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Category Archives: conferences

Registration now open for Connections UK 2022

Registration is now open for the Connections UK conference for wargaming professionals on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 September 2022. This will again be remote but will help set the conditions for a return to a face-to-face conference in 2023.

The theme of this year’s conference will be ‘Becoming a seasoned wargaming practitioner’. We will offer a safe-to-fail environment where practitioners at all levels of experience can discuss and practise their art. ‘Grognard’ contributions will focus on practical top tips, including a session on the many mistakes and lessons we have painfully learned over the years. The Introduction to Wargaming Course remains available online, but will not be delivered during the 2022 conference. Following a successful hybrid seminar experiment in April, there will be at least one hybrid session.

Plenaries will use Zoom as the core medium, while parallel sessions will be delivered on the presenter’s platform of choice. Discord will take a back seat, but will be used for conference coordination and be available for private chat and networking.

Registration is via Eventbrite. The standard cost is £25, but there is a £10 ‘supported’ option for those who can’t stretch to £25. There is a cap of 120 places, and registration will close on Friday 2 September, so book your ticket now!

For more general information on Connections UK (including presentations from previous conferences), consult the Connections UK website. Connections Uk is a sponsor of the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming.

Connections (US) 2022 registration now open

Registration for the Connections (US) 2022 professional wargaming conference is now open.

On behalf of conference founder and co-chair Matt Caffrey and the rest of the Connections organizing team, I am pleased to announce that registration for Connections 2022 is now open!  This year’s conference will be hosted by the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) at their new headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, July 26-29.

The registration form cane be found here.

(The above link is to a Google Form, which are sometimes difficult to access from some military networks.  If you have problems viewing or completing the form at work, please try from a personal device at home.)

More information, including a link to the draft schedule, is available at the Connections website.

Since 1993, the Connections conference has brought together practitioners with a professional interest in wargaming from all elements of the wargaming field.  Please help us expand our reach even further by passing this registration information along to those you think might be interested.

We hope you can join us at our first in-person conference since 2019, after two years of online events.  Register early to ensure that you will be able to attend in the event that we reach our capacity, and please let us know if your plans change so that we can keep an accurate count.  We expect this will be the largest in-person Connections conference yet, but only your support will get us there. 

KWN: Wojtowicz  on evaluating effectiveness in wargames

The next public lecture of the King’s Wargaming Network will take place on June 1:

The Wargaming Network is pleased to announce the third lecture in our 2021-2022 public lectures series on wargaming. The theme for this year is evaluating and assessing the impact of wargaming on individuals and organizations and will feature speakers who have made important new contributions to wargaming assessment. The lecture will take place online on 01 June, 17:00-18:30 BST. Please register for the lecture here to receive the log in details for the online event. 

Natalia Wojtowicz will showcase different methods of evaluating effectiveness of wargames, compiled from academic, industrial and governmental sector. A comparison of common and distinct factors will be analyzed to connect the effects with structure of the wargame. The question of objectivity of results will be explored based on recent experiments on adjudication. This presentation will be focused on identifying next steps in measuring and evaluating wargames.

Natalia Wojtowicz is a lecturer at the Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Safety and Security Management Programme. She teaches about wargaming, game design, and digital skills. Her research includes effectiveness of wargaming, new methods and experimental implementation. Previously she worked at the NATO Civil-Military Cooperation Center of Excellence, leading the Wargaming, Modelling and Simulation project focused on introducing civilian population into training and education. Later she designed 14 new wargames implemented across NATO. Currently she is researching adjudication in wargaming and testing an upcoming game about uprising in Belarus. You can follow her [on Twitter] at @Wojtowicz_N

Please register for the lecture here to receive the information for attending this online event on 01 June 2022. 

