PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Category Archives: simulation and gaming news

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.

Phil Sabin’s wargame designs website!

Phil Sabin has just published a website containing descriptions, pictures and convenient download links for his growing range of games and conversions.

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.

How to be a Derby House Principles ally

Nick Pett, a senior civil servant in the UK Ministry of Defence, gave an outstanding talk recently on how to be an ally to the LGBT community.

I want you to watch it. And I want you to apply his sentiments to women and BAME/BIPOC and disabled wargamers as well.

To paraphrase his excellent example of what being an ally means:

It can’t all be about straight white non-disabled men asking marginalised people “What can I do to make your life better? And if you could just talk me through your trauma in order to educate me that would be really helpful thanks.”

It’s beholden on me to make it my work to develop my allyship so that it’s not about expecting the people experiencing discrimination to talk about it and explain it and help me—there’s stacks out there that I can look at and listen to and absorb without it adding to the load of marginalised people.

I think a lot of people talking about allyship would love to sell something that feels really cosy and overwhelmingly positive, that you’ve just got to slap a badge on and stick something in your signature block, and every year post something on social media about Pride happening or Black History Month, and never actively do anything that is any of the -isms. And I’m not selling that, because it’s rubbish. I think allyship is and should be hard work. And you have to think carefully about how much you can call yourself an ally, particularly if nobody marginalised in wargaming would agree with you. 

If you’re going to claim allyship you need to be working at it every day: I didn’t come out of the womb understanding what it’s like to be a woman or LGBT or BAME/BIPOC or disabled. I’ve spent a long time trying to learn. I’m reading books about their history and their presence and that’s the kind of thing that I commit to doing because if I’m going to try and represent people I need to understand them and their lives. You should know and understand that the vast vast majority of what is out there that you will come across casually without any effort at all is cis-gendered heterosexual white and non-disabled and is casually if not deliberately phobic and discriminatory in a variety of different ways.

If you as a marginalised wargamer are to be confident in my allyship then you ought to be able to see it everywhere I go. You should be able to see me and hear me and know my allyship wherever I am. You will know my allyship because I wear it on me somewhere all the time—and I don’t think these are empty symbols unless the behaviour that comes behind undermines them. I want people to be able to see that women, LGBT, BAME/BIPOC, and disability communities are something that I love and support and want to protect and celebrate.

Signing up to the Derby House Principles means:

Representation: striving for parity of women and minorities in your wargames and at your wargames, events, conferences, panels, socials, working groups, etc. And not just in admin and junior roles.

Opportunities: mentoring, encouraging, and opening doors for women and minority wargamers. Celebrating their achievements and actively seeking out their contributions.

Support: fighting for women and minority wargamers’ rights to equality; pushing back whenever you see women and minority wargamers not being treated with respect; not standing for words and actions that demean women and minority wargamers. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

Here’s your starter for ten of things you can watch to help you be a better Derby House Principles ally:

Hannah Gadsby on drawing the line between good and bad:

You should also check out Nanette:

Feminism is trans-inclusive:

Disability is not the worst thing in life:

Mercury 13:

“If we’re going to send a human being to space, we should send the one most qualified.” Mercury 13 tells the remarkable true story of the women who fought for their place in the stars.

The Happiness Lab:


Read more about the Derby House Principles for diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming here.

Connections US 2021 YouTube Channel

Connections US has a YouTube Channel which is populated with this year’s conference events.

Peter Perla and Ed McGrady GameNation Part II Friday, 2 July

Join Peter Perla and Ed McGrady as they discuss AI and cyber games, and how the USAF game showed they almost had enough stuff, but not quite enough, to take on the Chinese.  Right before they released their budget.  Tune in to hear their take on the wargaming news of the day. https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_JIldrBu5RwaSJl_srXAyTg

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* Analysis 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!

Game Lab discussion topics at Connections US

Short discussions on the following topics to be held online at Connections US (must be registered for Connections US) Wednesday and Thursday. Discussions run in parallel for one hour.

