PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Review: Schrier, We Are the Gamers

Review: Karen Schrier, We the Gamers: How Games Teach Ethics and Civics (Oxford University Press, 2021). 229pp, appendices to p. 252, notes to p. 384, index. $99.00 hc, $39.95 pb, $14.57 Kindle.

In We Are the Gamers, Karen Schrier examines how games can be used to teach about ethics and civics. Games, she notes, “have always mattered and do not need to be legitimized, but the pandemic further showed us that games can serve as publics: as places and communities for learning, for connecting, for problem-solving, and for ethical and civic engagement.”

What follows is a far-reaching exploration of how games can and have been used to address civic and ethical issues. Broadly, the book is divided into five major sections. In Part I, two chapters address the value of teaching ethics and civics, and what it is that should be taught. In Part II, the author addresses games for knowledge and action, asking what knowledge is needed to empower citizens and how games can support real-world change. Part III turns attention to using games for connection and community, and better understanding both ourselves and others. Part IV devotes four full chapters to the development of critical thinking skills. Finally, Part V offers some overall reflections on how to select the right game, how to design supporting and complimentary activities around a game, and how to assess learning. Schrier also considers the possible future of serious games for ethics and civics.

As regular readers of PAXsims will know, I tend to be rather dubious of unbridled and uncritical evangelism for the magic of educational games—serious games can deliver excellent results, but only if they are designed well, used appropriately, and supported in other ways. In each chapter of We the Gamers, Schrier certainly provides enthusiastic discussion, well illustrated with examples, of the good that games can do. However she is also careful to identify potential pitfalls: entire sections of the book are devoted to how fostering communication can have negative effects, and how games may be insufficiently diverse or inclusive, trigger or emotionally overwhelm a player, misrepresent cultures, do a poor job of encouraging critical reflection, or confirm biases—to cite but a few. She also notes how the “fun” of games can itself be problematic. Having identified these risks, she then goes on to suggest how these problems can best be addressed.

The value of her analysis here goes well beyond games designed to teach ethical and civic engagement and would be of value to almost anyone who designs or uses games for learning or analytical purposes.

The book includes several length appendices, which offer sample lesson outlines, a design checklist and toolkit, a summary of key game design principles, and a series of recommendations for designers, educators, and researchers. Some of this is likely to find its way into my own game design syllabus. The endnotes and references are very extensive indeed.

Overall, this is a very readable, yet deeply thoughtful, book on the design and use of serious games. I recommend it highly.

Simulation and gaming miscellany, 31 July 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. Robert Crandall, Aaron Danis and Colin Marston suggested items for this latest edition.

The UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) recently held their inaugural influence wargame conference, in which participants “tested their influencing and decision-making skills against a series of real-life international scenarios.”

The event provided an opportunity for civil servants and military officers to experience wargames based on influencing behaviours using physical and non-physical force, share specialist knowledge and identify potential user requirements for further investigation.

Held on Monday 19 July at QinetiQ’s Training Innovation Facility, and attended by UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) and government representatives seeking to integrate influence activities into their areas of work, the event was organised by a multi-disciplinary team comprising members from across academia, industry and defence.

The conference showcased wargames developed as part of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s Representation of Behavioural Effects (RBE) project. The RBE project conducts science and technology (S&T) activities to improve the representation, integration and synchronisation of non-kinetic / behavioural effects in decision-support tools such as wargaming, modelling and simulation.

Wargames provide structured and safe-to-fail environments to help explore what works (winning / succeeding) and what doesn’t (losing / failing). At the core of wargames are: the players; the decisions they take; the narrative they create; their shared experiences; and the lessons they take away.

The work from this conference will help determine how better to wargame influence and how to include influence within wargames that have not considered it before. Incorporating influence within wargames will better represent the current and future character of warfare, as set out in the Integrated Review and thus better informing decision-making within UKgovernment.

Wargaming Influence Conference

The Defense Futures Simulator, created by the American Enterprise Institute, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, and War on the Rocks, “allows users to see how various defense strategies and budget choices would alter the Defense Department budget.”

According to Defense One, “A brutal loss in a wargaming exercise last October convinced the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. John Hyten to scrap joint warfighting concepts that had guided U.S. military operations for decades.”

