Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Category Archives: simulation and gaming publications

Virtual paradox: how digital war has reinvigorated analogue wargaming


The soon-to-be-launched journal Digital War has published an (online first) article by yours truly on the utility of analogue wargaming in examining the challenges of warfare in the digital age.

War has become increasingly digital, manifest in the development and deployment of new capabilities in cyber, uncrewed and remote systems, automation, robotics, sensors, communications, data collection and processing, and artificial intelligence. The wargames used to explore such technologies, however, have seen a renaissance of manual and analogue techniques. This article explores this apparent paradox, suggesting that analogue methods have often proven to be more flexible, creative, and responsive than their digital counterparts in addressing emerging modes of warfare.

Warfare has become increasingly digital. Militaries around the world are developing, deploying, and employing new capabilities in cyber, uncrewed and remote systems, automation, robotics, sensors, communications, data collection and processing, and even artificial intelligence. The wargames used by governments to explore such technologies, however, have seen a renaissance of manual and analogue techniques. What explains this apparent paradox?

This article will explore three reasons why analogue gaming techniques have proven useful for exploring digital war: timeliness, transparency, and creativity. It will then examine how the field of professional wargaming might develop in the years ahead. To contextualize all of that, however, it is useful to discuss wargaming itself. How and why militaries use games to understand the deadly business of warfare?

You can read the full thing at the link above. For more on the journal, see the Digital War website.

Free issue of C3i Magazine to take your mind off the current unpleasantness

Nr25 eBook cover.PNGC3i Magazine is making a free copy—including game materials/inserts—available for download. It even contains an article by me on using the game Labyrinth: The War on Terror in the classroom!

To be brief, we hope everyone is weathering the storm of this coronavirus pandemic as best as possible. In light of the fact that social distancing and self-quarantining have become part of our daily lexicon, we want to help out in our own small way by offering our C3i Nr 25 ebook for FREE to everyone for the next two weeks. Just add it to your cart, checkout, and you can download it from the comfort of your own home.

Stay safe out there!

Steve and Rodger

Nr25 eBook Table of Contents.PNG

C3i Magazine was started in 1992 by Rodger B. MacGowan, covering the Wargaming hobby with a focus on the graphic design of RBM Studios. C3i has supported new and upcoming releases from GMT Games, and has also featured interviews with major designers and gamers within the hobby. It has also served as a chronicle of the the history and contributions of other game companies like Avalon Hill, SPI, Game Designers Workshop, Yaquinto Games, Victory Games to name a few. C3i has also been a forum for discussing how boardgames are designed and developed, and showcases numerous insights into how to play wargames as well as explain the historical backgrounds of scenarios.

Simulation & Gaming (April 2020)

sgbarThe latest edition of Simulation & Gaming 51, 2 (April 2020) is now available.


  • Real, Half-Real, Irreal, Unreal
    • J. Tuomas Harviainen


  • The Climate Action Simulation
    • Juliette N. Rooney-Varga, Florian Kapmeier, John D. Sterman, Andrew P. Jones, Michele Putko, and Kenneth Rath
  • The Role of Epistemic Curiosity in Game-Based Learning: Distinguishing Skill Acquisition From Adaptation
    • Jonathan T. Huck, Eric Anthony Day, Li Lin, Ashley G. Jorgensen, Joseph Westlin, and Jay H. Hardy, III
  • Unlocking Student Engagement: Creation, Adaptation, and Application of an Educational Escape Room Across Three Pharmacy Campuses
    • Heidi Eukel, Jeanne Frenzel, Kyle Frazier, and Micah Miller
  • A Framework of Simulation and Gaming for Enhancing Community Resilience Against Large-Scale Earthquakes: Application for Achievements in Japan
    • Yusuke Toyoda
  • Gaming Exercise for Rights-Conversion-Type Urban Redevelopment Project in International Cooperation Context
    • Toshiyuki Kaneda, Mingji Cui, Sofia Sahab, and Ahmad Ramin Sadiq
  • Exploration of Two Different Structures for Debriefing in Simulation: The Influence of the Structure on the Facilitator Role
    • Randi Tosterud, Kristin Kjølberg, Arnhild Vestnes Kongshaug, and Jon Viktor Haugom
  • Pacing in Serious Games: Exploring the Effects of Presentation Speed on Cognitive Load, Engagement and Learning Gains
    • Dominik Petko, Regina Schmid, and Andrea Cantieni

Recent simulation and gaming publications, January-February 2020


PAXsims is pleased to present a selection of recently-published items on simulation and serious gaming. Some of these may not address conflict, peacebuilding, wargaming, or development issues at all, but have been included because of the broader perspective they offer on games-based education or analysis.

Articles may be gated/paywalled and not accessible without institutional access to the publication in which they appear.


Nathan Altice, “Joy Family: Japanese Board Games in the Post-War Shōwa Period,” Proceedings of Digital Games Research Association 2019 (DiGRA 2019).

This paper draws on new archival and historical sources to survey the major developments in Japanese board games in the postwar Shōwa era (1945–89), including the import of American games, the emergence of Japan’s wargame culture, and the structural foundations of the ancient Japanese game of sugoroku. In particular, this paper identifies key cultural, economic, and design moments that led to Bandai’s unprecedented yet overlooked analog game output in the 1980s.

Linnea Bergsten, Supporting Resilient Behaviour in Simulation Studies: A study of how resilient behaviour can be enhanced in a crisis management exercise based on participants experiences (MA thesis, Linköping University, 2020).

A major disruption in the payment system would be a considerable societal crisis and is studied by a project called Creating Collaborative Resilience Awareness, Analysis and Action for Finance, Food and Fuel Systems in INteractive Games (CCRAAAFFFTING), using serious gaming and simulation. This study examines the experiences of the participants in the crisis management exercises. The research questions of this study are as follows: “How do the participants of the simulation studies of CCRAAAFFFTING understand the games?” and “How can the simulation environment be developed in order to encourage the participants to improve monitoring strategies during the games?”.

The study uses thematic analysis of qualitative interviews of the participants supported by questionnaires. The questionnaires were conducted directly after the games, and telephone interviews were conducted after the exercise.

This study found the following main themes in the participants’ experiences of the games: the crisis, the society that is handling the crisis, the game’s relation to reality, the importance of the group, and the exercise’s ability to support the interpretation of what is simulated. Some consideration for the project to work further with are that the simulation needs to be centred, simplified and made more available to the participants. The division of roles could divide the monitoring of different actions affecting different parts of the society between the participants. Furthermore, a representation of the overall payment system, its actors and the groups, might support the participants in sharing and understanding the actors of the payment system, and the effects their actions have on them, as well as the participants’ ability to monitor the changes.

Rex Brynen, “Crisis in Galasi: Simulating the Urban Dimensions of Religious Conflict.” In Mick Dumper, eds., Contested Holy Cities: The Urban Dimensions of Religious Conflict (Routledge, 2019).

