PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Category Archives: simulation and gaming publications

Review: Barnhart, Can You Beat Churchill? Teaching History Through Simulations

Review: Michael A. Barnhart, Can You Beat Churchill? Teaching History Through Simulations (Cornell University Press, 2021). 198pp. $22.95 pb, $14.99 e-book.

This is a fantastic book for a range of educationalists and those seeking to understand the range of value that wargames and/or simulations can contribute to understanding events and the interactions of individuals. 

This book is organised almost as a ‘starter-pack’ for those thinking about using simulations in their courses – whether they are working in further or higher education. The book tackles some of the most difficult issues up front (Chapter 1) – what is the point of conducting simulations? what do they contribute to student learning? and how much time do they take – both the time in the education plan (an afternoon, a week, a semester) and the amount of instructor time they will take to design, organise and run. 

Possibly my favourite line in the whole book is “composing a simulation involves as much preparation as writing a scholarly article, or even a book.” (p.15) For me this sums up the clear-eyed analysis of the value of simulations in teaching – this is not a silver bullet to outstanding student evaluations, they are not the ‘easy route’ to assessment, instead they are likely to be highly demanding both for the students and the instructor. Barnhart is effusive in his praise for the immersive qualities of simulations (especially if you have correctly identified the roles, rules, and requirements) but he is also very pragmatic and practical about the challenges teachers will (and do face) in pulling them off. This balance in the book should also make it a must read for all directors of study / teaching and university deans who seek to pursue agendas that ‘diversify methods of assessment’. 

The practical tips in the book and the questions for consideration that imbue all chapters will be extremely helpful to those who are new to using or playing simulations (I have already recommended the book to some of my colleagues in this position). These practical considerations need to be viewed through the limitations of your own institution – for example, trying to find the ideal room (p.80 onwards) or at least the least-worst room for a simulation will require readers to understand some of the dark arts of university administration and room bookings – easy for some, very hard for others. 

There is an excellent and very well considered discussion throughout the book of some of the most significant challenges for historical simulations: morals, ethics, and engagement. Again, Barnhart does well to identify that there are a range of solutions to some of these questions and these solutions (for example p.54) will depend on your own education context and your students. I would also argue that they depend on the instructor and your personal skills as a games master, increasingly from the perspective of the UK I would also strongly encourage all instructors to have a good and clear conversation with  a university leader that has extensive knowledge of ethical considerations for teaching. 

The book also reflects on the importance of managing the dynamics of different types of students and how they engage. Whilst the book is clear that most students will fully embrace their role and the activity, he is clear that you need strategies to deal with “the student who would not speak” (p.100). These strategies can be built into the game design, but they will also depend on how much you know your students before assigning roles and also the internal group dynamics that emerge between students as the simulation progresses. 

One area where I think the book could have added a chapter would have been on accessibility. That is how to make the materials accessible to a range of students who might have different needs or requirements for engagement – which in term might turn the quiet or shy student into the active dynamic student. I would argue this is even more importance in simulations given their dynamic and all-encompassing nature, the need to consider the speed of interaction, the importance or unimportance of instant recall, the ability to speak rather than write, or indeed write rather than speak in order to interact. Increasingly it is important to draw out these considerations as a part and parcel of the activity of teaching but call all too easily be overlooked. I did exactly that until Sally Davis’s Make me a Dyslexic simulation. 

In the current COVID world, it might also have been helpful to have an endnote – or an acknowledgement of how simulations can be done differently in a hybrid or online teaching situation. But, perhaps this good fodder for the second edition? 

Overall, this is a fantastic book that is a must read for those considering using simulations and is also helpful for those who already do use them and seek to improve their praxis. I would also argue it is a great book to recommend for those who are plagued by questions of the ilk: what is the point of simulations? 

Catherine Jones, University of St. Andrews

Simulation and gaming publications, September-December 2021

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. Others might address “gaming-adjacent” issues such as group dynamics and decision-making, assessment, forecasting, or related topics. If you have published something recently and we haven’t yet included it, let us know!

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


Brown, Patrick. “Flights of Fancy: The Kriegsspiel and the Cinema in Weimar Germany,German Studies Review 44, 3 (October 2021).

No abstract available.

De Fio, Marzio. “Overcoming Complexity of (Cyber)War: The Logic of Useful Fiction in Cyber Exercises Scenarios,” CEUR Workshop Proceedings 2940, 2020.

The paper is an attempt to analyze the logic and the impact of “useful fiction” (or “fictional intelligence”) in cyber exercises scenarios as an approach to prepare for future conflicts. Cyberspace increased the complexity of war phenomenon with its characteristics of artificiality, plasticity, and uncertainty. To overcome this complexity, cyber warriors need to adapt to everchanging scenarios. In this view, the development of a new epistemology of wargaming and cyber exercises could provide a deeper understanding of war and, thus, enhance the capability to cope with this instability. In this framework, fictional intelligence would enrich the research of (un)imaginable phenomena to prevent future threats.

Ackerman, Gary, and Clifford, Douglas. “Red Teaming and Crisis Preparedness,” Oxford Dictionary of Politics, 2021.

Simulations are an important component of crisis preparedness, because they allow for training responders and testing plans in advance of a crisis materializing. However, traditional simulations can all too easily fall prey to a range of cognitive and organizational distortions that tend to reduce their efficacy. These shortcomings become even more problematic in the increasingly complex, highly dynamic crisis environment of the early 21st century. This situation calls for the incorporation of alternative approaches to crisis simulation, ones that by design incorporate multiple perspectives and explicit challenges to the status quo.

As a distinct approach to formulating, conducting, and analyzing simulations and exercises, the central distinguishing feature of red teaming is the simulation of adversaries or competitors (or at least adopting an adversarial perspective). In this respect, red teaming can be viewed as practices that simulate adversary or adversarial decisions or behaviors, where the purpose is informing or improving defensive capabilities, and outputs are measured. Red teaming, according to this definition, significantly overlaps with but does not directly correspond to related activities such as wargaming, alternative analysis, and risk assessment.

Some of the more important additional benefits provided by red teaming include the following:

▪ The explicit recognition and amelioration of several cognitive biases and other critical thinking shortfalls displayed by crisis decision makers and managers in both their planning processes and their decision-making during a crisis.

▪ The ability to robustly test existing standard operating procedures and plans at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels against emerging threats and hazards by exposing them to the machinations of adaptive, creative adversaries and other potentially problematic actors.

▪ Instilling more flexible, adaptive, and in-depth sense-making and decision-making skills in crisis response personnel at all levels by focusing the training aspects of simulations on iterated, evolving scenarios with high degrees of realism, unpredictability through exploration of nth-order effects, and multiple stakeholders.

▪ The identification of new vulnerabilities, opportunities, and risks that might otherwise remain hidden if relying on traditional, nonadversarial simulation approaches.

Key guidance in conducting red teaming in the crisis preparedness context includes avoiding mirror imaging, having clear objectives and simulation parameters, remaining independent of the organizational unit being served, judicious application in terms of the frequency of red teaming, and the proper recording and presentation of red-teaming simulation outputs. Overall, red teaming—as a specific species of simulation—holds much promise for enhancing crisis preparedness and the crucial decision-making that attends a variety of emerging issues in the crisis management context.

Britt, Kyle. Operation Swift Withdrawal: A Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (Neo) Wargame. MSc thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, June 2021.

As the contemporary operational environment shifts, the United States Marine Corps (USMC) will be increasingly relied upon to conduct missions as the nation’s force-in-readiness. One category of these missions is Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEOs). NEOs are Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of State (DOS) operations that evacuate noncombatant and other designated evacuees from hostile countries to safe locations. The USMC has encountered NEOs for the past 50 years and must be prepared to execute NEOs because of future uncertainty. However, because of the infrequency of mission rehearsals, NEO skill atrophy is a concern. Thus, an interactive classroom training tool that augments the passive learning associated with PowerPoint presentations could be beneficial. Therefore, this thesis describes a novel experiential exercise in the form of an educational wargame that reinforces the three NEO guiding principles. The data collected from several iterations of this wargame suggests that this educational training tool can be utilized to reinforce NEO guiding principles and augment current NEO training methods.

Cronkite, Maximilian Stewart-Hawley, “Divided Kingdom, 561, A Case Study: Communicating Historical Narratives Through Board Games,” MA thesis, Carleton University, 2021.

This thesis explores the potential of communicating complex ideas about the past through board games. The thesis will start with exploring and defining its theoretical understanding of historical narratives and procedural rhetoric. Then, the thesis will continue with how other scholars have discussed the role of and potential that games have in the imparting of historical knowledge. Using this established methodology and theory of game-based learning, this thesis will analyze three historical board games for their ability to impart historical understanding. After the analysis of the three case studies this thesis will showcase an annotated version of the rules for the historical board game: Divided Kingdom, 561 which was created for this thesis. In the annotated rulebook, and design journal that follows it, the author elaborates on the game’s intention as a pedagogical tool and how it is designed to communicate historical understanding of sixth century Frankish Gaul.

DeBerry, William T. “The Wargaming Commodity Course of Action Automated Analysis Method,” MSc thesis, Air Force Institute of Technology, 2021.

This research presents the Wargaming Commodity Course of Action Automated Analysis Method (WCCAAM), a novel approach to assist wargame commanders in developing and analyzing courses of action (COAs) through semi-automation of the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP). MDMP is a seven-step iterative method that commanders and mission partners follow to build an operational course of action to achieve strategic objectives. MDMP requires time, resources, and coordination – all competing items the commander weighs to make the optimal decision. WCCAAM receives the MDMP’s Mission Analysis phase as input, converts the wargame into a directed graph, processes a multi-commodity flow algorithm on the nodes and edges, where the commodities represent units, and the nodes represent blue bases and red threats, and then programmatically processes the MDMP steps to output the recommended COA. To demonstrate WCCAAM effectiveness, a wargame scenario compares COA outcomes within the Advanced Framework for Simulation, Integration, and Modeling (AFSIM) and statistical analysis. The AFSIM results demonstrate a 71% objective completion improvement with the WCCAAM COA versus a human-generated COA. Statistical analysis reveals that over a 300 run test matrix, WCCAAM produces the optimal, minimal risk COA.

Emery, John R. “Moral Choices Without Moral Language: 1950s Political-Military Wargaming at the RAND Corporation,” Texas National Security Review, 4, 4 (Fall 2021).

The RAND Corporation was the site of early-Cold War knowledge production. Its scientists laid the foundations of nuclear deterrence, game theoretic approaches to international politics, defense acquisition, and theories on the future of war. The popularized understanding of RAND as filled with cold, detached rationalists who casually discussed killing millions with no moral abhorrence misses the immense contestation in the early 1950s between the mathematics and the social sciences divisions, which sought to understand the impact of nuclear weapons on war and international politics. To do so, they created the first political-military simulations, called the “Cold War Games.” The games had divergent outcomes, with the mathematicians quick to launch nuclear weapons and the social scientists acting with nuclear restraint. The key difference in the game models was a high degree of realism in the social science game that engaged the players’ emotions. This immersive experience had lasting effects beyond the game itself as defense intellectuals bore the weight of decision-making and confronted the catastrophic consequences of using nuclear weapons. The role of emotion is central to both ethics and decision-making, and is essential for wargaming today, yet often remains excluded in rational theories of nuclear deterrence.

Guangya, Si; and Yanzheng, Wang. “Challenges and Reflection on Next-generation Large-scale Computer Wargame System,” Journal of System Simulation, 2021, 33(9).

In view of the systematic, networked and intelligent characteristics of the future war, the major challenges of the new generation of large computer warfare system are proposed, and the next-generation large-scale computer wargame system is constructed. The key technologies of building a new generation of large computer warfare systems, such as intelligent war modeling, architecture integration, resource service management and human-computer interaction are researched.

Kim, Jun-Sung; Kim, Young-Soo; and Park, Sang-Chul. “A Study of Artificial Intelligence Learning Model to Support Military Decision Making: Focused on the Wargame Model,” Journal of the Korea Society for Simulation 30, 3 (2021).

