PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Monthly Archives: June 2020

Nuts! Publishing endorses the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in wargaming

We’re happy to announce that Nuts! Publishing is the latest gaming company or organization to endorse the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming.

On a personal note, I’m especially happy to welcome Nuts! on board. I use their games (notably Urban Operations) in teaching wargame design. Moreover, they will be publishing We Are Coming Nineveh!, a game exploring the liberation of Mosul from ISIS control in 2017.

I am one of the codesigners of WACN, along with Juliette Le Ménahèze, Harrison Brewer and Brian Train. It was Juliette who first launched the project and drove it forward. Florent Coupeau at Nuts! has been really supportive and encouraging of her efforts as a new, female wargame designer. The Serious Games Network – France, another Derby House Principles signatory, has also been very encouraging to her.

Finally, for those who are wondering: while the pandemic has slowed down the publication schedule, WACN is still on track to be published next year.

Bending Lines: maps and data from distortion to deception

Since (most? all?) games use maps of some sort, geographic or topological, I thought this on-line exhibition at the Boston Public Library by the Leventhal Map & Education Center into how maps can be used to distort interpretation, sometimes nefariously (my main interest), would be of interest to the community. The wargame map and other visualizations of the game are another method for manipulating the players without appearing to do so.

Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center

“Because they seem to show the world how it “really is,” maps produce a powerful sense of trust and belief. But maps and data visualizations can never communicate a truth without any perspective at all. They are social objects whose meaning and power are produced by written and symbolic language and whose authority is determined by the institutions and contexts in which they circulate.”

“Some of the maps in this exhibition are deliberately nefarious, created by people or institutions who are trying to mislead or persuade. But for many of the others, the relationship between map and truth is more ambiguous. Some maps dim a certain type of truth in order to let another type of interpretation shine through, while others classify and categorize the world in ways that should raise our skepticism.”

Leventhal Map & Education Center

UK Fight Club endorses the Derby House Principles

UK Fight Club is the latest organization to endorse the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming.

If your organization would like to join us too, email us.

After the Apex: A game of exit strategies from COVID-19

The following article was written for PAXsims by Ben Taylor (Defence Research and Development Canada) and Benjamin Williams (Professeur des Universités, IAE & CleRMa, Université Clermont Auvergne). The views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official policy or position of any agency, organization, employer or company.

For more on gaming the impact and aftermath of the pandemic, see the PAXsims COVID-19 serious gaming resources page.


The authors met through a workshop on Wargaming the Pandemic hosted by the King’s Wargaming Network that was held 1-2 April 2020. BW gave a presentation in which he set out an idea for a matrix game on the COVID-19 crisis that could be supported by quantitative epidemiological and economic models. BT had previous experience with matrix games and offered to collaborate on the idea. This project is therefore itself a product of the COVID-19 crisis as the authors are unlikely to have met or to have found a common project to work on without it.

We decided from the outset that we wanted to design a game that tackled the COVID-19 crisis in a country from the point after the initial lock-down measures had flattened the curve. This phase would require a balancing act by political leaders as they face challenges on three axes: economic, social and healthcare. We termed these the three frontlines of the battle against COVID-19. Our aim was for a game that would sensitise decision-makers to issues that they might face and one in which choices would be constrained by the cross-coupling between the frontlines; for example that returning people to work in offices would likely increase the rate of infection, or that a renewed lock-down would lead to public discontent. We also wanted to introduce some quantitative models to help elaborate upon the consequences of player actions.

We also decided that we did not want to build a detailed game around a specific country. Rather we wanted a tool that could be customised to any country. That required the game to have a generic framework to which national specific details could be added. For development purposes we settled upon the fictitious country of Bretonia which has a government structure like Canada and the economy of France. Our generic framework envisaged four players to represent key elements of the country; the national government, the lower tier governments, the business sector and the public health system. A fifth player, termed “The Crisis”, represents all other domestic groups, external actors and anything else that could happen to challenge the other players’ efforts. An example of the customisation necessary comes from different national approaches to healthcare funding. In Canada healthcare is a provincial responsibility, whereas in France it is mainly funded by the national government through the social security system. This difference would have to be represented in the roles and responsibilities of the two government players.