Wednesday 23 June 1300–1400 US EDT

HostQuestionDescription
Chuck Turnitsa1. How can Simulation Systems assist with traditional (or not) Wargaming?Many organizations that are currently engaging in the push for wargaming, are intrigued by the idea of using simulation systems (mostly from the LVC world) to assist in facilitating a wargame. This may or may have limits on its usefulness, but there can certainly be some overlap – as both wargaming and combat simulation are both based on combat modeling. However the devil is in the details, and discussion of how and where simulation is useful for wargaming needs to happen.
Ed McGrady3. What are the skills that professional game designers need?Lets discuss all of the different challenges we have faced as professional game designers, and what has prepared us to be successful in that position. Do game designers need to be analysts? Should they be story tellers? Good a facilitation or just plain good at improve? What skills derive from a sordid past in board game design, and what skills come from role playing? At its core wargaming exists at this weird intersection of military analysis, history, gaming, role playing, storytelling, and acting. What skills do you value, and what should we be doing differently to cultivate these skills in ourselves and others?
Hiroyasu Akutsu4. How can wargaming be used to generate ideas for (military) technological innovation?In this new era of AI or new and emerging technologies, there may be many efforts of wargaming to contribute to technological innovation in our defense and security communities, but opportunities to share those efforts and exchange views seem to be sparse especially in open-source spaces. I have seen only a few open-source examples and have actually built on one of them to develop our own very basic and simple gaming exercise. It is not necessarily the importance of this question per se, but the importance of opportunity to discuss how professional wargamers have addressed it that I wish to emphasize. I hope this Lab will provide such an opportunity.
Matt Caffrey5. What new developments in wargaming and new findings in wargaming’s history should be included in the second edition of the book “On Wargaming”?I’m writing a second edition of “On Wargaming”. Please help me identify both important developments in our field and additional history that came to light after I finished work on the first edition (or I missed). I particularly want to improve my coverage of popular wargaming world wide, post Soviet wargaming in Russia and recent developments in NATO wargaming.
Samantha Taylor6. What should a strategic level war game on Space include?Many war games especially those for space focus on getting items into space and developing new technology to further explore space. Few focus on the strategic and diplomatic areas of space considering how space is continuing to evolve what should a strategic level focused space war game focus on and how should it challenge its players to understand Space strategy, diplomacy, and other important aspects related to space policy.
Tim Moench7. How to introduce academic rigor to wargaming?Without a thorough understanding of the rich wargaming literature available, it is easy to be dismissive of the academic rigor present. A comprehensive wargaming literature review will be presented to help one appreciate what is already available and areas for further research.
Tomonori Yoshizaki8. What lessons have you learned from red teaming for wargaming?There are many different approaches to red teaming in wargaming that depend on organization, country, interest, objective, etc. It would be useful to share and learn from one another about best and worst practices in red teaming for wargaming.

Thursday 24 June 1300–1400 US EDT

HostQuestionDescription
Alex M Hoffendahl9. How can we use wargaming and simulation to identify the intentions behind, and calculate the likelihood of, each of the adversary’s feasible courses of action (COAs)?The doctrinal planning process calls for gaming several alternative friendly COAs against several enemy COAs. The reality is that without simulation support planners hand wargame a single professionally preferred friendly COA against a single selected enemy COA (examining a few branches and sequels) in order to identify and cure weaknesses in one’s own COA. Mission planning would be significantly improved if we could use wargaming and simulation to identify the full range of feasible enemy COAs, deduce the intention behind each, and calculate the likelihood distribution of the enemy’s potential COAs
Ed McGrady11. How do we aggregate for quick, sensible, games?The problem of aggregation, of rolling up combat results into higher-echelon units, is a perennial and inevitable problem in game design. Data on fire and casualty rates are available, but often not for the circumstances we care about. Computer simulations can give detailed results for complex situations, but they are often too much for a game with time pressures. So, the question remains, how, and when, do we roll up combat results to the brigade, division, and corps levels in modern combat. The issues go beyond 3:1 and include things like how to incorporate precision fires against enemy C3, airpower, ISR, and other factors on large formation combat results. Those who have a computer simulation background are welcome to participate, as many issues we need to discuss are also issues in simulation. However the simple solution of substituting computer sims for the combat results table is not what we are looking for. Rather, we are asking: how do we incorporate all of this complexity and data into a realistic, and usable, set of mechanics for professional games?
Hiroyasu Akutsu12. What lessons have you learned from scenario development for wargaming?Exchanging best and worst practices in scenario-writing would help especially the younger generations of wargaming professionals.
Matt Caffrey13. How can the national Connections conferences and the international community of wargamers overall work together more effectively?A side effect of the global pandemic has been an increase in awareness that there is an international wargaming community. We have participated in each other’s online conferences. In the coming post pandemic world it is important to preserve and expand our communications and work together for the betterment of all.
Pijus Krūminas14. How can wargames use social science models for educational purposes?When using wargames in classes on social sciences (e.g. political science), they have the potential to illustrate specific theoretical models that are being taught. However, such models may seem closed or solved (e.g. game theoretic). This creates a challenge, since games are more flexible in their outcomes and generally more open. Bridging this gap would facilitate the use of games in the classroom, expanding their applicability.
Tim Moench15. How to gamify the onboarding of wargame control members?Too often, control team (White Team) participants are thrown into positions they neither have trained for nor have experience doing so. While there are several parts to control, I want to examine one particular segment, the analysis team. I believe the gamification of the onboarding process for analysis can better prepare them for their duties in a shorter amount of time. This process may have application to other control segments such as adjudication.
Tim Smith16. What are the best Pedagogical designs for PME courses supported by wargame labs & practical applications?This Game Lab will explore and identify methods for combining readings, briefings, data sets, structured analytic templates (SATs) and facilitated team brainstorming in support of wargaming in order to provide the best possible PME. Methods and experience from other educational areas that use gaming to teach are also especially important.