CNA: Inclusivity in wargaming and impacts for defense planning

CNA will be hosting a discussion on inclusivity in wargaming on May 18:

We are excited to invite you to our next #InclusiveNatSec event: Inclusivity in Wargaming and Impacts for Defense Planning on Wednesday, May 18 at 12:30-1:30p ET via Zoom with our esteemed guests, Dr. Yuna Huh Wong, Defense Analyst at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA)’s Joint Advanced Warfighting Division and Founder of The Women’s Wargaming Network; and Dr. Margaret McCown, Deputy Division Chief of the Studies, Analysis, and Gaming Division at the Joint Staff J8.

This event will entail brief remarks from Dr. Wong and Dr. McCown, followed by a Q&A discussion moderated by Ms. Catherine Lea, Senior Research Scientist with CNA’s Gaming and Integration Program.

The event will examine implications of having inclusivity in the wargame design process and play, and why that matters for better informing in defense planning, programs, and policies. The event will also discuss the challenges in ensuring diversity and inclusion in wargames and how the Derby House Principles has affected the field of professional wargaming in the past year.

Please click here to register to join us on May 18. Note that we are using a registration platform that works best in Google Chrome. If a pop-up blocker makes it difficult to register at the link above, please respond to this email for assistance.  After you RSVP to attend, you will receive a confirmation with login details for the event. This event will be recorded and available to access online.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to InclusiveNatSec@cna.org with any questions.

KWN: Beerens on disaster response (exercise) evaluation

Received from the King’s Wargaming Network:

The Wargaming Network is pleased to announce the second lecture in our 2021-2022 public lecture series on wargaming. The theme for this year is evaluating and assessing the impact of wargaming on individuals and organizations and will feature speakers who have made important new contributions to wargaming assessment. The lecture will take place online on 12 May, 17:00-18:30 BST. Please register for the lecture here to receive the log in details for the online event. 

This lecture will focus on the enhancement of evaluation usefulness as a possible avenue to increase impact, built around Ralf Beerens’ PhD research which seeks to improve the usefulness of disaster response evaluations with respect to their contribution to disaster risk management (available online via: https://portal.research.lu.se/en/publications/improving-disaster-response-evaluations-supporting-advances-in-di). The dynamic disaster response environment in which his research took place, and the challenges it both poses and faces, resembles that of wargames. Overall, this research shows that to gain maximum benefit from disaster response evaluations, the outcomes must be systematic, rigorous, evidence-based and actionable. This is also challenging as this creates a dilemma around the so called ‘rigor-relevance gap’ which refers to the hurdle of simultaneously delivering practitioner relevance and scholarly rigour.

There will be a mixture of scholarly rigour and practitioner relevance by introducing and discussing various approaches, concepts, processes and models such as the research design strategy, design science and evaluation descriptions. This is combined with insights into the Dutch Crisis Management system and practical experiences (with evaluation) as well as key research findings that can be transferred to wargames. This lecture will propose some ways forward and open a conversation regarding how to manage both the process and the products of an evaluation and possible scientific and practical contributions, in order to optimise its usefulness for a range of purposes and users. In general the session is aimed at enhancing our understanding of the role(s) of evaluation in dynamic and complex environments such as disaster risk management and the transfer of these insights to wargames, keeping in mind that it is not the evaluation itself that leads to improvement; it is the use of the evaluation that can lead to improvement. Evaluation should be seen as a means to an end.Dr. Ralf Beerens is a senior researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Public Safety (NIPV) and is also a senior lecturer for the Institute’s Master in Crisis and Public Order Management (MCPM). In September 2021 he received his Ph.D. from Lund University, Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety, where he remains affiliated as a visiting research fellow. In this research he focused on disaster response (exercise) evaluation. He remains particularly interested in the evaluation of the operational performance of (international) emergency response organizations, teams or modules during exercises and crises, which also reflects his professional experience as an evaluator.

Please register for the lecture here to receive the information for attending this online event on 12 May 2022. 

PlaySecure 2022

The 2022 PlaySecure conference will take place online on 15-18 June.

