PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Recent simulation and gaming publications, June/July 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.


Giddeon N. Angafor, Iryna Yevseyeva, and Ying He, “Game-based learning: A review of tabletop exercises for cybersecurity incident response training,Security and Privacy (2020).

The surge in cyber security breaches including the shortage of skilled cyber incident response (CSIR) professionals and the ever-changing cyber threat land- scape is a big concern for the security industry. As a result, training providers are seeking innovative ways to tackle current security challenges. Businesses in pub- lic and private sectors recognize the importance of implementing effective cyber security measures, one of which is training their employees. Many are taking active steps to ensure that employees and cyber security incident response teams (CSIRTs) can identify and respond to breaches through state-of-the-art train- ing. There are indications that pioneering training programs like serious games (SGs), including tabletop exercises (TTXs), can play a role in CSIR training. This paper reviewed TTX related SGs literature, analyzed existing CSIR training exer- cises and reported how TTXs are currently being used in CSIR training. It also discussed why TTXs are increasingly becoming a popular tool for CSIR and emergency response (ER) training, analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the current research and identified areas for future research. The findings sug- gest that TTX training improves the awareness, understanding, and preparation levels of CSIRTs. That TTXs enhance their strategic decision-making, enabling CSIRTs to be better prepared when dealing with security incidents. It observed that TTX related training improved the skills and aptitudes of CSIRTs and secu- rity operative center personnel. TTXs assist trainees to acquire and demonstrate both technical and nontechnical skills, including soft skills which are essen- tial but often observed to be lacking in new graduates and some experienced technically minded personnel. TTX training augments traditional methods like classroom lectures by providing opportunities for experiential learning and practice-based approaches in dealing with real-life problems.

Robert C. Barney, “Thirty Degrees Off Axis: Being Ready to Capture Unexpected Insights from Wargames,” Phalanx, 53, 2 (June 2020).

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.

Nathaniel W. Flack, Developing a Serious Game to Explore Joint All Domain Command and Control, MSc thesis, Air Force Institute of Technology, 26 March 2020.

Changes in the geopolitical landscape and increasing technological complexity have prompted the U.S. Military to coin Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) and Joint All-Domain Command and Control as terms to describe an over-arching strategy that frames the complexity of warfare across both traditional and emerging warfighting domains. Teaching new and advanced concepts associated with these terms requires both innovation as well as distinct education and training tools in order to realize the cultural change advocated by senior military leaders. Battlespace Next (BSN), a Collectable Card Game, was developed to teach concepts integral to MDO and initiate discussion on military strategy. BSN, is designed to provide an engaging learning tool that educates advanced capabilities such as cyber, information opera- tions, and electronic warfare in a multi-domain conflict, seeking to reveal the synergy between military capabilities and challenge learners to innovate by creating their own strategies for victory. This thesis describes an extensible framework for modeling and reasoning about MDO concepts using specific game elements, and presents empirical feedback from 103 military play testers evaluating the game. Survey and play test results provide evidence that the game teaches current MDO concepts and delivers an engaging, hands-on learning experience. Specifically, this thesis suggests it improved military readiness in seven areas related to MDO in at least 68% of participants. Furthermore, 90% reported being focused during the session, 76% wrote they enjoyed playing the game, and over half expressed they would play the game again in their free time. Military instructors reported game integration would require at most 1/20 of the time it would take to create their own interactive tool. The results inform current efforts enhancing military learning while driving appropriate transformations to prepare individuals to navigate in a complex and contested environment.

Nathaniel Flack, Alan Lin, Gilbert Peterson, Mark Reith, “Battlespace NextTM : Developing a Serious Game to Explore Multi-Domain Operations” International Journal of Serious Games 7, 2 (June 2020).