One of the first steps in designing the game was to develop an influence diagram that showed how various parts of the economy, business, government finances, social attitudes, the healthcare system and the pandemic itself are connected.  This provided the reassurance that everything that we wanted to be in scope was captured. The model also provided insight to where knock-on effects (positive or negative) might be felt, which would provide for consistent adjudication.  

We also built a dashboard that displays selected metrics grouped across the three front lines, a macroeconomic model, a model of the infection and fatalities and a slide deck for displaying new stories each turn. This latter part of the game was developed to provide some humour, some cultural flavour and to allow attention to be drawn to specific sectors of the economy. We also prepared a number of bad news stories to be injected if any of the economic or social metrics approached worrying levels.

Many design issues common to matrix games apply equally to this game. Among those that we encountered are:

  • The advantages of having players who have played matrix games before.
  • The need for subject matter experts to support adjudication if the results are to be realistic.
  • The challenges for players to switch between role-playing and becoming engaged participants in adjudicating arguments.
  • Whether the players should be left to solve the basic problem of opening the economy without triggering a spike in infections, or to subject them to additional external challenges, and in the latter whether it is best to script the injects or to have them occur randomly (the answer of course is “it depends”). 
  • The balancing act between allowing players to discuss the proposed actions in detail and curtailing discussion in order to speed up the game.

The game has been run twice with participants from Europe and Canada using a video conference link with supporting text chat facility, a Google slides deck to share news stories, and Google sheets to share the dashboard of metrics and to provide an online tool to capture the participants’ assessments of the likelihood of success of proposed actions. This setup worked very well and participants felt that they could communicate with each other and access the information that was required. There was agreement that the game largely felt right, but that play was slow. The supporting quantitative models were not used extensively. In particular the epidemiological model implemented according to formulation drawn from the literature produced counter-intuitive results and proved impossible to fit to the observed progress of the outbreak in Canada. This placed a particular burden upon the adjudicator to determine how to adjust the dashboard in response to player actions. 

Our next objective will be to design a discussion-based game without the matrix structure in order to compare the utility of the two gaming techniques in addressing the management of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Military Exercise Guidebook

Looking for information about “Military Exercise Guidebook”, an unclassified Chinese military document translated in 2003 by “The Language Doctors, Inc” about Chinese military wargaming and exercises. Anyone have a copy (paper or electronic) or know who has a copy? Thanks.

Request for Information about Chinese Wargaming

Looking for information about wargaming and staff exercises carried out by the Chinese Military (or other branches of the Chinese Government). I am not interested in field exercises, I am specifically using Peter Perla’s definition of wargames:

“a warfare model or simulation that does not involve the operations of actual forces”

Peter Perla, The Art of Wargaming

Looking for bibliographies and references to academic papers on the subject, Chinese military manuals, books or other papers (with translation if possible!), both past and present.

Please post any references or suggestions in the comments to this request, thanks.

Educational Wargaming Cooperative

The Educational Wargaming Cooperative (EWC) works to advance the teaching and application of wargaming within university and professional military curricula by fostering collaboration between educators. EWC collaboration aims to share best practices in curricular design for teaching and using wargames in the university and PME communities by providing a forum that supports the application of wargames in those communities, and assists educators through training, education, and best practices.

Aligned with its core mission, the EWC provides the following:

  • An annual issue of articles examining the application and pedagogy of wargaming for training and education, 
  • A repository of wargaming courses and related materials to assist the development of wargaming courses, 
  • Resources and materials to support the use of wargames in the classroom (such as commercial game recommendations, tactical decision games, and more), 
  • Share best practices in curricular design for wargame use in education, and in how we educate wargamers, 
  • A network of educators and thought leaders in educational wargaming,
  • Opportunities to partner with educational institutions and universities, both civilian and military. 

The wargaming community is a diverse collection of practitioners with varying purposes and affiliations. As a discipline, wargaming has repeatedly demonstrated its utility, both in analysis and education. However, wargaming education and the use of wargaming in training and education has largely remained disparate islands of excellence. As a result, whenever wargaming courses are developed or wargames are integrated into a curriculum as an educational tool, hard lessons are often routinely relearned. Thus, to end this cycle of duplicative learning and further advance the field, the EWC strives to connect these efforts into a collaborative educational enterprise.

