Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development
Monthly Archives: October 2019
31/10/2019Posted by on
I was recently asked by Ed McGrady to create an outline for a story about the future of wargaming (not to be confused with wargaming the future) as part of his working group on the subject. So, here is my outline for a science fiction story about the future of wargaming. I believe there is much to be gained from expanding the boundaries of wargame player manipulation, specifically the effects that directly manipulating players’ brains using electrical stimulation and drugs can have on game play and analysis.
The term “science fiction story” has three parts; “science”, “fiction” and “story”. In this short outline the fiction is underpinned by credible modern science. It remains to be seen if the “fiction” becomes fact. Given that my proposed future science of brain manipulation for game purposes is a credible forecast from current research, I suspect it will. I have not added references to current research results to this short piece, you can find those in my other writings.
People playing a game know the game is not real life, and we know from psychology and social science research that decisions they make during the game are influenced by this knowledge. We also know from psychology and social science research that a risky shift and dishonesty shift occur during group discussions that take place during both games and real-life decision making. Players’ critical faculties generated by their frontal lobes take into account the conscious knowledge “this is a game” and are influenced subconsciously by the two shifts. Therefore we have a problem using decisions made during a game as proxies or predictors for decisions the same players would make during the real-world situation the game is exploring.
The “science” part of the “science fiction story”
When dreaming (during REM sleep) blood flows to the cortex (which provides content) and the limbic system (which processes emotions) both of which light up. However the frontal lobes (which direct our critical faculties) remains quiet. The result is that we usually accept the content and emotions of a dream (during it) no matter how weird.
Anesthesia research shows that anesthetics make us “unconscious” by disconnecting different parts of the brain’s macro-systems from each other, thus breaking the brain-wide integration that current research claims leads to self-awareness. Some anesthetics leave the person aware of the pain but experiencing a rolling amnesia – they feel the pain of the surgery but forget that fact from moment to moment.
Medical research shows that people with damage to their emotional response system, of the kind that results in them not experiencing emotions, have difficulty making decisions even when they are smart enough to know the answer and they know it is important for them to do so. They lack the motive to make the decision. Star Trek and Conan Doyle got it wrong with Spock and Sherlock.
Herodotus tells us that the ancient Persians made important decisions after they had discussed the situation twice, once sober and once drunk, presumably in an attempt to analyse situations both critically (while sober) and emotionally (while drunk). I don’t know for sure, but I would assume the order of the two sessions might have an effect. I will have to experiment on myself and report back to you later.
The “fiction” part of the “science fiction story”
We will develop techniques using anesthetics and electrical stimulation to selectively suppress the limbic system and frontal lobes in wakeful subjects, and using drugs to suppress or boost the body’s production of hormones related to stress and emotion.
From credible science and realistic projection we can now propose the likely impact on wargame techniques in the future. We will game a topic with different parts of the players brains “switched off” or “switched on” depending on the phase of the game’s move. During those phases of each move that require the players to analyse the situation we will suppress the entire limbic system (brain and body). We can then explore totally rational analysis driven by the frontal lobe generated critical faculties of the players and in the absence of any emotional processing.
The problem here is the likely difficulty of getting emotionless people to make decisions when it is “decision time” in the game – for example when it is time to select a move or COA from a set that has been discussed and explored during the planning phases of the game’s moves. So, during the phases when the players are called on to make decisions, we will boost the limbic system to turn decision-making motivation back on. In other words we pulse the limbic systems of the players in phase with the tasks required during the game; suppress for analysis, boost for decision making.
Alternatively, taking a leaf out of the ancient Persians’ playbook, by simultaneously boosting the limbic system and suppressing the frontal lobes we can explore wildly off the wall ideas while completely suspending disbelief. We can also, by incrementally turning the limbic system up or down, explore decision making under different levels of emotion.
The “story” part of “science fiction story
How will such a world play out? When proven successful by the Military (and it will be), this technique will move into the mainstream and be used by any profession that involves both analysis and decision making by the same people about extremely important situations. For example by judges, doctors and surgeons, airline pilots, nuclear power plant operators, senior military officers in charge of our nuclear triad (this latter is exciting, you can see where this is going!) etc. Given humanity’s desire for silver bullets, the techniques develop and proliferate rapidly and are embedded in all critical areas of the global system before the downsides are discovered (of course, why change the habits of many lifetimes?) The intellectual elites of society who combine analysis and decision-making powers over the rest of us start suffering debilitating psychoses and hallucinations caused by the technique’s interference in their brains and sleep patterns. The world descends into chaos as the senior leaders, decision makers and analysts in our legislature, judiciary, medical facilities, military etc. cycle between manic depression and emotionless psychopaths.
Given the history of using drugs and electrodes to experiment on people’s minds I suspect the above outline is a realistic projection of implementation by governments, business and academia. The possible benefits that result from widespread successful implementation are so great that such implementation will certainly occur despite the possible downsides explored by the story.