The Pentagon would not provide the name of the wargame, which was classified, but a defense official said one of the scenarios revolved around a battle for Taiwan. One key lesson: gathering ships, aircraft, and other forces to concentrate and reinforce each other’s combat power also made them sitting ducks. 

“We always aggregate to fight, and aggregate to survive. But in today’s world, with hypersonic missiles, with significant long-range fires coming at us from all domains, if you’re aggregated and everybody knows where you are, you’re vulnerable,” Hyten said.  

Even more critically, the blue team lost access to its networks almost immediately. 

“We basically attempted an information-dominance structure, where information was ubiquitous to our forces. Just like it was in the first Gulf War, just like it has been for the last 20 years, just like everybody in the world, including China and Russia, have watched us do for the last 30 years,” Hyten said. “Well, what happens if right from the beginning that information is not available? And that’s the big problem that we faced.” 

The October exercise was a test for a new Joint Warfighting Concept. But the new joint concept had been largely based on the same joint operations concepts that had guided forces for decades, Hyten said, and the red team easily defeated them.

In keeping with that same theme, the Mad Scientist Laboratory blog features a piece by Ian Sullivan discussing “Using Wargaming to Envision a Chinese Assault on Taiwan.”

The Taiwan Strait is about 80 miles wide.  Although a formidable obstacle to cross, time and distance factors clearly favor China, as the distance between California and Taiwan is over 6,000 miles.  Furthermore, although the United States maintains a strong presence in the Indo-Pacific Theater, they clearly would be at a numerical disadvantage if the PLA decided to initiate an invasion.  Finally, the PLA’s significant Area Denial/Anti-Access (A2/AD)capabilities mean that any effort to move a US force across the Pacific will be contested, possibly from CONUS itself all the way across the Pacific.  To understand the challenge we face, it is imperative that we imagine what such a fight would entail.

In November 2020, I wrote a previous post arguing that wargaming can help us visualize what the threat can be.  It can help us imagine it and provide context to our thinking about it.  It can help us check our assumptions, and perhaps even offer thoughts and ideas that we would never have considered.  It will not tell us the future, or lay out with certainty what will happen.  But it can offer us an opportunity to prevent a failure of imagination of the kind warned against in the 9/11 Commission Report.  By imagining the threat, we may be in a position to make better decisions during moments of crisis.  This time, I’m using a copy of GMT Games “Next War: Taiwan” to help visualize what such a fight could entail.

In the end, China largely achieves its objectives

The campaign lasted less than a month.  The Joint Force and its Allies performed well in all their engagements with the PLA.  The PLA was a capable adversary, whose modernization created a peer competitor whose capabilities were in general, on par with US capabilities.  In cases where US and PLA forces entered into direct combat with each other, US forces generally prevailed tactically.  However, the PLA was able to achieve three key effects which tipped the operational and strategic fight their way:

They relied on a time and distance equation that was in China’s favor, and then further expanded it through the a surprise ballistic missile strike which mitigated forward deployed Allied airpower and then a sophisticated cyber/information attack against the US Homeland, which caused mass confusion among the civilian population and interdicted the Joint Force’s ability to flow reinforcements to the theater.

The PLA’s sophisticated and capable A2/AD capabilities were an obstacle that could not quickly be overcome. These capabilities also were extended by the coup de main operations to seize the outlying island territories in the Spratlys, Paracels, Penghu, and the Ryukyus.  The Allies were forced to fight to clear the outlying islands, while the A2/AD capability allowed China to retain all-domain superiority at critical moments in the South China Sea and Taiwan Straits areas.

The PLA’s modernization efforts created a flexible force capable of carrying out its preferred way of war. This force was superior in terms of personnel and capabilities over its ROC adversary, and was on almost-even terms with the US Joint Force.  With time and distance in its favor, and while holding all-domain advantages (or at least parity) at critical moments and areas of the battlespace, the PLA was able to wage a successful campaign.

Continuing our pivot to the Pacific, Security Nexus (the online journal of the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies) features an article by Deon Canyon, Jonathan Cham, and Jim Potenza on insights into US-North Korea nuclear tensions arising from a senior leader wargame.

