PAXsims

Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

“Crimson Contagion” – What Can We Learn?

The New York Times today broke a well reported and detailed story about pandemic flu wargaming that had been done from the late Obama into the Trump administrations here

The signature item in the article was an exercise codenamed CRIMSON CONTAGION, the  AAR of which bears serious reading.

The article touches on many important process and methodology issues, especially as related to gaming at the very highest political level. It is worth reading for all of us in the community, and I expect, will be the subject of much further unpacking in the near future.

Of special note, since we here at PAXsims are always promoting the wisdom of co-editor Stephen Downes-Martin, is the question of what the utility of gaming is after the original customer moves on? (see Stephen’s famous Three Questions to ask a game sponsor – including “When do you rotate?”)

“But by the time the current crisis hit, almost all of the leaders at the table — Mr. Tillerson, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Perry among them — had been fired or moved on.

In 2018, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser at the time, John R. Bolton, ousted Mr. Bossert and eliminated the National Security Council directorate, folding it into an office dedicated to weapons of mass destruction in what Trump officials called a logical consolidation.”

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In the blog over the last week we have highlighted the Do No Harm principal. It is important for us all as practitioners to keep that front and center when gaming with people’s lives. But this story also demonstrates again where there may have been serious utility to using gaming to shape policy – with accurate data, well informed science, and serious attention from high level decision makers. It also shows how easy it is for the power of this tool to be shelved, sidelined, or fall through the cracks.


For further resources, see PAXsim’s COVID-19 serious gaming resources page.

“Flattening the Curve” COVID-19 matrix game

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From deep in his secret social distancing bunker at an undisclosed but secure location, mysterious matrix game guru Tim Price has put together yet another matrix game: Flattening the Curve. This examines the current COVID-19 pandemic, with five players/teams: the UK government, the general population, the World Health Organization, the US government, and “mishaps and markets.” To apply it to any other national case, replace the UK player with your own national government.

The package includes background materials, briefing, and game components. A pandemic timeline is used in place of a map, although you can supplement this with a map if you feel the need to represent localized events or actions. Remember that it is a matrix game, so you are meant to modify for your own purposes!

In addition, PAXsims has put together a a growing list of COVID-19 serious gaming resources, including game icons, examples of other pandemic gaming, and guidelines on “do no harm.” If you want to learn more about matrix games, there is further information available both here at PAXsims and at Tom Mouat’s matrix games webpage. In cooperation with The Game Crafter we have also made the Matrix Game Construction Kit (MGCK) available at cost for professionals involved in pandemic gaming, although you don’t need it to play this or any other matrix game.

MaGCK

Multiple wargame faculty positions vacancies at US Naval War College

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FACULTY POSITION VACANCY (Asst/Assoc/Full Professor – Center for Naval Warfare Studies, War Gaming Department) Job announcement number:  VA#NWC-20-05

Department:  Center for Naval Warfare Studies, War Gaming Department

Location:  U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI

PP-Series-GR:  AD-1701-03/05/07

Open Period:  This is an open continuous announcement which opens Wednesday, 18 March 2020.  First cutoff date for applications is 1 May 2020 and every 60 days thereafter until all positions are filled or 1 September 2020, whichever is earlier.

Position:  Assistant/Associate/Full Professor

Security Clearance:  Position requires eligibility for a Top Secret/SCI clearance

Who may apply:  This position is open only to U.S. citizens

The U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI invites applications for multiple anticipated full-time faculty appointments in the Center for Naval Warfare Studies, War Gaming Department.

This is an open continuous announcement which opens Wednesday, 18 March 2020.  First cutoff date for applications is 1 May 2020 and every 60 days thereafter until all positions are filled or 1 September 2020, whichever is earlier.  Applications must be submitted by e-mail to:  NWC-20-05@usnwc.edu and must reference VA#NWC-20-05.  Applicants must submit:  a cover letter, curriculum vitae or resume, and the names and contact information for three references.

Please see this attachment for more information about this position.