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31/10/2019Posted by on
The Wargaming Network at King’s College London has a series of events planned for November. Details below.
Please take a minute to complete our PAXsims reader survey.
30/10/2019Posted by on
Defence One Radio has put together a very good 49 minute podcast on contemporary defence wargaming.
This episode we’ll learn why the Pentagon and the U.S. defense establishment are increasingly turning to wargames and simulations; what famous games of the past got right, and wrong; and why we still need experts who strategize almost exclusively in the analog world of plastic chips and toy soldiers and hexagon maps.
Guests include Becca Wasser, Stacie Pettyjohn, Ellie Bartels, Christopher Rice and Mark Herman.
You’ll find it here.
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29/10/2019Posted by on
Little Wars TV has released their second video on woman and wargaming, this time focussing on bringing more women into the hobby. In it, wargamers Amanda Voce, Veronica, and Becky Ensteness offer a number of ideas.
Among the issues they note: the uncomfortable “boys’ club” atmosphere of some gaming spaces, the importance of calling out sexist behaviour, the value of mentoring and creating welcoming paths into the hobby.
If you missed the first one, you can find it here.
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29/10/2019Posted by on
Connections Oz is on the move. The date and venue for their 2019 conference has been changed to 9-11 December at the Australian Defence College in Canberra.
Further details at their website.
29/10/2019Posted by on
The survey is now closed. Results here.
A few years ago we conducted a survey of PAXsims readers to see who you are (or, rather, were). It seems about time to conduct another one, so— without further ado—here it is: the 2019 PAXsims reader survey.
28/10/2019Posted by on
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 subscription access to the publication in which they appear.
Mislat Safar Almuqati, Nurazmallail Marni, “The Role of War Game in Educating and Training the Commanders,” Umran: International Journal of Islamic and Civilisational Studies (2019).
The war game is considered to be the most effective means of military training due to the fact that it simulates the reality since it provides a semi-real picture of the weapons and equipment used in the training. Consequently, it provides the trainee with the appropriate environment to freely deal with such weapons as well as military equipment which in turn help the trainee become acquainted with all aspects of use and significantly instill confidence in him when such equipment are actually needed in war. More importantly, war game provides environment similar to what is going on in the actual battlefields allowing the commanders to exercise the training as if they were in a real war. Based on this perspective, the war game has emerged as an advanced training means which provides an analogy of the battle atmosphere to a great extent and gives commanders the opportunity to make decisions. It also helps in providing the commanders with a future view which enables them to plan their future and to deal with any challenges they might encounter. In fact, the role of war play is not only limited to training, but also extends to the aspects of military education, preparation, and development. The notion of war game is not only a means for the commander to have knowledge about the war before it occurs so as to be able to realize whether the decisions taken are right or wrong, but also it has become an effective means on which the armies depend when they train and polish the commanders’ capabilities as well as skills. In fact, the concept of war play is not exclusive to the military field but also it is employed by all agencies and departments that require a future vision in training or planning. This paper sheds some light on the notion of war game and its role in training and educating the commanders and staff.
Elizabeth Bartels, “The Science of Wargames: A discussion of philosophies of science for research games,” paper presented at the workshop on War Gaming and Implications for International Relations Research, July 2019.
Richard Frank and Jessica Genauer, “A Classroom Simulation of the Syrian Conflict,” PS: Political Science & Politics 52, 4 (October 2019).
This article describes a semester-long classroom simulation of the Syrian conflict designed for an introductory international relations (IR) course. The simulation culminates with two weeks of multi-stakeholder negotiations addressing four issues: humanitarian aid, economic sanctions, ceasefire, and political transition. Students randomly play one of 15 roles involving three actor types: states, non-state actors, and international organizations. This article outlines the costs and benefits of simulation design options toward encouraging students’ understanding of IR concepts, and it proposes a course plan for tightly integrating lectures, readings, assessment, and simulation—regardless of class size or length. We highlight this integration through a discussion of two weeks’ worth of material—domestic politics and war, and non-state actors—and the incorporation of bargaining concepts and frameworks into the two weeks of simulated multi-stakeholder negotiations.
ATLAS (Advanced Training, Learning and Scenario Simulator) is a serious game that was developed in conjunction with an intergovernmental organisation to deliver bespoke training simulations in virtual reality to assist field personnel in making decisions in difficult situations during field operations. This chapter describes the concept of ATLAS and the developmental process that led to the full-fledged game.
Erin Maudlin and Jeremiah Sanders, “Using Wargames To Teach The Critical Analysis Of Historical Sources,” Critical & Creative Thinking Conference (2019). (Text not available.)
