PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Monthly Archives: January 2020

Dictionary of Basic Military Terms — A Soviet View

If anyone is interested here is a good quality PDF (6.6Mb) of the English translation of this document, #9 in the Soviet Military Thought Series.

Simulation & Gaming (February 2020)

sgbar

The latest issue of Simulation & Gaming 51, 1 (February 2020) is now available.

Editorial

  • A Tribute to Some of Our Pioneers, Past and Present as We Move Beyond 50 Years With Simulation & Gaming
    • Timothy C. Clapper
  • Acknowledgment of Reviewers of Simulation & Gaming for 2019

Articles

  • The Evolution of Simulation-Based Learning Across the Disciplines, 1965–2018: A Science Map of the Literature
    • Philip Hallinger and Ray Wang
  • Do Badges Affect Intrinsic Motivation in Introductory Programming Students?
    • Lisa Facey-Shaw, Marcus Specht, Peter van Rosmalen, and Jeanette Bartley-Bryan
  • Video Game Pursuit (VGPu) Scale Development: Designing and Validating a Scale With Implications for Game-Based Learning and Assessment
    • Diana R. Sanchez and Markus Langer
  • Health$en$eTM: Developing a Board Game on Value-based Healthcare Financing
    • Harold Tan, Yap Chun Wei, Heng Wei Yun, Koh Eng Hui Joan, Ho Wai Yee, and Lim Yee Juan

 

Strategic decisions with simulations (conference)

TUHH19-320.pngUPDATE: This conference has been cancelled due to the current COVID-19 epidemic.

On 19 March 2020, the Technischen Universität Hamburg, in conjunction with the German Institute for Defence and Strategic Studies (GIDS) and the Führungsakademie der Bundeswehr (German Command and Staff College) will be holding a conference on Zukunftsorientierte Steuerung – Strategische Entscheidungen mit Simulationen fundiert treffen (Future-oriented control – making strategic decisions with simulations).

Further information can be found at the link.

NATO OR&A conference proceedings

ora2019-1

The proceedings of the 2019 NATO Operations Research & Analysis conference have now been published on the NATO STO website. These include a number of wargaming presentation (including a keynote address by Stephen Downes Martin).

Most of the papers are open access, but a few are marked are marked NATO Unclassified (Releasable to PFP and Australia). To access those files you will need STO log-in credentials.

We published a report on the conference at PAXsims back in October.

David and DeRosa: Wargaming Contested Narratives in an Age of Bewilderment

SB160120.png

At The Strategy Bridge, Arnel P. David and John DeRosa discuss “Wargaming Contested Narratives in an Age of Bewilderment.”

The Contested Narratives Wargame builds on the assertions from Peter Perla and Ed McGrady that wargames “embod[y] two types of narrative: the presented narrative, which is what we call the written or given narrative, created by the game’s designers; and the constructed narrative, which is developed through the actions, statements, and decisions of the game’s participants.”[1] Over the course of the game, select participants shared presented narratives (pre-scripted stories) to amplify or dampen adversary and friendly narratives. Participants then moved between tables developing constructed narratives (revised scripts) amidst the various contested narratives. Using the World Café method, a professionally and nationally diverse group of participants took turns sharing stories of national resilience against malign influence wherein the pre-scripted presented narratives contest for resonance.

The World Café is an exploratory method, designed by Juanita Brown and David Isaacs, that elicits communication patterns.[2] Set in a café-like environment with multiple tables, participants are invited to sit in small groups with participants from other nations. A facilitator initiates the conversation with a narrative prompt to the entire room—“share a story about national resilience,” for example. Then the participants engage in multiple rounds of storytelling. Paper tablecloths and colored pens allow participants to scribble and take notes creating artifacts for later review. As participants move around the room, narratives begin to circulate. Contestation emerges as designated players introduce stories scripted prior to the wargame from an adversary’s perspective. At the end of several rounds, Dr. John DeRosa—game designer, lead facilitator, and one of the authors—led discussions with the participants to find the l’entre deux, the between place, of presented and constructed narratives circulating within the room. In this sense, the process seeks to reveal if elements of the pre-scripted narratives (like those representing the adversary) appear in the revised scripts developed within the wargame.