Voice-enabled distributed high-isolation gaming of major naval operations during global pandemic

Two Spaniards play Battleships during the coronavirus lockdown.

Gaming the pandemic: Do No Harm

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We at PAXsims believe that serious games are a very useful tool in the analytical or educational toolbox—if we didn’t, we wouldn’t put so much effort into this website and all of our other game-related activities. However, I often find myself warning about the limits of games too. They aren’t magic bullets. In some cases, moreover, they’re not even an especially useful tools.

I have been thinking about this quite a bit in relation to the current COVID-19 pandemic. PAXsims has tried to be helpful by making a number of gaming resources available. Others have done the same, notable the King’s Wargaming Network, which is offering to support appropriate gaming initiatives.

As we collectively grapple with the unfolding global crisis, however, I thought it prudent to also highlight some the risks of serious pandemic gaming. As I will argue below, while serious games have a great deal of utility, they can also be counterproductive. We thus all have a moral responsibility to make sure (as they say in the humanitarian aid community) that we DO NO HARM with our work.

First of all, there’s the modelling problem. We have to be very humble in assessing our ability to examine some issues when so little is known about key dynamics. Related to this is the “garbage in, garbage out” problem. Our data is often weak. The excellent epidemiological projections published by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team have been very useful in spurring states to action, but in the interests of avoiding confirmation bias we also need to recognize that some epidemiologists are raising concerns about the adequacy of the data used in such models. We need to make the robustness of our game assumptions to clear to clients and partners. Be humble, avoid hubris, make assumptions and models explicit, caveat findings, and don’t over-sell.

Second, playing games with subject matter experts (SMEs) can pull them away from doing other, more important things. I’ve done a lot of work on interagency coordination, where there is a similar problem: coordination meetings are great, but when you add up the time that goes into them they can actually weaken capacity if you aren’t careful. Of course, you can run games with non-SME’s, but then the GIGO problem is exacerbated.

Any gaming generally needs to be client-driven. Do the end-users of the game actually find it worthwhile? What questions do they want answered? This isn’t a universal rule—it may be that gaming alerts them to something that they hadn’t considered. But do keep in mind the demands on their time, institutional resources, and analytical capacity.

We also have to recognized that the much-maligned BOGSAT (“bunch of guys/gals sitting around a table”) is sometimes preferable to a game, when the former is run well. For a game to be worth designing and running it has to be demonstrably superior to other methods, and worth the time and effort put into it. There is a reason, after all, why the CIA’s Tradecraft Primer: Structured Analytic Techniques for Improving Intelligence Analysis warns that gaming techniques “usually require substantial commitments of analyst time and corporate resources.”

We need to debrief and analyze games carefully. The DIRE STRAITS experiment at Connections UK (2017) highlighted that the analytical conclusions from games are often far from self-evident, and that different people can walk away from the same game with very different conclusions.

Messaging for these games matter. The public is on edge. Some are dangerously complacent. Some are on the verge of panic. One wrong word, and suddenly there’s no toilet paper in the shops. If you don’t consider communication issues, reports from a game could feed either a “don’t worry it’s not that bad” view or a “my god we’re all going to die” response in the media and general public.

We also have to beware of clients with agendas, of course [insert everything Stephen Downes-Martin has ever written here.]

We need to be careful of both uncritical game evangelism and rent seeking—that is the “it would be cool to a game/games solve everything” over-enthusiasm, or “here’s a pot of money, let’s apply for it.”

In short, in a time of international crisis, we need to do this well if we do it. In my view it generally needs to respond to an identified need by those currently dealing with the crisis—or, if it doesn’t, there needs to be a good reason for that. They’re busy folks at the moment, after all.

UPDATE: I did a short presentation on this for the recent King’s Wargaming Network online symposium. My slides can be found here: DoNoHarm.


For more on gaming the pandemic, see our COVID-19 serious gaming resources page.

