Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 01/03/2020

Recent simulation and gaming publications, January-February 2020


PAXsims is pleased to present a selection of recently-published items on simulation and serious gaming. Some of these may not address conflict, peacebuilding, wargaming, 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 in which they appear.


Nathan Altice, “Joy Family: Japanese Board Games in the Post-War Shōwa Period,” Proceedings of Digital Games Research Association 2019 (DiGRA 2019).

This paper draws on new archival and historical sources to survey the major developments in Japanese board games in the postwar Shōwa era (1945–89), including the import of American games, the emergence of Japan’s wargame culture, and the structural foundations of the ancient Japanese game of sugoroku. In particular, this paper identifies key cultural, economic, and design moments that led to Bandai’s unprecedented yet overlooked analog game output in the 1980s.

Linnea Bergsten, Supporting Resilient Behaviour in Simulation Studies: A study of how resilient behaviour can be enhanced in a crisis management exercise based on participants experiences (MA thesis, Linköping University, 2020).

A major disruption in the payment system would be a considerable societal crisis and is studied by a project called Creating Collaborative Resilience Awareness, Analysis and Action for Finance, Food and Fuel Systems in INteractive Games (CCRAAAFFFTING), using serious gaming and simulation. This study examines the experiences of the participants in the crisis management exercises. The research questions of this study are as follows: “How do the participants of the simulation studies of CCRAAAFFFTING understand the games?” and “How can the simulation environment be developed in order to encourage the participants to improve monitoring strategies during the games?”.

The study uses thematic analysis of qualitative interviews of the participants supported by questionnaires. The questionnaires were conducted directly after the games, and telephone interviews were conducted after the exercise.

This study found the following main themes in the participants’ experiences of the games: the crisis, the society that is handling the crisis, the game’s relation to reality, the importance of the group, and the exercise’s ability to support the interpretation of what is simulated. Some consideration for the project to work further with are that the simulation needs to be centred, simplified and made more available to the participants. The division of roles could divide the monitoring of different actions affecting different parts of the society between the participants. Furthermore, a representation of the overall payment system, its actors and the groups, might support the participants in sharing and understanding the actors of the payment system, and the effects their actions have on them, as well as the participants’ ability to monitor the changes.

Rex Brynen, “Crisis in Galasi: Simulating the Urban Dimensions of Religious Conflict.” In Mick Dumper, eds., Contested Holy Cities: The Urban Dimensions of Religious Conflict (Routledge, 2019).

The chapter describes  multi-day simulation of a fictional urban religious conflict, conducted as part of a larger academic workshop on the topic in March 2018.

After reviewing the value of simulation as a method for crowd-sourcing ideas and insight, it details the design, facilitation, play, and outcomes of “Crisis in Galasi.” This combined elements of a seminar game, matrix game, and negotiation game. The chapter then reflects on how the simulation enhanced the overall workshop experience.

Aaron Calhoun et al, “Exploring the Boundaries of Deception in Simulation: A Mixed-Methods Study,” Clinical Simulation in Nursing 40 (March 2020).

Background: Deception can be defined as causing someone to accept a falsehood as true. Within simulation, a deception is an aspect of the environment for which there is no clear agreement or knowledge among facilitators and learners about its ground rules, boundaries, or existence. The psychological literature surrounding deception is mixed, and little simulation-specific research exists.

Methods: This mixed-methods survey-based research explored attitudes for and against deception’s use and facilitator perceptions of psychological risk and ethical harm. Subjects consisted of a random sample of members from three international simulation societies that included nurses, physicians, standardized patients, and educational specialists. The survey was designed and tested using an iterative process and distributed using SurveyMonkey™. Descriptive statistics and thematic analyses were performed.

Results: Eighty-four (11%) of surveys were completed. Thirty-three percent of respondents currently use modification/deception, whereas 61 to 75% of respondents expressed psychological and ethical concerns. Thematic analysis yielded five themes: types of modification/deception, decision-making considerations and guardrails, never events (high risk), potential detriments, and potential benefits.

Conclusions: The use of deception appears relatively prevalent in the simulation community, but significant concerns also exist. Careful consideration of all relevant factors is needed if deception is to be used responsibly.

Albert (Treb) Courie, “Team Building through Gaming,” Army Lawyer 29 (2019)

[No abstract]

Andreas Haggman, “Wargaming in Cyber Security Education and Awareness Training,” International Journal of Information Security and Cybercrime 8, 1 (2019).

This paper introduces readers to core concepts around cyber wargaming. Wargames can be powerful learning tools, but few wargames exist to teach players about cyber security. By way of highlighting possibilities in this space, the author has developed an original educational tabletop wargame based on the UK National Cyber Security Strategy and deployed the game to a variety of organisations to determine its pedagogic efficacy. Overall, it is found that the game was effective in generating high- engagement participation and clear learning opportunities. Furthermore, there are design lessons to be learned from existing games for those seeking to use wargames for cyber security training and education.

Anna Sanina, Evgeniia Kutergina, and Aleksey Balashov, “The Co-Creative approach to digital simulation games in social science education,” Computers & Education 149 (May 2020).

This paper focuses on the educational possibilities and potential of digital simulation games in higher education. It provides the detailed examination of the true experimental design of a co-creative gamified classroom that could be used in different academic subjects in social science education. In this pedagogical experiment, we tested the effects of a co-creative gamification classroom within a Public Sector Economics course attended by 253 first-year master’s students. We used pre-test and post-test examinations, surveys, and interviews to evaluate and compare effects on learning outcomes and course evaluations of different classroom modes (with and without a co-creative approach and digital simulation games). This paper presents a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the proposed experimental design, using treatment and control groups. Our conclusions make a contribution to the discussion of the co-creative approach in education, proving that its digital implementation can develop students’ generic and professional skills. We also reveal a more conscious and motivated attitude toward the future profession of those students who participated in the process of creating the game.

Yuna Huh Wong et al, Deterrence in the Age of Thinking Machines (RAND, 2020).

The greater use of artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems by the militaries of the world has the potential to affect deterrence strategies and escalation dynamics in crises and conflicts. Up until now, deterrence has involved humans trying to dissuade other humans from taking particular courses of action. What happens when the thinking and decision processes involved are no longer purely human? How might dynamics change when decisions and actions can be taken at machine speeds? How might AI and autonomy affect the ways that countries have developed to signal one another about the potential use of force? What are potential areas for miscalculation and unintended consequences, and unwanted escalation in particular?

This exploratory report provides an initial examination of how AI and autonomous systems could affect deterrence and escalation in conventional crises and conflicts. Findings suggest that the machine decisionmaking can result in inadvertent escalation or altered deterrence dynamics, due to the speed of machine decisionmaking, the ways in which it differs from human understanding, the willingness of many countries to use autonomous systems, our relative inexperience with them, and continued developments of these capabilities. Current planning and development efforts have not kept pace with how to handle the potentially destabilizing or escalatory issues associated with these new technologies, and it is essential that planners and decisionmakers begin to think about these issues before fielded systems are engaged in conflict.

[Includes waregame description and analysis]

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