The chapter describes  multi-day simulation of a fictional urban religious conflict, conducted as part of a larger academic workshop on the topic in March 2018.

After reviewing the value of simulation as a method for crowd-sourcing ideas and insight, it details the design, facilitation, play, and outcomes of “Crisis in Galasi.” This combined elements of a seminar game, matrix game, and negotiation game. The chapter then reflects on how the simulation enhanced the overall workshop experience.

Aaron Calhoun et al, “Exploring the Boundaries of Deception in Simulation: A Mixed-Methods Study,” Clinical Simulation in Nursing 40 (March 2020).

Background: Deception can be defined as causing someone to accept a falsehood as true. Within simulation, a deception is an aspect of the environment for which there is no clear agreement or knowledge among facilitators and learners about its ground rules, boundaries, or existence. The psychological literature surrounding deception is mixed, and little simulation-specific research exists.

Methods: This mixed-methods survey-based research explored attitudes for and against deception’s use and facilitator perceptions of psychological risk and ethical harm. Subjects consisted of a random sample of members from three international simulation societies that included nurses, physicians, standardized patients, and educational specialists. The survey was designed and tested using an iterative process and distributed using SurveyMonkey™. Descriptive statistics and thematic analyses were performed.

Results: Eighty-four (11%) of surveys were completed. Thirty-three percent of respondents currently use modification/deception, whereas 61 to 75% of respondents expressed psychological and ethical concerns. Thematic analysis yielded five themes: types of modification/deception, decision-making considerations and guardrails, never events (high risk), potential detriments, and potential benefits.

Conclusions: The use of deception appears relatively prevalent in the simulation community, but significant concerns also exist. Careful consideration of all relevant factors is needed if deception is to be used responsibly.

Albert (Treb) Courie, “Team Building through Gaming,” Army Lawyer 29 (2019)

[No abstract]

Andreas Haggman, “Wargaming in Cyber Security Education and Awareness Training,” International Journal of Information Security and Cybercrime 8, 1 (2019).

This paper introduces readers to core concepts around cyber wargaming. Wargames can be powerful learning tools, but few wargames exist to teach players about cyber security. By way of highlighting possibilities in this space, the author has developed an original educational tabletop wargame based on the UK National Cyber Security Strategy and deployed the game to a variety of organisations to determine its pedagogic efficacy. Overall, it is found that the game was effective in generating high- engagement participation and clear learning opportunities. Furthermore, there are design lessons to be learned from existing games for those seeking to use wargames for cyber security training and education.

Anna Sanina, Evgeniia Kutergina, and Aleksey Balashov, “The Co-Creative approach to digital simulation games in social science education,” Computers & Education 149 (May 2020).

This paper focuses on the educational possibilities and potential of digital simulation games in higher education. It provides the detailed examination of the true experimental design of a co-creative gamified classroom that could be used in different academic subjects in social science education. In this pedagogical experiment, we tested the effects of a co-creative gamification classroom within a Public Sector Economics course attended by 253 first-year master’s students. We used pre-test and post-test examinations, surveys, and interviews to evaluate and compare effects on learning outcomes and course evaluations of different classroom modes (with and without a co-creative approach and digital simulation games). This paper presents a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the proposed experimental design, using treatment and control groups. Our conclusions make a contribution to the discussion of the co-creative approach in education, proving that its digital implementation can develop students’ generic and professional skills. We also reveal a more conscious and motivated attitude toward the future profession of those students who participated in the process of creating the game.

Yuna Huh Wong et al, Deterrence in the Age of Thinking Machines (RAND, 2020).

The greater use of artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems by the militaries of the world has the potential to affect deterrence strategies and escalation dynamics in crises and conflicts. Up until now, deterrence has involved humans trying to dissuade other humans from taking particular courses of action. What happens when the thinking and decision processes involved are no longer purely human? How might dynamics change when decisions and actions can be taken at machine speeds? How might AI and autonomy affect the ways that countries have developed to signal one another about the potential use of force? What are potential areas for miscalculation and unintended consequences, and unwanted escalation in particular?

This exploratory report provides an initial examination of how AI and autonomous systems could affect deterrence and escalation in conventional crises and conflicts. Findings suggest that the machine decisionmaking can result in inadvertent escalation or altered deterrence dynamics, due to the speed of machine decisionmaking, the ways in which it differs from human understanding, the willingness of many countries to use autonomous systems, our relative inexperience with them, and continued developments of these capabilities. Current planning and development efforts have not kept pace with how to handle the potentially destabilizing or escalatory issues associated with these new technologies, and it is essential that planners and decisionmakers begin to think about these issues before fielded systems are engaged in conflict.

[Includes waregame description and analysis]

Simulation & Gaming (February 2020)


The latest issue of Simulation & Gaming 51, 1 (February 2020) is now available.


  • A Tribute to Some of Our Pioneers, Past and Present as We Move Beyond 50 Years With Simulation & Gaming
    • Timothy C. Clapper
  • Acknowledgment of Reviewers of Simulation & Gaming for 2019


  • The Evolution of Simulation-Based Learning Across the Disciplines, 1965–2018: A Science Map of the Literature
    • Philip Hallinger and Ray Wang
  • Do Badges Affect Intrinsic Motivation in Introductory Programming Students?
    • Lisa Facey-Shaw, Marcus Specht, Peter van Rosmalen, and Jeanette Bartley-Bryan
  • Video Game Pursuit (VGPu) Scale Development: Designing and Validating a Scale With Implications for Game-Based Learning and Assessment
    • Diana R. Sanchez and Markus Langer
  • Health$en$eTM: Developing a Board Game on Value-based Healthcare Financing
    • Harold Tan, Yap Chun Wei, Heng Wei Yun, Koh Eng Hui Joan, Ho Wai Yee, and Lim Yee Juan


NATO OR&A conference proceedings


The proceedings of the 2019 NATO Operations Research & Analysis conference have now been published on the NATO STO website. These include a number of wargaming presentation (including a keynote address by Stephen Downes Martin).

Most of the papers are open access, but a few are marked are marked NATO Unclassified (Releasable to PFP and Australia). To access those files you will need STO log-in credentials.

We published a report on the conference at PAXsims back in October.

Recent simulation and gaming publications, December 2019


PAXsims is pleased to present a selection of recently-published items on simulation and serious gaming. Some of these may not address conflict, peacebuilding, or development issues at all, but have been included because of the broader perspective they offer on games-based education or analysis.

Articles may be gated/paywalled and not accessible without subscription access to the publication in which they appear.

Shahar Avin, Ross Gruetzemacher, and James Fox, “Exploring AI Futures Through Role Play,” Proceedings of the 2020 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society (AIES ’20), Feb. 7-8, 2020.