Commander and staffs on the battlefield are aware of the situation and, based on the results, they perform military activities through their military decisions. Recently, with the development of information technology, the demand for artificial intelligence to support military decisions has increased. It is essential to identify, collect, and pre-process the data set for reinforcement learning to utilize artificial intelligence. However, data on enemies lacking in terms of accuracy, timeliness, and abundance is not suitable for use as AI learning data, so a training model is needed to collect AI learning data. In this paper, a methodology for learning artificial intelligence was presented using the constructive wargame model exercise data. First, the role and scope of artificial intelligence to support the commander and staff in the military decision-making process were specified, and to train artificial intelligence according to the role, learning data was identified in the Chang-Jo 21 model exercise data and the learning results were simulated. The simulation data set was created as imaginary sample data, and the doctrine of ROK Army, which is restricted to disclosure, was utilized with US Army’s doctrine that can be collected on the Internet.

Kodalle, Thorsten, “Gamification of strategic thinking: A COTS boardgame for learning scrum, strategy development and strategy implementation,” European Conference on Games-based Learning (2021).

The Bundeswehr Command and Staff College (BCSC) facilitated the Gamification of Strategic Thinking seminar from 11. Nov 2020 – 24. March 2021 with students from the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) and Staff Officers from the Bundeswehr Office for Defence Planning. This paper describes the seminar from construction to end, the sophisticated online facilitation, and the results and evaluation. Thereby, it contributes to discussing how to implement commercial of the shelf (COTS) conflict simulations (wargames) to education, particularly for political science and management. The seminar used the COTS board game ‘Scythe’ as the strategy development and strategy implementation environment. Seminar goals were applying management tools like SWOT-Analysis, Kanban Board, and the OODA-Loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) to strategy development and strategy implementation in a competitive environment characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA). Six Teams consisting of five players each competed at the end of the seminar for three days, had to use the decision-making process several times, and faced the consequences of past decisions. Furthermore, four team members had to Red-Team other competitors and learned how to implement this (business) Wargaming technique into the decision-making cycle. Finally, all participants had to develop a strategy, either their own or their adversary’s strategy. The seminar was conducted in eight sprints, following the Scrum framework for agile project management in an agile education approach. Students had to practice an agile mindset, followed the scrum events Sprint Planning, Daily Scrums, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective, taking care of the Project Backlog, honouring the Scrum Values courage, focus, commitment, respect, and openness. The lead author planned the seminar as a distributed learning experience with an on-premises final. However, due to COVID-19, the TUHH and the BCSC cancelled the on-premises final. As a result, the lead author had to facilitate the complete seminar entirely distributed using various web 2.0 collaboration tools like Slack, Trello, Zoom and, of course, WhatsApp. The seminar was evaluated regarding the Learning Objective-Game Design framework and the Agile Education approach. This paper provides a new perspective on combining agile education, using a Scrum framework as the organisational overlay over the curriculum, and explicit gamification, using a COTS wargame. It is an update to the ECGBL 2020’s paper. In comparison to serious games, explicit gamification is supposed to provide the element of fun by design.

Kowalik, Adam. “The Perception Of Business Wargaming Results Among Strategic And Competitive Intelligence Community,” Organization & Management 2, 54 (2021).

Introduction/background: Achieving a market success is not an easy task for companies. To win in the market companies apply numerous strategic, market and competitive intelligence methods including business wargaming which is considered as one of the most advanced methods.

Aim of the paper: The main aim of this paper is to investigate the perception of business wargames practices among strategic and competitive intelligence professionals with special emphasis on results of business wargames.

Materials and methods: To achieve the aim of the paper the online survey was conducted among the members of a leading global professional association “Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals”. The survey was sent to 12566 emails from SCIP database. The responses were collected anonymously via Survey Monkey in April-May 2017. As a result 227 responses were collected.

Results and conclusions: The results of the study suggest that according to respondents business wargaming allows to achieve results on each of the proposed 5 levels of results representing the cause-effect chain of translating business wargaming effects into business benefits, i.e. insights, recommendations, implementation, competitive situation, measurable benefits. Moreover, the respondents indicate that the business wargaming can be considered a relatively attractive analytical method in terms of its effectiveness. The costs of business wargaming are rated as slightly lower or significantly lower than the benefits. Business wargaming is also assessed as better than any other method of generating insight. The research suggests that the more difficult the conditions for competition, the more commonly the business wargaming method is used. Respondents predict that the use of this method will increase in the future.

Lara, Mauricio Antonio Duarte. “Prototyping A Serious Game On Information Manipulation,” MSc thesis, Tallinn University of Technology, 2021.

Adversarial actors leverage social media to achieve political objectives by employing information manipulation. This poses a risk to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information. These risks erode trust in institutions, distorts informed decisions, and affects democratic processes. A better defence can be obtained by a better understanding of adversaries. However, previous serious games on information manipulation have focused on psychological inoculation, ignoring the strategic motivations of adversaries in social media. With cybersecurity safeguarding information and operations in the context of adversaries, this thesis proposes to introduce policymakers to adversarial thinking through a Serious Game (SG). To achieve that aim, a document analysis was performed to identify the necessary considerations concerning learning, information manipulation, and serious games. The design of the prototype SG used a research design-oriented approach. The pilot testing employed an applied exploratory study with twelve participants, six from a legal background and the remaining six from an e-governance background. Data collection utilized two surveys with open- ended, multiple choice, and rating scale questions. Learning outcomes was measured by evaluating the participants’ confidence levels on their definition of a concept. Given the sample size, the results are not conclusive. However, the data shows an increase in the confidence for all participants. This thesis has three key contributions. First, the application of the SG on the novel audience of policymakers. Second, the design of the prototype SG which incorporates the previously mentioned educational considerations. And last, further exploration on the contributions of cybersecurity to address information manipulation on social media.

Lawson, Ewan, Considering a UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Donbas, Royal United Services Institute conference report, 2019.

No abstract available.

Lee, Byeong-Ho et al. “A Study on Fully Automated OPFOR for ‘Next Generation ROKA Wargame Simulation Model’ Based on Gamer Behavior,” Proceedings of the Korea Information Processing Association, 2021.

No abstract available.

Li, Yang et al. “Developing Public Health Emergency Response Leaders in Incident Management: A Lee, Byeong-HoScoping Review of Educational Interventions,” Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, published first online, 31 August 2021.

During emergency responses, public health leaders frequently serve in incident management roles that differ from their routine job functions. Leaders’ familiarity with incident management principles and functions can influence response outcomes. Therefore, training and exercises in incident management are often required for public health leaders. To describe existing methods of incident management training and exercises in the literature, we queried 6 English language databases and found 786 relevant articles. Five themes emerged: (1) experiential learning as an established approach to foster engaging and interactive learning environments and optimize training design; (2) technology-aided decision support tools are increasingly common for crisis decision-making; (3) integration of leadership training in the education continuum is needed for developing public health response leaders; (4) equal emphasis on competency and character is needed for developing capable and adaptable leaders; and (5) consistent evaluation methodologies and metrics are needed to assess the effectiveness of educational interventions.

These findings offer important strategic and practical considerations for improving the design and delivery of educational interventions to develop public health emergency response leaders. This review and ongoing real-world events could facilitate further exploration of current practices, emerging trends, and challenges for continuous improvements in developing public health emergency response leaders.

Lin, Wu et al, “Wargaming Eco-system for Intelligence Growing,” Journal of System Simulation, 2021, 33(9).

The construction of the next generation intelligent wargaming system can not be accomplished at one move, but through building an ecosystem to gradually grow intelligence. The basic concepts of the intelligent wargame ecosystem, and are defined the idea of dynamic openness, diversified levels and co-evolution are proposed. Drawing lessons from the human intelligence growing process and learning-evolution mechanism, the double helix model of the next generation of wargame cognitive intelligent evolution and growth is constructed. On the basis of the OLTA cycle, the wargame deduction ecosystem system framework is given. The application of the technologies, such as digital twins, human-machine integration and symbiosis, sample generation, intelligence testing and evaluation, cloud native and so on, in the construction of an ecological environment for wargaming games are analyzed.

Lutters, Samuel. “Reflections on Violence and Death in Critical War Games,” MSc thesis, Ghent University, 2021.

Death and violence are prominent features in video games centered around war. These are largely dominated by hegemonic war/military games that – among other things – render them an “authentic” and pleasurable experience to be engaged in. In this dissertation, I focus on critical war games that oppose these, and question how these manage to kindle reflection about violence and death in their respective gaming communities. For this, I have dedicated myself to the study of three specific games. I have mainly used two methods: autoethnography, where I played the games myself to gain a better understanding of them and participant observation to capture the experiences and reflections of others. My findings are diverse and have to be understood within the contours of each game. However, what underpins these games is their ability to be perceived “realistic” when it comes to representing war. This is done through creating a digital death world that functions on negative emotions, rather than fun or pleasure. As discussed by others, there is a dynamic relation between having negative emotions and perceiving something as realistic or authentic. Interesting for this research, is the fact that having negative emotions while being engaged in killing and mortality, offers players a foundation for reflection. The player is encouraged to first feel and then think. These reflections go beyond digital play and questions some important aspects of war, violence and death, such as the futility of war. Moreover, having these negative emotions and reflections gives the player a better understanding in the lived experiences of both victims and perpetrators of war alike.

Medeiros, Sabrina ; Mendes, Cintiene Sandes Monfredo ; and e Paiva, Ana Luiza Bravo, “Learning Process for Collective Decision-Making in Defense and Security: Inter-Agency Policy Building,” Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice 21, 4 (2021).

This work analyzes the decision-making behavior among security actors in cooperative inter-agency arrangements. To this end, we will use case studies of state officials’ simulations, which target the improvement of the agents’ relations in particular learning processes. Undeniably, Brazil’s internationalization expanded practices related to the configuration of its homeland security model, especially after the attacks of September 11th, 2001. On the other hand, training and learning experiences were also internalized, expanding the common lexicon and coordinated policies and assignments. The paper’s central objective is to identify the patterns of inter-agency decision-making processes, analyzing the possibilities for creating and disseminating practices that may ultimately constitute policies. For this purpose, the work begins with the apprehension of the Brazilian security inter-agencies practices typology, which emerged by an adequately built database.

Medeiros, Sabrina ; Paiva, Ana Luiza Bravo; and Mendes, Cintiene Sandes Monfredo. “Policy Diffusion by Means of Defense and Security Simulations and the Uses of Agent-Based Modelling,” July 2020.

This paper is about three elements: inter-agency cooperation simulations with security and defense practitioners as actors; policy diffusion as a way of innovative and incremental gains using practices and the observation of behaviors; and, agent-based modelling as a tool to enhance performance, observing tendencies and acquiring more visibility of the processes and practices imbibed. For this, the first part of the paper is focused on the uses of the literature that expresses decision making process behaviors as a fundamental part of the institutionalization process in terms of cooperation. Adaptive institutionalization is the core element of this approach; in which we believe policy diffusion can derive progressively and in an incremental way. Secondly, we are going to present the inter-agency simulation cases we are working with as part of an inter-institutional effort; researching on those ties and proposing new forms of arrangements and possibilities of increasing dynamics efficiency in the sector, observing both the cases and the exercises chosen in agent-based modelling (ABM).

Murray, Charlie Murray; Loidl, Hans-Wolfgang; and Train, Brian. “A Playful Learning Exercise: Kashmir Crisis,” International Conference on Games and Learning Alliance, 2021.

This paper summarises the development and evaluation of a digital board game on the “Kashmir Crisis” in 2019. It is based on a card-driven board-game design of one of the authors, with the concept of “games as journalism” as one underlying design principle. As such, this is a serious game with the aim of providing information on the context of recent political events in Kashmir. In this paper we focus on the design, implementation, and evaluation of a multi-platform, digital instance of this game. The evaluation results of using the game show significantly increased engagement and slightly better learning effectiveness, compared to a control group using standard learning techniques.

Parkes, Roderick; McQuay, Mark. “The Use of Games in Strategic Foresight: A Warning from the Future,”DGAP Policy Brief, July 2021.