Developing and supporting the system of wargaming education, both in design and as an educational tool, is the first step in cultivating the next generation of wargamers. 

For more information about EWC: www.eduwargaming.org

Chairman: Ed McGrady, Center for a New American Security 

Executive Committee:

James Lacey, US Marine Corps War College

Nina Kollars, Cyber & Innovation Policy Institute, US Naval War College

Sebastian J. Bae, Center for Security Studies, Georgetown University

Educational Liaison: Caitlyn Leong, Center for Security Studies, Georgetown University

Founding Members:

Al Mauroni, US Air University

Amanda Rosen, US Naval War College

Becca Wasser, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Ben Schechter, Strategic and Operational Research Department, US Naval War College

Caitlin Jamison, US National Defense University

Christopher Weuve, US Air Force Research Lab

Dr. Jacquelyn Schneider, Hoover Institute, Stanford University

Dr. Jeff Appleget, US Naval Postgraduate School

Dr. Richard Samuels, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Robert E. Burks, Jr., US Naval Postgraduate School

Ed McGrady, Center for a New American Security

Erik Lin-Greenberg, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Frank L. Smith III, Cyber & Innovation Policy Institute, US Naval War College

Fred Cameron, US Naval Postgraduate School

Graham Longley-Brown, Connections UK

Ian T. Brown, Brute Krulak Center, US Marine Corps University

Jacob Cohn, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

James “Pigeon” Fielder, Colorado State University

James Lacey, US Marine Corps War College

Jared A. Cooper, Brute Krulak Center, US Marine Corps University

Jenna Jordan, Georgia Institute of Technology

Jim Markley, US Army War College

Ken S. Gilliam, US Army War College

Matthew B Caffrey, US Air Force Research Lab

Nicholas Kristof, US Naval War College

Nicholas Murray, US Naval War College

Nina Kollars, Cyber & Innovation Policy Institute, US Naval War College

Peter Perla, Center for Naval Analyses

Rex Brynen, McGill University

Scott Chambers, US National Defense University

Sebastian J. Bae, Center for Security Studies, Georgetown University 

Stacie Pettyjohn, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

Thorsten Kodalle, Command and Staff College of the German Armed Forces

Tim Wilkie, US National Defense University 

Virtual AFTERSHOCK on TTS

Thanks to Nicholas Gray, AFTERSHOCK: A Humanitarian Crisis Game can now be played virtually using Table-Top Simulator‚ which means you and your fellow players can assist the earthquake-affected people of Carana without leaving your home or violating social distance protocols.

In the article below, Nicholas introduces TTS and the basic game controls. We are extremely grateful to him for producing this module. The rules to the game are available as a free download from The Game Crafter.

A VASSAL module is also in development, thanks to the folks at the US Army Command and General Staff College. We will post information on that too when it is finalized.


The game board.

AFTERSHOCK is now available in Table-Top Simulator (TTS).

For those unfamiliar with TTS, it is a board game simulator that can be purchased in Steam for both PC and Mac. There are several excellent videos on YouTube that demonstrate its use in detail, but the following instructions should help to get you started. 

You will need a keyboard and mouse in order to play.

In order to host a game, before launching TTS, search the TTS Steam workshop for Aftershock and select ‘Subscribe’ – this only needs to be done the first time you host. Then launch TTS, choosing either single or multiplayer, open the game folder and load the game.

If you are joining a hosted game then simply launch TTS, choose ‘join’ and search for the hosted server.

Once the game has completely loaded you are ready to play.

To choose a seating position, and thus one of the four agencies, click on your name in the top right hand corner and select a colour.

The following controls should help to get you started. In order to see a full range of TTS controls press the ‘?’ at any time. Note that these controls are for PC use, and although most have equivalents for Mac use they may not be identical.