This presentation describes the use of a wargame to actively involve students in the historical method through the creation of “primary sources” they later use to write an analytical paper. This assignment has been used at different universities in history courses to great success. Professional historians must analyze a host of often conflicting sources about their subject written by biased humans. While the reading about the historical process and visiting with archivists are helpful, these are nevertheless passive forms of learning, and their lessons may not adhere. Students often continue to view primary sources as authoritative in their research, and fail to think critically about bias in archival documents. With this assignment, students actively create and participate in an historical event—the wargame—which is essentially capture the flag with water balloons. Then, students create primary sources, such as letters home, “newspaper” reports, etc., and use this “archive” to write a cogent, analytical research paper of the event itself. The wargame makes the historical process transparent for students, as they can see every step along the way of how historians practice their craft: they experience the chaotic event itself; they participate in the creation of the primary sources about the event; and they have to evaluate the often conflicting sources in order to offer their interpretation as to why one team won or lost the battle. In other words, they have to “impose order on the chaos” of evidence about their historical event.
Andrea Redhead, “Gamification and Simulation,” Serious Games for Enhancing Law Enforcement Agencies (2019).
Gamification and simulation methods are two of the most important components of serious games. In order to create an effective training tool, it is imperative to understand these methods and their relationship to each other. If designed correctly, gamification techniques can build upon simulations to provide an effective training medium, which enhances learning, engagement and motivation in users. This chapter discusses their uses, strengths and weaknesses whilst identifying how to most effectively utilise them in developing serious games.
There is an indisputable gap between the conceptualization and introduction of innovation and the actual and effective implementation of innovations in the complex sociotechnical system of transport and logistics throughout Europe. With our research we investigate the role of simulation games as an instrument to understand the dynamics around innovation processes in this system, by the means of literature review and in-depth interviews with key stakeholders of selected innovation cases within the Port of Rotterdam. The aim of our study is to gather valuable insights into how simulation games can be used to handle the extremely critical issue of effectively implementing innovation in the transport and logistics sector. It is thus expected to stimulate and enhance interaction among actors on policy level, by highlighting the potential advantages of using the approach of simulation games when the implementation of innovation is in discuss.
Robert Rubel, “The Medium in the message: Weaving wargaming more tightly into the fabric of the Navy,” Naval War College Review 72, 4 (Autumn 2019).
By now, the challenge and threat of a rising and contentious China and an increasingly hostile Russia have penetrated the Navy’s corporate consciousness, and current leaders are taking steps to shift the service from a purely power- projection posture to one that focuses again on defending American command of the sea. The Navy is initiating adjustments to fleet design and architecture as well as a rebirth of fleet experimentation. While perhaps late in coming, these responses to the emergent challenges of our time are encouraging.
Tristan Saldanha, Quinn Vinlove, and Jens Mache, “MICE: A Holistic Scorekeeping Mechanism for Cybersecurity Wargames,” Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges 35, 1 (October 2019).
Cybersecurity wargames are some of the best tools for teaching se- curity skills to groups of students, but the computational complexity of these games has increased disproportionately with the ability to measure the progress of the game. This paper introduces “Mice”, a new way of assessing security skills such as detecting malware, network intrusion, and network defense, which will allow for complex games to be scored and tracked in a way that traditional score keeping can not. Mice are adaptable to any kind of simulation and are easy to use for students and educators, promising more effective learning from a wide range of security exercises.
Geoffrey Sloan, “The Royal Navy and organizational learning—The Western Approaches Tactical Unit and the Battle of the Atlantic,” Naval War College Review 72, 4 (Autumn 2019).
The Western Approaches Tactical Unit is a unique example of a learning organization. It was created within the bureaucratic constraints of the Admiralty yet was highly effective in changing command culture in the Royal Navy—which proved to be the deciding factor in the early days of World War II, particularly during the Battle of the Atlantic.
Martin Stytz and Sheila Banks, “Future challenges for cyber simulation,” Journal of Defense Modelling and Simulation (online first, 30 September 2019).
This chapter addresses the connection between gaming simulation (GS) and problem-based learning (PBL) in disaster education. First, the chapter explains their relations theoretically and describes the introduction of Evacuation Simulation Training (EST) for earthquake evacuation to university students. EST empowered both Japanese and international students to conduct research, integrate models and practice, and apply their knowledge and skills to develop viable solutions to defined problems. Finally, the chapter demonstrates the utility of GS as a tool of PBL.
Feng Zhu and Kai Chen, “Application of Simulation Technology in Military Theory Teaching,” Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, 352 (2019).
Military theory teaching often involves abstract concepts and principles that are difficult to understand, such as command structure, tactics, equipment system, etc. It’s difficult for students to quickly understand and master in the traditional classroom teaching process. Aiming at this problem, this paper studies the application of simulation technology in military theory teaching. The advantages of the application of simulation technology in military theory teaching are analyzed, and then the application of simulation technology in theory teaching such as equipment system, military command and logistics application is emphatically introduced. With the help of simulation platform, students can be brought into virtual battlefield environment, which is similar to the real situation. It is conducive to enhancing the interest of students in learning and greatly promoting the improvement of learning efficiency.