Play Secure explores the overlaps between play and security. Finding and looking at ways that games can be used in modelling real life scenarios to help in decision-making, anticipating upcoming issues, or in discovering new ways that systems of all types can be manipulated.

From D&D-styled incident response exercises to sessions on the psychology of play in creativity. Four interactive days of talks, games, and workshop sessions devoted to play and security.

Global and online-first, community focused, with a wealth of content on security, gaming, and the areas in between; you won’t find anything else like this.

Non-exhaustive examples are: * Tabletop incident pre-enactments as attacker, defender, and stakeholder teams * CTFs * Threat modelling card games * How to find the fun in Security by Design * Security Poker * What can MMORPGs can teach us about security and business crisis management? * How a board game can teach network security and DDoS mitigations? * How can gamification be made to work, and how can it fail? * Anything that brings together play and security… we’d love to see what you come up with…

The conference website and call for papers can be found here. The deadline for proposals is May 13.

Connections Online 2022

The Connections Online 22 professional wargaming conference will take place on 19-21 April 2022 (core events), with extended events taking place 18-24 April.

Additional details can be found at Armchair Dragoons.

16th NATO Operations Research and Analysis conference

The 16th annual NATO Operations Research and Analysis (OR&A) conference will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 18-19 October 2022. The event will be both in-person and partly hybrid.

This year’s conference theme is “OR&A: New ideas, old realities”. The theme reflects the long-standing practice of Operations Research and Analysis in Defence, tackling ongoing challenges faced by the Alliance and looks to the future to bring new methods to old challenges or well-established methods on future challenges. The PC is particularly interested in content relevant to NATO’s warfare development imperatives1: Cognitive Superiority; Layered Resilience; Influence and Power Projection; Integrated Multi-Domain Defence; and Cross-Domain Command.

Interested candidates are invited to submit an abstract (between 150 to 250 words) for consideration no later than 31 March 2022. Candidates are asked to carefully adhere to the abstract instructions and use the abstract submission tool located on the STO Event website.

Abstracts are due by March 31. More information is available at the link above.

KWN: Kuehn on wargame assessment (April 13)

The King’s Wargaming Network (King’s College London) has announced the first lecture in their 2021-2022 public lectures series. The theme this year is “evaluating and assessing the impact of wargaming on individuals and organizations.” This first lecture will feature Kate Kuehn on the subject of “the valid and meaningful assessment of wargames.”

Wargames offer a promising avenue for analyzing the quality of plans or decisions as well as for developing and assessing player or team capabilities. Within a military education context, wargames can reproduce authentic, complex environments that facilitate application and integration of critical 21st century learning skills like creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving. At the same time, these dynamic environments pose a challenge for traditional measurement approaches, evidenced by numerous critiques of simulation-based learning, games-based learning, and wargaming assessment practices. Purposeful integration of assessment into wargaming design is essential to demonstrating the value of wargaming for individuals and institutions. This lecture will highlight key principles of sound and meaningful assessment within wargaming contexts, synthesizing literature from measurement and gaming disciplines. The discussion will also integrate lessons from a case study that examined assessment challenges and practices of a U.S. military education program that is rapidly expanding these activities in its curriculum. The findings highlighted key mechanisms and opportunities to “bake assessment in” to wargame design and facilitation. The presentation seeks to offer a guide for practitioners who are seeking to implement valid and meaningful assessment of learning that can be adapted to their own wargaming practices.

Kate Kuehn is the Director of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Planning at Marine Corps University (MCU). In addition to managing the University’s institutional effectiveness process, she supports the evaluation of all MCU professional military education programs and directorates. Kate has spent 12 years working on evaluation and assessment of military education programs, providing advice on the design of learning assessments at the classroom, program, and institutional level. She is a member of the Military Education Assessment Advisory Group and has frequently served on military accreditation teams. Her research focuses on assessment and performance evaluation in complex contexts. More specifically, she is currently focused on assessment in team-based simulated learning environments. Kate has an MA from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a BA from the College of William and Mary. She is a doctoral candidate at George Mason University’s College of Education and Human Development with specializations in education research methodology and educational psychology. Her dissertation proposes an assessment framework for collaborative, ill-structured games, and examines its application to educational wargaming practice.