Pandemic response game icons

In order to assist the designers of pandemic response serious games, I have compiled and prepared a set of 68 COVID-19 themed game icons. These are available in zipped folders in three graphic formats: jpgs, pngs, and transparent pngs.

We typically use these in conjunction with 25mm or 37mm disks, the latter being the size included in the Matrix Game Construction Kit. These can be formatted for 3/4″ and 1″ Avery labels respectively using Avery’s excellent online design application and label templates. However, you can use them in any way you wish for the purposes of education and scenario analysis relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For further resources, see PAXsim’s COVID-19 serious gaming resources page.

COVID-19 serious gaming resources

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This post is intended to aid those who might be developing or facilitating serious games about COVID-19 pandemic response for policy development or educational reasons. It will be updated as we come across new resources.

If you know of any resources, please drop us a note. Note that we are not interested in hobby/entertainment games at this point (although if someone wants to do a review essay on several of these for PAXsims, we would be happy to consider it).


Simulation Resources: PAXsims

Simulation Resources: Others

COVID-19 Data Resources

COVID-19 Media Reports (selected)

General Information (Pandemics)

Matrix Game Construction Kit special offer for COVID-19 pandemic response

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UPDATE: The Game Crafter has had to suspend operations in compliance with state coronavirus directives. As a consequence, they are not able to produce or ship copies of MaGCK until those restrictions are lifted.

It is still possible to order the game, but neither we nor TGC knows when you might get it.


In partnership with The Game Crafter, PAXsims is making copies of the Matrix Game Construction Kit available at cost ($136.99) to those developing serious policy games to address the current COVID-19 global pandemic. The Game Crafter will treat any such order as urgent and expedite processing to the best of its ability.

Please note:

  • This offer is only available to organizations working on pandemic response matrix games for serious (policy-development or educational) reasons.
  • This is the regular edition of the Matrix Game Construction Kit—it contains no specific guidance or game materials on COVID-19. However, the PAXsims team stands ready to offer additional assistance.
  • To order a reduced-price copy of the Matrix Game Construction Kit, please email rex.brynen@mcgill.ca outlining who you are and how you propose to use it. You will then be provided with a link to the special game order page and additional instructions.
  • This offer only covers copies of MaGCK, and not other items published by PAXsims or The Game Crafter.

More information on the Matrix Game Construction Kit can be found here. For examples of pandemic response games developed with MaGCK, see the following PAXsims reports:

See also our PAXsims COVID-19 serious gaming resources page.

King’s Wargaming Network support for COVID-19 serious games

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Ivanka Barzashka, Director of the Wargaming Network at King’s College London, has announced a programme of grants to support serious gaming on the current COVID-19 global pandemic:

King’s has an important opportunity and responsibility to use our research expertise in support of the international response to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak. This goes beyond efforts to find treatments – for example into the effects of the outbreak on mental health (including through isolation), broader social and economic questions for society, the functioning of healthcare systems (including in developing countries). How can wargaming contribute to these questions?

King’s College London is offering pilot funding for King’s Wargaming Network research teams to engage with strategic partners on rapid research on this topic. Through the King’s Together programme, we will offer grants of up to £20k for groups of researchers to start work, across all disciplines.

Proposals are due 18 March and decisions will be announced on 20 March. Please contact me as soon as possible if you have an idea for a project.

Ivanka Barzashka
Director, Wargaming Network
School of Security Studies
King’s College London

The PAXsims team stands ready to assist applicants—email us if we can be of help. Please note that this is a time for client-driven, needs-driven serious gaming: it isn’t useful to propose projects that do not meet identified needs, which distract attention from more urgent tasks, or which consume human resources (such as subject matter expertise) better used in other ways. 

Facing the apocalypse

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Arriving in the morning to set up.

Last week, (simulated) federal and provincial officials and members of the PAXsims team met in a top secret nuclear bunker outside Ottawa to respond to the grave threat of global pandemic. This wasn’t COVID-19, however, or even African Swine Fever. This was the zombie apocalypse.