24/10/2019Posted by on
Jon Compton’s recent piece in War on the Rocks bemoaning the state of analytical wargaming in the US defence community has already sparked a cautious and partial rejoinder from Phil Pournelle for “paint[ing] with too large a brush.” Now Peter Perla, Web Ewell, Christopher Ma, James Peachy, Jeremy Sepinsky, and Basil Tripsas—all affiliated with the CNA gaming team—weigh in on the debate in another War on the Rocks article. It’s a pretty heavy, and well-aimed, broadside.
We certainly agree about the need to integrate wargames with analyses, exercises, and assessments as part of — dare we say it? — the cycle of research. Indeed, CNA and others have striven to do exactly that — when the sponsors of our work have been open to doing so. We disagree with Compton, however, about giving the wargaming community the central role and responsibility for integrating all aspects of the cycle of research.
It is long past time for the leadership of the Department — perhaps acting through the groups Compton calls on the carpet (federally funded research and development centers, other contractors, and educational institutions) — to break apart the stovepipes of analysis, wargaming and, indeed, of “analytical wargaming” as Compton terms it. Pentagon leadership needs to focus on integrating those stovepipes into a new paradigm for providing comprehensive advice to senior leadership. These senior leaders should include not only those within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, but also those of the services, the various operational and functional commands, and the research community writ large. That senior leadership will best be served not merely by better analytical wargaming but primarily by their own broad-based commitment to integrate wargaming with analysis, exercises, experiments, and real-world assessments. It is through such integration that senior leaders — indeed, leaders at all levels — can base their crucial strategic, programmatic, operational, and tactical decisions on the most comprehensive information and insight available.
Quite rightly, they put appropriate emphasis on the sponsor to integrate all elements of research and analysis:
The organizations that make up the “wargaming community” that Compton criticizes so harshly — federally funded research and development centers, other contractors, and educational institutions — are not all in the position of being their own master distinct from the government agencies who must sponsor and fund such work. Although Compton implied that federally funded research and development centers, as well as others, should “take analytical ownership” of this process, it is important to recognize that the CAPE effort was sponsored and executed with government leadership. The Naval War College’s Halsey Alfa group has been using a similar paradigm for more than a decade.
Indeed, we use that term, paradigm, with malice aforethought. Since the McNamara era’s introduction of the concepts of systems analysis into the Pentagon’s lexicon, analysis has become a mantra of truth. Even the term Compton uses — analytical wargaming — demonstrates obeisance to the concepts of analytical rigor and objectivity based on the principles of economics and the physical sciences. For too long that paradigm has seduced both the analysis and wargaming communities within the Defense Department into judging the value of all tools, regardless of their character and use, by standards of validity and utility too narrow to encompass the full range of truth and value.
The paradigm should change.
Instead of imposing the tenets of systems analysis and operations research on wargaming, or those of wargaming on analysis, it is time for the Department — not their supporting contractors and institutions — to recognize the essential need to integrate all the intellectual tools at its disposal across all levels of decisions. And it is at the locus of those decisions that the need should be recognized and the supporting expertise tasked and funded to meet new requirements.
In short, they suggest, “It is the Department of Defense — not the federally funded research and development centers, contractors, and educational institutions — who should take the “analytical ownership” Compton calls for.”
The opinions they express, it should be noted, are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of CNA. Then again, I suspect there are more than a few in the outside-DoD/DoD contractor wargaming community who share their view.
See also comments on the CNA website by Joel Sepinsky: “Wargaming is Just One Part of the Solution.”
22/10/2019Posted by on
Little Wars TV has put together an excellent segment on “Why Don’t More Women Play Wargames?”
Can you guess what percentage of historical wargamers are women? Thanks to five years of data from the Great Wargaming Survey by “Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy” magazine, we can tell you the answer! Why is historical wargaming such a male-dominated hobby? Why are women more likely to play sci-fi and fantasy tabletop games than historical ones? We’ll talk to three women in the hobby and ask them why more women aren’t playing miniature wargames. A very special thanks to our guests, Becky, Veronica, and Amanda, for taking the time to share their insights on this important topic!
Visit Becky at: https://thewargamingcompany.com
And if you’re interested in Games Workshop tabletop gaming, be sure to visit Amanda and Ethan, the WH40k Couple, at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb1_fi30Ps3sZ82OaEof_rw
You can see more results of the Great Wargaming Survey from WSS magazine right here: https://www.karwansaraypublishers.com
22/10/2019Posted by on
Daniel Sutliff (Medina County Community Response Team and Ohio Military Reserve) contributed the following report to PAXsims.