Become rich* and famous** as a PAXsims research associate

Are you interested in conflict simulation and serious games? Well, here is your opportunity to join PAXsims as a research associate for 2021-22.

*To be clear you won’t actually become rich, since no one at PAXsims actually gets paid.

**We can’t really make you famous either—all we can offer is whatever satisfaction derives from helping us find material for the website (and possibly writing the occasional piece yourself).

However, we would certainly value your assistance!

To apply, email us by June 30 with a copy of your resume/CV, plus details of your background in conflict simulation and serious gaming. As a strong supporter of the Derby House Principles we particularly welcome applications from historically underrepresented groups.

Canadian Joint Warfare Centre wargaming course

Shephard News reports on the wargaming course to be offered by the Canadian Armed Forces Joint Warfare Centre:

Speaking this week at the Defence Education, Simulation and Training (DSET) conference in Bristol, Maj Scott Roach from the Canadian Joint Warfare Centre’s Joint Wargaming Experimentation & Simulation group told delegates that Canada is about to launch its first wargaming course.

‘We’re a relatively new group that has been in existence for nearly two years and we’re now ready to launch what we refer to as our Wargaming 101 course,’ explained Roach.

Focusing on the operational and strategic levels, the Ottawa-based Joint Wargaming Experimentation & Simulation group has established itself as one of the premier wargaming organisations in NATO and it has formed strategic partnerships with the USMC and USAF, for example.

‘We’ve looked at a number of tools (constructive training systems) over the past couple of years but as we provide joint wargaming services we’ve found that the majority of these tools just focus on air, land or sea domains, and this is a challenge,’ explained Roach.

Most of the group’s work has been conducted for the Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC), the Joint Operations Planning Group (JOPG) and the Canadian Forces College. The latter provides training for senior Canadian military leaders.

One exception was Operation Laser and Vector that modelled the DND response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CJOC and JOPG exercises have featured operations in the Arctic and Baltic regions.

‘We are planning a pilot course to run this fall,’ said Roach, ‘with two courses set to run in 2022. Although yet to be finalised, the course will feature distance learning before attending a residential module.’

Plans are also being made to run a second course for developers and wargame designers.

You can also hear Scott speak about wargaming at the CJWC in this panel discussion at February’s Connections North 2021 conference (7:50-25:50).

h/t Kevin Crichlow

Games for Change finalists

Games for Change has announced the finalists for the G4C 2021 Awards. Don’t click the image above to see them, however—instead, you will find descriptions and links to the games at the G4C awards page .

Several of these will be of particular interest to PAxsims readers because they deal with issues of conflict and peacebuilding. These include:

Through the Darkest of Times (Steam)

Berlin 1933. “Adolf Hitler is chancellor!” We all know the consequences this message bore. Unspeakable horrors and suffering would sweep across the world. Few would stand and fight the monstrosity that was the German Reich. Will you? Lead an underground resistance group Through the Darkest of Times.

Suzerain (Steam)

As President Rayne, lead Sordland into ruin or repair during your first term in this text-based role-playing game. Navigate a political drama driven by conversations with your cabinet members and other significant figures. Beware or embrace corruption; shirk or uphold ideals. How will you lead?

Harmony Square (browser)

Harmony Square is a game about fake news. The game’s setting is the idyllic Harmony Square, a small neighborhood mildly obsessed with democracy. You, the player, are hired as Chief Disinformation Officer. Over the course of 4 short levels, your job is to disturb the square’s peace and quiet by fomenting internal divisions and pitting its residents against each other.