In dealing with complex security issues and imperfect information, decision-makers frequently rely on mental models that limit their capacity to make fully rational decisions. Wargames can provide an innovative option for challenging assumptions based on past experience, exposing unassessed risk, and gaining insight into future events. This paper reports on five high-level wargames on the United States – North Korea nuclear standoff. Player actions, reflections, feedback, and anonymous surveys indicate that the games provided ample opportunity to understand different viewpoints, explore non-worst-case options, think about the unexpected, and expose the implications of subtle interactions.

The game used was based on the DPRK matrix game previously featured here at PAXsims.

Back in June, The War Room offered a “student’s view” of educational wargaming.

Last year our WARGAMING ROOM editor, Ken Gilliam, sat down with a soon-to-graduate War College student to get her impression of the use of wargames in the classroom. A BETTER PEACE welcomes War College graduate Tina Cancel to the studio to share her thoughts and experiences with LEGO® Serious Play® and the War College created game, Joint Overmatch. Ken has recently retired and moved on to a new career and this was fitting as his final episode because Tina confirms the benefits of all of his hard work during his time as the Director of Strategic Wargaming at the Center for Strategic Leadership and gives him some great feedback to pass on to his successor.

In The Atlantic, Luke Winkie discusses “The Board Games That Ask You to Reenact Colonialism.”

Boutique board games have been around for years, but in the mid-2000s, as “Catan”which was formerly called “Settlers of Catan,” and which also employs a colonist mechanism, this time in a fictional place—permeated the culture, people started latching on to a hobby most commonly associated with the fringes of nerdom. These games are far more involved than the Parker Brothers catalog, and their designers ask players to embrace complicated rule sets and deep critical thinking; players will rarely do something as simple as just rolling a die and moving a pawn. For a seemingly narrow market, it keeps growing: In 2020, the research firm Euromonitor International noted that the “games and puzzles” market had eclipsed $11 billion.

But recently, players have started asking more incisive questions about their hobby—questions that reach beyond design elegance or component quality, that get at the nature of games as political objects and whether they should be held to the same standards that we demand from our other entertainment. One of the longest active threads on the BoardGameGeek forums for “Puerto Rico” discusses the game’s sanguine perspective on colonialism. (“Puerto Rico is the only game I ever turned down even a single trial play of, because of a literal curl of my lip in distaste as I was being taught the game,” one user writes.) Earlier this year, the board-game YouTube channel No Rolls Barred uploaded something of a mea culpa for having recommended “Puerto Rico” as one of its favorite strategy games. In 2019, the war-gaming giant GMT canceled a game called “Scramble for Africa” after mounting objections from its customers.

But why did anyone look at that concept and think it was a good idea? Why did game designers ever fall in love with colonial fantasy anyway?

You can read more at the link above.

Controversy and Clarity, the podcast of the Warfighting Society, has recently interviewed a number of prominent professional wargamers, including Sebastian Bae, Tim Barrick, and Eric Walters. See the full lineup here.

The Register features a report on the Western Approaches museum in Liverpool, focusing on the role of the WRENS there and especially the Western Approaches Tactical Unit.

The upper floor of Derby House was home to the Western Approaches Tactical Unit under the command of Captain Gilbert Roberts, who had designed wargames while serving at the Royal Navy’s Tactical School in Portsmouth before the war, and his predominantly female staff from the Women’s Royal Naval Service or WRENs.

The task given to Roberts and his team when it was established on 1 January 1942 was simple – develop tactics for the Royal Navy that would defeat the U-boats and win the Battle of the Atlantic. Wargaming was Robert’s chosen medium, re-enacting Atlantic engagements and trying out new tactics in what looked like a vast and complex version of the popular board game Battleship.

By the time WATU closed in 1945 more than 5,000 naval officers had played the wargames run by Roberts and his WRENs (66 in all) and attended more than 130 different courses covering all aspects of anti-submarine warfare. And it wasn’t just the Royal Navy that benefited. Crews from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Denmark, and Belgium to name but a few were trained in WATU’s tactics.

The final room of the museum gives a taste of what the WATU game floor would have looked like with its canvas booths and the plots of convoys, U-boats and escorts chalked out on the floor in different colours. The booths were designed to restrict the view of naval crews who came to train at WATU in such a way as to mimic the limited view they would have from the command decks of their warships.