We present an innovative methodology for studying and teaching the impacts of AI through a role-play game. The game serves two primary purposes: 1) training AI developers and AI policy professionals to reflect on and prepare for future social and ethical challenges related to AI and 2) exploring possible futures involving AI technology development, deployment, social impacts, and governance. While the game currently focuses on the inter-relations between short-, mid- and long- term impacts of AI, it has potential to be adapted for a broad range of scenarios, exploring in greater depths issues of AI policy research and affording training within organizations. The game presented here has undergone two years of development and has been tested through over 30 events involving between 3 and 70 participants. The game is under active development, but preliminary findings suggest that role-play is a promising methodology for both exploring AI futures and training individuals and organizations in thinking about, and reflecting on, the impacts of AI and strategic mistakes that can be avoided today.

Agostino G. Bruzzone and Robert Sottile, eds., The 9th International Defence and Homeland Security Simulation Workshop (2019).

[conference proceedings]

Christian Dayé, “Negotiating Rules for the Game: Political Games at RAND, 1954–1956,” in  Experts, Social Scientists, and Techniques of Prognosis in Cold War America (Springer, 2019).

This chapter describes the second approach to expert prognosis developed at RAND, political gaming. Conceived by members of RAND’s Social Science Division, among them Herbert Goldhamer, Hans Speier, and Paul Kecskemeti, political gaming had experts form groups to represent political decision-makers. These groups had to react to a pregiven scenario, and their reactions were aggregated by the game leaders to form the basis for the next round.

At RAND, this approach to gaming formed both an addition and an alternative to a more dominant approach of strategy analysis, game theory, and game-theoretic modeling. The chapter thus first briefly sketches the development of game theory and then proceeds to describe the four rounds of political gaming that were carried out by RAND’s Social Science Division.

Ralph “Dinz” Dinsley and Christopher J. Newman, “Focusing the Space Law Games: Overcoming Operational and Legal Barriers to Space Situational Awareness,” Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference (2019).

Over the last decade, there has been a significant increase in the orbital population. The licensing of a number of large constellations means that this is set to increase dramatically. A significant number of technical advances have facilitated this and, this has been matched by an increased policy focus on the need for increased space surveillance and tracking, culminating in 2018 for the USA, in Space Presidential Directive 3. The rise of mega- constellations and other innovations, such as active debris removal or on-orbit servicing procedures means ever more data of space is going to be needed to keep track of the increasing burden placed on the orbital environment. The provision of corroborated information which removes as much ambiguity as possible about the position of objects in orbit is crucial to both safe and sustainable satellite operations. Yet, despite this pressing need, there are considerable barriers that exist to obtaining a more complete picture of this information.

This paper will outline these problems in detail. It will be proposed that what is required is both codification of the norms for safe sustainable satellite operations and clarity on protocols for evidence gathering in cases where a collision has resulted in damage to a space asset and fault may be an issue. This discussion will identify that a way in which this could be achieved is by the use of “space law games”, which will utilize established military wargaming methodology whereby complex fictional scenarios could highlight some of the key operational and legal issues that might need to be dealt with. Perla (1990: p.23) suggests the integration of realism and playability in a delicate balancing act designed to achieve a well-understood and well-chosen objective is a key. The paper will outline some of the ways in which the space law games might work and pose questions as to what data and other considerations will be needed to make such simulations meaningful. By identifying the data gaps in the fictional ‘law game’ scenario will help locate possible areas of enhancement in space surveillance and tracking capacity to support future SSA.

Per-Idar Evensen, Marius Halsør, Svein Erlend Martinussen, Dan Helge Bentsen, “Wargaming Evolved: Methodology and Best Practices for Simulation-Supported Wargaming,” Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), 2019.

When developing and assessing future force structures, wargaming is a key activity for better understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the force structures. Today simulation systems let us create synthetic environments that to a high degree replicate the physical properties of the real world for these wargames. Furthermore, advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and behavior modeling has given us more realistic computer-generated forces (CGF) that can execute battle drills and lower level tactics with a fairly high degree of realism. However, at the higher levels of the chain of command, AI has not yet replaced human leadership, and planning and conducting simulated operations require participation of officers.

For more than a decade, the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) has supported the Norwegian Army with conducting wargames for capability planning, with varying degree of simulation support. Throughout this period, the wargames have evolved from what can be described as computer-assisted wargames towards more realistic simulation-supported wargames. Moreover, to get a closer understanding of the deterrent effect of the force structures, which may not be observable when monitoring the actual gameplay, our emphasis has also shifted towards replicating the planning process more properly, and especially on monitoring the planning process of the opposing force. For example, it has been important to find out to what extent specific structure elements discourage the opposing force from taking certain actions.

In this paper, we describe our evolved methodology for simulation-supported wargaming, which includes a preparation phase, a gaming and execution phase, including a planning process, and an analysis phase. Furthermore, we discuss what type of data and results we are able to extract from the wargaming sessions, and present a set of best practices for how to conduct successful simulation-supported wargames.

Andreas Haggman, “Cyber Wargaming: Finding, Designing, and Playing Wargames for Cyber Security Education,” PhD thesis, Royal Holloway, University of London (February 2019).

This thesis investigates, and contributes to, the use of wargaming in cyber security education. Wargaming has a rich history of pedagogic use, but little work exists that addresses the critically important subject of cyber security. Cyber security is a global problem that frequently makes news headlines, yet the field is dogged with a reputation as a domain only for technologists, when in fact cyber security requires a whole gamut of approaches to be properly understood.

The thesis is broadly divided into three parts. The first part is a comprehensive literature review of wargaming scholarship, analysing the benefits and drawbacks of wargaming, and some of the justifications for why a tabletop boardgame may be more effective than a game enhanced by technology. Following on from this, the thesis provides an outline of current work in cyber wargaming by analysing existing games, evaluating their contributions as educational tools, and identifying successful game mechanics and components.

The second part of the thesis outlines the design process of an original wargame created for cyber security education and awareness training. The analysis outlines what the game design intends to achieve in terms of pedagogical outcomes and how the design evolved through the development process. In this part some methodological considerations around the research are also analysed, including how the thesis uses grounded theory and ethnography as academic underpinnings, and issues around the researcher’s positionality during fieldwork.

The final part of the thesis reports on the deployment of the original game to a wide variety of organisations. Both quantitative and qualitative data is analysed to ascertain what players learned from playing the game and evaluates the effectiveness of the game by comparing it to previous theoretical findings. Finally, the researcher’s experiences of conducting the thesis are evaluated with close reference to the identified methodological considerations.

Philip Hammond and Holger Pötzsch, eds., War Games: Memory, Militarism and the Subject of Play (Bloomsbury, 2019).