The occasion was the decidedly not-serious Apocalypse 2 North megagame and the location was the “Diefenbunker”—Canada’s former Cold War government command centre in Carp (about 20 minutes west of Ottawa), now a museum. The game was organized by the Ottawa Megagames group, many of whom had helped us run Apocalypse North at McGill University last year. This time there were 56 participants.

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Mobilization Control arrives with a plentiful supply of coffee.

Let me start by saying that the Diefenbunker Museum may well be the most awesome place on the entire planet to run a game. The bunker is big—with four underground floors and three hundred rooms, it was designed to withstand a 5 megaton nuclear detonation 1.1 miles away and thereafter support 535 civilian and military personnel for a month or more. The place is also remarkably intact, filled with 1960s-80s decor and equipment from its days as CFB (Canadian Forces Base) Carp. The Prime Minister’s bed, for example, is the original. If you are ever in the Ottawa area, make sure you visit!

 

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We even had a red telephone.

We utilized large parts of the 300 level, including the War Cabinet Room, the Emergency Government Situation Centre, the Military Information Centre, the Prime Minister’s Office and Suite, the CBC studios, and various other offices. The staff were extremely helpful and even let us use the bunker’s PA system to make game announcements. Players also had access to other areas of the complex and ate lunch in the cafeteria there.

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Briefing the players.

The game started with a briefing—appropriately enough, in the Military Information Centre. There had been a strange rash of unexplained attacks in Atlanta, home to the Centers for Disease Control. These soon started to spread across the United States. As violence grew, thousands of fearful Americans sought refuge in Canada.

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Players consult the national map. Picture credit: Madeline Johnson.

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The Windsor (left) and Niagara (right) maps. Picture credit: Matt Stevens.

Some of those refugees were infected, however. Other zombies crossed the border or washed ashore. Very soon, southern Ontario found itself under attack from growing hordes of undead.

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Things begin to deteriorate in the Niagara area. Picture credit: Madeline Johnson.

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The Windsor map. Several Tim Hortons doughnut stores in the Windsor area have been closed, underscoring the severity of the crisis. Picture credit: Madeline Johnson.

The federal government quickly declared a national state of emergency. Military units were mobilized, as were additional civilian resources. The US Embassy offered what help it could, and some American police and military units fled to Canada and joined the fight.

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Federal officials meet.

No Canadian crisis would be complete with constitutional complications, of course. However, federal-provincial cooperation was generally excellent.

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The Prime Minister and Premier of Ontario meet, as a CBC reporter lurks in the background.

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Military mobilization underway. Picture credit: Matt Stevens.

Unfortunately, at one key point Ottawa was left undefended. It was soon infected, forcing the cabinet to go into lockdown.

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Ottawa under siege! Picture credit: Madeline Johnson.

The Prime Minister, who had been making a speech to the nation, was trapped at the Ottawa CBC studios until evacuated by RCMP helicopter. Shortly thereafter, RCMP and Ontario Provincial Police teams liberated the capital.

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The Prime Minister communicates with the cabinet by walkie talkie while awaiting rescue.

Things looked bad in Québec too, with much of the province overrun.

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Zombies enter Montreal. Picture credit: Madeline Johnson.

Fortunately the situation there was soon addressed by units from the 2e Division du Canada out of CFB Valcartier. Later, some of these units travelled south to assist Vermont and New York National Guard units in establishing a safe zone around Burlington.

In Ontario, much of initial burden of dealing withe the zombie hordes fell on police. Those in Windsor were especially effective. Later they were reinforced by local Canadian Armed Forces reservists and regular units from CFB Petawawa.

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Federal, provincial, and local officials consult.

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The Prime Minister discusses the crisis with Canada’s First Nations.

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Casualties mount. Hospitals like these would soon find themselves overstretched.

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Medical and scientific professionals were key to fighting the zombie virus pandemic.

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Much of southwest Ontario is being overrun. Picture credit: Madeline Johnson.