After a decade of crisis, the EU now routinely uses futures meth- ods to anticipate the unexpected. Its aim is to address its blind spots. This paper details our experience of designing a foresight exercise to help EU diplomats face up to one of the most ingrained types of blind spot: a taboo issue. But our experience showed instead the dangers of such exercises. Far from needing encour- agement to address a taboo, our target audience wanted an excuse to do so, reflecting a shift to a more “geopolitical EU.”

Strategic foresight exercises are designed to help participants recognize their cognitive biases. But the more policymakers adopt them as routine, the more they use them to reinforce their existing aims. Simply: they learn to manipulate outcomes.

To prevent cheating, experts introduced adversarial elements, where colleagues paired off against one another. Competition was meant to inject new thinking into policy and break up bureaucratic hierarchies. In fact, these too reinforced old biases.

Table-top exercises (TTXs) are now the go-to tool, adopted by the EU: rather than competing, participants play as a single team. Col- laboration encourages the kind of “risky-shifty” behavior which policymakers need in order to drop old shibboleths..

Table-top exercises (TTXs) are now the go-to tool, adopted by the EU: rather than competing, participants play as a single team. Collaboration encourages the kind of “risky- shifty” behavior which policymakers need in order to drop old shibboleths.

Paschkewitz, John; Russell, Bart; Main, John. “An AI That’s Not Artificial at All,” Issues in Science and Technology 38, 1  (Fall 2021).

In the wargame, we realized we needed to focus on more than just maintaining operational speed and minimizing casualties. We needed to maximize options for individual users and increase the learning rate across the whole system. Providing individuals with more options and the autonomy to use them makes the rigid, monolithic systems of slowmoving bureaucracies and the technologies they use more adaptable to new situations and innovations. In Major Evans’s case, if she were able to get a drone to fly blood to her unit, she might be able to boost her dwindling blood supplies faster than it would take to fix the ruined airstrip. But thoughtful workarounds can only benefit the larger system if the knowhow circulates throughout the enterprise and others can begin to help find the drones and arrange for the delivery. The larger system needs to effectively learn and adapt to the consequences of her changes or it will soon be caught in another cycle of cascading ad hoc responses to problems.

A new design methodology

To build a system that was capable of encouraging individual innovation and system-wide learning, we came up with a new approach: liminal design. It employs four core concepts: abstraction, composition, mediation, and learning. Collectively, these ideas create the foundation for an “operating system” that works in an adaptive ecosystem, bridging the worlds of user-centered and system-centered design.

Peeks, Ryan. “‘An Object Lesson to the Country’—The 1915 Atlantic Fleet Summer Exercise and the U.S. Navy on the Eve of World War I,Naval War College Review 74, 3 (Summer 2021).

On 26 May 1915, the Washington Post warned its readers that an invading force had “established a base, and landed troops on the shore of Chesapeake Bay,” in preparation for a march on Washington. The cause of this invasion? Defeat of the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic Fleet by “a foreign foe of superior naval strength.” Over the course of several days, the enemy fleet had made its way across the Atlantic and destroyed the American scouting line. The American commander, Admiral Frank Friday Fletcher, was convinced that its target was New England and let the enemy fleet slip unmolested into the Chesapeake with a twenty- thousand-man invading force, the vanguard of another hundred thousand soldiers en route from Europe. Shortcomings in the quantity and quality of the Atlantic Fleet’s scouting force had rendered its seventeen battleships irrelevant.

Fortunately for the capital, this enemy fleet and invasion army were imag- inary, part of the Atlantic Fleet’s summer exercise. They were, however, the culmination of a very real campaign to embarrass the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, and force a naval expansion program onto the heretofore skeptical Wilson administration. The leader of this campaign, the outgoing Aide for Operations, Rear Admiral Bradley Fiske, designed the exercises for
maximum political effect. By grafting an unreal- istic and lurid invasion scenario featuring a thinly disguised German fleet onto the Atlantic Fleet’s exercise program, he hoped to “prove” that Dan- iels had failed to prepare the Navy for war and force Woodrow Wilson’s administration to sup- port a renewed naval buildup. 

Reese, Joshua et al., “Integrating Cost as a Decision Variable in Wargames,” Air & Space Power Journal (Winter 2021).

The US military can no longer afford to be reactive, leaving critical cost analyses to the months and years following operations or full-scale con- flicts. By leveraging cost in wargaming, as part of the Joint planning process, the Department of Defense (DOD) can provide Congress and the American taxpayers a range of potential costs associated with various military engagements. If senior leaders can consider costs as part of effectiveness analy- ses during wargames, they can provide more fully informed decisions reflecting fiscal and operational realities.

Rolls, Matthew. “Developing Coup D’oeil: Tactical Decision Games and Their Training Value for the Canadian Army,” Canadian Army Journal 18, 2 (2021).

Tactical Decision Games (TDG) are abbreviated tactical exercises without troops (TEWT) meant to place those executing them into a scenario with little information and time to arrive at a solution. They require few resources, allowing for a repetitious approach to training. TDGs have been prominent training tools for the US Army and particularly the United States Marine Corps for several years. They are a flexible and effective training aide that will help soldiers, non-commissioned officers (NCO), and officers with their analytical and intuitive decision-making skills. TDGs are not completely foreign to the Canadian Army (CA); however, their use has not been institutionalized.

Tactical Decision Games are a highly efficient means of training tactical decision-making and should be institutionalized within the CA, within both schools and operational units. Commanders employing TDGs will be able to mentor and develop the decision-making skills of their subordinates during periods outside collective training. Trainers can use them to discuss and exercise concepts prior to deploying to the field for practical application.

This article provides an overview of TDGs and how they differ from other training tools. It then reviews what makes TDGs useful training aides and concludes with a discussion on how to conduct a training session. A TDG example is included at the end of the article.

Shahnahpur, Saeedeh. ” ‘Destruction Operation’: Iranian-Made Digital Games of the Iran–Iraq War (1980–88),” International Journal of Persian Literature 6 (2021).

No abstract available.

Smithson, Michael S. Wargaming Reliance On Commercial Space Partners: A Determination of Guiding Principles and Applications. MSc thesis, Naval Postgraduate School, June 2021.

The 2010s saw a revolution in the space industry leading to the commercial proliferation of space technologies once reserved for national space programs and militaries, dubbed by many as Space 2.0. This rapid rebalancing of capabilities from traditional state actors to commercial entities contributed to a reevaluation of U.S. space institutions and practices resulting in an increased U.S. military reliance on commercial entities to build space capability, capacity, and resilience. To that end, there is renewed interest in discerning the impacts of this expanded commercial space reliance on current U.S. military doctrine, thus placing new demands on the practice of wargaming among the U.S. military services. Specifically, wargaming must now account for this increased reliance by establishing guiding principles and wargaming methodologies to properly account for this revolution in space-based capabilities. This thesis addresses this problem by sampling the scope of commercial space capabilities, evaluating governing policy and doctrine, and examining a representative sample of the U.S. military’s reliance on commercial space. The unique qualities of commercial space are evaluated to identify a list of guiding principles for wargaming applications. Then, wargaming methodologies that encompass these guiding principles are identified and proposed. Finally, these principles are applied to the USMC’s Assassin’s Mace wargame to demonstrate and evaluate their utility and application.

Teo, Grace et al. “Measures for Assessing Command Staff Team Performance in Wargaming Training,” Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), 2021.

Despite the rapid rise in technological aids and decision support tools to assist with command and control activities, wargaming remains an artful and challenging process for command teams to perform. Wargaming, a critical stage in the military decision-making process (MDMP), is a collective activity where command staff representing multiple warfighting functions step through one or more courses of action (COAs) in detail. By considering actions, reactions, and counteractions for each critical event of a COA, the command staff gains an understanding of the decision points, possible coordination problems, feasibility, risks, benefits, likelihood of success, and impact on campaign outcomes. Although there are prescribed MDMP methods and outputs, the art of effective wargaming lies in achieving sufficient team coordination across the command staff to adequately appraise a COA and anticipate synchronization that will be needed for execution, all within the time constraints available for analysis. Consequently, an effective approach to training wargaming ideally involves opportunities for staff to engage in realistic and challenging exercises where they can receive performance assessment and feedback via measures grounded in established constructs for team proficiencies. This paper presents a synthesis of constructs and findings on command team training pertinent to the construction of wargaming exercises. Specifically, a foundation for general principles of teamwork has been established in the literature, and there have also been studies identifying determinants of wargaming effectiveness tied to declarative measures intended for assessment by human instructors or subject matter experts. In order to build on existing research and apply it in an intelligent tutor, these measures and teamwork constructs are synthesized in a model tailored to wargaming performance assessment and feedback for simulation-based team training. Outcomes of this effort will contribute to the development of a prototype for collective training of Army command groups.

Tryhorn, Dillo, et al. “Modeling fog of war effects in AFSIM.” Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology, published first online, 27 August 2021.

This research identifies specific communication sensor features vulnerable to fog and provides a method to introduce them into an Advanced Framework for Simulation, Integration, and Modeling (AFSIM) wargame scenario. Military leaders use multiple information sources about the battlespace to make timely decisions that advance their operational objectives while attempting to deny their opponent’s actions. Unfortunately, the complexities of battle combined with uncertainty in situational awareness of the battlespace, too much or too little intelligence, and the opponent’s intentional interference with friendly command and control actions yield an abstract layer of battlespace fog. Decision-makers must understand, characterize and overcome this “battlespace fog” to accomplish operational objectives. This research proposes a novel tool, the Fog Analysis Tool (FAT), to automatically compile a list of communication and sensor objects within a scenario and list options that may impact decision-making processes. FAT improves wargame realism by introducing and standardizing fog levels across communication links and sensor feeds in an AFSIM scenario. Research results confirm that FAT provides significant benefits and enables the measurement of fog impacts to tactical command and control decisions within AFSIM scenarios.

Xi, Wu; Xianglin, Meng; and Jingyu, Yang. “Study on Next-generation Strategic Wargame System,”  Journal of System Simulation, 2021, 33(9).

Strategic wargame is an important support to the strategic decision. The research status and challenges of the strategic wargame are analyzed, and the influence of big data and artificial intelligence technology on the strategic wargame system is studied. The prospects and key technologies of the next-generation strategic wargame system are studied, including the construction of event association graph for strategic topics, generation of strategic decision sparse samples based on generative adversarial nets, gaming strategy learning of human-in-loop hybrid enhancement, and public opinion dissemination modeling technology based on social network. The development trend of the strategic wargame is proposed.

Yubo, Tang et al. “Research on the Issues of Next Generation Wargame System Model Engine,” Journal of System Simulation, 2021, 33(9).

Aiming at the more and more complex war systems, widely used artificial intelligence technology is needed to make up the human deficiencies in future wargame deduction, which is necessary for the next generation wargame system model engine. To address these challenges, a framework prototype of the next generation wargame model engine based on the experience of the long-term development and application is proposed. The decoupling method for the complexity of structure and computation is researched. The human-computer integration architecture on digital twinning technology is studied. Some new modeling techniques which the threshold of model development is reduced and the efficiency is improved are explored. The engine mechanism is provided to support the machine learning, and to achieve the integrated design for distributed hardware environment.

Zhanguang, TCao et al. “Abroad Wargaming Deduction and System Research,” Journal of System Simulation, 2021, 33(9).

Wargaming is an important auxiliary means of war deduction, scheme evaluation and operational analysis. Wargaming deduction system can support the research of operational problems, innovation of tactics and development of operational concepts. The development status of foreign computer wargaming system from the deduction method and system research is reviewed, and the online deduction the multi-level joint deduction, as well as the research status of multi-level wargaming fusion design, the multi system combination and auxiliary tool development are mainly introduced, which can providereference to the development and application of computer wargame system.

Updated PAXsims bibliography

PAXsims research associate Anne Johnson recently surveyed some three dozen wargaming experts to pull together a list of their recommended readings for new and experienced serious game designers alike. You’ll find the list here.

SWJ: On wargaming, COA analysis, D8s, and D&D

In an article entitled “Wargaming: Leave your 8 sided dice at home, this isn’t D&D” at Small Wars Journal, Keegan Guyer, Max Rovzar, and Ron Sprang suggest that wargaming “is often discussed as a necessary step in the Military Decision Making Process” but “often misunderstood, or poorly executed due to time constraints.”