I controlled an AFTERSHOCK game for the Medina County EMA (Emergency Management Agency) leadership team. It went very well – it was my first time as a controller so I had to refer to the rules multiple times (especially logistics/infrastructure related).
Lesson learned – I had scanned in the District and Calendar cards so I could use them for play (keep the originals nice), so I plan on writing a few of the key points on the images & reprinting for play.
The team got the flow of things after the first turn. One player in particular got the sequence of play pretty quickly and was giving the rest advice on the impact of the sequence on their planning.
They became pretty worried about losing supplies when districts were resolved with unmet needs. I think they focused too much on transferring supplies between each other for a “mass” transfer and not getting the supplies to the districts. Finally, one of the players said “I don’t think supplies are doing any good sitting in warehouses – we need to get them to the field and take the risk”.
One individual never really understood the “randomness” of the Event-cards and why only one district at time is resolved (generally) – she thought districts should be resolved continually in some manner. Randomness is part of disasters was my only reply. If you have another way of explaining it …
After 2-3 turns they were getting the idea to start the infrastructure build-up.
One interesting sequence happened. I think the second Emergency card in District 5 was to be resolved (needs unmet). All the remaining cards (4-5?) were all special cards: fire, measles, cholera, etc. The game had gone on long enough every one understood the mechanisms and basically realized that essentially what happened was the district was completely devastated with essentially no survivors. So we just stood there for a few moments in silence and mild shock about the potential for such a result —then laugher, “oh well at least we don’t have to worry about sending supplies to District 5”.
Around Week 2, the flow started to turn around and districts were started to be successful resolved. This was because the players drew co-ordination cards that allowed district resolution of choice.
We had only gotten to Weeks 3-4 turn, when I had to leave. It took 2-1/2 hours to get to that point (including the initial briefing and overview). As the flow was really moving, I think we could have finished it in another 30 minutes.
The 1st few turns I let them proceed at a slower rate. After all these were EMA professionals – they actually spent significant amount of time relating the process and sequence to real Incident Command System/National Incident Management System (ICS/NIMS) concepts. For example, the turns became operational periods, the Cluster Meetings became Unified Command, etc.
As I was packing up, they asked “when can we play again?”. Those four want to become better acquainted with the rules and concepts so they can “win”. Even early during this first play, one individual indicated they wanted to “win” and another said “I don’t care, as long as the country recovers”. One player finally noted that if more than two players were in Media Outreach, no one gets Operations Points. He then added a third team deliberately to prevent the other two from getting OPs. (And he did it with a mischievous grin!). I told them that real-life groups might take similar attitudes!
In addition, the leadership wants to adapt the game to use ICS forms (perhaps 201,202, 210/211 for teams, 214, 215 for keeping track of supplies, etc). We figured that would take an 8-hour day, but hey!
My next opportunity to run a game is for the OHMR (Ohio Military Reserve) command leadership courses (mainly Officer candidates and 2LTs!) This is in preparation for using the game as the MEMS (Military Emergency Management Specialist ) practicum for the BELT (Basic Enlisted Level Training), which should be in January and a continuing usage.
19/10/2019Posted by on
Phil Pournell has added his thoughts to the debate over Pentagon wargaming, with a piece in War on the Rocks:
There’s a debate in the Pentagon about wargaming, and it’s heating up. With a recent War on the Rocks article, John Compton, senior analyst and wargame subject-matter expert in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, has put his hat in the ring. Titled “The Obstacles on the Road to Better Analytical Wargaming,” the essay lays out a powerful case that the Defense Department’s wargaming enterprise is broken.
Compton argues that wargamers have ignored Peter Perla’s call to reform of the art of wargaming. Many practitioners continue to execute wargames which aren’t wargames (e.g. Bunch of Guys and Gals Sitting Around a Table), and have failed to adapt their types and styles of games to what the customers ask for. He then describes, accurately in my view, how many wargaming practitioners lack “analytic ownership,” and fail to properly construct their games using multiple methods.
While I largely agree with Compton’s criticism, I think he paints with too large a brush. Many in the wargaming community are working for the very reforms he calls for. Others work in fields which don’t directly apply, such as training or education. In some areas, however, he doesn’t go far enough. His article fails to highlight the danger of the status quo, and the real risk that poorly-constructed analysis (not just wargaming) can lead to battlefield losses. The future force is in danger of being designed based on the impetus of services’ prerogatives and history rather than on a proper inquiry, exploration, and evaluation worthy of a joint force. The detachment of wargaming and the other elements of analysis from an integrated approach cuts the military adrift from its analytic moorings just when the nation and its allies need it the most.
18/10/2019Posted by on
PAXsims is pleased to present some recent items on conflict simulation and serious (and not-so-serious) gaming that may be of interest to our readers.
Aaron Danis suggested some of the items included in this latest edition.