Changes in the geopolitical landscape and increasing technological complexity have prompted the U.S. Military to coin the terms Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) and Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) as over-arching strategy to frame the com- plexity of warfare across both traditional and emerging warfighting domains. Teaching new concepts associated with these terms requires both innovation as well as distinct education and training tools in order to realize the cultural change advocated by se- nior military leaders. Battlespace NextTM (BSN) is a serious game designed to teach concepts integral to MDO and initiate discussion on military strategy while conserving time, money, and manpower. BSN, a Collectable Card Game (CCG), is engineered to provide an engaging learning tool that educates on capabilities in a multi-domain con- flict. This paper proposes an extensible game framework for modeling and reasoning about MDO concepts and presents our empirical feedback from over 120 military play testers evaluating a moderate to difficult version of the game. Results reveal the game teaches MDO concepts and delivers an engaging, hands-on learning experience. Specifically, we provide evidence it improved military readiness in seven areas of MDO in at least 62% of participants and 76% of respondents reported they enjoyed playing the game.

Miguel Alberto Gomez and Christopher Whyte, “Cyber Wargaming: Grappling with Uncertainty in a Complex Domain,” Defense Strategy and Assessment Journal, 10, 1 (2020).

The cybersecurity literature depends heavily on observational studies to discern state-behavior during periods of conflict. Frequently, underlying motivations that govern the exercise of cyber power are inductively perceived through the lens of the existing strategic environment. While this approach continues to contribute to the advancement of this burgeoning area of study, it is fundamentally constrained by the secretive nature of interstate cyber operations. Moreover, observational studies that analyze state-level actions offer limited insight regarding the individual and group-level mechanisms from which these emerge. The need to move towards these levels of analysis is made even more salient by the uncertainty that permeates this domain that provokes a host of cognitive biases that influence strategic preferences. Consequently, this article offers readers an overview as to the benefits of wargaming as a tool to improve our understanding of crisis decision-making within the cyber domain.

I.V. Griban and O.N. Griban, “Playing with the Past: Computer Games as a Tool for Historical Memory Transformation of the Events of the World War II,” Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research 437 (2020).

In the modern conditions of the politicization of history, when real “memory wars” often unfold around interpretations of historical events, computer games are not just a means of entertainment, but also have a significant impact on the process of formation and transformation of images of the past. One of the most popular historical storylines for the creators of computer games was and still remains the Second World War. Game developers offer users their own version of events, which does not always coincide with the real one, providing an opportunity not only to become a participant in key battles of the Second World War, but also to change the course of history and influence the outcome of the battle. “Games of the past” to a greater extent attract representatives of young people who spend a significant part of their free time behind a computer screen and with mobile devices. The article analyzes the features of the representation of the past in computer games, the plot of which is associated with the events of the Second World War. 

Matthew Hawkins, Tabletop Roleplaying Structure for Simulating Active-Shooter Events, PhD thesis, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2020.

This research presents a structure based on tabletop roleplaying for creating better computational models for simulating active-shooter events. Active-shooter events involve one or more people actively trying to kill others inside a populated and confined area. Roleplaying is the act of human participants portraying characters in a simulated environment. Roleplaying can be used for serious purposes, such as simulating real world events. Tabletop roleplaying adds maps and figures to show direction and relative positions of individuals and objects. These types of simulations are particularly beneficial when the real events occur infrequently or would be dangerous or costly to simulate with other methods. Versions of these simulations can include attributes for the human characters portrayed in the simulation. Attributes are quantified variables to distinguish differences between individuals, such as differences in size or athletic ability. These attributes can also include cognitive abilities and personality traits. A tabletop roleplaying structure was designed based on knowledge from multiple scientific fields. This structure determines the options and outcomes of actions attempted by characters in the simulated world. Data generated by this tabletop roleplaying structure are closer to data from actual active-shooter events than data from current AI (artificial intelligence) computational models. This is further improved when scientifically based attributes are incorporated. This tabletop roleplaying structure is defined in formulaic ways with quantified variables to be a template for creating more accurate computational models designed to simulate active-shooter events.

Wilian Gatti Junior, Beaumie Kim, Liping Liu, & Xingru Lai, Green Economy Game: A Modular Approach for Sustainable Development Education, International Journal of Designs for Learning 11, 2 (2020).

In this paper, we discuss our approach to designing a board game, the Green Economy, that promotes systems thinking. We anchored our game design process on design-by-anal- ogy and rapid prototyping concepts by taking a modular approach to overcome the trade-off between realism and simplicity. The unique feature of the Green Economy enables players to change the rules of the game during the game- play, which gives them a partial design opportunity. The theme, sustainable development, was chosen to challenge the players’ systems thinking in sustainable development. Systems thinking enables us to understand and face the complex challenges in global and networked social struc- tures. Our design experience demonstrates the benefit of de- signing dynamic game elements that involve both strategic gameplay and game (re)design through systems thinking.