To demonstrate this, they then devote much of their article to misunderstanding wargaming.

What they go on to describe is course of action analysis which doesn’t have a great deal of wargaming in it. Rather, it focuses around the development of plans and synchronization of effort, providing participants with a walk-through of a proposed course of action. This isn’t a full game, with a fully active Red—rather, the Red cell is there to provide some feedback in support of the game staff.

(Click the tweets to read more of his thread). Cole Peterson adds:

Several others comment in the Twitter thread too. Meanwhile, at Small Wars Journal itself, there are similar comments. This from “ProStaffOfficer”:

This is an excellent article on TTPs for tactical-level COA analysis but is insulting to and clearly ignorant of what actual wargaming is. COA Analysis may be labeled as “wargaming” in US Army doctrinal manuals, but it really is a method to refine a plan by overlaying enemy actions onto one COA.

Furthermore, the snarky title – while it may score points with other soldiers with tactical-echelon experience unaware of the existence of complex systems exploration or alternative conditions wargames – undersells the purpose of introducing stochastic variables in wargame design.

Lastly, I find it somewhat discouraging this article has only one source, FM 6-0 Commander and Staff Organization and Operations. In no way is FM 6-0 an authoritative source for wargaming as anything other than a tactical-level COA analysis methodology but this article – and specifically the title – seems to imply it discusses wargaming-at-large and not just one step of the Military Decision Making Process as applied in a tactical headquarters. 

And “skepticalsoldier82” comments:

Setting aside the snide title, this article is accidentally a great argument for why the Army needs to rename this process to what it really is – COA analysis. Continuing to call this “wargaming” only displays the institution’s immense ignorance (much like the authors of this piece do) of the vast array of national security war games that use stochastic methodology (which can be distilled into COFMS at the tactical level). Insisting that simply executing a step of MDMP constitutes “real wargaming” is laughable in the face of what ONA, CAA, and the J7 regularly conduct, let alone the depth of what the FFRDCs support. A perfunctory review of the history of wargaming would reveal that yes, the Prussians used dice modeling for Kriegspiel and yes, even complex simulations designed in WARSIM or ONESAF are still using derived PK, which nonetheless provides more rigorous analysis, for a much wider variety of purposes, then sitting the staff around the map and troubleshooting a tactical plan for the benefit of the G3.

I must say, I’m less concerned than some by the nomenclature around wargaming, COA analysis, and red teaming—all of which fit in a related universe of methodological tools, and each of which has its strengths and weaknesses. However, the piece is remarkably unaware of the broader professional work on wargaming, or the potential drawbacks (as well as strengths) of doing the sort of COA analysis they propose.

Finally, there’s a certain irony in the title—and not just with regard to fog, fiction, and stochastic process. Rather, what would you call a largely cooperative game where there is only one genuinely independent side, where participants make plans and synchronize actions against a scenario-based threat, and the game master guides them through the resulting narrative and tells them how it all works out?

Yes, that’s D&D.

Simulation and gaming publications, May-August 2021

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. Others might address “gaming-adjacent” issues such as group dynamics and decision-making, assessment, forecasting, or related topics. If you have published something recently and we haven’t yet included it, let us know!

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


Michael A. Barnhart, Can You Beat Churchill? Teaching History through Simulations (Cornell University Press, 2021).

How do you get students to engage in a historical episode or era? How do you bring the immediacy and contingency of history to life? Michael A. Barnhart shares the secret to his award-winning success in the classroom with Can You Beat Churchill?, which encourages role-playing for immersive teaching and learning. Combating the declining enrollment in humanities classes, this innovative approach reminds us how critical learning skills are transmitted to students: by reactivating their curiosity and problem-solving abilities.

Barnhart provides advice and procedures, both for the use of off-the-shelf commercial simulations and for the instructor who wishes to custom design a simulation from scratch. These reenactments allow students to step into the past, requiring them to think and act in ways historical figures might have. Students must make crucial or dramatic decisions, though these decisions need not align with the historical record. In doing so, they learn, through action and strategic consideration, the impact of real individuals and groups of people on the course of history. 

There is a quiet revolution underway in how history is taught to undergraduates. Can You Beat Churchill? hopes to make it a noisy one.

Rebecca Beigel and Julia Schuetze, Cybersecurity Exercises for Policy Work: Exploring the Potential of Cybersecurity Exercises as an Instrument for Cybersecurity Policy Work (Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, April 2021).

Malicious cyber activities are increasing worldwide and getting increasingly more sophisticated. Individuals, businesses, and governments explore different ways of tackling this development, for example, through developing policies to counter or mitigate cyber threats. One promising instrument for doing so is cybersecurity ex- ercises. Different cybersecurity exercises (e.g., red team/blue team exercises, cyber wargames, workshops, tabletop exercises, and simulations) can address different audiences and goals – from examining technical responses by critical infrastruc- ture providers to assessing diplomatic responses to a cyber incident. To grasp the potential of cybersecurity exercises – particularly for policy work – it is important to explore the different types of exercises in more detail.

The paper first highlights defining features of each cybersecurity exercise type to emphasize each type’s advantages. Workshops, for example, are speculative, collab- orative, and can improve understanding between different actors. Meanwhile, simu- lations can replicate reality as much as possible using digital networks, which helps simulate attacks and the reactions to such attacks. Secondly, the different exercise types are applied to different stages of the policy cycle – a cycle mapping policy work from defining a problem to the implementation and evaluation of a policy – to explore reasons for using them at certain stages of policy work. Simulations, for ex- ample, are particularly beneficial to use when implementing or evaluating a policy, for example, for testing its effectiveness.

The paper creates a simple guide for exploring the potential application of cyberse- curity exercises for policy work and for strategically using them. It is recommended to go through a three-step process to find whether cybersecurity exercises are an instrument to be used for a specific policy objective.

1) Firstly, scope out the policy work – consider the policy work at hand and the target audience to be reached.

2) Secondly, identify the stage of use – identify where the policy work is best situat- ed on the policy cycle.

3) Thirdly, consider the defining features of cybersecurity exercise types and identify which exercise type is the best to achieve the policy work goal.

Ultimately, the paper highlights that cybersecurity exercises are an instrument that decision-makers should consider when developing cybersecurity policies and/or aiming to achieve different cybersecurity policy goals. 

Arvid Bell and Alexander Bollfrass, “To Hell with the Cell: The Case for Immersive Statecraft Education,” International Studies Perspectives (June 2021).

Current wargaming techniques are effective training and research instruments for military scenarios with fixed tools and boundaries on the problem. Control cells composed of officiants adjudicating and evaluating moves enforce these boundaries. Real-world crises, however, unfold in several dimensions in a chaotic context, a condition requiring decision-making under deep uncertainty. In this article, we assess how pedagogical exercises can be designed to effectively capture this level of complexity and describe a new framework for developing deeply immersive exercises. We propose a method for designing crisis environments that are dynamic, deep, and decentralized (3D). These obviate the need for a control cell and enhance the usefulness of exercises in preparing military and policy practitioners by better replicating real-world decision-making dynamics. This paper presents the application of this 3D method, which integrates findings from wargame and negotiation simulation design into immersive crisis exercises. We share observations from the research, design, and execution of “Red Horizon,” an immersive crisis exercise held three times at Harvard University with senior civilian and military participants from multiple countries. It further explores connections to contemporary trends in international relations scholarship.

William DeBerry et al, “The wargame commodity course of action automated analysis method,”  Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology (2021).

his research presents the wargaming commodity course of action automated analysis method (WCCAAM) – a novel approach to assist wargame commanders in developing and analyzing courses of action (COAs) through semi-automation of the military decision making process (MDMP). MDMP is a seven-step iterative method that commanders and mission partners follow to build an operational course of action to achieve strategic objectives. MDMP requires time, resources, and coordination – all competing items the commander weighs to make the optimal decision. WCCAAM receives the MDMP’s Mission Analysis phase as input, converts the wargame into a directed graph, processes a multi-commodity flow algorithm on the nodes and edges, where the commodities represent units, and the nodes represent blue bases and red threats, and then programmatically processes the MDMP steps to output the recommended COA. To demonstrate its use, a military scenario developed in the Advanced Framework for Simulation, Integration, and Modeling (AFSIM) processes the various factors through WCCAAM and produces an optimal, minimal risk COA.

Pia Henning, “‘Game on!’ A research project on the Prussian Kriegsspiel,British Journal for Military History 7, 2 (2021).

The Prussian Kriegsspiel was the very first professional wargame and was originally introduced in the Prussian army in 1824 but has so far seen very little systematic research. This research project has compiled a corpus from all the rulesets currently extant, which was then made subject to formal and linguistic analysis. This yielded results in three important areas: First, by comparing them with a collection of contemporary texts on military theory it was possible to identify Kriegsspiel rulesets as distinctive text types. Second, comparing the rulesets gave valuable insights into the developmental history of the Kriegsspiel. And finally, it was possible to distinguish three distinctive phases in the development of the Kriegsspiel.

Mary Ann Hopper, “From Lessons Learned to Improvements Implemented: Some Roles for Gaming in Cybersecurity Risk Management,” in Advances in Cybersecurity Management (Springer, 2021)

Effective cybersecurity risk management hinges on a strategic blend of people, processes, and technology working together to recognize and prevent attacks; mitigate and minimize negative impacts should attacks succeed; and resume operations after recovery. Ideally, risk management involves processes that engage the entire organization continually and holistically—not just episodic reactions by a few key personnel in times of crisis. The translation of lessons learned into implemented and validated improvements may be a missing or underutilized best practice. This chapter explores ways gaming can be used as a complement to authoritative standards and frameworks to optimize an organization’s cybersecurity posture and preparedness. A variety of gamified approaches are described and presented as useful tools with differentiating value at multiple stages in an ongoing cybersecurity risk management cycle. State-of-the-practice exemplars and successes are cited as are approaches to adapting games to both assess and improve an organization’s cybersecurity posture. The chapter concludes with some speculations about how games focused on cybersecurity can be expected to evolve and gain greater traction for risk management in light of emergent technologies and increasingly complex threat and defense landscapes.

Bong Seok Kim , Bong Wan Choi , Chong Su Kim, “Methodology of battle damage assessment in the naval wargame model – Forcusing on damage assessment of warship,” Journal of KOSSE 17, 1 (2021). [In Korean]

Wargame is a simulated military operation with certain rules, specifications, and procedures, in which soldiers can virtually and indirectly experience the war. The ROK Navy operates the Cheonghae model, a training wargame model for helping commanders and staff master the procedures for conducting the war. It is important for commanders, staff and analysts to know whether a warship can perform its missions and how long it can last during a war. In existing model, the Cheonghae, the probability of kill of a warship is calculated simply considering the number of tonnage without any stochastic elements, and the warship’s mission availability is also determined based on predetermined values. With this model, it is difficult to get a value of the probability of kill that makes sense. In this dissertation, the author has developed a probabilistic model in which the warship vulnerability data of ROK-JMEM can be used. A conceptual model and methodology that can evaluate the mission performance of personnel, equipment, and supplies has been proposed. This can be expanded to a comprehensive assessment of wartime warship loss rates by integrating damage rates for personnel, equipment, and supplies in wartime.

Nina Kollars and Benjamin Schechter, Pathologies of Obfuscation: Nobody Understands Cyber Operations or Wargaming, Atlantic Council, February 2021. 

National security and defense professionals have long utilized wargames to better understand hypothetical conflict scenarios. With conflict in the cyber domain becoming a more prominent piece in wargames in the national security community, this issue brief seeks to identify the common pathologies, or potential pitfalls, of cyber wargaming. It argues that the inherent turbulence of the cyber domain and segmented knowledge about cyber weapons negatively affect three components of cyber wargaming: the scenario development, the data usability, and the cross-participant comprehensibility. The brief offers some initial solutions to these problems, but, ultimately, the purpose of identifying pathologies is to prepare designers to meet these challenges in each unique design.  