Many of today’s most commercially successful videogames, from Call of Duty to Company of Heroes, are war-themed titles that play out in what are framed as authentic real-world settings inspired by recent news headlines or drawn from history. While such games are marketed as authentic representations of war, they often provide a selective form of realism that eschews problematic, yet salient aspects of war. In addition, changes in the way Western states wage and frame actual wars makes contemporary conflicts increasingly resemble videogames when perceived from the vantage point of Western audiences.

This interdisciplinary volume brings together scholars from games studies, media and cultural studies, politics and international relations, and related fields to examine the complex relationships between military-themed videogames and real-world conflict, and to consider how videogames might deal with history, memory, and conflict in alternative ways. It asks: What is the role of videogames in the formation and negotiation of cultural memory of past wars? How do game narratives and designs position the gaming subject in relation to history, war and militarism? And how far do critical, anti-war/peace games offer an alternative or challenge to mainstream commercial titles?

Glennn Moy and Slava Shekh, “The Application of AlphaZero to Wargaming,” AI 2019: Advances in Artificial Intelligence (2019).

In this paper, we explore the process of automatically learning to play wargames using AlphaZero deep reinforcement learning. We consider a simple wargame, Coral Sea, which is a turn-based game played on a hexagonal grid between two players. We explore the differences between Coral Sea and traditional board games, where the successful use of AlphaZero has been demonstrated. Key differences include: problem representation, wargame asymmetry, limited strategic depth, and the requirement for significant hardware resources. We demonstrate how bootstrapping AlphaZero with supervised learning can overcome these challenges. In the context of Coral Sea, this enables AlphaZero to learn optimal play and outperform the supervised examples on which it was trained.

Dan Öberg, “Exercising war: How tactical and operational modelling shape and reify military practice,” Security Dialogue, first published 19 December 2019.

This article analyzes how contemporary military training and exercises shape and reify specific modalities of war. Historically, military training has shifted from being individual- and experience-oriented, towards becoming modelled into exercise environments and practices. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with military officers, exercise controllers, and war-game designers, the article distinguishes between tactical training, characterized by military functions embodied through weapon platforms in a demarcated battlespace, and operational training, characterized by administrative and organizational processes embodied through self-referential staff routines. As military exercises integrate the tactical and operational dimensions into a model for warfare, they serve as blueprints for today’s battles at the same time as they perpetuate a martial viewpoint of the world. As a result, preparations for potential future conflicts constitute a fertile ground for apprehending the becoming of war.

Jon Saklofske, Alyssa Arbuckle, Jon Bath, Feminist War Games?: Mechanisms of War, Feminist Values, and Interventional Games (Routledge, 2019).

Feminist War Games? explores the critical intersections and collisions between feminist values and perceptions of war, by asking whether feminist values can be asserted as interventional approaches to the design, play, and analysis of games that focus on armed conflict and economies of violence.

Focusing on the ways that games, both digital and table-top, can function as narratives, arguments, methods, and instruments of research, the volume demonstrates the impact of computing technologies on our perceptions, ideologies, and actions. Exploring the compatibility between feminist values and systems of war through games is a unique way to pose destabilizing questions, solutions, and approaches; to prototype alternative narratives; and to challenge current idealizations and assumptions. Positing that feminist values can be asserted as a critical method of design, as an ideological design influence, and as a lens that determines how designers and players interact with and within arenas of war, the book addresses the persistence and brutality of war and issues surrounding violence in games, whilst also considering the place and purpose of video games in our cultural moment.

Feminist War Games? is a timely volume that questions the often-toxic nature of online and gaming cultures. As such, the book will appeal to a broad variety of disciplinary interests, including sociology, education, psychology, literature, history, politics, game studies, digital humanities, media and cultural studies, and gender studies, as well as those interested in playing, or designing, socially engaged games.

Review: Longley-Brown, Successful Professional Wargames (2019)

The following review was contributed to PAXsims by Ben Taylor.

Graham Longley-Brown, Successful Professional Wargames; A Practitioner’s Handbook (History of Wargaming Project, 2019). £21.95 paperback. Kindle version also available.

This book is a valuable addition to the professional wargamer’s library. If this was just a compendium of the best practices from the viewpoint of Graham Longley-Brown, master wargamer, driving force behind the Connections UK conference and all-round good egg, then it would be a worthwhile investment. This book is actually far more than that.

SPWcoverThe book was written in parallel to the UK MOD’s Defence Wargaming Handbook (reviewed on PAXsims here) with the intention of providing an expanded practitioner’ guide to those tasked with actually designing and delivering games. Wargaming stakeholders who need to know what a wargame is and why they should want one only need the shorter volume. For those tasked with putting the message into practice this new volume rehearses similar ideas and arguments but with more detailed thoughts and copious practical guidance. This common alignment is important because if your boss has a copy of the Wargaming Handbook and is looking motivated to get some wargaming done, then there is nothing in the Practitioner’s Handbook will contradict anything that the boss is expecting!

While Graham Longley-Brown has many years of experience in wargaming with the British military he took the decision to not limit his new book to his own perspectives and ideas. A supporting cast of experts have been included, each making niche contributions. The guest list reads like a who’s who of the core community that the Connections UK meetings are built around. Indeed PAXsims had to really scrape the bottom of the barrel to find a reviewer who was not a contributing author to this volume.

The book is divided into four parts. These address in turn wargaming fundamentals, the conditions for successful wargames, the wargame development lifecycle and practicing successful wargames.  In short these combine to illustrate the why, what and how of modern professional wargames. This is very much a resource to dip into, rather than to read cover-to-cover. At over 450 pages there is an awful lot of detail but it is very well structured and set out so that the reader can dive into any section and glean useful advice in support of their own efforts. That said, I did find the layout a little confusing in paces. In some areas there are lots of subheadings, quotes and inset verbatim text from the Wargaming Handbook which make the document feel a little fractured. In addition the guest contributors have contributed a mix of stand-alone paragraphs or chapters-within-chapters which contribute to the sense of fragmentation. Taken as a whole the book is an excellent resource, even if opening to a page at random can sometimes be a bit confusing. Starting at the beginning of a section and reading through the advice that Graham and his guest contributors have assembled on a topic in sequence is definitely the way to go.

In conclusion, this book captures very well the state of the art in professional military wargaming in the UK. If you are interested in designing or running smaller-scale games and/or games outside of the military environment then some elements of the book may be of less immediate value. This is after all the handbook for professionals running professional games.  That said, whatever kind of game you design or play you can’t fail to find something insightful and inspiring in this book.

Ben Taylor



UPDATE. Graham Longley-Brown sent on some comments, which I’ve appended to the review so everyone is sure to see them.

Hi Ben, and thank you for your kind words. I’d like to add a comment and make an offer to anyone wondering whether to buy the book.

First, although the book is inevitably written from my UK perspective, I’ve done all I can to include contributions from around the world, so I’d push back slightly at the implication that the book offers a UK-centric view. Indeed, all contributed chapters were from US folk and a Canadian (Rex 😊). Many of the points I make are indeed sourced from Connections UK, but that conference encompasses a truly international family. I attribute comments where I can, but much else of what I consider to be best practice I have picked up from fantastic international speakers at Connections UK and elsewhere.

Second, I agree wholeheartedly that the book should be dipped in to, but chapters read from their beginning. Respecting all the different perspectives offered by contributors and advice from reviewers and commentators led to a large amount of sometimes overlapping information that could be difficult to prise apart. If anyone asks, I will gladly send them the mind maps I used to structure the overall book and each chapter (or post them here if Rex thinks that appropriate). These show the contents and structure of each chapter at a glance, as you can see below.Contents v7.7.jpg

Chapter 2. What is a wargame.jpg

Finally, thanks to Ben and Rex for making the – considerable! – time to review the book. Successful Professional Wargames is an attempt to spread best practice and stimulate debate, so it’s great to see it on PAXsims, which is so effective in doing the same thing.

Please take a minute to complete our PAXsims reader survey.

Connections US Wargaming Conference 2019 Proceedings


The Proceedings of the 2019 Connections US Wargaming Conference is now available thanks to Mark Leno, Wargame Analyst, Department of Strategic Wargaming at the US Army War College.

Recent simulation and gaming publications, November 2019


PAXsims is pleased to present a selection of recently-published items on simulation and serious gaming. Some of these may not address conflict, peacebuilding, or development issues at all, but have been included because of the broader perspective they offer on games-based education or analysis.

Articles may be gated/paywalled and not accessible without subscription access to the publication in which they appear.

Leila Demarest and Róisín Smith, “Managing Expectations? The Opportunities and Limitations of e-Learning Applications in Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding Training,” Journal of Peacebuilding and Development, 14, 3 (December 2019).

In recent decades, governmental and non-governmental organisations have increased the number and scale of Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding (CPPB) activities in conflict-affected countries. This development has also led to an increase in personnel in these organisations, posing challenges for staff training. In response, many organisations are looking at e-learning applications to provide cost-effective training at a broad geographical scale. Online courses and “serious games” have in particular received interest in recent years. In this article, we discuss the opportunities and limitations of such applications for CPPB training. We argue that they face challenges in contributing to skills and knowledge development but emphasise nevertheless that these challenges are similar to those faced by current classroom training initiatives. The potential of technology should not be exaggerated, yet digital applications can broaden the scope of participation and professionalization in CPPB activities to a wider range of (non-Western) actors.

Emanuel Deutschmann, Jan Lorenz, Luis G. Nardin, Davide Natalini, and Adalbert F. X. Wilhelm, eds, Computational Conflict Research (SpringerOpen, 2019).

Conflict, from small-scale verbal disputes to large-scale violent war between nations, is one of the most fundamental elements of social life and a central topic in social science research. The main argument of this book is that computational approaches have enormous potential to advance conflict research, e.g., by making use of the ever-growing computer processing power to model complex conflict dynamics, by drawing on innovative methods from simulation to machine learning, and by building on vast quantities of conflict-related data that emerge at unprecedented scale in the digital age. Our goal is (a) to demonstrate how such computational approaches can be used to improve our understanding of conflict at any scale and (b) to call for the consolidation of computational conflict research as a unified field of research that collectively aims to gather such insights. We first give an overview of how various computational approaches have already impacted on conflict research and then guide through the different chapters that form part of this book. Finally, we propose to map the field of computational conflict research by positioning studies in a two-dimensional space depending on the intensity of the analyzed conflict and the chosen computational approach.

Yong Hwan Kim, Yong Seung Song, Chang Ouk Kim, “A Study on the Interoperability of ROK Air Force Virtual and Constructive Simulation,” Journal of the Korea Society for Simulation 28, 2 (2019).

LVC (Live-Virtual-Constructive) training system is drawing attention due to changes in battlefield situation and the development of advanced information and communication technologies. The ROKAF(Republic of Korea Air Force) plans to construct LVC training system capable of scientific training. This paper analyzes the results of V-C interoperability test with three fighter simulators as virtual systems and a theater-level wargame model as a constructive system. The F-15K, KF-16, and FA-50 fighter simulators, which have different interoperable methods, were converted into a standard for simulation interoperability. Using the integrated field environment simulator, the fighter simulators established a mutually interoperable environment. In addition, the Changgong model, which is the representative training model of the Air Force, was converted to the standard for simulation interoperability, and the integrated model was implemented with optimized interoperability performance. Throughput experiments, It was confirmed that the fighter simulators and the war game model of the ROKAF could be interoperable with each other. The results of this study are expected to be a good reference for the future study of the ROKAF LVC training system.

Lawrence D. Johnson, Assessment of Learning Styles, Perceptions of Experiential Learning, and Satisfaction of Adults regarding a Learning Game, PhD thesis, Johnson & Wales University, August 2019.

Tradition holds the mission of higher education to be three-fold: teaching, research, and service, with overarching emphasis on learning (O’Banion, 2010). Increasingly, institutions of higher education are searching for ways to improve the delivery of knowledge to students and, as a delivery mechanism, learning games are currently in vogue (Sabin, 2012; Ulicsak & Wright, 2010). Because half of college students are adult learners (NCES, 2018), higher education institutions must acknowledge this fact and seek ways to support and encourage adult students. The confluence in higher education of learning games with adult learners was the context for the study. Give that most learning game studies have examined learning outcomes (Sitzmann, 2011; Weigel, 2013), this study focused on adult game-based learning by exploring if relationships existed between and among learning styles and demographics, and experiential aspects of and satisfaction with a game.

This mixed-methods, sequential, explanatory, dominantly quantitative study assessed adults’ learning styles and perceptions of experiential aspects of a game, based on Kolb’s theory (1984, 2015), and the characteristics and satisfaction of adults who participated in a learning game. The sample was drawn from adult learners at a U.S. military graduate education institution. Data were collected from game-playing adults who completed a learning style inventory (N = 48), an experiential aspects and satisfaction questionnaire (N = 41), and interviews with volunteers (N = 11). Data analyses used appropriate statistical and theme- identifying methods, and the results were converged supporting comparison and contrast.

The study found alignment among learning styles, experiential aspects, and satisfaction, with Abstract Conceptualization and Active Experimentation (Kolb, 2015) emerging as the preferred learning styles. For demographic characteristics, only age was significantly related to learning styles. Utility of the game surfaced as the most important component of satisfaction, whereas immersion was a key requirement for satisfaction regarding the game experience.

The findings resulted in recommendations that are potentially useful to higher education leaders responsible for curriculum policy-making and practice, to designers of learning games for adults, and to institutional leaders concerned with the attraction and retention of adult students.

Anique Kuijpers, Heide Lukosch, Alexander Verbraeck, “Exploring a Mixed Method Approach: Simulation Games and Q Methodology,” International Conference on Games and Learning Alliance, November 2019.