Two key insights emerged. First, stories coupled with symbols construct powerfully resonant narratives. Second, unlike the linear action-counteraction-reaction model of traditional wargames, methods like the World Café can effectively mimic the complexity of the human dimension.

More at the link above.

h/t Mark Jones Jr.

Exploit Small Group Dynamics During Analysis to Support the Decision You Want

available.jpeg

I gave the above keynote speech to the 13th NATO Operations Research and Analysis Conference last October, in which I described an “analysis process design” game as a thought experiment about how pathologies of small group discussions can be deliberately used to distort decisions following analysis. The thought experiment game can be applied I suspect to any process, including wargames, that includes small group discussions.

The paper is now downloadable (pdf) from the NATO Science and Technology Organization website.

 

Serious Games Forum 2020 (Paris)

SGF2020-banner eng.png

The next Serious Games Forum—the French version of the Connections wargaming conferences—will take place on January 27 at the École Militaire in Paris. Over two hundred participants attended last year.

SGF-print 2020 eng.png

Further information and registration details can be found at the link above. For details of the previous conference in December 2018, see this PAXsims report by Juliette Le Ménahèze.

Connections US 2020 Wargaming Conference – Call for Presentations

Connections 2020 will be hosted by the Wargaming Division of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico, VA, August 4-7.

Connections is an interdisciplinary wargaming conference that has been held annually since 1993, with the mission of advancing and preserving the art, science, and application of wargaming. Connections participants come from all elements of the wargaming discipline, and include those in the military, government, academic, private sector, and commercial hobbyist fields. By providing a forum for practitioners to share insights and best practices, Connections works to improve gaming as a tool for research, analysis, education, and policy.

Presentations on any aspect of professional wargaming are welcome. The 2020 conference theme is Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Wargaming, and with that in mind, presentations on applying current and emerging AI/ML capabilities to increase the value of wargaming (or using wargaming to better understand the implications of advances in AI/ML) are especially encouraged.

However, any presentations related to wargaming will receive full consideration. The Connections agenda is a mix of content related to the year’s theme and other topics of interest to wargaming practitioners.

Please submit your proposal via the Google Form at the following link (which contains additional information): https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdQtpt0K5bTg-hn4655vzyBmS9k5BQZkW0aVjcbQkiCQGa0gw/viewform

It is by no means necessary to have attended a previous Connections conference to participate as a speaker. More information about past Connections events and current updates on the status of planning for Connections 2020 can be found at the conference website: https://connections-wargaming.com/

For additional information or any questions or concerns, please contact Timothy Wilkie at timothy.wilkie@ndu.edu

MORS certificate course in cyber wargaming

MORS.Logo.4C1.png

The Military Operations Research Society is conducting a certificate course on from 27-31 January 2020 at the MORS office in Arlington, VA.

How do we go about understanding operational and policy decisions about cyber?  They involve a complex mix of human decisions, technical capabilities, and social interactions.  As we have seen from recent events, peoples’ reaction to cyber can be as important as the capability.

One way government and industry professionals go about understanding the complex linkages in cyber operations is through gaming.  Games allow you to bring together all of these diverse aspects of cyber policy.  Games place people in decision-making roles during a simulated real-world problem—historical, contemporary or projected into the future.  These “professional games” are used by decision-makers within government, industry and academia to examine policy issues and potential outcomes.   They also allow operational professionals to assess requirements, plan budgets, and practice response procedures.  Professional games on cyber policy and operations are run by a variety of agencies as part of an effort to develop national strategies, permissions, and capabilities.

In this course we examine the challenges of gaming cyber.  How do you develop games that address the challenges associated with cyber?  Why are cyber games inherently difficult to do well, and how do you match technical layers of game play with the operational and strategic layers?  What is the role of computer simulation in cyber games, and how do cyber games differ from exercises?  How do you assess player actions given the potential political, social, and technical impacts of game play?