Xuan Liu et al, Tactical Intention Recognition in Wargame, IEEE 6th International Conference on Computer and Communication Systems (2021).

Opponent modeling is a significant method in imperfect information games. And intention recognition is regarded as the important but difficult in opponent modeling. This paper focuses on the task of tactical intention recognition in computational wargame. We propose an approach to recognize opponents’ intention which models the intention as long-term trajectories. The approach consists of situation encoding model and position prediction model. The first model uses attention mechanism to attach the statistic map data with dynamic feature and adopt CNN to learn the representation of battlefield situation. The position prediction model then predicts the long-term trajectories of opponents, based on well-represented situation vectors. Experiment indicates that our approach is proven to be effective on the task of tactical intention recognition in wargame. Meanwhile, a high-quality replay data set for analyzing the actions’ characteristics is also provided in this paper.

Jon-Wyatt Matlack, “Operation Barbarossa 2021: Practices (Re)Rendering the Myth Of The ‘Clean’ Wehrmacht In Contemporary Grand Strategy Computer Gaming,” Europe and America in the Modern World blog, 28 July 2021.

ScienceCampus doctoral researcher Jon-Wyatt Matlack explores the significance of computer games in shaping imaginations of the past. Focusing on Hearts of Iron IV, he considers how the format can encourage revision of the Nazi past, going against the grain of efforts towards critical Vergangenheitsbewältigung, or working through the past. The article explores how gamers can take up positions perpetuating the myth of a clean Wehrmacht while perpetuating narratives of a barbarian Eastern Europe where the USSR poses the greatest threat to humanity. He shows how reconstructions of historical narratives in digital spaces deserve more critical interrogation as a medium for the production of counterfactual history, especially given how popular and successful they are as depictions of the past, albeit a counterfactual one that draws on players’ affective urges and distorts historical reality.

Miles Paca et al, “Tactical Nuclear Wargaming: An Innovative Approach to Conventional Nuclear Integration Techniques,” C􏰀􏰁􏰂􏰃􏰄􏰅􏰆ountering WMD Journal􏰀􏰁􏰅􏰂􏰈􏰉  22 (2021). 

The current requirements for CWMD preparedness across all levels of the Joint Forc- es have led to focused initiatives in the realm of nuclear weapons defense planning, training and exercise1. Techniques like military wargaming for putting such initiatives into action are of critical importance to addressing the centralized concepts of nuclear defense and deterrence. Conventional Nuclear Integration (CNI), a concept referring to the side- by-side operation of nuclear and conventional forces referenced by Kinman2, is a field of nuclear defense strategy that includes nuclear weapons employment on the battlefield. Though not always expressly grouped under the umbrella of CNI, military wargame ex- ercises which could be considered within the subset of CNI have provided insights into operations on the nuclear battlefield since the Cold War era.

Roderick Parkes and Mark McQuay, The Use of Games in Strategic Foresight, DGAP Policy Brief (July 2021).

After a decade of crisis, the EU now routinely uses futures meth- ods to anticipate the unexpected. Its aim is to address its blind spots. This paper details our experience of designing a foresight exercise to help EU diplomats face up to one of the most ingrained types of blind spot: a taboo issue. But our experience showed instead the dangers of such exercises. Far from needing encour- agement to address a taboo, our target audience wanted an excuse to do so, reflecting a shift to a more “geopolitical EU.”

Strategic foresight exercises are designed to help participants recognize their cognitive biases. But the more policymakers adopt them as routine, the more they use them to reinforce their existing aims. Simply: they learn to manipulate outcomes.

To prevent cheating, experts introduced adversarial elements, where colleagues paired off against one another. Competition was meant to inject new thinking into policy and break up bureaucratic hierarchies. In fact, these too reinforced old biases.

Table-top exercises (TTXs) are now the go-to tool, adopted by the EU: rather than competing, participants play as a single team. Collaboration encourages the kind of “risky- shifty” behavior which policymakers need in order to drop old shibboleths.

Alicia Ruvinsky et al, An Approach to Gamifying Acquisitions for Assessing Impact on Military Strategy of Nation States, IEEE Conference on Cognitive and Computational Aspects of Situation Management (CogSIMA) (2021).

Complex Systems in which humans play a role, namely Human-Integrated Complex Systems (HICS), can be difficult to model or simulate due to the uncertainty introduced by the human component. Traditional modeling approaches such as physics-based modeling do not provide predictive insight towards situation awareness and management. War game designers, and game architects are familiar with HICS problem spaces, and use gamification of such complex contexts as a means of modeling human behavior to inform, predict, and manage an HICS style problem. The game play thereby becomes a means of providing situation awareness and management of the HICS by using human action during game play as a heuristic for pruning the intractable possibility space of the problem at large into a likely probability subspace based on the actions players actually take when playing an HICS game simulation. This paper explores the approach of gamification of real-world HICS problem spaces for situation awareness and management. A gamification methodology is introduced and investigated through the use case of military acquisitions.

Peng Sun, Jian Zhang, and Ling-hui Wang, “The Application Study on Accurately Search&Rescue of the Wounded on the land battlefield base on ‘Beidou+ Armored ambulance’“, 2021 International Conference on Mechanics and Civil, Hydraulic Engineering.

The accurately program of search&rescue of the wounded is designed and an initial design idea of various subsystems is proposed in order to provide theoretical explorations and solutions for making the search & rescue of the wounded on a land battlefield immediate, intelligent and accurate and for lowering the death and disability rates of the wounded. A full combination of skill features and functional advantages is made between BDS and Armored ambulance, which is systematically applied to the search & rescue on the land battlefield. The rationality and feasibility of the program of search&rescue are guaranteed by functional combinations, comprehensive integration and experimental verification. The verification of the program of search&rescue is made in the form of war-game exercises. The result finds that the “BDS + Armored ambulance” pattern of search & rescue can accurately acquire real-time locations of the wounded, immediately provide on-site first-aid services and emergency aid & treatment for the wounded and rapidly receive and transfer the wounded, which demonstrate a better practice and application prospect of health services. As the BDS-3 is to be put into service in 2020, the informationized upgrading and transformation of Armored ambulance will be gradually completed and the “BDS+ Armored ambulance” program of search &rescue will exert a more obvious influence on the search & rescue of the wounded on the land battlefield, which provide a capability support for realizing the idea of “Medical Treatment be with Soldiers”.

Ben Taylor, COVID-35: A game of pandemic management, Defence Research and Development Canada DRDC-RDDC-2021-D042

The Simon Fraser University Faculty of Health Sciences ran course HSCI 486—Global Perspectives on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic—for fourth year undergraduates in the fall of 2020. The course instructors designed the course to culminate in a class game to expose undergraduate students to a complex public health decision-making environment. A game was developed by the author in consultation with the class instructors to allow teams of students to make policy decisions as the governments of neighbouring countries facing a pandemic similar in nature to COVID-19. The game was set on a fictional continent with fictional countries which nevertheless shared some characteristics of certain real countries. The game was supported by a spreadsheet model to evaluate player decisions, which was kept as simple as possible to create believable behaviours without seeking to be an accurate simulation. The game was successfully run in a 3-hour class and received very positive feedback from both students and instructors.

Dillon Tryhorn, Exploring Fog of War Concepts in Wargame Scenarios, Air Force Institute of Technology Theses and Dissertations (March 2021).

This thesis explores fog of war concepts through three submitted journal articles. The Department of Defense and U.S. Air Force are attempting to analyze war sce- narios to aid the decision-making process; fog modeling improves realism in these wargame scenarios. The first article “Navigating an Enemy Contested Area with a Parallel Search Algorithm” [1] investigates a parallel algorithm’s speedup, compared to the sequential implementation, with varying map configurations in a tile-based wargame. The parallel speedup tends to exceed 50 but in certain situations. The sequential algorithm outperforms it depending on the configuration of enemy loca- tion and amount on the map. The second article “Modeling Fog of War Effects in AFSIM” [2] introduces the Fog Analysis Tool (FAT) for the Advanced Framework for Simulation, Integration, and Modeling (AFSIM) to introduce and manipulate fog in wargame scenarios. FAT integrates into AFSIM version 2.7.0 and scenario results ver- ify the tool’s fog effects for positioning error, hits, and probability affect the success rate. The third article “Applying Fog Analysis Tool to AFSIM Multi-Domain CLASS scenarios” [3] furthers the verification of FAT to introduce fog across all warfighting domains using a set of Cyber Land Air Sea Space (CLASS) scenarios. The success rate trends with fog impact for each domain scenario support FAT’s effectiveness in disrupting the decision-making process for multi-domain operations. The three ar- ticles demonstrate fog can affect search, tasking, and decision-making processes for various types of wargame scenarios. The capabilities introduced in this thesis support wargame analysts to improve decision-making in AFSIM military scenarios.

Ying Zhao et al, Simulating a Logistics Enterprise Using an Asymmetrical Wargame Simulation with Soar Reinforcement Learning and Coevolutionary AlgorithmsGECCO ’21 Companion, July 10–14, 2021.

We demonstrate an innovative framework (CoEvSoarRL) that lever- ages machine learning algorithms to optimize and simulate a re- silient and agile logistics enterprise to improve the readiness and sustainment, as well as reduce the operational risk. The CoEv- SoarRL is an asymmetrical wargame simulation that leverages re- inforcement learning and coevolutionary algorithms to improve the functions of a total logistics enterprise value chain. We address two of the key challenges: (1) the need to apply holistic predic- tion, optimization, and wargame simulation to improve the total logistics enterprise readiness; (2) the uncertainty and lack of data which require large-scale systematic what-if scenarios and analysis of alternatives to simulate potential new and unknown situations. Our CoEvSoarRL learns a model of a logistic enterprise environ- ment from historical data with Soar reinforcement learning. Then the Soar model is used to evaluate new decisions and operating conditions. We simulate the logistics enterprise vulnerability (risk) and evolve new and more difficult operating conditions (tests); meanwhile we also coevolve better logistics enterprise decision (solutions) to counter the tests. We present proof-of-concept results from a US Marine Corps maintenance and supply chain data set. 

JAMS: Special issue on military wargaming

The latest issue of the Journal of Advanced Military Studies 12, 2 (Fall 2021), published by Marine Corps University Press, is devoted to “wargaming and the military.

Given the rate of change taking place within the Corps and the local activity driving university innovation, the editors felt the need to contribute to the debate with a full issue of the Journal of Advanced Military Studies (JAMS) that focuses on wargaming and the future of the Marine Corps and the U.S. military. The authors of the articles that follow approached the conversation from a broad scholarly spectrum that offers historical and forward-thinking perspectives.

The first article by Dr. Charles Esdaile, “ ‘Napoleon at Waterloo’: The Events of 18 June 1815 Analyzed via Historical Simulation,” offers a historical perspective on the importance of wargaming and professional military education (PME). His article examines how products of the game industry can be used to assess battles and draw out wider lessons relating to the conduct of war or to show how historical board games are not just recreational artifacts but also a tool with which to more fully explore, analyze, and understand campaign design and battle execution.

Sebastian J. Bae and Major Ian T. Brown then provide a transition into a more modern conversation by offering a brief history of educational wargaming specific to the U.S. Marine Corps. The article reviews and assesses the history of educational wargaming from its tentative engagement before World War I through today. It will also offer recommendations on how the Corps can institutionalize the use of educational wargaming as a tool for honing Marines’ minds against thinking human adversaries. Our next two articles continue this discussion of wargaming and PME. Colonel Eric M. Walters considers the challenges and solutions presented by wargaming and helps orient those unfamiliar with wargaming and advises on proven best practices in using them when teaching military judgment in decision making. Lieutant Colonel P. C. Combe II shifts then into the design and implementation of wargaming for the purpose of teaching or evaluating the extent to which students have learned and can apply material as a means of professional development.

Kate Kuehn further highlights the importance of evaluating the use of wargaming with her article, “Assessment Strategies for Educational Wargames.” Kuehn maintains that by examining the perspectives and practices of experi- enced faculty within wargaming, she can then identify strategies that can serve as useful teaching tools for other faculty as well as contribute to broader theory about designing assessment in such spaces. Colonel Brian W. Cole’s article on the wargame Hedgemony focuses on using wargames to then evaluate the learning objectives within senior Joint PME. His article examines how the Marine Corps War College’s experience with Hedgemony offers active learning for its students while emphasizing resource management and evaluates how well the game met the educational objectives set forth by the Joint Chiefs of Staff for senior-level PME.

