to a fringe conspiracy theory on the margins of political discourse (alt right fantasies of a race war, 2A extremists arguing they need AR15s to fight Washington, leftists who fear that Trump is Secret Hitler and a new Nazi Germany is coming). For a political scientists it’s a bit like designing a game for high school science students about chemtrails or faking the moon landing.

    Second, I enjoy playing the COIN series and it does a good job of highlighting multipolarity in civil war, but it is not really designed to focus on human rights, humanitarian, and horrors of war issues. You could do this with some heavy card adaptation/authoring, but there’s almost no discussion of that in the article.

    Third, there’s the issue of opportunity cost–is a game preferable to the same amount of lecture time, which could include data on US citizen views of violence, an analysis of extremist discourse, domestic terrorism, the brutality of the ACW, and examination of civil conflict in other Western countries (Ireland, Bosnia)? The latter is less game-sexy, but far more effective in my opinion.

    Alternative future games can be fun (A Very British Civil War). You can use unlikely scenarios to explore real work response (zombie pandemics as a test of emergency management capabilities, for example). For me, however, this rather falls between all the stools and is more a comment on the trendiness of gamification, the political perspective of cultural studies scholarship, and exaggerated perceptions of the current news cycle.

  3. Brant 22/08/2019 at 1:06 pm

    American Abyss article links to something different

  4. Rex Brynen 22/08/2019 at 1:29 pm

    It links to the full journal.

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