The NATO Allied Command Transformation website features a piece by Sue Collins on “wargaming the future” at the 2019 Concept Development and Experimentation Conference.
There has been resurgence in interest in wargaming amongst NATO organizations and NATO Nations. The practice of wargaming has been around for hundreds of years, so it is nothing new, but it fell out of favour to all but hard-core hobby-wargamers and now a new generation of staff are re-discovering the practice and its associated benefits, and building up their wargaming experience.
Recent examples of wargames that Allied Command Transformation staff designed include; a matrix game for Allied Command Operations to test NATO’s Military Deterrence Response Options and further the Deterrence Concept; a human-in-the-loop simulation wargame to test Anti-Access Area Denial strategies; and a game to validate NATO’s Urbanization concept. Upcoming games are planned to explore and test the NATO Mine Warfare concept and the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept.
At the 2019 Concept Development and Experimentation Conference in Madrid, Spain, there will be a workshop called “Wargaming the Future” where participants will be introduced to the practice and get the opportunity to play games including a dilemma game and matrix wargame. The games will focus on scenarios relevant to Allied Command Transformation’s Strategic Foresight Analysis exploring future trends such as the Arctic and High North, China and new technological advances. Participants will learn how wargaming can be applied to individual Nations’ Concept Development and Experimentation projects. The “Wargaming the Future” workshop is a joint venture between Allied Command Transformation and the Netherlands Defence Research Agency.
Beyond the workshop, NATO is continuing to advance the art and science of wargaming. NATO Nations host annual wargaming conferences, and the NATO Science and Technology organization are sponsoring research task groups to advance wargaming practices.
Speaking of NATO, how would Europe organize its security and defence if the US were to withdraw from the alliance? The International Institute for Strategic Studies organized a policy game to explore this issue in July, and the report is now available.
The Körber Policy Game brought together a high-level group of senior experts and government officials to address a fictional scenario that involves a US withdrawal from NATO followed by multiple crises in Europe.
Recent developments in transatlantic relations have reignited the debate about the need for Europeans to assume greater responsibility for their own security. Yet, efforts by European leaders to substantiate the general commitment to ‘take their fate into their own hands’ are so far lacking sufficient progress.
Against this backdrop, the Körber Policy Game brought together a high-level group of senior experts and government officials from France, Germany, Poland, the UK and the US to address a fictional scenario that involves a US withdrawal from NATO, followed by multiple crises in Europe.
How will Europeans organise their security and defence if the US withdraws from NATO? To what extent will future European security be based on mutual solidarity, ad-hoc coalitions or a bilateralisation of relations with the US? Which interests would the respective European governments regard as vital and non-negotiable? What role would the US play in European security after the withdrawal?
The Körber Policy Game is based on the idea of projecting current foreign and security policy trends into a future scenario – seeking to develop a deeper understanding of the interests and priorities of different actors as well as possible policy options. The starting point is a short to medium-term scenario. Participants are part of country teams and assume the role of advisers to their respective governments.
The UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory has put together a brief overview of the recent Connections UK professional wargaming conference.
Linköping University in Sweden is planning a climate change megagame for April 2020.
“The Climate Change Megagame” takes place in Östergötland. It starts in 2020 and the scenario may run right up until 2100. The participants play various local roles, such as politicians and representatives for the business world. At least half of the participants will play the role of local inhabitants. As the climate changes, they will be faced with new situations and must take difficult decisions.
“One aim of the game is to cause participants to consider how we will have to adapt the way we live in response to climate change. We also want to know more about decision making in a future characterised by uncertainty about the climate. This uncertainty is not just about the physical climate, but also the political climate, where effects such as large-scale refugee movements, and food and water shortages, may have an effect”, says Ola Leifler.
One intention of the research project is to investigate whether a megagame is an effective way of passing on knowledge about climate change.
“I hope that the game can be held as a course here at LiU in the future.”
This is the first time that a megagame is used for research at Linköping University. Ola Leifler wants to determine whether decision making can be studied using this type of game.
“Do the players gain insight into the significance of climate change? Some members of the project team are experts who have previously studied how decisions are taken in simulated worlds.”
The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, together with the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, hosted Event 201: a high-level simulation exercise for pandemic preparedness and response, in New York on 18 October. According to a report in Modern Diplomacy:
The exercise will bring together business, government, security and public health leaders to address a hypothetical global pandemic scenario. It will also feature a live virtual experience from 08.50 – 12.30 EDT to engage stakeholders worldwide and members of the public in a meaningful conversation of difficult high-level policy choices that could arise in the midst of a severe pandemic.
The world has seen a growing number of epidemics in recent years, with about 200 events annually including Ebola, Zika, MERS and SARS. At the same time, collective vulnerability to the social and economic impacts of infectious disease crises appears to be increasing. Experts suggest there is a growing likelihood of one of these events becoming a global threat – or an “event 201” pandemic – that would pose disruptions to health and society and cause average annual economic losses of 0.7% global GDP, similar in scale to climate change.