The final two articles in this issue of JAMS close the loop on the PME continuum by focusing on how wargaming complements military decision making and the future development of wargaming focused on the future of warfare. Colonel Walters’s article “Developing Self-Confidence in Military Decision Making” highlights how extensive practice through wargaming grows self-confidence in both the individual Marine and in the unit engaged in it. Stephen M. Gordon, Colonel Walt Yates, and Andrew Gordon close out the journal articles by exploring the benefits and challenges of applying successful storytelling techniques to designing wargame narratives that balance creative ambitions with achievable time lines. In the authors’ minds, wargames that incorporate such techniques will generate new trends and better inform future conflict planning.

Emery: 1950s Political-Military Wargaming at the RAND Corporation

The Texas National Security Review has just published an article by John Emery on “Moral Choices Without Moral Language: 1950s Political-Military Wargaming at the RAND Corporation.”

The RAND Corporation was the site of early-Cold War knowledge production. Its scientists laid the foundations of nuclear deterrence, game theoretic approaches to international politics, defense acquisition, and theories on the future of war. The popularized understanding of RAND as filled with cold, detached rationalists who casually discussed killing millions with no moral abhorrence misses the immense contestation in the early 1950s between the mathematics and the social sciences divisions, which sought to understand the impact of nuclear weapons on war and international politics. To do so, they created the first political-military simulations, called the “Cold War Games.” The games had divergent outcomes, with the mathematicians quick to launch nuclear weapons and the social scientists acting with nuclear restraint. The key difference in the game models was a high degree of realism in the social science game that engaged the players’ emotions. This immersive experience had lasting effects beyond the game itself as defense intellectuals bore the weight of decision-making and confronted the catastrophic consequences of using nuclear weapons. The role of emotion is central to both ethics and decision-making, and is essential for wargaming today, yet often remains excluded in rational theories of nuclear deterrence.

He concludes:

The high degree of realism present in the SSD’s Cold War Game triggered nuclear restraint by engaging the emotions of the players and therefore their ethical intuitions, in contrast to the MAD game, which privileged high levels of abstraction for the sake of mathematical certainty. What was lost in the process was a more cohesive vision of decision-making under uncertainty, all while ignoring the role of emotion in the realm of international politics. Not only are the outcomes of the game boxed in by initial assumptions in operationalizing variables that can fall out instantaneously in the real world, but a high level of abstraction produces a detached theorizing in which a kind of ethical practical judgment can also be lost. Reason cannot be separated from emotion and imagined futures are as powerful as the study of the past.

These political-military games at RAND have important lessons for thinking through the implications of emotion, ethics, and the role of judgment in wargaming today. Given the current renaissance in wargaming — in the social sciences as well as in efforts to think through the dilemmas of AI and the future of war — it is important to reflect on the issues raised by RAND in the 1950s and the lessons that can be drawn from them. First, reason and emotion are inextricably intertwined. They exist in a symbiotic relationship in terms of how we experience and interpret the world. Second, wargames with a high degree of realism can better represent decision-making in the real world by engaging the emotions of the players. Third, even when ethics is excluded from the conversation, facing the potential consequences of political-military action can lead to restraint. Finally, a conversation of realistic consequences and the uncertainties of the world is essential for an ethical assessment of possible consequences of nuclear threat and use. Wargames can be more than the division between art and science or quantitative and qualitative approaches, but a quest for understanding the why of decision-making, beyond the discursive reasons that players may give. The technostrategic language that Cohn wrote about in the 1980s remains pervasive in nuclear deterrence circles, but the revival of simulations and gaming in the social sciences offers an opportunity to reflect upon the importance of emotion and ethical practical judgment in international relations. Being made to feel the weight of decision-making is a necessary antidote to abstractions that allow policymakers to ignore the real consequences and human suffering that could come from pressing the button.

You will find the full article at the link above.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iranian Journal of Wargaming

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

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

Hanley: A critique of strategic operational gaming

PAXsims is pleased to share John Hanley’s 1991 PhD thesis, On Wargaming: A Critique of Strategic Operational Gaming (Yale University, 1991).

This paper is a critique of strategic operational gaming. Operational gaming refers to the use of gaming to explore plans and investigate courses of action. Strategic refers to the subject explored. Therefore, this inquiry deals with two topics. One is the limits and validity of knowledge derived from operational gaming. The other is the use of free­ form gaming involving humans in formulating national security strategy.

This work consists of five parts in ten chapters. Part one addresses free-form gaming. Rather than accepting the notion that gaming contributes to better decisions, it addresses the alternatives to gaming and the issue: Why Game? This chapter uses a taxonomy of indeterminacy to suggest classes of problems most amenable to gaming. Part two suggests why we should employ operational gaming seriously as a technique in the formulation and implementation of national security strategy. It addresses the evolving nature of national security strategy, the history of gaming, and the influence of gaming on policy and strategy. Part three explicitly lays out the elements and structure of operational gaming. Part four critiques two current efforts employing operational gaming techniques to assist in national security policy analysis and strategy formulation. Similar concerns over defects in strategic analysis at the end of the 1970s led to the Global War Games at the Naval War College and the RAND Strategy Assessment System. The Global games employ free-form gaming whereas RAND has developed a computer-based system. Finally, part five addresses future directions in the use of operational gaming for policy analysis and strategy formulation. It suggests steps needed to institute a discipline of gaming and suggests areas of research.

Sabin on strategic wargaming

Earlier this month, Prof. Philip Sabin delivered a presentation on “what strategic wargaming can teach us” to the German Institute for Defence and Strategic Studies. The text of that presentation is now available online.

Review: Gaming Disease Response

ED McGrady and John Curry, Roll to Save: Gaming Disease Response (History of Wargaming Project, 2021). 143pp. USD$20 paperback, USD$7.92 Kindle.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the value of serious gaming for supporting health sector preparedness and government policy response. Indeed, in my own case, during the past year I have found myself designing games on pandemic-related food security issues, working with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Department of National Defence in red teaming Canada’s national vaccine roll-out plans (including a major national tabletop exercise), and I’m currently working with the READY Initiative on digital games-based training for epidemic disease preparedness and response in the humanitarian sector.

All of that is to say that I wish Roll to Save: Gaming Disease Response had been published a year ago, because it is a very useful resource indeed for anyone working in this area. Some of the chapters address general design issues, including the value of serious games; gaming at the strategic (policy), operational, and “tactical” levels of disease response; and important considerations in professional game design. Other chapters discuss particular game designs, addressing topics as wide-ranging as vaccination/prophylaxis; bioterrorism (anthrax, melioidosis); particular epidemic outbreak scenarios (ebola); mental health support; and pandemic recovery (COVID-X). It also contains brief chapters discussing some of the basics of infectious diseases, epidemiology, public health planning, outbreak investigation, and the importance of information, politics, and the media. My only disappointment was the bibliography, which lists some of the sources cited in the book but which doesn’t provide a wider reference to the substantial literature on medical and emergency preparedness gaming.

Above and beyond the very considerable value of this publication for those designing disease response games, it also stands as an excellent example of how serious gaming should be undertaken. McGrady not only has extensive experience in designing and implementing serious games on a wide range of national security and policy issues, but also has keen insight into what works in what context. He thus underscores the importance of designing a game around not only the topic, but equally the game objectives, available resources, participants, and client/sponsors.

Simulation and gaming publications, March-April 2021

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. Others might address “gaming-adjacent” issues such as group dynamics and decision-making, assessment, forecasting, or related topics. If you have published something recently and we haven’t yet included it, let us know!

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


Christensen, Kyle (2021). “Wargaming the use of intermediate force capabilities in the gray zone,” Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation: Applications, Methodology, Technology (online first).

This work reviews the development and tests of an intermediate force capability (IFC) concept development hybrid wargame aimed at examining a maritime task force’s ability to counter hybrid threats in the gray zone. IFCs offer a class of response between doing nothing and using lethal force in a situation that would be politically unpalatable. Thus, the aim of the wargame is to evaluate whether IFCs can make a difference to mission success against hybrid threats in the gray zone. This wargame series was particularly important because it used traditional game mechanics in a unique and innovative way to evaluate and assess IFCs. The results of the wargame demonstrated that IFCs have a high probability of filling the gap between doing nothing and using lethal force. The presence of IFCs provided engagement time and space for the maritime task force commander. It also identified that development of robust IFC capabilities, not only against personnel, but against systems (trucks, cars, UAVs, etc.), can also effectively counter undesirable adversarial behavior

Hill, Richard T.; Hirtz, Derek (2020), Rebels and States: A Game Of Revolution And Dominance, MSc thesis, US Naval Postgraduate School. 

The U.S. military is currently in an era of change highlighted by a shift in focus from small-scale and limited wars involving counterterrorism (CT) and counterinsurgency (COIN) to preparations for large-scale combat operations with a near-peer threat. This shift has placed emphasis on conventional focus in training, education, and planning to stand ready for a potential conflict as the United States continues to maintain its unilateral grip as the world’s lone superpower, and Russia and China try to expand their spheres of influence in the great power competition (GPC). But as with the Cold War, it is unlikely this showdown will occur. Conversely, it is far more probable conflict will be highlighted by competition through state-sponsored insurgencies, proxy wars, and a struggle over influence. Special operations forces (SOF) therefore must balance their understanding and preparedness of conventional warfare while standing ready to execute unconventionally. This wargame is designed to train entry-level SOF candidates in the interaction between the insurgent and counterinsurgent, utilizing COIN and unconventional warfare (UW) doctrine as a basis while also employing the concepts of insurgent, resistance, and COIN theorists. The goal of the wargame is to aid SOF candidates as they prepare to serve in their operational units, providing a venue to test strategies and understandings of COIN and UW principles, and ensure an enhanced education in doctrine and theory.

Jaramillo-Alcázar, Angel; Venegas, Eduardo ; Criollo-C, Santiago; and Luján-Mora, Sergio. (2021). “An Approach to Accessible Serious Games for People with Dyslexia,” Sustainability 13.

Dyslexia is a cognitive disorder that affects the evolutionary ability to read, write, and speak in people, affecting the correct learning of a large percentage of the population worldwide. In fact, incorrect learning is caused because the educational system does not take into consideration the accessibility parameters that people with dyslexia need to maintain a sustainable educational level equal to others. Moreover, the use of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, has been deployed in education programs, offering many benefits; however, the lack of accessibility of those devices creates new barriers to students with dyslexia that hinder their education. With the aim of reducing these barriers, this paper presents an approach to the development of accessible serious games games for children with dyslexia. As a case study, a serious game based on a previously proposed serious game development method and a new set of accessibility guidelines for people with dyslexia is presented. The main purpose of the serious video game is to improve the treatment of dyslexia, through the collection of data obtained from two puzzles designed to train certain cognitive areas that affect this disability. This article has a double contribution: on the one hand, the guidelines and the method that can help video game developers and therapists to develop accessible serious games for people with dyslexia and, on the other hand, the two specific serious games that can be used by therapists, family members and people with dyslexia themselves. 

Lim, Jong-Won; Choi, Bong-Wan; Yim, Dong-Soon (2021).  “A Study on the Methodology for Combat Experimental Testing of Future Infantry Units using Simulation,” Journal of the Korea Academia-Industrial Cooperation Society 22(3).

Owing to the development of science technology, particularly the smart concept and defense policy factors of the 4th industry, military weapon systems are advanced, and the scientific and operational force is reduced dramatically. The aspect of the future war is characterized by the operation of troops with reduced forces from advanced and scientific weapon systems in an operational area that has expanded more than four times compared to the present. Reflecting on these situational factors, it is necessary to improve combat methods based on the changes in the battlefield environment and advanced weapon systems. In this study, to find a more efficient future combat method in a changing war pattern, this study applied the battle experiment methodology using Vision21 war game model, which is an analytical model used by the army. Finally, this study aimed to verify the future combat method and unit structure. Therefore, the scenario composition and experiment method that reflect the change in the ground operational environment and weapon system was first composed. Subsequently, an analysis method based on the combat effectiveness was applied to verify the effective combat performance method and unit structure of future infantry units.  [In Korean]

Lu, Tongliang; Chen, Kai; Zhang, Yan; Deng, Qiling (2021). “Research on Dynamic Evolution Model and Method of Communication Network Based on Real War Game,” Entropy 23(4).