We will do this through a combination of lectures and practical exercises.  Lectures will focus on games and game design, along with the application of game design to cyber issues.   We need to understand how to think about cyber technology and processes in order to build effective games.  So cyber security will be discussed in this course: but this is not a course on cyber security.  Practical exercises will give students the chance to experience different types of cyber gaming, with the expectation that students will research, design, and present their own cyber game as part of the course.

Successful students will learn how game design can be used to address challenges of cyber operations and policy.  They will build an understanding of how to represent cyber capabilities in games, as well as build games directly addressing cyber operations.  The goal is for students to become aware of the gaming tools available for cyber, and to begin to associate specific game techniques with various cyber gaming requirements.

It’s pretty pricey, though, at up to USD$3000 (!). Details and registration at the link above.

Fielder: Reflections on teaching wargame design

cropped-cropped-wotrweblogo-nobg.png

At War on the Rocks today, James “Pigeon” fielder discusses how to teach wargame design, drawing on his experience at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

I founded my course on three pillars: defining wargames, objective-based design, and learning outcomes over winning. First, I took a blend of James Dunnigan, John Curry and Peter Perla, Phil Sabin, and my own caffeinated madness to define wargaming as “a synthetic decision making test under conditions of uncertainty against thinking opponents, which generates insights but not proven outcomes, engages multiple learning types, and builds team cohesion in a risk-free environment.” Second, I enshrined the primacy of the objective. Put bluntly, without objectives you don’t have a professional game. Although we briefly discussed creating sandbox environments for generating ideas in the absence of objectives, sandbox design at best strays into teaching group facilitation (albeit game refereeing itself is a form of facilitation), and at worst enshrining poorly structured and long-winded BOGSATs as legitimate analysis tools. Finally, neither the U.S. Strategic Command wargame nor the National Reconnaissance wargame included absolute and predetermined winners. Both U.S. Strategic Command and the National Reconnaissance Office faced unmitigated disaster every time they bellied up to the table. The best learning comes from understanding failure, correcting mistakes, and revising strategies, not from sponsors patting themselves on the back. Summoning Millennium Challenge 2002’s chained and howling ghost, gaming with the sole intent to win, prove, and prop up ideas is an exercise in false future bargaining with real lives and materiel.

He cleverly had his cadets design games for real sponsors:

I divided the class into two eight-cadet teams respectively for U.S. Strategic Command and the National Reconnaissance Office. The sponsors and I initiated dialogue, but from that point the games were entirely cadet driven. The teams interviewed the sponsors for objectives, determined how to measure the objectives, prototyped and play-tested their games, and ultimately delivered effective tools for addressing sponsor requirements. Meaning, of course, the games generated more questions than answers: better to ask the questions at the table before bargaining with a real opponent or launching a new military service.

There’s a lot more besides that, including a discussion of the wargame design literature, as well as material on psychological roots and sociological narratives of gaming. James also discusses the importance of learning-through-play.

Go read the entire piece at the link at the top of the page.

2019 PAXsims readers’ survey results

Post-Event-Survey-730x478

The results of our 2019 PAXsims reader’s survey are now in. Many thanks to those who took the time to answer our questions.

Half (51.2%) of respondents report that they visit PAXsims daily or weekly, while 52.5% report that they visit monthly. Only 6.3% visit less frequently.

Most of our readers are middle-aged and—overwhelmingly—male. We are only reaching a much smaller proportion of those in their teens or twenties who might be interested in, or entering, the field of serious gaming.

Age Percentage
1-17 0.6%
18-25 4.8%
26-35 14.3%
36-64 70.8%
65 or older 9.5%

Although the proportion of non-male readers has increased since our last survey a few years ago (when it was a mere 1%), there’s still much room for improvement. Women make up half of my POLI 452 (Conflict Simulation) course at McGill this term, so there’s no shortage of women interested in the topic. However, this demographic is not particularly accessible through the 98% male wargaming hobby, which has often been rather unwelcoming. Instead, an interest in gaming as social science or policy analysis might be the better hook to introduce a new and more diverse generation to the art and science of serious gaming.