Rumours swirled that the Tim Hortons doughnut chain was somehow responsible for the  apocalypse, and their headquarters was raided in a joint RCMP-OPP operation. It turned out, however, that they were a secret zombie-fighting organization.

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Tim Hortons is raided by police. Picture credit: Matt Stevens.

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All of our map controllers and zombiemeisters possessed first-class pointing skills.

First Nations leaders provided another critical part of the puzzle, revealing that the zombie virus was endemic to North America, and had been responsible for past outbreaks in pre-colonial times. This information, together with technical assistance from the World Health Organization, allowed the Public Health Agency of Canada to first develop more effective treatment protocols and later a vaccine. With this, the tide began to turn. Canada would be saved!

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Scientists and health ministers and others celebrate the discovery of a vaccine.

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The Prime Minister holds a press conference announcing the discovery of the vaccine.

It was a terrific day—perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had at a megagame. We look forward to holding additional events there once the (current, real world) pandemic is under control.


To contribute to global efforts against the COVOD-19 pandemic, please consider making a contribution to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. For each comment left below PAXsims will make an additional contribution.

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

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

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

Stay safe out there!

Best,
Steve and Rodger

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

Crisis games during a crisis

The following piece was written for PAXsims by Patrick Dresch. Patrick is based in Salisbury (UK), and is interested in the application of board games as training tools for emergency and disaster response. In 2019 he completed an MSc in crisis and disaster management at the University of Portsmouth, supported by a dissertation investigating the potential for cooperative board games to be used to train emergency responders in interoperability. He has also had the opportunity to test the integration of game mechanisms with table top and live simulation exercises by designing and delivering exercises as a volunteer with the humanitarian response charity Serve On.


Let me begin with a disclaimer: I am not an epidemiologist or expert in public health. I do, however, train for water rescue and coordination support with a humanitarian response organisation in the UK. I also enjoy board games, particularly cooperative ones, and think they hold great potential as training tools. This has led me to look not only at using boardgames to train responders, but also to explore if game mechanisms can be incorporated into more traditional table-top exercises. Examples of this include using elements of chance to encourage participants to explore risk, a paced delivery of information to practice developing situational awareness, and using game pieces to encourage engagement and a playful approach to problem solving (Figure 1).

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Figure 1: Serve On volunteers taking part in Exercise: Small World (Dresch, 2019).

I still enjoy playing games for fun, and still return regularly to Pandemic (Z-Man Games, 2008) which introduced me to the concept of cooperative board games (Figure 2). It is also a relatively easy game to teach, and I find I bring it out regularly with new gamers. Recently, as I have been following Covid-19 in the news I have been thinking more about the gameplay inPandemic and how well it reflects what is being reported with fairly simple mechanisms. Although Matt Leacock was inspired by Ebola, a disease with a much higher fatality rate than Covid-19, Pandemic is still able to demonstrate some of the difficulties faced by those planning the current response. For instance, although it is tempting to focus on the disease cubes in the game, this is only a time saving measure allowing players to collect the cards they need to find the “cures.” This may be likened to the use of quarantines and travel restrictions in the Covid-19 response, which slows the spread of the disease and gives epidemiologists and planners time to prepare.

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Figure 2: Initial setup of Pandemic (Z-Man Games 2008).

Although I think Pandemic can be an engaging way to practice communication and coordination, I do not think it provides me, as a member of the public, with practical information on hygiene and self-isolation which may be of benefit in the current situation. I therefore wonder why I am drawn to play Pandemic at this time, while anecdotally I am aware that others find it off-putting. It should be noted that this is not merely disinterest on the part of others, but phrases such as “not sure if I could stomach playing it right now” could be considered as revulsion. Having not carried out a wider survey, I have no idea if I am an outlier or if people with an interest in emergency planning and response tend to have a different attitude than casual gamers.