Based on the data in real combat games, the combat System-of-Systems is usually composed of a large number of armed equipment platforms (or systems) and a reasonable communication network to connect mutually independent weapons and equipment platforms to achieve tasks such as information collection, sharing, and collaborative processing. However, the generation algorithm of the combat system in the existing research is too simple and not suitable for reality. To overcome this problem, this paper proposes a communication network generation algorithm by adopting the joint distribution strategy of power law distribution and Poisson distribution to model the communication network. The simulation method is used to study the operation under continuous attack on communication nodes. The comprehensive experimental results of the dynamic evolution of the combat network in the battle scene verify the rationality and effectiveness of the communication network construction

Tanner Mirrlees, Tanner, and Ibaid, Taha (2021). “The Virtual Killing of Muslims: Digital War Games, Islamophobia, and the Global War on Terror,” Islamophobia Studies Journal 6 (1).

This article argues that digital war games communicate misleading stereotypes about Muslims that prop up patriarchal militarism and Islamophobia in the context of the US-led Global War on Terror. The article’s first section establishes the relevance of the study of digital war games to feminist games studies, feminist international relations, and post-colonial feminism. The second section contextualizes the contemporary production and consumption of digital war games with regard to the “military-digital-games complex” and real and simulated military violence against Muslims, focusing especially on the US military deployment of digital war games to train soldiers to kill in real wars across Muslim majority countries. The third section probes “mythical Muslim” stereotypes in ten popular digital war games released between 2001 and 2012: Conflict: Desert Storm (2002), Conflict: Desert Storm 2 (2003), SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs (2002), Full Spectrum Warrior (2004), Close Combat: First to Fight (2005), Battlefield 3 (2011), Army of Two (2008), Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007), Medal of Honor (2010), and Medal of Honor: Warfighter (2012). These games immerse players in patriarchal fantasies of “militarized masculinity” and place a “mythical Muslim” before their weaponized gaze to be virtually killed in the name of US and global security. The conclusion discusses the stakes of the stereotyping and othering of Muslims by digital war games, and highlights some challenges to Islamophobia in the digital games industry.

Satopää, Ville and Salikhov, Marat and Tetlock, Philip and Mellers, Barb, (2021). Decomposing the Effects of Crowd-Wisdom Aggregators: The Bias-Information-Noise (BIN) Model, SSRN.

Aggregating predictions from multiple judges often yields more accurate predictions than relying on a single judge: the “wisdom-of-the-crowd” effect. This aggregation can be conducted by different methods, from simple averaging to complex techniques, like Bayesian estimators and prediction markets. This article applies a broad set of aggregation methods to subjective probability estimates from a series of geopolitical forecasting tournaments. It then uses the Bias-Information-Noise (BIN) model to disentangle three mechanisms by which each aggregation method improves accuracy: the tamping down of bias and noise and the extraction of valid information across forecasters. Averaging works almost entirely via noise reduction whereas more complex techniques, like prediction markets and Bayesian aggregators, work via all three BIN pathways: better signal extraction and noise and bias reduction.

Schupp, Janina (2021). “Wargaming the Middle East: The Evolution of Simulated Battlefields from Chequerboards to Virtual Worlds and Instrumented Artificial Cities.” In A. Strohmaier and A. Krewani (eds.), Media and Mapping Practices in the Middle East and North Africa: Producing Space. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Shortly after the end of a tank combat during the Gulf War, a team of US Army historians, scientists, and engineers flew to Iraq to gather detailed data of the battle. The collected information was used to create an exact virtual simulation of the combat for training. The mapping capability – offered by the resulting simulation game 73 Easting – to visualize the battlefield from any position and point in time revolutionized military exercises. With ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, these digital training cartographies are now linked to real bodies and vehicles through digital and mobile technologies during live training in artificially constructed villages. This chapter analyses this evolution and critically investigates the growing ‘gamification’ ensuing in these representations of Middle Eastern battlefields.

Simulation and gaming publications, January-February 2021

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.


Sang-Hyun Ahn, Jitae Kim, Il-Moon Chung, Jeong Eun Lee, “Domestic and Foreign Case Studies of Virtual Drought Exercise,”  Journal of Engineering Geology (December 2020) [in Korean].

Drought has repeatedly occurred due to the climate change effect. The government is working on ways to reduce drought damage and is conducting drought exercise. This study analyzed drought literature and exercise cases in the United States, Australia and Korea. Based on the analysis results, the study suggested considerations in selecting exercise types which are workshop, tabletop exercise and functional exercise, and process of the drought exercise. The results of the study can be used as an effective tool to prepare the virtual drought exercise. 

Rex Brynen, “Virtual paradox: how digital war has reinvigorated analogue wargaming,” Digital War 1, 1 (2020).

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?

Andreas Haggman, “Imagining and Anticipating Cyber Futures with Games,” in A. Ertan, K. Floyd, P. Pernik, T. Stevens, eds., Cyber Threats and NATO 2030: Horizon Scanning and Analysis (NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, 2020).

This short chapter considers the relationship between games and futures, with specific focus on cyber security. Games and gamification have received renewed attention in both academia and industry over the past ten years. Within this broad field, the genre of wargaming occupies a significant but often underappreciated space.

Unlike what some observers might argue, wargaming is not just an activity for history anoraks with an overly keen interest in the past. Wargaming can indeed be used to better understand historical events, but it can also be used to explore the dynamics of the present or employed as a highly imperfect crystal ball to gaze into the future. When done right, wargaming can be a powerful tool to engage audiences with little subject matter expertise or game playing experience.

Three core arguments are made in this chapter. First, wargames can provide structure for players to imagine futures. Second, wargames can prepare players for the future by enabling them to anticipate emotions. Lastly, cyber wargames should avoid the trap of becoming enamoured with the technolo- gy of cyber security.

The chapter is grounded in diverse literature, drawing on material from cultural studies, strategic studies, modelling and simulation and history. Readers will find theoretical insights into the uses of games alongside prac- tical advice for those seeking to use wargames in a cyber security context.

Shang Jiang, Wenxia Wei, Yanlin Wu, Rui Tang, Qingquan Feng, Daogang Ji, “War Chess as Hierarchical Learning Environment,” 13th International Symposium on Computational Intelligence and Design (2020).

This paper introduces GWCLE (General War Chess Learning Environment), a general machine learning environment based on hexagonal wargaming. Hexagonal war chess, when utilized as machine learning challenge, is naturally a multi-agent problem with the intelligent interaction of human or machine. The GWCLE supports hybrid engine, allowing credible simulation for kinds of war chess, which provides hierarchical training framework for massive agents control problem. The agent can be trained with designated level of war chess data and transferred bottom-up or top-down. For training on the whole deduction, we build the database to store refined replay data. Our framework is able to support agents to be trained in tactical and strategic level simultaneously. GWCLE offers a hierarchical perspective of the war chess simulation, allowing researchers controlling the granularity of action and time step.

Thorsten Kodalle, Terra Schwartz, David Ormrod, C. Sample, K. Scott, “A General Theory of Influence in a DIME/PMESII, ASCOP/IRC Model,” Journal of Information Warfare 19, 2 (2020).

The leading question of this paper is “How can one conceptualise influence warfare in order to simulate it?” The authors discuss the foundational aspects of theory and model of influence warfare by building a conceptual framework. The framework forms a prism with three axes along the DIME/PMESII/ASCOP dimensions. The DIME concept groups the many instru- ments of power a nation-state can muster into four elements: Diplomacy, Information, Military, and Economics. PMESII describes the operational environment in six domains: Political, Mili- tary, Economic, Social, Information, and Infrastructure. ASCOPE is used in COunterINsurgen- cy (COIN) environments to analyse the cultural and human environment (the ‘human terrain’) and encompasses Areas, Structures, Capabilities, Organization, People, and Events. Addition- ally, the model reflects about aspects of Information Collection Requirements and Information Capabilities Requirements (ICR2)—hence DIME/PMESII/ASCOP/ICR2. The paper focuses on building a framework for the problem space of influence/information/hybrid warfare and intro- duces the idea of the perception field, understood as a molecule (gestalt or shape) of a story or narrative that influences an observer. This molecule can be drawn as a selection of vectors that can be built inside the DIME/PMESII/ASCOP prism. Each vector can be influenced by a shielding or shaping action. These ideas are explored in the context of an influence wargame.

Robert Körner and Astrid Schütz, “It is not all for the same reason! Predicting motives in miniature wargaming on the basis of personality traits,”  Personality and Individual Differences 173 (April 2021).

Despite the increasing popularity of miniature wargames (MWGs), research on this pastime is still scarce. We aimed to understand how personality is related to motivations for playing MWGs. A world sample of 8590 MWG players was tested with the Ten-Item Personality Inventory to assess the Big Five and the Trojan Player Typology to measure gaming motivations. The latter scale was used for the first time in non-video-game players and showed good psychometric properties. Results showed several significant associations between personality and motivations for engaging in these games. People who played MWGs to socialize were high in openness and extraversion. Players high in agreeableness did not want to compete and did not emphasize winning as an important factor. People who played to escape from everyday problems reported high levels of neuroticism. Story-driven gamers described themselves as open and agreeable. Clearly, personality is relevant for predicting the attractiveness of MWGs, and the game has different aspects of attractiveness for different groups. The results help to better explain the phenomenon of MWGs and highlight the role of personality in this pastime. Avenues for future research such as the use of behavioral measures in playing MWGs are discussed.

Miriam Matejova and Chad M. Briggs, “Embracing the Darkness: Methods for Tackling Uncertainty and Complexity in Environmental Disaster Risks,” Global Environmental Politics 21, 1 (February 2021).

Environmental systems are complex and often difficult to predict. The interrelationships within such systems can create abrupt changes with lasting impacts, yet they are often overlooked until disasters occur. Mounting environmental and social crises demand the need to better understand both the role and consequences of emerging risks in global environmental politics (GEP). In this research note, we discuss scenarios and simulations as innovative tools that may help GEP scholars identify, assess, and communicate solutions to complex problems and systemic risks. We argue that scenarios and simulations are effective at providing context for interpreting “weak signals.” Applying simulations to research of complex risks also offers opportunities to address otherwise overwhelming uncertainty.

Daniel F. Oriesek, Jan Oliver Schwarz, Winning the Uncertainty Game: Turning Strategic Intent into Results with Wargaming (Routledge, 2020).

This book is about the challenges that emerge for organizations from an ever faster changing world. While useful at their time, several management tools, including classic strategic planning processes, will no longer suffice to address these challenges in a timely and comprehensive fashion. While individual management tools are still valid to solve specific problems, they need to be employed based on a clear understanding of what the greater challenge is and how they need to be combined and prioritized with other approaches. In order to do so, companies can apply the clarity of thinking from the military with regard to which leadership level is responsible for what and how these levels need to interact in order to produce a single aligned response to an outside opportunity or threat. Finally, the tool of business wargaming, while known for some time, proves to be an ideal approach to quickly and effectively bring all leadership levels together, align them around a common objective and lay the groundwork for effective implementation of targeted responses that will keep the organization competitive and in the game for the long run.

The book offers a comprehensive introduction to business wargaming, including a historical account, a classification of different types of games and a number of specific real-world examples. 

This book is targeted at practicing managers dealing with the aforementioned challenges, as well as for students of business and strategy at every level.

Matthew A. Schnurr and Anna MacLeod, eds., Simulations and Student Learning (University of Toronto Press, 2020).

Simulation-based education (SBE) is a teaching strategy in which students adopt a character as part of the learning process. SBE has become a fixture in the university classroom based on its ability to stimulate student interest and deepen analytical thinking. 