On the floor, the chalk tracks of the U-boats were drawn in green, to make them invisible to the escort commanders in their booths.

The white chalk lines that denoted the position and course of the escorting warships and their merchantmen wards could be seen from the booths. In this way, WATU hoped to match the situation on the high seas as closely as possible.

DEV The Solution “s a nonprofit organization that encourages game development to help solve significant global problems. A major part of that will be hosting regular game jams centered around the theme of helping educate about real life challenges facing humankind as well as providing potential solutions.”

Finally, there is this unique example of investigative journalism in The Conservative Woman, which highlights how serious games designed to prepare public health institutions to deal with the threat of global pandemics have actually been part of an immense global conspiracy to rob us of our freedoms.

Dammit, who told them?

PAXsims research associates, 2021-22

We are pleased to announce the latest group of PAXsims research associates for 2021-22. Many thanks to everyone who applied—we had more applications than usual this time, and weren’t able to take everyone on board.

Alexandria ‘Lexee’ Brill is a second-year M.A. candidate at Georgetown’s Security Studies Program and works as a full-time wargaming analyst, specializing in scenario development and facilitation. Lexee came to wargaming through red teaming and threat analysis. She has games and gaming research in development covering topics from historical influence in Mao-era China to the role of internal biases in-game participation. In between work and studies, Lexee enjoys playing video games and hiking with her dog.

Benjamin Gaches is a PhD Candidate at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen attempting to answer the question ‘How can serious games and simulations be used to better understand the perpetration of grave international crimes?’, and a freelance instructional designer. He holds an LLM in International Humanitarian Law from the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, and a B.A. in Political Science and International Development Studies from McGill University. He participated in the development of several serious games for training while working for the UN Institute for Training and Research, and has recently begun running wargames and simulations as part of undergraduate courses on war in Groningen. His interests include role play for research and educational gaming, simulation and world building, international criminology and the psychology of mass violence.

Anne M. Johnson has worked in maritime security and defense for over 20 years.  She has served as systems software management lead and principal investigator for concept generation and development, assessments, futuring, and analytics across many areas of undersea warfare and maritime security.  Anne serves as the Group Mentoring Chair for the Conflict, Security, and Defense Special Interest Group of the International System Dynamics Society.  She is currently pursuing an Interdisciplinary Doctoral Degree in Systems and Simulation Science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  Her research focus is at the intersection of system dynamics modeling and serious games to develop evaluation criteria for wargame design.

Drew Marriott is a gap year student and graduate of The Brearley School who hails from New York City. This year she is located in Washington, DC where she is exploring national security as a career. Outside of school or work, you can find her reading, playing the board game Diplomacy, or watching The West Wing.

Wargaming accuracy and the Official Secrets Act

A recent online debate over modelling of the Challenger 2 tank in the popular digital wargame War Thunder led one player—apparently, a British Army tank commander with the Royal Tank Regiment—to post the classified Challenger 2 Army Equipment Support Publication in an online forum to prove their point. According to UK Defence Journal:

…excerpts from the document had their ‘UK RESTRICTED’ label crossed out and a stamp of ‘UNCLASSIFIED’ added, as well as having various parts fully blanked. One forum user remarked that “the cover for instance had basically everything except CHALLENGER 2 blacked out”.

The forum user posted the following alongside the now removed AESP in an effort to have an issue with the in-game design of the vehicle rectified.

“Linking those screenshots with the following edited image from the AESP’s which is meant to show the relationship of the various components. The image isn’t exactly to scale as its only meant to show the position of components relative to each other but it works for the point I’m trying to make here. The trunnion’s sit centrally of the rotor. The trunnions support the rotor in the turret structure and the GCE sub components as previously stated are all mounted to the rotor.”

The (Russian) gaming company removed the images from their community forum, and a (non-Russian) discussion moderator noted:

“We have written confirmation from MoD that this document remains classified. By continuing to disseminate it you are in violation of the Official Secrets Act as stated by the warning on the cover of the document, an offence which can carry up to a 14 year prison sentence if prosecuted. Of this you are already aware, as a service person you have signed a declaration that you understand the act and what actions it compels you to take. Every time you post this you place us (International representatives of Gaijin), especially any UK citizens, in hot water as the warning so helpfully states that unauthorised retention of a protected document is an offence.”