Registration is free, via Eventbrite.

Connections UK at DSET 2022

In conjunction with UK Fight Club, Connections UK is supporting the UK MOD’s Defence Simulation, Education and Training (DSET) conference in June 2022. The conference runs from 7 – 10 June, but the day featuring Connections UK is Wednesday 8 June. This will be face-to-face at Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol, UK, and akin to a Games Fair at a Connections UK. The purpose is explained below:

Wargaming is recognised as a valuable tool for commanders, leaders and managers, both within and outside the Ministry of Defence. The Connections professional wargaming community, through hands-on gameplay, will demonstrate to DSET attendees the utility of manual simulation as a complementary approach to computer simulation (which will be demonstrated by UK Fight Club). The aim is to do this by hands-on “learning by doing”, so direct participation is strongly encouraged.

The wargames shown by Connections UK will demonstrate manual simulation approaches that encompass all domains: air, land, maritime, cyber and space, plus the logistics and ‘jointery’ necessary to glue these together. The following registration options are available:

You can find out more details on the DSET conference at https://dset.co.uk/ 

Connections North Day 2 preview

The Connections North 2022 professional (war)gaming conference is now just over a week away. We’ve already provided an overview of what is in store for Day 1 (February 19), so let’s now have a look at Day 2 (February 20).

We will be starting off with a panel on coopération dans le jeu sérieux, chaired by Tom Fisher (Imaginetic). Here we will look at how to forge closer cooperation between anglophone and francophone serious game designers around the world. The session will be bilingual. Our presenters will be Louis-Martin Guay (Université de Montréal), Benjamin Williams-Rambaud (Université Clermont Auvergne), and Patrick Ruestchmann (Serious Games Network-France).

Next, Brian Train will be chairing a session on influence gaming. How do we game social, political, and diplomatic influence in an age of digital communications and social media? What models and approaches have been developed to address this central feature of politics, politics, and conflict? Discussing this will be Sean Havel, who played a key role in recent influence wargaming at Defence Research and Development Canada, together Graham Longley-Brown (LBS), and Jim Wallman (Stone Paper Scissors)—both of whom have been part of a larger Dstl project examining the topic.

Our third session of the day is a bit of an experiment, a mix of semi-serious wargaming vignettes and improvisational comedy modelled after a well-known British and American television show. Whose Game is it Anyway? will feature Stephen Downes-Martin (US Naval War College), Ben Taylor (DRDC), Jim Wallman (Stone Paper Scissor), Yuna Wong (IDA), with yours truly (Rex Brynen, McGill University) acting as the host. Have ideas for “Scenes from a Hat,” “Let’s Make a Date,” or “Party Tricks”? Email me!

As is always the case, our final session of the conference will provide an opportunity for both a hot-wash of this year’s programme as well as an opportunity to be Looking Ahead. What should we be doing in the coming year? What might we do for Connections North 2023? Brianna Proceviat (Canadian Joint Warfare Centre) and Madeline Johnson (Global Affairs Canada) will be co-chairing and facilitating the session, and Stefanie Game (Imaginetic) will be telling everyone a little about the Connections: Next Gen conference on March 12-13.

The full programme can be found here, and conference registration is via Eventbrite.

Connections North Day 1 preview

With the Connections North professional (war)gaming conference fast approaching on February 19-20, so we thought we would give you all a preview of what is to come.

On February 19 we will be starting off with our usual Canada gaming update panels, designed give conference participants a sense of who has been doing what in wargaming, policy gaming, and serious gaming across Canada. Tony Chainho will discuss the work of the wargaming team at the Canadian Joint Warfare Centre, Robert Engen will bring us up to date on gaming at Canadian Forces College, and Murray Dixson will review wargaming at Defence Research and Development Canada. After that, Mia Consalvo (Concordia University) and Neil Randall (University of Waterloo) will both be offering perspectives on the state of game studies and serious gaming research across Canada, Philippe Beaulieu-Brossard will tell us about the work of the Archipelago of Design, and I’ll be talking about gaming at McGill University, including my conflict simulation design course.

Our next major topic will be Gaming Coalitions: Beyond Generic Blue. In many conflicts one (or more) of the participants may be an alliance or coalition. At a first approximation, we can design games in which coalition forces can behave as if they were from a single national military force. Traditionally these are called BLUE or RED. On further examination, coalitions are much more complicated than that, but how do we represent multi-national coalition forces in games? We will hear thoughts on this challenge from David Redpath (CJWC), who promises us he’ll be controversial; Jim Wallman (Stone Paper Scissors): Tom Mouat (UK Defence Academy); and Wayne Buck and Aaron Beam (NATO ACT).

Our final Day 1 session on Institutional Uptake will focus on the the value and use of gaming from the perspective of sponsors, clients, and senior policy-makers. Our presenters will be MGen Bill Seymour (Canadian Joint Operations Command) and Martin Roy (Global Affairs Canada). The session will be chaired by Stephen “Three Witches of Wargaming” Downes-Martin (US Naval War College).

The Connections North conference programme has been designed again this year to not only promote the use of wargaming, policy gaming, and other serious gaming across Canada, but also to highlight the particular issues and challenges faced by (war)gamers in smaller defence and policy communities. Not everyone, after all, has the resources or global engagement of the United States. We hope, therefore, to see colleagues from small- and medium-sized countries there to share their own perspectives. There will be plenty of time for informal discussion during the half hour breaks (and breakout rooms) between panels

You’ll find the latest version of the programme, including bios for all the speakers, here. Registration is free, via Eventbrite.

Also, stay tuned for our forthcoming summary of Day 2 events!

Mouat on matrix games

The Georgetown University Wargaming Society (GUWS) has many interesting online speakers, but we thought we would would flag one forthcoming talk in particular: Major Tom Mouat (Defence Academy of the UK, co-designer of the Matrix Game Construction Kit, and PAXsims associate editor) on matrix games.

The presentation is on February 1 (1200-1400 EST) and registration is via Eventbrite.

In addition to the various games he has shared at PAXsims, Tom’s matrix games webpage can be found here.

Connections North 2022 conference programme

The full conference programme is now available for the annual Connections North professional (war)gaming conference (online, 19-20 February).

Registration is free, via Eventbrite.

‘Data for Wargaming’ roundtable

The SISO Simulation and Wargaming Study Group invites you to participate in an online, open roundtable discussion regarding the challenges related to data used in professional wargaming.

January 19, 2022      11:00am – 1:00pm (Eastern US Time), via Zoom

From this roundtable, we plan to schedule a later forum, where two or three of the top challenges are discussed in detail.

Professional wargaming both requires and produces a great amount of data, and in many cases, there are challenges that are specific to wargaming.  We are looking for participants to share a short (5-10 minute) description of the problems they have with either acquiring or using wargaming data – this can be either a challenge or a clever solution.  The possible topics that this could include are listed (but not limited to) those below.  

Possible topics Include:

  • Scenario Data 
  • Data for Adjudication 
  • Capturing Data during a game 
  • Representing data in a  wargame? 
  • Turning AAR data into a Narrative 
  • Security classification issues with Data Sources 
  • Validation issues with Data Sources
  • MetaData
  • Interoperability

Anyone interested in contributing please contact Chuck Turnitsa at cturnitsa@gmail.com

To join the Round Table on January 19, 11:00am (Eastern US Time), click on this link: https://tinyurl.com/bddyfuce  

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