  • ‘W’, ‘A’, ‘S’, ‘D’ keys will move your viewpoint around the table.
  • The mouse wheel zooms in and out. 
  • Hold the Right Mouse Button (RMB) while moving the mouse to change the elevation and rotate the table.
  • Hover over a game object and hold ‘Alt’ to magnify the object – while ‘Alt’ is pressed you can use the mouse wheel to increase or decrease magnification.
  • To move an object hover over it, then hold the LMB and move the mouse. Release the LMB to drop it at a new location.
  • To select several objects at once use the LMB to draw a box around them, then move as above.
  • When hovering over an object use the RMB to access the object menu. This allows shuffling decks and randomising containers, drawing cards/objects and searching decks/containers for specific items.
  • An alternative way to draw an object from a bag simply hold the LMB while hovering over the bag and pull away. The same is true for decks of cards. However, this requires some timing – LMB and drawing away quickly will draw a single card, but if there is a pause before moving then you will pick up the entire deck. With practice this can become intuitive.
  • The ‘F’ key is used to flip an object. ‘Q’ and ‘E’ will rotate it.
  • To put objects back in containers simply drop them on the containers, and similarly cards can be dropped on decks. These will need to be randomised/shuffled before the next draw if you don’t want the same object to be redrawn.
Problems in District 3!

There are many other controls you can learn to use once these have become familiar, but this will give you enough to play the game.

Nicholas Gray

Simulation and gaming miscellany, 23 June 2020

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.

Many thanks to Aaron Danis, Arnel David, David Dockter, Jeremy Sepinsky, and James Sterrett for suggesting material for this latest update.

The list of signatories to the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional (war)gaming continues to grow, with the Georgetown University Wargaming Society and LBS Consultancy Ltd  among our most recent supporters.

The North American Simulation and Gaming Association has also issued a statement on fairness and equality in gaming, including the establishment of a Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship Fund. You can read their full statement here.

Meanwhile, Girls’ Game Shelf features a thoughtful piece by Fertessa Scott on the barriers marginalized players face in (hobby) gaming, and how allies can help address these.

At War on the Rocks, Jim Golby argues that if you want better strategists you should teach more social science in professional military education:

America needs better strategists. And if that wasn’t clear enough from the past two decades of U.S. strategy, the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s new vision and guidance statement for professional military education brings this need into focus.

This clarity provides a welcome and necessary change and should drive reform. Unfortunately, proposals to fix professional military education often begin with one’s preferred methods. James Lacey’s recent essay, for example, suggests the new vision “demands large increases in the use of history-based case studies” despite the fact that the Joint Chiefs use the word “history” only twice in their 11-page document. In my reading, the guidance is far less prescriptive.

Perhaps my proposal is merely a reflection of my own biases as well. Even if this argument merely reflects my view as a trained political scientist, however, this perspective has not yet been well articulated. In this essay, I make the case for why social science education should provide the core of a professional military education program aimed at developing strategically-minded officers. I also identify where social science falls short in the unique task of educating joint warfighters and I discuss why and how it should be supplemented and adapted to advance the vision of the Joint Chiefs.

In order to bridge the gap between theoretical and applied social science, Golby suggests (among other things) the use of serious games:

While lectures and seminar discussions may sometimes still be required to achieve certain learning objectives, professional military education should expand the use of experiential learning. Workshops, wargames, simulations, and practical exercises should form the core pedagogical approaches to applying social scientific methods in strategic interactions. Iterative exercises can present novel scenarios or historical cases involving multiple actors with different values and interests. Making military officers apply social scientific methods, practice the strategic process, and adapt strategic plans is the best way to help them develop the skills they need.

The latest issue of the Military Operations Research Society journal Phalanx (June 2020) contains a piece by Barney Rubel on “being ready to capture unexpected insights from wargames.”

This article is about exploiting wargaming, already an invaluable tool, much more fully than we do today. By their nature, wargames can be a sandbox for stimulating new ideas, trying out impulses when there is no cost of failure, and especially for allowing critical insights to emerge. These insights may be overlooked in the course of daily business. You might say they lie latent in many of the thoughts and ideas we consider. Wargames allow those latent ideas, which may be the most important ideas, to emerge into plain view. What’s more, wargames can be designed with that in mind. My purpose is to note and illustrate these points, and to encourage wargame design intended to foster emergence of those latent ideas.