In this paper we explore the possibilities to combine two research methods we regard as being very useful when interacting with stakeholders in complex systems. We discuss a mixed research methods approach, based on the Q methodology and a simulation game. In a game design process, translating the real or reference system into the game design is an intricate process and rather challenging due to the complexity of today’s societal systems. As shown by various studies, different data techniques are proposed in order to translate reality aspects. One of the proposed data gathering techniques in combination with simulation games is Q methodology. Q methodology is a suitable method to retrieve social perspectives of stakeholders on a particular topic. Yet it is still elusive how the results of a Q methodology can be used in a game design process. In this paper, we explore the possibilities how to combine the two methods and how to translate the results of the Q analysis into a game design concept. In the context of a case within the domain of transport and logistics, we discuss how such mixed research methods approach could look like. We conclude with a future outlook on our research.

Roni Linser, “The Player-Role Nexus and Student Engagement in Higher Education Online Role Play Simulation Games.” In S. Carliner (ed.), Proceedings of E-Learn: World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education (2019). 

While there is no lack of Literature on role-play, there is a lack of empirical based studies. Further, what it is about role plays that makes them engaging educational tools is far from clear. The present paper argues that the structural properties of roles, and the players’ preferences/assessments are two contributing factors in explaining student engagement. The paper is part of a larger exploratory study on the structural components of role plays and their properties in relation to motivation and engagement. This paper focuses on the structural properties of roles (i.e. the way roles are constructed) in role plays, the players preferences and evaluation of these roles and their correlation to student engagement in different higher education institutions and in different areas of study. It uses both student perceptions and preferences gathered by questionnaire and quantitative data analytics to examine a limited number of structural properties in relation to student engagement with Multi Player Online Role Play Simulation Games (MORPSGs) for learning in higher education.

Mauricio Meschoulam,  Andrea Muhech,  Tania Naanous,  Sofía Quintanilla,  Renata Aguilar, Jorge Ochoa,  Cristobal Rodas, “The Complexity of Multilateral Negotiations: Problem or Opportunity? A Qualitative Study of Five Simulations with Mexican Students,” International Studies Perspectives 20, 3 (August 2019).

Education in International Relations requires continual evolution. One approach is the use of negotiation simulations for complex issues. Despite the extensive literature on the subject, there is a lack of qualitative research on this approach, particularly in Latin America and Mexico. This paper presents the findings of a qualitative research on five simulations with Mexican students. The five exercises were characterized by the application of elements that are not usually included in traditional simulations, such as a multiweek phase of prior negotiations, the use of Twitter, the introduction of nonstate actors, a gala dinner, and a continuous feed of real world news. We investigated 118 participants through 30 in depth interviews analyzed with NVivo, a systematized analysis of 118 reports, documents and tweets, and a pre-post questionnaire applied to the fifth group. The results in the five simulations were highly positive. The students reported a greater awareness of the complexity of international negotiations. Such awareness can present both a risk and an opportunity: a risk because those circumstances caused discouragement and frustration in many participants, and an opportunity because those same circumstances, properly channeled, triggered parallel skills, and creative thinking. Therefore, the role of the facilitation team was fundamental.

Paul Schuurman, “A Game of Contexts: Prussian-German Professional Wargames and the Leadership Concept of Mission Tactics 1870–1880,” War in History (online first November 2019).

Professional wargames (Kriegsspiele) had been adopted by the Prussian army at the start of the nineteenth century. They received a major boost after the Prussian successes during the German Wars of Unifications (1864–70) and were subsequently introduced by the armies of other European powers, the United States and Japan. They continued to play a vital role in the twentieth century, and all major German campaigns during the First and Second World Wars were prepared by wargames. I provide a descriptive analysis of the main forms of Prussian-German wargames during the key decade between 1870 and 1880. I then argue that the success of German wargames can be understood in the context of the military concept of mission tactics (Auftragstaktik). I will show how both wargames and mission tactics were driven in their turn by the even wider context of technological revolution in the fields of firearms and railway transport. I will argue that these contexts ushered forth professional wargames along an initially tenuous trajectory, before they became a key instrument in training and planning for war in the hands of the Great General Staff of the Prussian and hence the German army.

Michael A Stoto, Normand LeBlanc, Nellie Darling, Julia Gasior, Mikaela Harmsen, Casey Zipfel, “A Century of Influenza: Is the World Prepared for the Next Pandemic?” Georgetown Journal of International Affairs 20 (Fall 2019).

…In order to apply findings from research and to gain further insight into possible responses to a global pandemic in the 21st century, we conducted a simulation exercise of a hypothetical, but realistic, pandemic influenza today. Approximately thirty Georgetown medical, graduate, and undergraduate students played the roles of global, national, and local officials as well as medical advisors responding to a pandemic. The exercise included two phases, each of which ended with a presentation by the student participants to a panel of “decision-makers” from public health and other sectors. The simulation highlighted several areas that were key to the simulation, that would likely also arise in the case of an influenza pandemic today: identifying epidemiological characteristics of the novel pandemic strain, coordinating globally in accord with the International Health Regulations, implementing a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, applying non-pharmaceutical interventions, assessing availability and distribution of medical countermeasures, maintaining standards of care in a crisis, and communicating risk information locally.

Marcin Wardaszko, ed, Simulation & Gaming: Through and Across Disciplines, ISAGA 50th annual conference proceedings (Kozminski University, 2019).

[A collection of 76 papers accepted for the ISAGA 2019 conference.]

Woo-Sup Yoon and Jeong-Cheon Seo, “A Study on Effective Discussion Based Training Applying to Army War-game Process in Disaster Response Safety Korea Training,” Journal of the Society of Disaster Information 15, 3 (2019).

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to present a method for effectively conducting discussion-based training in disaster response safety training. Method: To this end, we analyzed the disaster response training of developed countries and suggested the training scenarios by applying the war-game process that is currently applied in the operation planning of our military. Result: In one disaster situation, several contingencies could be identified, and supplementary requirements for the manual could be derived. Conclusion: Therefore, in conclusion, if the military war-game process is applied to the discussion-based training in disaster response safety training, effective training can be carried out.

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A Game Of Birds And Wolves

9780316492089.jpgSimon Parkin’s new book on the Western Approaches Tactical Unit, A Game of Bird and Wolveswas published in the UK last week by Sceptre.

The triumphant story of a group of young women who helped devised a winning strategy to defeat the Nazi U-boats and deliver a decisive victory in the Battle of the Atlantic

By 1941, Winston Churchill had come to believe that the outcome of World War II rested on the battle for the Atlantic. A grand strategy game was devised by Captain Gilbert Roberts and a group of ten Wrens (members of the Women’s Royal Naval Service) assigned to his team in an attempt to reveal the tactics behind the vicious success of the German U-boats. Played on a linoleum floor divided into painted squares, it required model ships to be moved across a make-believe ocean in a manner reminiscent of the childhood game, Battleship. Through play, the designers developed “Operation Raspberry,” a countermaneuver that helped turn the tide of World War II.