The entire episode suggests a new form of intelligence collection: TROLLINT, whereby you goad wargamers with access to sensitive material into sharing classified specifications online by trash-talking their favourite weapons systems.

Christensen and Dobias: Wargaming the use of intermediate force capabilities in the gray zone

In a forthcoming article in the Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation, Kyle Christensen and Peter Dobias of Defence Research and Development Canada discuss wargaming the use of intermediate (nonlethal) force capabilities in the “gray zone.”

Military operations in the gray zone (defined here as the space between peace and war where states are currently involved in a competition continuum) present a unique challenge for military planners. Often tactical actions can have significant operational, and even strategic implications. This makes traditional modeling approaches, such as wargames, of somewhat limited applicability. This limitation can be further exacerbated if the modeled systems are intended to address specific adversarial actions within the gray zone continuum across tactical and operational levels. A specific example of such a problem is modeling military capabilities at the force continuum between inaction and employment of lethal force. Whereas the tactical effectiveness of such systems may be lower than the effectiveness of lethal systems (e.g., if there is a requirement to stop an incoming threat, the use of lethal force is often more effi- cient than the use of acoustic or optical warning devices), the operational and strategic effectiveness of their use would likely be better.

In the summer of 2020, the NATO’s Science & Technology Organization, System Analysis and Studies- 151 (SAS-151) research group conducted a series of test wargames to evaluate whether intermediate force capabil- ities (IFCs) can make a difference to mission success in the gray zone. As described in the following, IFCs offer a class of response between doing nothing and using lethal force in a situation that would be politically unpalatable. This article reviews NATO SAS-151’s development and tests of an IFC concept development wargame aimed at examining a maritime task force’s ability to counter hybrid threats in the gray zone. It covers the strategic context and background of hybrid threats in the gray zone; the conceptual background and development of non-lethal weapons (NLW) through to IFCs; the design and development of the hybrid wargame methodology; and the implementation and execution of the test IFC wargame(s), with initial observations where applicable.

This wargame series was particularly important for two reasons. First, it explored an operational challenge facing many Western militaries in the current strategic environment where opponents and adversaries are using hybrid threats (i.e., tactics and techniques) to deny traditional Western military freedom of action. However, rather than challenge Western militaries in head-to-head confrontations, these tactics aim to remain below the threshold of open conflict, and create strategic, operational, and/or tactical dilemmas for decision-makers. They blur the line between strategic, operational, and tactical, and exploit situations where tactical decisions/actions have strategic impacts.

Second, it used traditional game mechanics in a unique and innovative way to evaluate and assess IFCs. While the concept of using kriegsspiel and/or matrix wargames by themselves to develop and test concepts, inform decision-making, and validate capability requirements are not new, combining both into a single hybrid wargame is new. The approach described in this article was to execute a modified strategic matrix wargame to assess the outcome of an initial tactical level free kriegsspiel engagement game. Although the key components of a kriegsspiel and matrix game are retained, how they are set up, and how they are used together to approach the problem of assessing IFCs in the gray zone is a unique adaptation of these traditional games.

MORS certificate in gaming homeland security

The Military Operations Research Society will be offering an online certificate course in gaming homeland security on 30 August to 3 September 2021.

MORS’ newest Certificate in Gaming Homeland Security will cover basic game design principles, but through the lens of homeland security. Specific topics include emergency response games, how to support the DHS Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP), local, state, and national level games, the National Exercise Program games, and games to explore the dynamics of response operations. Topics to be covered include natural and man-made disasters, transportation events, terrorism and public health response, mass casualties, active shooters and active policing.
The course will consist of lectures and exercises, with the exercises designed to help build confidence in the topic of homeland security game design.

Course Sections:

Game Design for Federal, State, and Local Response, including the HSEEP program

Games for Homeland Security and the National Exercise Program

Terrorism, Bio-security, and Public Health

Student Game Design Final Project

The course will be taught by Mary “Kate” Fisher, Roger Mason, and Ed McGrady. Full details are available at the link above.

GlobState 2021: The security environment in the (post) pandemic world

The Doctrine and Training Centre of the Polish Armed Forces will be holding its annual GlobState conference on 30 November – 2 December 2021. The theme for the conference is “Security Environment in the (Post) Pandemic World and Its Implications for the Conduct of Military Operations.”