At the Mad Scientist blog, Arnel David and Aaron Moore of UK Fight Club discuss how digital wargames will help to develop the skills of an emerging generation of Army officers.

The schedule for (virtual) Games for Change 2020 is now available.

There are several few podcasts and videos to watch or listen to in this latest PAXsims update:

Becca Wasser has joined CNAS as a Fellow in their Defense Program:

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is pleased to announce that Becca Wasser has joined CNAS as a Fellow in the Defense program. Ms. Wasser’s research areas include wargaming, force posture and management, and U.S. defense strategy.

“I am thrilled to welcome Becca to CNAS,” said Susanna V. Blume, Director of the Defense program. “Becca is a top-notch analyst, approaching her work with rigor, creativity, and inclusivity. She is a rising star in the defense community and we are delighted to offer her a platform to build on her already strong track record.”

Prior to joining CNAS, Ms. Wasser was a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation. In that role, she designed and led wargames for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and U.S. Army, and led research projects exploring critical national security and defense issues for the DoD, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Department of State. She also served as a liaison to U.S. Army HQDA G-3/5/7. Previously, she was a research analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), based jointly in Washington, D.C. and Manama, Bahrain.

In addition to her role at CNAS, Ms. Wasser is an adjunct instructor at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where she teaches an undergraduate course on wargaming. She holds an M.S. in foreign service, with distinction, from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a B.A. in international and global studies and Islamic and Middle Eastern studies from Brandeis University.

According to Rock Paper Shotgun, the video game This War of Mine is going to be added to Polish high school optional reading lists.

Students in Poland could soon play This War Of Mine as part of their education, as developers 11-Bit Studios today announced the grim survival game set in a war-torn city will be on next year’s school reading list. It’ll be recommended for those studying sociology, ethics, philosophy, and history, and will be available free to schools. While schools have used games for years, it’s pretty neat for a game to get so formally recognised – and such a non-edutainment game.

This War Of Mine is about civilians trying to survive in an unnamed besieged city, supply lines cut off by the military outside. You need to scavenge for food, medicine, and other supplies, try to build a cosy-ish home, survive bandits and soldiers alike, and face difficult decisions about how many people you can save and how far you’ll go. It’s a bit grim.

The games was reviewed for PAXsims by James Sterrett back in 2014.

The Intercept breathlessly reports that the Pentagon wargamed a Gen-Z rebellion:

Documents obtained by The Intercept via the Freedom of Information Act reveal that a Pentagon war game, called the 2018 Joint Land, Air and Sea Strategic Special Program, or JLASS, offered a scenario in which members of Generation Z, driven by malaise and discontent, launch a “Zbellion” in America in the mid-2020s.

The Zbellion plot was a small part of JLASS 2018, which also featured scenarios involving Islamist militants in Africa, anti-capitalist extremists, and ISIS successors. The war game was conducted by students and faculty from the U.S. military’s war colleges, the training grounds for prospective generals and admirals. While it is explicitly not a national intelligence estimate, the war game, which covers the future through early 2028, is “intended to reflect a plausible depiction of major trends and influences in the world regions,” according to the more than 200 pages of documents.

According to the scenario, many members of Gen Z — psychologically scarred in their youth by 9/11 and the Great Recession, crushed by college debt, and disenchanted with their employment options — have given up on their hopes for a good life and believe the system is rigged against them. Here’s how the origins of the uprising are described:

Both the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Great Recession greatly influenced the attitudes of this generation in the United states, and resulted in a feeling of unsettlement and insecurity among Gen Z. Although Millennials experienced these events during their coming of age, Gen Z lived through them as part of their childhood, affecting their realism and world view … many found themselves stuck with excessive college debt when they discovered employment options did not meet their expectations. Gen Z are often described as seeking independence and opportunity but are also among the least likely to believe there is such a thing as the “American Dream,” and that the “system is rigged” against them. Frequently seeing themselves as agents for social change, they crave fulfillment and excitement in their job to help “move the world forward.” Despite the technological proficiency they possess, Gen Z actually prefer person-to-person contact as opposed to online interaction. They describe themselves as being involved in their virtual and physical communities, and as having rejected excessive consumerism.