Gender Percentage
Male 93.9%
Female 4.3%
Non-binary/other 1.8%

We wll be further discussing this issue of “expanding the community” at this year’s Connections North interdisciplinary wargaming conference in Montréal on 15 February 2020.

In terms of occupation, about a quarter of our readers are in education (as teachers or students), and another quarter are in or directly support the military.

Occupation Percentage
Educator (post-secondary) 16.3%
Educator (K-12) 3.1%
Students (post-secondary) 3.6%
Students (K-12) 0.5%
Military (active/reserve) 11.7%
Military (contractor) 11.2%
Intelligence community 3.6%
Diplomacy 0.5%
Other government employees 8.2%
Humanitarian assistance/development 1.5%
Journalism 1.5%
Professional game designers 12.2%
Other 26.0%

A majority of out visitors seem to be hobby gamers, as well as serious gamers. Slightly more use serious games for education/training compared to analysis.

  Use serious games for education. Use serious games for analysis. Play games for fun.
Often 29.6% 20.0% 57.9%
Sometimes 36.5% 31.6% 33.3%
Rarely 19.5% 27.7% 8.8%
Never 14.5% 20.7% 0%

Slightly over half of respondents (51%) prefer manual games, 11% prefer digital games, and the remainder like both equally (38%).

Among gaming conference attended, hobby gaming conferences come first, followed by the various Connections professional wargaming conferences, and the Military Operations Research Society annual symposium. I/ITSEC and the major social science academic conferences place lower.

Finally, what our readers you like to see more of? Pretty much what we have been doing, it seems. In order of popularity:

  1. professional wargaming
  2. teaching with games and simulations
  3. other serious games
  4. professional development
  5. gaming hobby
  6. game reviews
  7. not-so-serious gaming articles

And so it is, onwards into 2020!

Support PAXsims via Patreon

TYP-2019Kit-TwitterArtwork-1.png

PAXsims would like to thank those who supported us during the last year with small monthly donations through Patreon. These contributions cover our hosting and data fees, and support various PAXsims activities.

image.png

If you would like to become one of our regular supporters, just click the button above!

 

McGill Library: Play On!

0.pngThis event has now been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In light of recent developments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, including bans on travel and large assemblies, we regret to inform you that we are forced to postpone the PlayOn! colloquium until early October 2020. We understand that many of you have been preparing for this event for many months and the coordinators will be happy to assist with any inquiries you may have.

We will be sending further information within the coming weeks to propose a rescheduled date, and we hope that many of you will still be able to attend. Please expect that we will be able to extend the same offers for travel-related funding, and that the general organization and structure of the colloquium will remain intact.


McGill Library will be organizing a series of speakers and other events throughout 2020 on the topic of serious play. This includes a Play On! colloquium at McGill University on 13-15 May.

To meet the needs of students reared, nurtured, and cultivated by video games since childhood, as well as the needs of faculty instructing them, the McGill University Library seeks ways to support the increasing presence of Serious Play in higher education. Serious Play incorporates creativity, innovation and cooperation as the foundations of new forms of immersive, intellectual engagement. In addition, novel interactive strategies in education, information literacy, and instruction are emerging daily. As dynamic spaces that foster and reward intellectual curiosity, 21stcentury academic libraries can continue to be hubs of interdisciplinary collaborative experimentation by evolving to match the pedagogical demands of students educated in increasingly interactive and ‘playful’ environments.

Running throughout 2020, our program of events will bring together a cohort of interdisciplinary thinkers and industry leaders to convey best practices for academic research libraries in supporting Serious Play. Together, we will reach across disciplines to explore how play and games fit in the serious and goal-oriented adult world of the 21st century research library, and what services academic libraries can, could, and should offer.

You will find additional details and the full schedule here.

%d bloggers like this: