The latest issue of International Studies Perspectives 18, 2 (May 2017) has a several articles on game-related topics that might be of interest to PAXsims readers.
The first, by Nicolas de Zamaróczy, is entitled “Are We What We Play? Global Politics in Historical Strategy Computer Games.”
Building upon current interest in studies of how popular culture relates to global politics, this article examines one hitherto overlooked aspect of popular culture: computer games. Although not prominent in the field of International Relations (IR), historical strategy computer games should be of particular interest to the discipline since they are explicitly designed to allow players to simulate global politics. This article highlights five major IR-related assumptions built into most single-player historical strategy games (the assumption of perfect information, the assumption of perfect control, the assumption of radical otherness, the assumption of perpetual conflict, and the assumption of environmental stasis) and contrasts them with IR scholarship about how these assumptions manifest themselves in the “real world.” This article concludes by making two arguments: first, we can use computer games as a mirror to critically reflect on the nature of contemporary global politics, and second, these games have important constitutive effects on understandings of global politics, effects that deserve to be examined empirically in a deeper manner.
The second, by Craig Hayden, looks at “The Procedural Rhetorics of Mass Effect: Video Games as Argumentation in International Relations.”
Popular culture is a significant interest for scholars of International Relations and world politics. This article explores the capacity of video games to articulate, represent, and simulate the practice of international politics in both narrative and procedural capacities through a study of the highly popular Mass Effect science fiction series of video games. The introduction of procedural rhetoric as a means of textual criticism is argued to address existing concerns within the study of International Relations to articulate the significance of representation with cultural texts and to extend the implications of claims about science fiction as a compelling set of contingent arguments about the broader sphere of social life that constitutes International Relations.
The third, by Tina Zappile, Daniel J. Beers, and Chad Raymond, addresses “Promoting Global Empathy and Engagement through Real-Time Problem-Based Simulations.”
We introduce a real-time problem-based simulation in which students are tasked with drafting policy to address the challenge of internally displaced persons in post-earthquake Haiti from a variety of stakeholder perspectives. Students who participated in the simulation completed a quantitative survey as a pre-/post-test on global empathy, political awareness, and civic engagement and provided qualitative data through post-simulation focus groups. The simulation was run in four courses across three campuses in a variety of instructional settings from 2013 to 2015. An analysis of the data reveals that scores on several survey items measuring global empathy and political/civic engagement increased significantly after the simulation, while qualitative student comments corroborated the results. This format of a real-time problem-based policy-making simulation is readily adaptable to other ongoing and future global crises using the framework provided in this paper.