The aim of the 4th Annual International Research Conference GlobState is to enhance discussion on new developments in the security environment in the (post) pandemic, both from the global and the regional (Central and East European) perspective, and their implications for the conduct of military operations. The conference will be held under the umbrella of the NUP 2X35 campaign of future security environment analysis, led by the Doctrine and Training Centre of the Polish Armed Forces of behalf of the Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces.

In 2021, due to the still existing challenges of the pandemic, the conference will be run in a virtual or hybrid (i.e. virtual and in-person) form. The final decision will be announced by the Organizing Committee in mid-2021.

We hope that the conference will be a source of valuable knowledge and inspiring discussions for all the participants. We encourage all who are interested in to familiarize with the 2020 edition conference report and/or the GlobState III pre-conference proceedings.

CONFERENCE THEMES

future security and operational environments;

forecasting and simulation of changes in the security and operational environments;

space and cyber as new domains of military operations;

new concepts and approaches to the conduct of military operations;

multi-domain operation/battle vs. joint operation;

lessons from contemporary military operations;

strategic analysis and military operations research methodology;

future military leadership.

The conference welcomes paper proposals that use serious games as a research method to examine these issues.

Further details are available at the link above.

MORS evening certificate in wargaming course

The Military Operations Research Society is offering an evening, online certificate course in wargaming on 19-20 August 2021:

MORS’ Certificate in Wargaming is designed to increase Analyst capability and knowledge in research, design, development, execution, analysis, and reporting of professional games for analytical and training purposes. Analytical games entail the development/execution of a research design through problem discovery, data gathering, scenario development, experiment design and execution, and results interpretation and documentation. Training games emphasize the development of learning plans and objectives to provide experiential learning for student retention.

The course will be taught by Ed McGrady, Peter Perla, Phil Pournelle, and Paul Vebber.

Connections UK 2021 registration now open

Registration for the Connections UK 2021 professional wargaming conference (14-15 September 2021) is now open.

Some key points to note about this year, courtesy of Graham Longley-Brown:

Learning by doing remains the focus, with maximum participatory content.

The overarching theme is building the community. There will be central plenaries and associated workshops on ‘Bringing on the next generation’ and ‘Diversity & Inclusion’. Day 1 will feature significant educational content: awareness ‘101’ sessions (as is traditional at Connections UK), but also practitioner and expert seminars, enlivened and illustrated by educational gaming.

The conference is experimental in all respects. The environment is 100% safe to fail, with contributors encouraged to bring innovative and developmental activities to the – virtual – table. Indeed, the conference itself is an experiment: we are trying to generate a genuine conference feel where, albeit in a virtual environment, everyone can get involved, interact and network. And the best way to do that, as we all know, is by playing games! Dedicated chat and voice channels will be available for every session, and there will be ‘hangout’ areas and small-group activities that give everyone the chance to contribute. Outcomes will be captured and back-briefed in plenary and/or via informal reporting.

While the central platform will be Discord (as with Connections US), gaming platforms or applications will be at the discretion of the presenter. Links to these will appear on the Discord server and a Google Sheets Master Programme.

An outline programme is attached and pasted below the signature block. Details of games, speakers etc will follow in mid-August.

Purchase a ticket via EventbriteTickets are live; book yours now! Note that the email you provide at signup will be used to provide you details of how to join the conference and register for various sessions and games in mid-August.

Connections UK will primarily be hosted on Discord. This will be our community hub. Before purchasing a ticket, please ensure you have a Discord account (free to set up) and the software installed on a personal device. The software can be used on both a free-to-download desktop application and via a browser, but the device will need a microphone and camera. A beginners guide to Discord can be found here, and we will send a Connections UK-specific guide in August.

Other applications such as Zoom, Teams, VASSAL or Spatial might also be required to take part in certain games. We will disseminate a list of games with their required programmes in August.

The conference will run over two days, 14th – 15th September.

The daily start time will be 1000 BST (GMT+1 in September), running through to evening sessions to enable international content.

There is a small charge of £25. As a not-for-profit, Connections UK receives no financial sponsorship and is run by volunteers. Although the organisers will be co-located in a control hub kindly hosted by NSC/QinetiQ, we must buy-in technical and other support functions. The small charge is to cover costs and ensure we remain financially viable going forward.