Combining vibrant novelistic storytelling with extensive research, interviews, and previously unpublished accounts, Simon Parkin describes for the first time the role that women played in developing the Allied strategy that, in the words of one admiral, “contributed in no small measure to the final defeat of Germany.” Rich with unforgettable cinematic detail and larger-than-life characters, A Game of Birds and Wolves is a heart-wrenching tale of ingenuity, dedication, perseverance, and love, bringing to life the imagination and sacrifice required to defeat the Nazis at se

The book will be released in North America in January by Little, Brown.

In the meantime, you can read Paul Strong’s excellent analytical paper, “Wargaming the Atlantic War: Captain Gilbert Roberts and the Wrens of the Western Approaches Tactical Unit” (2017). See also last year’s recreation of a WATU wargame at the Western Approaches museum by staff from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the Royal Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy, and PAXsims.

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New wargaming book hits the shelves

It’s been a good year for wargaming books.

First was Matt Caffrey’s On Wargaming: How Wargames Have Shaped History and How They May Shape the Future available as a free download from the US Navy College Press

Now we have from the other side of the Atlantic Graham Longley-Brown’s Successful Professional Wargames; A Practitioner’s Handbook, published by the History of Wargaming Project. There is also a Kindle version available from Amazon.

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RAND: Nuclear weapons and deterring Russian threats to the Baltics


Last month RAND released a report examining—in part, through wargaming—whether nonstrategic nuclear weapons use might deter a Russian attack against Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The study, Exploring the Role Nuclear Weapons Could Play in Deterring Russian Threats to the Baltic Stateswas prepared by Paul Davis, J. Michael Gilmore, David Frelinger, Edward Geist, Christopher Gilmore, Jenny Oberholtzer, and Danielle Tarraf.

Despite its global advantages, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s current deterrent posture in the Baltic states is militarily weak and generally questionable. A Russian invasion there would almost surely capture some or all of those states’ capital cities within a few days, presenting NATO with a fait accompli. The United States is currently considering tailored deterrence strategies, including options to use nuclear weapons to deter Russian aggression in the Baltic states. This report examines what role nonstrategic nuclear weapons could play in deterring such an invasion. As part of that analysis, the authors review relevant deterrence theory and current NATO and Russian nuclear and conventional force postures in Europe. They draw on wargame exercises and qualitative modeling to characterize the potential outcomes if NATO, Russia, or both employ nonstrategic nuclear weapons during a war in the Baltic states. The authors then discuss implications for using such weapons to deter a Russian invasion. The insights derived from the research highlight the reality that, even if NATO makes significant efforts to modernize its nonstrategic nuclear weapons, it would have much stronger military incentives to end a future war than Russia would. That is, Russia would still enjoy escalation dominance.

Readers might also want to review the 2016 report by David A. Shlapak and Michael Johnson on Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank.

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Recent simulation and gaming publications, October 2019


PAXsims is pleased to present a selection of recently-published items on simulation and serious gaming. Some of these may not address peacebuilding, conflict, or development issues at all, but have been included because of the broader perspective they offer on games-based education or analysis.

Articles may be gated/paywalled and not accessible without subscription access to the publication in which they appear.

Mislat Safar Almuqati, Nurazmallail Marni,The Role of War Game in Educating and Training the Commanders,Umran: International Journal of Islamic and Civilisational Studies (2019).

The war game is considered to be the most effective means of military training due to the fact that it simulates the reality since it provides a semi-real picture of the weapons and equipment used in the training. Consequently, it provides the trainee with the appropriate environment to freely deal with such weapons as well as military equipment which in turn help the trainee become acquainted with all aspects of use and significantly instill confidence in him when such equipment are actually needed in war.  More importantly, war game provides environment similar to what is going on in the actual battlefields allowing the commanders to exercise the training as if they were in a real war. Based on this perspective, the war game has emerged as an advanced training means which provides an analogy of the battle atmosphere to a great extent and gives commanders the opportunity to make decisions. It also helps in providing the commanders with a future view which enables them to plan their future and to deal with any challenges they might encounter.  In fact, the role of war play is not only limited to training, but also extends to the aspects of military education, preparation, and development. The notion of war game is not only a means for the commander to have knowledge about the war before it occurs so as to be able to realize whether the decisions taken are right or wrong, but also it has become an effective means on which the armies depend when they train and polish the commanders’ capabilities as well as skills. In fact, the concept of war play is not exclusive to the military field but also it is employed by all agencies and departments that require a future vision in training or planning. This paper sheds some light on the notion of war game and its role in training and educating the commanders and staff.

Elizabeth Bartels, “The Science of Wargames: A discussion of philosophies of science for research games,” paper presented at the workshop on War Gaming and Implications for International Relations Research, July 2019.

[No abstract]

Richard Frank and Jessica Genauer, “A Classroom Simulation of the Syrian Conflict,” PS: Political Science & Politics 52, 4 (October 2019).

This article describes a semester-long classroom simulation of the Syrian conflict designed for an introductory international relations (IR) course. The simulation culminates with two weeks of multi-stakeholder negotiations addressing four issues: humanitarian aid, economic sanctions, ceasefire, and political transition. Students randomly play one of 15 roles involving three actor types: states, non-state actors, and international organizations. This article outlines the costs and benefits of simulation design options toward encouraging students’ understanding of IR concepts, and it proposes a course plan for tightly integrating lectures, readings, assessment, and simulation—regardless of class size or length. We highlight this integration through a discussion of two weeks’ worth of material—domestic politics and war, and non-state actors—and the incorporation of bargaining concepts and frameworks into the two weeks of simulated multi-stakeholder negotiations.

Paul Hancock. Jonathan Saunders, Steffi Davey, Tony Day, Babak Akhgar, “ATLAS: Preparing Field Personnel for Crisis Situations,” Serious Games for Enhancing Law Enforcement Agencies (2019).

ATLAS (Advanced Training, Learning and Scenario Simulator) is a serious game that was developed in conjunction with an intergovernmental organisation to deliver bespoke training simulations in virtual reality to assist field personnel in making decisions in difficult situations during field operations. This chapter describes the concept of ATLAS and the developmental process that led to the full-fledged game.

Erin Maudlin and Jeremiah Sanders, “Using Wargames To Teach The Critical Analysis Of Historical Sources,” Critical & Creative Thinking Conference (2019). (Text not available.)