Simulations and Student Learning is the first piece of scholarship that brings together experts from the social, natural, and health sciences in order to open up new opportunities for learning about different strategies, methods, and practices of immersive learning. This collection advances current scholarly thinking by integrating insights from across a range of disciplines on how to effectively design, execute, and evaluate simulations, leading to a deeper understanding of how SBE can be used to cultivate skills and capabilities that students need to achieve success after graduation.

James Smith, “New Research into the History, Theory and Practice of Naval Wargaming,” The Mariner’s Mirror 107 (2021).

It is largely overlooked today that naval war- gaming was a major contributing factor not only to the development of British naval thought but also to strategic theory. In academia and in government, naval wargaming has often been disregarded and its importance to the development of the art and theory of war neglected. It has been viewed purely through the eyes of a land narrative. The disparity between land and sea wargaming rose to prominence in 2016 when the author regenerated naval wargaming in the War Studies Department at King’s College London, which was met with an array of suspicious questions, often from historians. Projects on the history of wargaming and its many branches have been undertaken previously by the wargaming community, but they failed to set their research in a wider context. They had become reliant on the same, often secondary, sources as a cornerstone of their understanding of the history of naval war- gaming. To their consternation, these were some of the factors behind why wargamers continued to face the same questions repeatedly on the role and function of wargames. They often failed to demonstrate that naval wargaming was both a practical tool and an enabling agent for the disciplines and topics that it has supported. Examples could have been easily shown from the wider narrative of wargaming, and their interpretation was not just dependent on the classified wargaming found in late twentieth- and early twenty-first-century defence practice. With this in mind, the Society for Nautical Research supported a project to fill a gap in knowledge and address these issues in a scholarly manner. Addressing these multide of imbalances, the research has identifed that naval wargaming became an essential tool to support not only historical discussion of naval topics and questions, but was also critical to the development of strategic theory. This report summarizes the initial findings.

Hanchao Wang, Hongyao Tang, Jianye Hao, Xiaotian Hao, Yue Fu, Yi Ma, “Large Scale Deep Reinforcement Learning in War-games,” 2020 IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics and Biomedicine (2020).

War-game is a type of multi-agent real-time strategy game, with challenges of the large-scale decision-making space and the flexible and changeable battlefield situation. In addition to the military field, it has played a role in fields including epidemic prevention and pest control. In recent years, more and more learning algorithms have tried to solve this kind of game. However, the existing methods have not yet given a satisfactory solution for the war-game, especially when preparation time is limited. In this background, we try to solve a traditional war-game based on hexagon grids. We propose a hierarchical multi-agent reinforcement learning framework to rapidly training an AI model for the war-game. The higher-level network in our hierarchical framework is used for task decision, it solves the credit assignment problem between agents through cooperative training. The lower-level network is mainly used for route planning, and it can be reused through parameter sharing for all the agents and all the maps. To deal with various opponents, we improve the robustness of the model through a grouped self-play approach. In experiments, we get encouraging results which show that the hierarchical structure allows agents to learn their strategies effectively. Our final AI model demonstrates that our methods can effectively deal with the challenges in the war-game.

Nan Wang and Miao Shen, “Foreseeing the Subversive Influence of Intelligent Simulation Technology for Battle Example Teaching,” International conference on Big Data Analytics for Cyber-Physical-Systems (2020).

It is an important research project that exploring battle example teaching is how to serve the fight and drill preferably. The simulation territory has introduced artificial intelligence, virtual reality and cloud computing at present, the simulation based on these techniques will bring far-reaching influence for battle example teaching. The intelligent simulation technology will remodel analysis factors of battle example, reconstitute research idea of battle example, overturn the research of battle example. The battle example teaching methods based on intelligence confrontation, scene recurrence and fight chess manoeuvre will show itself, and it will help researchers capture victory inspiration from battle example, feel command art in virtual confrontation and excavate defeating mechanism from retrospect research.

Recent simulation and gaming publications, October-December 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, 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.


Andrew P. Betson, Tristan Boomer,  Justin DiCarlo, Marshall Green and Adam Messer, “COVID-19 and Virtual Wargaming in the Reserve Officer Training Corps: Deadly Virus Resurrects Aged Tactical-Training Method,” Armor (Fall 2020).

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic stopped the world in its tracks early in 2020. As unfamiliar terminology such as “social distancing” and “reducing the curve” proliferated everyday life, military leaders faced familiar (and unceasing) training requirements despite the unexpected challenges that arise from a pandemic.

At St. Louis’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Gateway Battalion, the story was the same. Universities across the city closed in March, and students were sent home, prompting the need for a new solution to fulfill training requirements. Our ROTC program’s third-year cadets were expected to be trained (or, at least practiced “P+”) in leader and collective tasks for platoon-level tactical operations and in warrior tasks and drills. With unprecedented levels of technology and communication at our fingertips, the cadre and the fourth-year cadet leadership of Gateway Battalion looked to the Prussians of the early 1800s and U.S. Army Reserve units of the 1980s for help. The result succeeded beyond expectations when it came to training our cadets.

Matthias Caretta Crichlow, A Study on Blue Team’s OPSEC Failures (Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics & Computer Science, University of Twente, October 2020).

Organizations are every day expanding their networks, increasing the number of servers and workstations in it. Such a growth expands the surface that can be tar- geted by malicious actors to cause harm. Therefore it is becoming more and more common for the organizations to create specialized teams of defenders (i.e. the Blue Team) who can monitor and protect their system. However, the fact that someone is actively hunting for malicious actors changed the balance in cybersecurity. Inter- acting with the attackers causes change in their strategies. We focused our efforts in studying the interplay between attackers and defenders, aiming at creating fur- ther studies in this new field. As the first step we tried to understand what part of the Blue Team investigations can be detected by an intruder, and we highlighted the fact that indicators of Blue Team’s OPSEC failures are the way attackers can likely achieve these results. We focused our study on the first line of defence within the Blue Team, the SOC (Security Operation Center). Using CTA (Cognitive Task Analysis) techniques we identified common OPSEC failures among SOC analysts. Subsequently, in order to evaluate the impact that such actions have on the strate- gies of attackers we organized a wargame in collaboration with Northwave’s Red Team demonstrating that being aware of the Blue Team’s presence determined the adoption of more cautious behaviour in the attacker. In order to achieve our goal we developed a new CTA technique that can be used to further study Blue Team’s cognitive processes. Additionally, we addressed a major problem within the cyberse- curity research community by developing a reusable virtual environment with built-in monitoring capabilities that can be used to create experiments that can be easily verified by other researchers. 

Johan Elg, “Instructor Buy-In: Pitfalls and Opportunities in Wargaming,” KKrVA Handlingar och Tidskrift 2 (April/June 2019).

Wargames are a fundamental part of military training. Still, wargames are controversial, with recurring cycles of appreciation and disapproval. Wargames can be defined as one conditional interaction with human players affecting simulated military actions. The purpose with this text is to examine and explain how military instructors alleviate their worries – more about handling a wargame. The text analyzes relevant publications on educational games to highlight the issue of instructors and wargames. This method is complemented by new and exploratory research, which includes grounded theory, regarding the substantial empirical the area of ​​war games for military training. Military instructors use three strategies to achieve instructor acceptance ( instructor buy-in). A majority of the instructors strive to avoid explicit gameplay (gamification ). This avoidance constitutes a explanation for the change or cessation of certain wargames in military education. For this reason, it is vital that military instructors have an understanding of instructor acceptance to strengthen the practice of wargames. [Google translation of Swedish summary – article in English]

Mark Flanagan , Adrian Northey , Ian M Robinson, “Exploring tactical choices and game design outcomes in a simple wargame ‘Take that Hill’ by a systematic approach using Experimental Design,” International Journal of Serious Games 7, 4 (December 2020). 

Experimental Design (ED) technique is a proven analytical method used in the chemicals industry. We have taken this approach and applied it to Phil Sabin’s ‘Take That Hill’, a simple wargame presented at Connections 2014. By evolving the tactical turn game choices into playable full-game strategies, a descriptive set of game outcomes can be delivered and optimised to produce winning strategies. This provides a systematic approach to testing a game, with full post-game deconstructive analysis which is capable of being used to identify flaws, and find optimal strategies in playing the game. The most successful strategies found by ED outperformed individual strategies developed by experienced players. ED allowed pairing of obvious good play with seemingly counterintuitive play that were found to work well in unexpected combinations. 

Daniel F. Oriesek and Jan Oliver Schwarz, Winning the Uncertainty Game: Turning Strategic Intent into Results with Wargaming (Routledge 2021).

This book is about the challenges that emerge for organizations from an ever faster changing world. While useful at their time, several management tools, including classic strategic planning processes, will no longer suffice to address these challenges in a timely and comprehensive fashion. While individual management tools are still valid to solve specific problems, they need to be employed based on a clear understanding of what the greater challenge is and how they need to be combined and prioritized with other approaches. In order to do so, companies can apply the clarity of thinking from the military with regard to which leadership level is responsible for what and how these levels need to interact in order to produce a single aligned response to an outside opportunity or threat. Finally, the tool of business wargaming, while known for some time, proves to be an ideal approach to quickly and effectively bring all leadership levels together, align them around a common objective and lay the groundwork for effective implementation of targeted responses that will keep the organization competitive and in the game for the long run.

The book offers a comprehensive introduction to business wargaming, including a historical account, a classification of different types of games and a number of specific real-world examples. 

This book is targeted at practicing managers dealing with the aforementioned challenges, as well as for students of business and strategy at every level.

Matthew A. Schnurr and Anna MacLeod, Simulations and Student Learning (University of Toronto Press, 2021).

Simulation-based education (SBE) is a teaching strategy in which students adopt a character as part of the learning process. SBE has become a fixture in the university classroom based on its ability to stimulate student interest and deepen analytical thinking. 

Simulations and Student Learning is the first piece of scholarship that brings together experts from the social, natural, and health sciences in order to open up new opportunities for learning about different strategies, methods, and practices of immersive learning. This collection advances current scholarly thinking by integrating insights from across a range of disciplines on how to effectively design, execute, and evaluate simulations, leading to a deeper understanding of how SBE can be used to cultivate skills and capabilities that students need to achieve success after graduation.

Noa Shusterman, Udi Dekel, The Coronavirus in Gaza: Insights from a War Game (Institute for National Security Studies, 13 April 2020).

A war game simulating a large scale outbreak of the coronavirus in the Gaza Strip underscored that Israel has no way to prevent a spread of the pandemic in Gaza, but it can take steps to alleviate the situation. Among the principal proposals: Israel should already transfer vital medical aid to the Gaza Strip; work with the World Health Organization and other relief agencies to mobilize medical resources for the area; avoid obstructing any initiative to establish an emergency government by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas; and prepare to set up emergency assistance infrastructure on Israeli territory adjacent to the Strip.

Jeremy Smith, Stephen Barker, “Methods to measure and track population perception and support within a manual wargame,” Journal of Defense Modelling and Simulation: Applications, Methods, Technology (online first 15 October 2020)

The outcomes of military campaigns depend to a large extent on the support of local and other wider population groups, so it is important to understand their perceptions. Here we briefly describe the approach used to represent support for organizations and factions in a professional wargame designed to represent military campaigns. This specific approach was developed originally using a simple marker track system that used a basic quantified set of relationships between military campaign effects and changes to the track levels. This marker track system was developed for military campaign wargames in the UK as a means to portray support or dissent in population groups relevant to the operations, but there was originally no mechanism to drive changes other than by expert judgment. Our improved approach continues the use of marker tracks but attempts to develop a more defensible method based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for linking events to changes and levels on the tracks. We conducted experiments to quantify the relative importance of each element in Maslow’s hierarchy. We then continued by conducting a further experiment to identify the impact of a set of effects seen in a wargame against the Maslow elements. This has led to a set of quantified scores that may be used to drive the modifications to the marker tracks when wargame events occur. These scores are based on our initial experiments and may be updated for a specific application, perhaps for a specific setting or location in the world. The revised or enhanced approach aims to produce a transparent solution that can be understood by a military or security analyst, thus facilitating refinement, updating, and change.

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