Please share widely.

Simulation & Gaming (August 2021)

The latest issue of Simulation & Gaming 52, 4 (August 2021) is now available.

Research Articles

  • An Examination and Extension of the Theory of Gamified Learning: The Moderating Role of Goal Orientation 
    • Caribay Garcia- Marquez and Kristina N. Bauer
  • A Longitudinal Study of the Skills and Attitudes Conveyed by Two Business Simulation Games in Pécs, Hungary
    • Tibor Kiss and Roland Schmuck

Short Research Article

  • A Pilot Study to Explore Novice Debriefers’ Post-Simulation Debriefing Experiences 
    • Grace Ng and Daniel M. Lugassy

Original Article

  • Do Gaming Simulations Substantiate That We Know More Than We Can Tell? 
    • M. A. van Haaften, I. Lefter, H. Lukosch, O. van Kooten, and F. Brazier

Simulations Read to Use

  • INFLUENZA: A Board Game Design Experiment on Vaccination 
    • Pedro Pinto Neves, Filipe Luz, Eva Vital, and Jorge Oliveira
  • Wargaming as a Methodology: The International Crisis Wargame and Experimental Wargaming 
    • Benjamin Schechter, Jacquelyn Schneider, and Rachael Shaffer

WHO GOARN RFP: infectious disease outbreak response online game

The WHO Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) has issued a request for proposals “to develop a serious online gaming prototype, targeting multidisciplinary public health emergency responders from around the world and utilising an outbreak response scenario, to build the large-scale multidisciplinary human response capacity with the cross-cutting knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to respond to COVID-19 and other infectious disease outbreaks.”

You will find the full details of the RFP here. The closing date for applications is 2 August 2021.

Visualising War on wargaming

The Visualising War project at the University of St. Andrews has recently featured two podcasts on wargaming.

Wargaming in a Brave New World (SE01 EP14, 4 July 2021)

How do crisis simulations help us understand strategy and decision-making processes?  Crisis simulation exercises can take many forms, from complex live wargame events to on-screen and multi-week crisis scenarios. What is the role and utility of crisis simulations in the understanding, teaching, and making of strategy? Can wargames be used as a predictive tool, or should their utility be centred around training purposes? How are wargames and simulations adapting to an increasingly online workspace? 

James Fielder, Founder, Liminal Operations and Adjunct Professor, Colorado State University

Dr James “Pigeon” Fielder teaches political science at Colorado State University, where he researches emergent political processes through tabletop, live-action, and digital gaming. He founded the corporate wargame consultancy Liminal Operations and writes for Evil Beagle Games. Find Pigeon at @j_d_fielder

Paul Vebber, Assistant Director, Wargaming and Future Warfare Research, US Navy

Paul Vebber is a lifelong hobby wargamer and co-founder of Matrix Games. He currently works for the US Navy as a civilian focused on wargaming in support of technology development and associated employment concepts.

Yuna Huh Wong, Defense Analyst, Institute for Defense Analyses

Dr Yuna Huh Wong is a defense analyst at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) and adjunct professor at Georgetown University. At IDA she is currently involved in cyber wargames; as well as tabletop exercises and studies to support the Joint Staff. Find Yuna @YunaHuhWong

Felipe Cruvinel, PhD Candidate, School of International Relations, University of St Andrews

Felipe Cruvinel is a PhD candidate at St Andrews, currently writing a thesis on applying data analysis to counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. He designs and produces wargames and simulations for the school and undertakes tabletop design and hobby gaming in his own time. Find Felipe @FCruvi 

Let’s Play: War, From Rome’s Gladiators to Warhammer (SE01 EP15, 5 July 2021)

What are the cultural legacies of visualising war through wargames?  Wargames are not a new phenomenon; in military exercises, as tactical plays tested on maps and as entertainment spectacles, wargames have been with us from ancient times. Studying wargames allows us to better understand the fog of war, as well as giving us nuanced insights into the processes by which military strategy is visualised and drilled into the martial and civilian body. How do we game war? And what does the history of wargaming tell us about its use today?