This presentation describes the use of a wargame to actively involve students in the historical method through the creation of “primary sources” they later use to write an analytical paper. This assignment has been used at different universities in history courses to great success. Professional historians must analyze a host of often conflicting sources about their subject written by biased humans. While the reading about the historical process and visiting with archivists are helpful, these are nevertheless passive forms of learning, and their lessons may not adhere. Students often continue to view primary sources as authoritative in their research, and fail to think critically about bias in archival documents. With this assignment, students actively create and participate in an historical event—the wargame—which is essentially capture the flag with water balloons. Then, students create primary sources, such as letters home, “newspaper” reports, etc., and use this “archive” to write a cogent, analytical research paper of the event itself. The wargame makes the historical process transparent for students, as they can see every step along the way of how historians practice their craft: they experience the chaotic event itself; they participate in the creation of the primary sources about the event; and they have to evaluate the often conflicting sources in order to offer their interpretation as to why one team won or lost the battle. In other words, they have to “impose order on the chaos” of evidence about their historical event.

Andrea Redhead, “Gamification and Simulation,” Serious Games for Enhancing Law Enforcement Agencies (2019).

Gamification and simulation methods are two of the most important components of serious games. In order to create an effective training tool, it is imperative to understand these methods and their relationship to each other. If designed correctly, gamification techniques can build upon simulations to provide an effective training medium, which enhances learning, engagement and motivation in users. This chapter discusses their uses, strengths and weaknesses whilst identifying how to most effectively utilise them in developing serious games.

Anastasia Roukouni, Heide Lukosch, Alexander Verbraeck, “Simulation Games to Foster Innovation: Insights from the Transport and Logistics Sector,” Neo-Simulation and Gaming Toward Active Learning (2019).

There is an indisputable gap between the conceptualization and introduction of innovation and the actual and effective implementation of innovations in the complex sociotechnical system of transport and logistics throughout Europe. With our research we investigate the role of simulation games as an instrument to understand the dynamics around innovation processes in this system, by the means of literature review and in-depth interviews with key stakeholders of selected innovation cases within the Port of Rotterdam. The aim of our study is to gather valuable insights into how simulation games can be used to handle the extremely critical issue of effectively implementing innovation in the transport and logistics sector. It is thus expected to stimulate and enhance interaction among actors on policy level, by highlighting the potential advantages of using the approach of simulation games when the implementation of innovation is in discuss.

Robert Rubel, “The Medium in the message: Weaving wargaming more tightly into the fabric of the Navy,” Naval War College Review 72, 4 (Autumn 2019).

By now, the challenge and threat of a rising and contentious China and an increasingly hostile Russia have penetrated the Navy’s corporate consciousness, and current leaders are taking steps to shift the service from a purely power- projection posture to one that focuses again on defending American command of the sea. The Navy is initiating adjustments to fleet design and architecture as well as a rebirth of fleet experimentation. While perhaps late in coming, these responses to the emergent challenges of our time are encouraging.


Tristan Saldanha, Quinn Vinlove, and Jens Mache, “MICE: A Holistic Scorekeeping Mechanism for Cybersecurity Wargames,” Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges 35, 1 (October 2019).

Cybersecurity wargames are some of the best tools for teaching se- curity skills to groups of students, but the computational complexity of these games has increased disproportionately with the ability to measure the progress of the game. This paper introduces “Mice”, a new way of assessing security skills such as detecting malware, network intrusion, and network defense, which will allow for complex games to be scored and tracked in a way that traditional score keeping can not. Mice are adaptable to any kind of simulation and are easy to use for students and educators, promising more effective learning from a wide range of security exercises.

Geoffrey Sloan, “The Royal Navy and organizational learning—The Western Approaches Tactical Unit and the Battle of the Atlantic,” Naval War College Review 72, 4 (Autumn 2019).

The Western Approaches Tactical Unit is a unique example of a learning organization. It was created within the bureaucratic constraints of the Admiralty yet was highly effective in changing command culture in the Royal Navy—which proved to be the deciding factor in the early days of World War II, particularly during the Battle of the Atlantic.

Martin Stytz and Sheila Banks, “Future challenges for cyber simulation,” Journal of Defense Modelling and Simulation (online first, 30 September 2019).

[No abstract]

Yusuke Toyoda, Hidehiko Kanegae, “Gaming Simulation as a Tool of Problem-Based Learning for University Disaster Education,” Neo-Simulation and Gaming Toward Active Learning (2019).

This chapter addresses the connection between gaming simulation (GS) and problem-based learning (PBL) in disaster education. First, the chapter explains their relations theoretically and describes the introduction of Evacuation Simulation Training (EST) for earthquake evacuation to university students. EST empowered both Japanese and international students to conduct research, integrate models and practice, and apply their knowledge and skills to develop viable solutions to defined problems. Finally, the chapter demonstrates the utility of GS as a tool of PBL.

Feng Zhu and Kai Chen, “Application of Simulation Technology in Military Theory Teaching,” Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, 352 (2019).

Military theory teaching often involves abstract concepts and principles that are difficult to understand, such as command structure, tactics, equipment system, etc. It’s difficult for students to quickly understand and master in the traditional classroom teaching process. Aiming at this problem, this paper studies the application of simulation technology in military theory teaching. The advantages of the application of simulation technology in military theory teaching are analyzed, and then the application of simulation technology in theory teaching such as equipment system, military command and logistics application is emphatically introduced. With the help of simulation platform, students can be brought into virtual battlefield environment, which is similar to the real situation. It is conducive to enhancing the interest of students in learning and greatly promoting the improvement of learning efficiency.

RAND: Next-Generation Wargaming for the U.S. Marine Corps

RAND_RR2227.jpgRAND has published a new study by Yuna Huh Wong, Sebastian Joon Bae, Elizabeth M. Bartels, and Benjamin Smith on Next-Generation Wargaming for the U.S. Marine Corps: Recommended Courses of Action.

The U.S. Marine Corps has an opportunity not only to adopt wargaming best practices, tools, and approaches from other sources but also to adapt and develop them further to suit its own needs. This report is designed to help the Marine Corps understand the utility of different wargaming tools as the service invests in its wargaming capability and in building its next-generation wargaming concept. The authors have collected information on wargaming processes, facilities, and skill sets through research and interviews at various wargaming centers. They identify tasks by wargaming type in order to provide information on when in the wargaming process certain tools might be useful.

The authors make recommendations for low-, medium-, and high-resourced courses of action (COAs), with the COAs meant to build on each other rather than representing choices between discrete options. The low-resourced COA involves actions that can be implemented with minimal resources and relatively quickly, focusing on improving processes and the wargaming skills of staff already engaged. The medium-resourced COA builds on the previous one, featuring recommendations that require more resources, time, and research and that involve a greater degree of uncertainty, focusing on acquiring additional skill sets, personnel, and equipment. The high-resourced COA builds on the two previous COAs and requires major reorganization or changes in policy or actions of inherent high complexity and financial commitment, focusing on the construction of new and specialized wargaming facilities.

You can read the full report at the link above.

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