“We are in a new era of epidemic risk, where essential public-private cooperation remains challenged, despite being necessary to mitigate risk and impact” said Arnaud Bernaert, Head of Shaping the Future of Health and Health Care, World Economic Forum. “Now is the time to scale up cooperation between national governments, key international institutions and critical industries, to enhance global capacity for preparedness and response.”
Additional information can be found at the Event 201 website.
“A series of September and November wargames led by the Pentagon’s Joint Staff will evaluate new battle plans for fighting China and Russia, Pentagon officials say.” according to Defense One.
“What we don’t have is a concept that accurately and with rigor describes how the services will fight against a peer adversary,” Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Futures Command and director of Futures and Concepts Center, told reporters Wednesday on the sidelines of the Defense News Conference.
A key part of the Global Integrated Wargame will be testing new gear intended to help troops in the various military services to communicate more seamlessly with one another. Today, each branch generally uses stovepiped networks — meaning, for example, that a pilot over the battlefield cannot easily talk to ground troops, who cannot easily talk to a ship’s crew just offshore.
Many studies of educational simulation and gaming use self-reported learning as a measure of effectiveness. However, we have long known this is a poor indicator, since students are likely to assess teaching methods (in part) on how much they have enjoyed them—not how much they have actually learned. Ars Technica discusses recent studies that suggest “College students think they learn less with an effective teaching method.”
A posting at the Institute for World Politics discusses 9/11 – The Second Wave, a strategic game designed by IWP interns.
An eight-week summer gaming workshop utilizing the skills of IWP’s intern team resulted in a mid-August presentation at the Connections 2019 wargaming conference at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, PA, by project coordinator Professor Aaron Danis. “The poster session at Connections garnered a lot of foot traffic and interest, as it was the only terrorism-themed analytic game at the conference,” stated Professor Danis.
The strategic analytic game, titled 9/11 – The Second Wave, is based on a little-known disrupted al-Qa‘ida plot to attack the West Coast and Midwest with aircraft after the 9/11 attacks. While al-Qa‘ida was unable to conduct follow-on attacks because of increased U.S. security measures, the plot remained in the mind of 9/11’s primary planner until his arrest in 2003. This “what if?” game postulates that the Second Wave became the primary targets for 9/11.
Prof. Danis comments: “The purpose of this game is to provide students in my Counterterrorism and the Democracies course with a challenging terrorist scenario on scale with 9/11, while mitigating some of the hindsight bias of those who have read a lot about or have personal experience from 9/11. Game objectives include counterterrorism response, crisis and consequence management, and indications and warning of further attacks.”
The interns did research into the plot, worked on game mechanics, designed the play map, and drafted the action cards that drive play. They also did an initial playtest of the first day, which focuses on the actual attack, its consequences, and the U.S. response.
Rebel Inc is an outstanding iOS game that is also perhaps the best stabilization simulation out there. Now it’s coming to the PC, in an expanded version, Rebel Inc: Escalation.
Giaime Alonge has written a thoughtful piece on “Playing the Nazis: Political Implications in Analogue Wars” at Analogue Game Studies.
Last month, a truck turned too sharply on Interstate 75 in Atlanta and spilled much of its load: 216,000 gaming dice.
Further details at Kotaku.
The Military Operations Research Society Cyberspace Wargaming & Analytics II Workshop is taking place 22-24 October in Alexandria, VA.
The primary objective of the workshop is to build upon the success of the 2018 Cyber Wargaming Workshop and continue the collaboration on data, models and wargaming best practices and sharing lessons for current cyberspace wargames and operations. This includes describing the current state, clarifying gaps and developing solutions for cyberspace operations data, models and wargaming. The workshops are geared to span the spectrum of wargaming experience from the novice wargamer, who want to increase their knowledge of wargaming techniques in the training working groups, to master game designers, who want to share and increase the wargaming body of knowledge within a cyber-context. A new addition this year is a working group which will focus on cyber data science.
There is still time to register.
The American Political Science Association’s 16th annual Teaching and Learning Conference will be held 7-9 February 202 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The conference includes a simulation and gaming track:
Simulations and games can immerse students in an environment that enables them to experience the decision-making processes of real-world political actors. Examples include in-person and online role-play scenarios like the Model European Union and ICONS, off-the-shelf board games, Reacting to the Past, and exercises that model subjects like poverty, institutions of government, and ethnic conflict. This track will examine topics such as the effects of gamification of course content on student motivation and engagement, cognitive and affective outcomes from simulations and games in comparison to other teaching techniques, and the contexts in which the use of simulations and games makes sense for the instructor.
Additional details can be found here.
Registration is open for the 2019 annual conference of the North American Simulation and Gaming Association, to be held in Chicago on 6-9 November.