In early 2025, a cadre of these disaffected Zoomers launch a protest movement. Beginning in “parks, rallies, protests, and coffee shops” — first in Seattle; then New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; Las Vegas; and Austin — a group known as Zbellion begins a “global cyber campaign to expose injustice and corruption and to support causes it deem[s] beneficial.”

During face-to-face recruitment, would-be members of Zbellion are given instructions for going to sites on the dark web that allow them to access sophisticated malware to siphon funds from corporations, financial institutions, and nonprofits that support “the establishment.” The gains are then converted to Bitcoin and distributed to “worthy recipients” including fellow Zbellion members who claim financial need. Zbellion leadership, says the scenario, assures its members that their Robin Hood-esque wealth redistribution is not only untraceable by law enforcement but “ultimately justifiable,” as targets are selected based on “secure polling” of “network delegates.” Although its origins are American, by the latter 2020s, Zbellion activities are also occurring across Europe and cities throughout Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, including Nairobi, Kenya; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Amman, Jordan.

It’s actually a rather minor part of the operations setting for a future scenario, but makes for interesting reading.

Norwegian archaeologists have unearthed a 1,700 year old copy of the Roman boardgame Ludus latrunculorum. If you don’t read Norwegian you’ll have to read about it at the Daily Mail.

Pixy Games UK features a useful discussion on accommodating colour blindness in game design. This chart, posted to Twitter by Cog 5 Games, is also very handy.

Concept, Algorithm, Decision — A Soviet View

Number 6 in the Soviet Military Thought series, “Concept, Algorithm, Decision — A Soviet View” is now online. I have updated the list of all books in the series, so look for it there. Number 6 refers to “war game(s)” 14 times, and refers to “game(s)” 120 times. Fascinating mix of operations research and wargaming through cold war Soviet eyes.

Play with us, however you roll

You might be sat there thinking, the Derby House Principles look great, but in all honesty our organisation is a bunch of guys and nobody but guys apply to work with us, it would feel hypocritical to sign-up. Here’s a different way to think about it:

By putting out inclusive content—not just the characters and story, but the interface as well—a whole generation of diverse gamers and game-makers will come knocking at your door wanting a peice of the action.

Change begins with making content that says everyone is welcome here.

It’s the simple things, like allowing users to remap the controls in your game, that can make a huge difference

Microsoft’s approach to disability access is really interesting: There are (approximately) 100,000 people in America with an upper limb deficiency. That’s not a commercially viable market. But six million people break their arm every year in the US, putting them temporarily in the same category. And parents are juggling children and laptops every other second in lockdown, putting them situationally in the same category. When you frame it like that, something that allows you to drive Windows and your Xbox one-handed is a mainstream need.

Disability is mismatched human interactions. That’s all.

So here’s a public service announcement ahead of the Connections 2020 games fair:

The MacOS screen-reader can’t get hold of content in Google docs in safari, so all the distributed wargaming I’ve been doing in the pandemic has been with rules and player stats and shared intent slides that I can’t read.

It can’t be that hard, surely? You have a degree and everything!

Modern Armour Wargame mission briefing with the words broken in all the wrong places.
It’s English, I promise. Look harder.

Too easy? How about this:

Instructions for how the game will run, with the words broken in all the wrong places and not sitting neatly on the line.
(and I didn’t even jumble up the p/b/d/q like I usually do with this game…)

Sure, you can pick your way through it eventually, but do you remember anything you just read? How much gameplay will you miss wading through the mud to check a rule here and there? Could you even decipher that text while you have other players talking in your ear on Zoom?

Pop quiz: what’s provided in the slide deck…?

If you are running a distributed game at Connections please consider including a very simple statement on your sign-up sheet:

Please let us know if you have any accessibility needs so we can figure out what will work for you.

Simples.

Connections Netherlands endorses the Derby House Priciples

Connections Netherlands has joined the growing list of organizations that have endorsed the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in serious gaming.

If your organization would like to join them in endorsing the Derby House Principles, drop us a line.

Connections 2020: Registration for online conference now open!

