Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Recent simulation and gaming publications, March 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, 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.


Emily K. Brunson et al, “The SPARS Pandemic 2025–2028: A Futuristic Scenario to Facilitate Medical Countermeasure Communication,” Journal of International Crisis and Risk Communications Research, 3, 1 (2020).

Effective communication about medical countermeasures—including drugs, devices, and biologics—is often critical in emergency situations. Such communication, how- ever, does not just happen. It must be planned and prepared for. One mechanism to develop communication strategies is through the use of prospective scenarios, which allow readers the opportunity to rehearse responses while also weighing the implica- tions of their actions. This article describes the development of such a scenario: The SPARS Pandemic 2025–2028. Steps in this process included deciding on a time frame, identifying likely critical uncertainties, and then using this framework to construct a storyline covering both the response and recovery phases of a fictional emergency event. Lessons learned from the scenario development and how the scenario can be used to improve communication are also discussed.

John Curry, “The Utility of Narrative Matrix Games—A Baltic Example,” Naval War College Review 73, 2 (Spring 2020).

The focus of professional gaming has shifted over time from the kinetic so as to include wider aspects of confrontations beyond war fighting, such as national will, social media, economics, and the laws of war. While traditional wargame models have struggled to represent these factors adequately, the matrix game narrative method offers utility for gaming current political crises.

Levent Durdu, “Digital Games for Peace Education,” Empowering Multiculturalism and Peacebuilding in Schools (2020).

Interactive, communicative, and participatory activities contribute to the effectiveness of peace education. The use of games in educational settings is expressed as educational games. From the Oregon Trail to today’s highly interactive games, many games have been used to support learning in many subjects. To state it specifically about peace education, the history of digital games for peace education started with My City (1995), supported by UNICEF, continued with games aiming different learning subjects, such as Escape from Woomera (2003), Ayiti (2006), PeaceMaker (2007), Hush (2007) and This War of Mine (2014). The most important contribution of these games in terms of peace education is that individuals gain empathy and perspective. These gains at cognitive and affective domains will contribute to individuals to be more successful in conflict resolution. The games introduced in this chapter are detailed with their pros and cons within the scope of peace education. The researches based on these games are included, and the critical findings of these studies are discussed.

Emil Lundedal Hammar, Producing & Playing Hegemonic Pasts: Historical Digital Games as Memory-Making Media, PhD thesis, UiT Arctic University of Norway (November 2019).

Article 1: Counter-hegemonic Commemorative Play: Marginalized Pasts and the Politics of Memory in the Digital Game Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry (published in Rethinking History)

Article 2: Playing Virtual Jim Crow in Mafia III – Prosthetic Memory via Historical Digital Games and the Limits of Mass Culture (published in Game Studies)
Article 3: Producing Play under Mnemonic Hegemony: The Political Economy of Memory Production in the Games Industry (published in Digital Culture & Society)

Article 4: Mapping Experiential Memory-making Through Play: How Digital Games Frame Cultural Memory (submitted to Memory Studies)

Nicolas Schillinger, “Playing Soldiers: The War Game in Late Qing and Republican China,” Journal of Chinese Military History, online first ( March 2020).

In the early twentieth century, Chinese military reformers introduced the war game to improve the training of officers and professionalize their education according to foreign role models. The war game or Kriegsspiel was a tabletop device used to simulate tactical and strategic problems, which originated from the Prussian army and was very popular among German officers. It was adopted in other European countries and the United States as well as Japan, and was eventually played in the late Qing New Armies and the Guomindang’s National Revolutionary Army. From its inception at the turn of the century until the end of the Republican era, it was supposed to increase tactical abilities, leadership skills, discipline, and knowledge of specific procedures and regulations. Besides improving their skills as military commanders, wargaming enabled Chinese officers to incorporate transnational military cultural codes of conduct, and thus emulate and perform “modern” military professionalism.

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