The Winter conference of the Reacting to the Past Consortium (“Engaging the Future: Purposeful Teaching for Real World Learning”) will take place on 18-19 January 2020 at the University of Georgia. Further information is available here.
On the subject of conferences, don’t forget that registration is also now open for the Connections North professional wargaming conference at McGill University, Montréal on 15 February 2020, as well as the ATLANTIC RIM megagame on February 16.
18/10/2019Posted by on
I would like to thank Dani Fenning of NATO Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation for making the BEAR RISING briefing materials available to PAXsims readers.
The briefing pack does not include counters or initial set-up—if running a session, use your best judgment as to what needs to be included. Remember that in a matrix game an asset need not be displayed on a map to be used—it need only exist.
BEAR RISING is a matrix wargame that examines the political and strategic military pre-crisis actions within the Baltic region amid a failing Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty. Earlier this year NATO Allied Command Operations used BEAR RISING to challenge NATO deterrence planning, strategic thinking and decision making. Opposing player teams were invited from several external organisations who were subject matter experts in the nations they played, including some more experienced wargamers from US Center for Army Analysis and US Army War College. The game was played over a three day period, with player teams of 2 to 3 in size, beginning a new vignette each day. Overall, the game met its objectives to challenge NATO’s decision making with deterrence plans and activities, however, one of the unexpected outcomes of the game was the development of a unique narrative through the employment of a white cell “Press Officer” role. During the game the “Press Officer” supported the development of the narrative by injecting likely media (including social media) and news headlines in direct response to actions made throughout the game. The vignettes explored three different situations in which NATO nations and Russia faced escalating tension:
- A Darker Shade of Gray: Ethnic Russian protests in Latvia turn violent because of recent changes to laws regarding language instruction in schools; Russian minority groups in Estonia begin to stage sympathy protests with a widespread social media campaign. Through hybrid tactics Russia seeks to exploit the situation in Latvia to win the narrative and gain popular support.
- The Islanders: Tensions rise as a NATO vessel returning from a large exercise crashes into a Russian trawler, an unfortunate series of events result in a Russian threat to a NATO partner nation’s territorial integrity in a geo-strategic location.
- A Bridge Too Far: Social unrest rises as pro-democracy Russian protests against a ‘rigged’ regional election spread across Kaliningrad. Russia demands that Lithuania allows a large-scale deployment of Russian National Guard units via rail. Tensions begin to rise as military postures heighten in the region.
18/10/2019Posted by on
The latest edition of Simulation & Gaming 50, 5 (October 2019) is now available. This issue is a Special Symposium on “From then to now: Transformation in Simulation & Gaming in Japan.”
- Contributions of Japanese Gaming and JASAG
- Willy Christian Kriz
- From Then to Now: Transformation in Simulation and Gaming in Japan
- Toshiko Kikkawa and Susumu Ohnuma
- QR HUG: A Study on the Development of a Game to Manage a Shelter Using QR Codes
- Kenichiro Komori, Manabu Ichikawa, Hiroshi Deguchi, and Kentaro Saito
- The Detrimental Effects of Punishment and Reward on Cooperation in the Industrial Waste Illegal Dumping Game
- Yoko Kitakaji and Susumu Ohnuma
- Persuasion Game: Cross Cultural Comparison
- Kaori Ando, Junkichi Sugiura, Susumu Ohnuma, Kim-Pong Tam, Gundula Hübner, and Nahoko Adachi
- Consensus Building Gaming Which Promotes Creative Solutions to Wildlife Management Dilemmas
- Shin Oyamada and Shinobu Kitani
- A Prediction Market-Based Gamified Approach to Enhance Knowledge Sharing in Organizations
- Hajime Mizuyama, Seiyu Yamaguchi, and Mizuho Sato
- Development of a Social Skills Education Game for Elementary School Students
- Yoshiko Okada and Toshiki Matsuda
- A Short History of Table-Talk and Live-Action Role-Playing in Japan: Replays and the Horror Genre as Drivers of Popularity
- Björn-Ole Kamm
- Influence of Room Condition on Participants in Simulation and Gaming Activities: Analyses of Debriefing Forms
- M. Nakamura
17/10/2019Posted by on
As usual, no one was given the rules in advance. Instead, after a short fifteen minute powerpoint presentation on the game (available here), a devastating earthquake hit the developing country of Carana and players were thrown straight into the action.
As is usually the case, they were a bit overwhelmed at first: local need was massive, and they only had a limited number of supplies and relief teams with which to address urgent needs across the five districts of the capital. There was also a bit of interagency rivalry and problems of coordination, notably between UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.
In the end, however, they all pulled together, got on top of things, and were successful. Well done!
Many thanks to the SRB HS debate/model UN club for hosting me, and Alexandra Barbulescu (veteran of the CanGames 2019 zombie apocalypse) for inviting me.