Radio General (Steam)

Radio General is a unique strategy game where you interact with your units over the radio using speech recognition. Test your mettle and relive famous battles as a WW2 general.

Analytical Architecture that Includes Wargaming for Decision Makers

The Simulation and Wargaming Standing Study Group of SISO invite you to join them for a talk and discussion by Jon Compton

TITLE: Analytical Architecture that Includes Wargaming for Decision Makers

SPEAKER: Jon Compton

ABSTRACT: Wargames are conducted for purposes of education and training, concept exploration or development, or sometimes done to raise awareness about certain issues or concepts. Within OSD, however, the style of wargame required is referred to as Analytical Wargaming, and is nested with other analytical or Operations Research techniques to generate contextualized knowledge and recommendations for leadership. Jon will present and discuss the process he has used to design, run and analyze analytic wargames in support of senior decision makers faced with serious national security related problems.

DATE/TIME: 4th June 1200–1300 US EDT

ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88929196057?pwd=ZXdwVzRKazhheHV5OG9LTVlUNVNTQT09

Meeting ID: 889 2919 6057
Passcode: Wargaming
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SPEAKER BIO: Jon Compton began his professional career in heavy construction at age 15. By age 25 he was operations director at a structural precast heavy construction firm, and was responsible for the manufacture and construction of such projects as the J. Paul Getty Center Parking Garage, the Bridge Over Verdugo Wash, and the Kaiser Permanente Parking Garage, all in Southern California. During this period he also earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in music composition, the other in communications. In 1995 Compton retired from the construction industry and pursued IT. Beginning as an HTML developer in 1996, by 2001 he was the senior project manager for Realtor.com’s internal business systems in Thousand Oaks, CA. Shortly after 9/11 2001, Compton left IT and returned to school, earning a master’s degree in international relations and a Ph.D. in World Politics and Formal Mathematical Methods (as well as completing all Ph.D. level coursework in Economics). In 2009, Dr. Compton moved to the Washington DC area and joined Booz Allen Hamilton’s Modeling, Simulation, Wargaming, and Analysis shop under Mark Herman. During that tenure, Compton wrote numerous proprietary white papers on subjects ranging from non-state actor violence to creating a new theoretical framework for modeling warfare. He also designed and developed wargames for various clients, to include AFRL, NDU, ONA, and OSD. Compton was a Booz Allen contractor in OSD/CAPE/SAC from 2012 until Spring of 2016 when he joined CAPE as a civilian employee. Dr. Compton has numerous commercial wargame publications as designer, developer, and producer. He has also been editor of the commercial print publications Fire and Movement Magazine and CounterFact Magazine, and has also served as associate editor of the academic journal International Interactions. In addition to his professional life, Dr. Compton has led an active life in music, having studied with such composers as Philip Glass and George Crumb, and having composed numerous pieces for various instruments as well as one symphony. 

Simulation and gaming miscellany, 19 May 2021

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. Aaron Danis and David Redpath suggested items for this latest edition.

The American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and War on the Rocks have created a Defense Futures Simulator:

The Defense Futures Simulator will allow users to see how various defense strategies and choices would alter the Defense Department budget. A sophisticated data science algorithm will enable users to first decide whether they want to adjust the current strategy. For example, some users may focus on great-power competition, while others may prioritize counter-insurgency and counterterrorism. They will then be able to select a certain budget level or choose to work with an unconstrained budget. Once these inputs are finalized, the simulator will use the algorithm to reflect how the user’s strategic preferences and budget constraints might change the US military’s size, composition, and capabilities.

Marine Corps Times reports that the US Marine Corps broke ground on its new wargaming center on May 12:

The Marine Corps Wargaming and Analysis Center is planned to open in summer 2023. The site is next to the Marine Corps University where mid-career and senior office and enlisted Marines attend.

That proximity means that planners can bring in Marines who are coming from the fleet to participate in planning or experiments and to provide feedback.

The center gives planners a way to run through everything from equipment strengths and weaknesses to entire campaign plans using existing capabilities and tactics or mid- to long-term anticipating capabilities.

Brig. Gen. Benjamin Watson, Marine Corps Warfighting Lab commander, told Marine Corps Times in an email statement that as the Corps works on concept development, experiments and exercises in the fleet both the positive and negative feedback will be sent to the wargaming center.

“Young Marines will see the benefit of expanded channels for feedback,” Watson said. “In the end, this will allow the Marine Corps to iteratively learn and continuously improve our organizational and capability investment decisions, ensuring that our plans and investments don’t just look good on paper, but are underpinned by rigorous wargaming and analysis.”