Registration for Connections (US/global) is now open:

On behalf of my conference co-chair, Matt Caffrey, and the Connections conference planning committee, I am pleased to announce that registration is now open for Connections 2020.  This year’s conference will be conducted entirely online, August 10-14.  Our host for 2020 is the Center for Naval Analyses. While the presentations at Connections will address topics covering the full range of wargaming related topics, several key events will relate to our theme this year: Applying and Representing Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) in Wargaming.

Since 1993, the Connections interdisciplinary wargaming conference has brought together wargaming professionals from all aspects of the field – military, government, academia, private sector, and the commercial hobbyist press.  While we all work on different problems with different ranges of tools, there is much that we have to learn from one another.

CONFERENCE REGISTRATION: If you are interested in joining us, please fill out the following form to register: https://forms.gle/t8byHPtBofreGh4i7
Registering now will ensure that you will be kept updated with the latest developments, information on how to participate, etc.
Because our participants will be widely distributed across time zones, we will have a set of core hours (1000-1600 US Eastern Daylight Time) for all of our presentations and other common events.

DEMONSTRATIONS AND GAME PLAY: Shifting to an online format requires quite a bit of modification to our past practices.  Game nights and demonstrations are a cornerstone of Connections and we need volunteer game hosts to continue this tradition in an online environment! Connections 2020 will include playing games online and/or game demonstrations. All types of war, strategy, and educational games and online platforms are welcome (Discord, Roll20, Steam, Tabletop Simulator, Vassal, Zoom, etc). These playthroughs and demonstrations will take outside of the conference core hours (1000 – 1600 US Eastern Daylight Time). The conference final presentation on 14 August will include a summary of games conducted.

If you would like to host a game demonstration and playthrough, please register at https://forms.gle/nLDUCraE1mgPUCAi8 by 10 July. Please fill out a separate form for each session of a game playthrough or demonstration you will host.

Next Steps:

1. Connections staff will post a list of all games, demos, and host e-mail addresses or registration links on the Connections website by 13 July so players can register and coordinate with hosts as needed.  Hosts are responsible for tracking their own registrations and communicating with their participants, but Connections will post on the website when a host notifies us that a game or demo has reached maximum capacity.
2. Before the end of the conference, hosts let us know how many people participated in each game or demonstration so we can measure interest for future events (via a short Google form).

PRESENTATIONS: If you missed our call for presentations earlier this year, we will continue to accept proposals until June 26: https://forms.gle/5XfnVbDvNYQYXdme9

Please note that the links above are Google Forms, which do not always work on some military networks.  We recommend that you try from home if you run into problems connecting at work.
We hope you will be able to join us this year for our grand experiment in online gathering.  Our mission to advance and preserve the art, science, and application of wargaming remains our focus, and with your help we can accomplish this even under the present circumstances.

If you have any questions please contact me, Tim Wilkie (timothy.w.wilkie.civ@msc.ndu.edu) and Scott Chambers (scott.m.chambers.civ@msc.ndu.edu).

Best,
Timothy Wilkie
Center for Applied Strategic Learning National Defense University

Connections (US) is a supporter of the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming.

The ICONS Project endorses Derby House Principles

I am pleased today to write, as Director of the ICONS Project at the University of Maryland, that we have endorsed the Derby House Principles.

Throughout its 37 year history, ICONS has sought to advance and uphold inclusion and diversity in the academic research setting as well as in our field of simulation and gaming. Half of our Directors have been women, and the composition of our staff has normally been around 50-60% female as well. The Project has always striven to provide a safe, inclusive, and welcoming work environment for all – regardless of race, gender, creed, or orientation. We, like the vast majority of organizations in the academic and national security space, can and should do more to promote diversity in our ranks, and the advancement of women, minorities, and people of color in our profession. It is with this intent that we wholeheartedly endorse the Derby House Principles, and recommit ourselves to the goals they advance.

Devin Ellis

Dstl embraces the Derby House Principles

We are extremely pleased to announce that the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has officially endorsed the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming.

Dstl is the UK’s leading government agency in applying science and technology (S&T) to the defence and security of the United Kingdom. They are also a globally-recognized centre of wargaming expertise.

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