Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Announcing the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming

We are very pleased to announce that several of the world’s major professional (war)gaming organizations have come together to endorse the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in serious gaming.


We believe that promoting diversity and inclusion is the right thing to do. 

Diversity and inclusion are more than just words for us. They are the hard-and-fast principles guiding how we will build our teams, cultivate leaders, and create a community that supports everyone in it. No one should ever feel excluded or less welcome because of gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, or background. Experience and social science have shown that diversity can generate better results, in analysis, insight, and professional decision-making.

As professional gamers we are committed to the Derby House Principles:

1)   Promoting inclusion and diversity in professional wargaming, through the standards we set, the opportunities we offer, and access to activities we organise.

2)   Making clear our opposition to sexism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination across the board, as well as in wargaming.

3)   Encouraging a greater role and higher profile for colleagues from underrepresented groups in our professional activities.

4)   Seeking out and listening to the concerns and suggestions of our colleagues as to how our commitment to diversity and inclusion could be enhanced.

5)   Demonstrating our commitment to diversity and inclusion through ongoing assessment of progress made and discussion of future steps.  


Connections North (Canada)

Connections UK

Connections (US)

Serious Games Network—France

*Derby House in Liverpool was the location of Western Approaches Tactical Unit during WWII. 

WATU conducted some of the most consequential wargaming in the history of armed conflict. It was staffed by women from all walks of life, and men considered unfit for duty at sea through illness and injury. Between them was the breadth of tactical, technical, social and cultural knowledge necessary to train naval officers from every Allied nation.

This initiative has been underway since February, when Connections North hosted a panel on diversity and inclusion at its annual conference in Montréal. Thereafter, confronted with examples of misogyny and racism directed at wargaming professionals on social media, a working group was established in mid-May consisting of Kiera Bentley (Connections UK), Rex Brynen (PAXsims/Connections North/McGill University), Sally Davis (PAXsims/Dstl), Tom Mouat (PAXsims/Connections UK/Defence Academy of the UK), Briana Proceviat (PAXsims/Canadian Joint Warfare Centre) and Yuna Wong (RAND) to develop a common vision and language.

These efforts were given new urgency by the killing of George Floyd on May 25 and the subsequent protests in the United States and around the world calling for an end to systemic racial and other discrimination.

We are currently working with the cosponsors and other groups to address these issues in conferences, workshops, and other activities. At PAXsims, you can complete our survey on diversity in wargaming or read some of the various articles we have published on diversity, inclusion, and representation. We also strongly recommend Becca Wasser’s September 2019 piece on women and wargaming in the New York Times Magazine, as well as reading up on the history of the Western Approaches Tactical Unit at Derby House.

We also look to widen the conversation and broaden the coalition for change. If your organization would like to endorse the Derby House Principles, email us to let us know. While we are not accepting individual endorsements, we would encourage readers to promote the statement and the values it represent. If you have ideas, we want to hear them!

14 responses to “Announcing the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming

  1. Sally Davis 01/10/2020 at 4:00 pm

    LS: I’m baffled by anyone whose response to actual action to address lack-of-representation issues is to complain that it’s token. It’s like complaining Roger Banister’s 4min mile was a token effort because John Landy did it again and faster a month later. Show me doing it better and I’ll take my hat off to you. Complaining that it’s not being done right is complaining that it’s being done at all.

  2. Rex Brynen 29/09/2020 at 12:31 pm

    LS: Dstl is actually putting a lot of effort into this. They’re having these discussions with suppliers. They’ve been addressing internal barriers and having an institution-wide discussion across thousands of employers. They’ve been promoting best practices on wargaming across the UK defence establishment. The issue isn’t what hobby gamers do with their miniatures–it’s the signal sent to women and minorities in the UK military and more broadly. From a training and military effectiveness point of view you actually want to highlight, not simply reflect or play down, diversity in the ranks in order to create soldiers better suited to operate in increasingly complex, diverse, and multicultural institutions.