In a US Army War College War Room podcast, Ed Zukowski  and Ken Gilliam discuss the International Strategic Crisis Negotiations Exercise, a  two-day strategic negotiation event.

According to an article in Defense News, “A US Air Force war game shows what the service needs to hold off — or win against — China in 2030.”

The U.S. Air Force repelled a Chinese invasion of Taiwan during a massive war game last fall by relying on drones acting as a sensing grid, an advanced sixth-generation fighter jet able to penetrate the most contested environments, cargo planes dropping pallets of guided munitions and other novel technologies yet unseen on the modern battlefield.

But the service’s success was ultimately pyrrhic. After much loss of life and equipment, the U.S. military was able to prevent a total takeover of Taiwan by confining Chinese forces to a single area. 

Furthermore, the air force that fought in the simulated conflict isn’t one that exists today, nor is it one the service is seemingly on a path to realize. While legacy planes like the B-52 bomber and newer ones like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter played a role, many key technologies featured during the exercise are not in production or even planned for development by the service.

Still, the outcome was a marked improvement to similar war games held over the last two years, which ended in catastrophic losses. The Air Force’s performance this fall offers a clearer vision of what mix of aircraft, drones, networks and other weapons systems it will need in the next decade if it hopes to beat China in a potential war. Some of those items could influence fiscal 2023 budget deliberations.

Registration is now open for the 2021 Games for Change Festival.

Join our global community of developers, educators, students, and researchers virtually to ignite our imaginations about how games and immersive media can help us realize the potential of the years ahead and address our collective challenges: achieving equity and social justice, ensuring a thriving planet, and regaining a sense of security.

Three days of live-streamed talkspanels, and special announcements from the G4C and XR for Change communities

A series of round table discussions geared toward professional knowledge-sharing

An interactive virtual Expo featuring games, XR experiences, sponsors, and G4C programs.

The XR Immersive Arcade highlighting the newest emerging XR experiences for social impact

The Games for Change Awards Ceremony and G4C Awards Showcase celebrating the 2021 G4C Awards finalists!

At the Active Learning in Political Science blog, Chad Raymond discusses running his “Gerkhania” comparative politics simulation via Discord.

Discord permits text, voice, and video communication. I deliberately chose not to use its videoconferencing capability and none of the students used it either. We communicated with each other solely through text messages. I believe this enhanced rather than degraded the experience in comparison to Webex — no black boxes instead of faces, and no interrupted video or audio because of low-bandwidth internet connections. A user interface that facilitates text communication also means Discord is suitable for running a simulation like Gerkhania asynchronously rather synchronously, something that isn’t realistic with video-based platforms. 

My use of Discord also meant that students automatically had a complete record of the simulation’s events that they could reference for the final exam. I did not have to take any additional steps, like create and share a recording, for the class to have a history of what had transpired.

In early March, three students in Professor Aaron Danis’ Counterterrorism and the Democracies course at the Institute for World Politics (IWP 669) recreated the initial rise of the now largely-defunct Peruvian insurgent and terrorist group Sendero Luminoso, using a digital version of Brian Train’s wargame Shining Path. An account of their experience can be found here.

The Winter 2021 newletter of the US Naval Postgraduate School’s Naval Warfare Studies Institute Wargaming Center was published last month, with updates on recent wargames and related activities.

The Reacting to the Past consortium is planning a “Summer of Reacting,” with Part 1 to be held in June.

The board and administration of the Reacting Consortium have decided to offer a variety of games over the course of thesummer, allowing faculty around the country (and the world) the opportunity to play multiple games, and to experiencethe Reacting pedagogy online. Our hope is that by providing a broad array of games and methods for using them, facultywill be able to plan more effectively and confidently for the coming academic year, no matter the circumstances.

This summer includes three conference periods:
Summer of Reacting – Part I (June)
Game Development Conference (early July)
Summer of Reacting – Part II (late July – mid August)

The Reacting Consortium is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and belonging. These values inform ourwork to foster an accessible community, our approach to game development, and our determination to contend with “bigideas.” Thanks to our Fundraising Committee and the generosity of our community, we have reserved a few fundedspots in the Summer of Reacting for instructors who are teaching at minority serving institutions (HBCUs, TribalColleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, etc).

You’ll find more on this and their other activities at their website.

Sadly, wargame designer John Tiller passed away on April 26. You’ll find a short obituary at PCGamesN.

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