Mikko Meriläinen et al. “More Than Wargaming: Exploring the Miniaturing Pastime,” Simulation & Gaming, (2020).

Background. Miniaturing, or painting, collecting, and gaming with miniature wargaming figurines, is a popular, yet vastly underresearched subject. Previous research suggests a multitude of practices and ways of engaging with miniatures.

Aim. This qualitative study explores the various elements of miniaturing to both map the phenomenon and build a foundation for further research.

Method. Miniaturing is explored through a thematic analysis of 127 open-ended survey responses by adult Finnish miniature enthusiasts.

Results. Responses suggest a dual core to miniaturing, consisting of crafting and gaming. In addition to these core activities, storytelling, collecting, socializing and displaying and appreciating appear commonly, with considerable individual variation. The different elements are closely intertwined, based on individual preferences and resources.

Discussion. As a pastime, miniaturing occupies an interesting position with elements of crafting, toy play and gaming, and escapes easy situating. The considerable individual variation in enthusiasts’ preferences suggests a multitude of fruitful approaches in further research.

Lucas Potter and Xavier-Lewis Palmer, “Human Factors in Biocybersecurity Wargames,” arXiv preprint (2020).

Within the field of biocybersecurity, it is important to understand what vulnerabilities may be uncovered in the processing of biologics as well as how they can be safeguarded as they intersect with cyber and cyber-physical systems, as noted by the Peccoud Lab, to ensure not only product and brand in- tegrity, but protect those served. Recent findings have revealed that biological systems can be used to compromise computer systems and vice versa. While regular and sophisticated attacks are still years away, time is of the essence to better understand ways to deepen critique and grasp intersectional vulnerabili- ties within bioprocessing as processes involved become increasingly digitally accessible. Wargames have been shown to be successful within improving group dynamics in response to anticipated cyber threats, and they can be used towards addressing possible threats within biocybersecurity. Within this paper, we discuss the growing prominence of biocybersecurity, the importance of bio- cybersecurity to bioprocessing , with respect to domestic and international con- texts, and reasons for emphasizing the biological component in the face of ex- plosive growth in biotechnology and thus separating the terms biocybersecurity and cyberbiosecurity. Additionally, a discussion and manual is provided for a simulation towards organizational learning to sense and shore up vulnerabilities that may emerge within an organization’s bioprocessing pipeline

Paul J. H. Schoemaker, “How historical analysis can enrich scenario planning,” Futures and Foresight Science, online first (2020).

Historians and scenario planners both examine societal developments over time, but from opposite vantage points. One group looks backward, the other forward. This paper argues that a deeper understanding of the methods and approaches of historical analysis can help scenario planners to develop better insights into the world ahead. The study of history stretches back millennia, while disciplined scenario planning has been around for half a century. By comparing historical analysis with scenario planning, the paper extracts lessons to improve narratives about possible futures, with linkages to the emerging field of counterfactual history. The practical challenges are examined using a 1992 scenario project about South Africa’s future post‐apartheid. Reviewing the four scenarios developed then, with the benefit of hindsight now, shows how and why historical thinking can sharpen scenario‐oriented studies of the future.

Natalia Wojtowicz, “Resilience against intentional shocks: a wargaming study of the relation between space, action and the residing population to resilience,” Eastern Journal of European Studies, 11, 1 (June 2020).

The most widely established consensus on regional resilience is that there is no consensus on definition, application and theoretical boundaries. Despite most authors expressing objections to “stretching” the concept of resilience too far to be meaningful and its applications too varying to establish a practical framework, this study offers a participatory study of the applied concept with both conclusions about the framework and results of its implementation. The design of the study took into account the substantiated claims of previous use of resilience as a patch to all community problems and adding a new name instead of a new way of addressing them. The study introduces wargaming with the policy-makers of NATO as a reflection and mapping tool to recognize the deficiencies of the framework. The results have verified the main criticism of the concept and offered recommendations on continuing the revision of the resilience framework based on practical insights from policy-makers.

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