  3. LS 29/09/2020 at 12:25 pm

    I like the idea of putting in some variety to better reflect the actual makeup of the combat units involved. But, like the rest of the wargame, it needs to *reflect* reality (ie if 90% of the troops really are white males, then so be it). To do otherwise is to engage in some sort of propaganda operation.

    I certainly hope we’re not starting down a path the leads to me seeing a few white females mixed into my Zulu Impis, “to promote inclusion and diversity”.

    On the other hand, I’d love for someone to do a scenario depicting the 1077th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, whose female gunners made an extraordinary last stand outside Stalingrad, arguably saving the city from being quickly overrun.

    But see, that would require actual *effort*. Much easier to just get some token voice-acting and call it a day.

  4. sepinsky 18/06/2020 at 9:29 am

    Thank you PAXsims for this initiative. Everyone should feel welcome. It is important to encourage a change in the systemic culture that marginalizes certain groups based on traits that, as noted, are “irrelevant to gaming”.

  5. madorosh 17/06/2020 at 11:13 am

    Sally, the only threat to those groups is from you – by labelling them “marginalized” you are the one providing an axe to grind. What a person chooses to do with their sex organs is irrelevant to wargaming – until someone like you suggests it matters.

  6. Sally Davis 17/06/2020 at 10:25 am

    madorosh, just to be clear: my ideological world view is that women, disabled, LGBT, BAME/POC and other marginalised wargamers deserve respect. I’m sorry you feel so threatened by that concept.

  7. Rex Brynen 17/06/2020 at 9:20 am

    In my experience those who find this controversial tend to be with hobbyists with an ideological axe to grind and not so much among professionals—among the latter there is broad agreement on the nature of the problem, the deleterious effects it has had, and the steps that need to be taken to address it. Nothing in this statement precludes people playing with whomever they wish in their leisure time. Rather, it represents a statement of professional best practice in nurturing, enlarging, and making best use of a pool of talent, and making all members of our teams feel valued and respected.

  8. madorosh 17/06/2020 at 9:09 am

    Sally, your lack of a response only proves my point. You mention ‘diversity covers a lot of ground’ but apparently, you aren’t willing to commit to a description of what precisely that ground is. I think if I were to amplify John’s comment, it would be to suggest that these stated principles are a solution in desperate search for a problem. Whenever terms like “underrepresented” pop up in the conversation, it’s usually to signal the ideological worldview of the person using it. In this case, some mythic belief that equality of outcome is the same as equality of opportunity. They are not the same things.

  9. Rex Brynen 17/06/2020 at 8:26 am

    I’m not clear on your point, John. Are you arguing for “homogeneity and exclusion” rather than “diversity and inclusion?” Do you think we shouldn’t care about the quality of professional, serious games, despite the evidence that diversity produces better analysis? Or do you just have a problem with “signalling”, and believe that the community should be secretive about its common values?

  10. John Atyeo 17/06/2020 at 8:16 am

    What a load of politically correct virtue signalling nonsense.

  11. Sally Davis 16/06/2020 at 3:04 pm

    Hi Michael, I’m sorry about the “tick all that apply” error, please use the free text box to provide your answer instead. Diversity covers a lot of ground, it’s not only about skin colour. It’s important to me that there is space for every kind of diversity in my survey.

  12. Michael Dorosh 16/06/2020 at 2:06 pm

    The survey on diversity has several flaws, from the minor (a spelling error) to the relatively major (where it says ‘click all that apply’ it only lets you click one). I don’t see how you can have a working group and survey devoted to “diversity” without actually defining what you mean. The survey gives a definition of, anyone “outside the majority” in terms of background and class. This isn’t useful or helpful. If you mean “white-skinned” perhaps you need to just say it. Otherwise, what is your definition of a “majority background”?

  13. Tom Fisher 16/06/2020 at 1:16 pm

    Imaginetic and I proudly, wholly, and completely endorse the Derby House Principles, and will ensure they are a driving force in Imaginetic’s hiring practices, and development efforts.

  14. Kiera Bentley 16/06/2020 at 1:09 pm

    An excellent initiative. Very pleased to see all the endorsements and support.

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