Aggie Hirst, Senior Lecturer, Department of War Studies, King’s College London

Dr Aggie Hirst’s work focuses on international political theory and critical military studies. She is currently Principal Investigator on a Leverhulme Trust and British Academy funded research project exploring the US military’s use of wargames and simulations. 

Alice König, Senior Lecturer and co-lead of the ‘Visualising War’-project, University of St Andrews

Dr Alice König’s research is centred on intertextuality and socio-literary interactions, attitudes to and the transmission of expertise, science, and war. Currently, her focus is on the Visualising War Project, exploring how war narratives interact and form throughout history. Find Alice @KonigAlice

Aristidis A. Foley, PhD Candidate, School of International Relations, University of St Andrews

Aris Foley’s research combines political and critical theories with dystopian literature, exploring the notion of Critical Dystopianism. He is an avid painter of wargame models, a hobby which has engaged him for 18 years. Find Aris @ares_miniatures

Katarina H.S. Birkedal, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Classics, University of St Andrews

Dr Katarina Birkedal’s work focuses on the politics of storytelling. Her research centres an embrace of interdisciplinarity and multiplicity, of voices and approaches. She is currently working on bridging disciplinary silos to further our understanding of war stories and their social and cultural impact. Find Katarina @Kat_in_a_Birch

You can find a full list of these and all other episodes at the link above.

Thank you to our supporters

We don’t thank our Patreon supporters often enough, so I thought I would post one. Thanks! Your donations cover the costs of our WordPress account and other basic expenses. PAXsims is a volunteer operation that runs on a shoestring, but you certainly provide our string.

If you want to consider a monthly donation, you’ll find our Patreon page here.

If you’re a current Patreon supporter and would like some complimentary Derby House Principles pins, drop me an email with your mailing address and phone number and we’ll send a few your way.

Award-winning PAXsims editors

I am pleased to report that two PAXsims editors were recently recognized for their contributions to professional wargaming.

Sally Davis (Dstl) has received a A* Analyisis Function Award from the UK Ministry of Defence for her work on diversity and inclusion. The nomination noted Dstl’s endorsement of the Derby House Principles, her work on the diversity card deck, and many other activities. It went on to note:

Sally’s work on the Derby House Principles epitomises our ambition to be an inclusive employer where diversity of thought is valued and celebrated and enables us to tackle the most complex S&T challenges; where everyone feels they belong and comfortable bringing their whole self to work. These principles are more than just words, they provide a guide for tangible actions for building our teams, cultivating our leaders and creating a community that supports everyone in it. Sally is a role model and her personal commitment and drive to helping Dstl meet its D&I ambitions is inspiring.

Major Tom Mouat (Defence Academy of the UK) was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent Defence Simulation Education and Training (DSET) conference.

Tom received the recognition for his outstanding contribution to military simulation, education and training and was presented with the award by Kiera Bentley, the Mayor of Faringdon, where he lives. He has over 30 years’ experience in the defence modelling and simulation sector. His interests include military simulation and training, manual wargaming, cyber defence and artificial intelligence.Tom has led and contributed to numerous UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) activities and projects. In 2007 he received the Chief of Defence Materiel’s Commendation for his work in the procurement of simulation systems, and in 2013 received the UK MoD Chief Scientific Adviser’s Team Commendation for contributions to defence modelling and simulation education. He is a regular speaker at the DSET conference, contributing to numerous presentations and panels.

DSET conference organiser, Tess Butler said: “We are genuinely happy to provide this award for Tom’s lifetime of dedication, knowledge and innovation in military simulation, modelling and wargaming. Tom has always been at the heart of our community, and is someone that continues to go above and beyond to support, provide advice and share his knowledge with students, colleagues and the wider industry. We hope that this award, our very first, goes a small way in providing the recognition that Tom so deserves

Two very well-deserved awards—congratulations Sally and Tom!

Iranian Journal of Wargaming

Several issues (2019-2020) of the Iranian Journal of Wargaming can be found online here, containing a mix of wargaming, game theoretic, operations research, and simulation articles (all in Farsi). Abstracts in English are also provided.

The journal is edited by Dr. Mohammad Reza Mehreghan (operations research, University of Tehran). The Director-in-Charge is Dr Valivand Zamani Hosein (Iranian Army Command and Staff University).

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