Moreover, my renewed interest in Pandemic is not simply related to Covid-19 but similarly in encouraging my friends to play Pandemic: Rising Tide (Z-Man Games, 2017) in what has been reported as the wettest February in the UK since 1862 by the Met Office. If you are unaware, Pandemic: Rising Tide (Figure 3) uses similar mechanisms to Pandemic to simulate flooding in the Netherlands, requiring players to build dikes and pumping stations as they carry out civil engineering projects (requiring five cards of the same colour). The focus here is not on a water rescue response, although there is an optional population rule set, and therefore has limited similarity the flood response exercise I designed. Nonetheless, I find the theme and gameplay engaging, and am inspired to play it at the moment.

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Figure 3: Initial setup of Pandemic: Rising Tide (2017).

In a year which has brought an almost weekly succession of storms to the UK (Ciara, Dennis, and Jorge) and associated flooding, I come back to wondering why I am drawn to these games at the moment rather than a more escapist, happy theme? Unlike with the Covid-19 response, I could potentially be involved in flood response work and have been on standby repeatedly, waiting to hear if I will be heading off to another part of the country. Both situations, however, involve waiting for news to find out how I may be affected by wider events. My speculation is that by playing these games I am, to some degree, re-affirming my own agency. That is to say, playing these games gives me a feeling of control which I am lacking in real life.

If this is the case, could playing suitably themed games be of benefit to the wider community of responders? I would certainly be interested to hear if others have had similar renewed interest in games with topical themes, and if there may also be a psychological benefit for responders playing these games after an incident. As noted earlier though, some people appear to feel a degree of revulsion at the idea and I am not advocating making people play games which make them feel uncomfortable or bring up trauma. Perhaps someone who works in psychology or counselling would like to comment and take this further?

Simulation & Gaming (April 2020)

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

Editorial

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

Articles

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

Reflections from an infectious disease outbreak matrix game

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The latest issue of the open-access Journal of Globalization and Health 16 (2020) features an article by Julia Smith, Nathan Sears, Ben Taylor, and Madeline Johnson on “Serious games for serious crises: reflections from an infectious disease outbreak matrix game.” This is the same pandemic response game featured in a previous PAXsims report last year.

Background

While there is widespread recognition of global health failures when it comes to infectious disease outbreaks, there is little discussion on how policy-makers and global health organizations can learn to better prepare and respond. Serious games provide an underutilized tool to promote learning and innovation around global health crises. In order to explore the potential of Serious Games as a policy learning tool, Global Affairs Canada, in collaboration with the Department of National Defense and academic partners, developed and implemented a matrix game aimed at prompting critical reflection and gender-based analysis on infectious disease outbreak preparedness and response. This commentary, written by the core development team, reflects on the process and outcomes of the gaming exercise, which we believe will be of interest to others hoping to promote innovative thinking and learning around global health policy and crisis response, as well as the application of serious games more broadly.

Main body

Participants reported, through discussions and a post-game survey, that they felt the game was reflective of real-world decision-making and priority-setting challenges during a crisis. They reflected on the challenges that emerge around global health co-operation and outbreak preparedness, particularly noting the importance of learning to work with private actors. While participants only sporadically applied gender-based analysis or considered the social determinants of health during the game, post-game discussions led to reflection on the ways in which equity concerns are put aside during a crisis scenario and on why this happens, offering critical learning opportunities.

Conclusion

Matrix games provide opportunities for policy-makers and health professionals to experience the challenges of global health co-operation, test ideas and explore how biases, such as those around gender, influence policy-making and implementation. Due to their flexibility, adaptability and accessibility, serious games offer a potentially powerful learning tool for global health policy-makers and practitioners.

A post-game survey indicated that participants were generally impressed by the utility of matrix games in foreign policy planning and development in general, and for thinking about how Global Affairs Canada might respond to a global pandemic in particular.

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By playing the game, participants felt they better understood the issues and challenges involved, with regard to both global health and security issues and gender-based analysis.

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For another recent game on the value of matrix games in exploring pandemic preparedness, see our report on Gaming African Swine Fever.

Wargaming Instructional Fellow, US Army War College

bp0277_us_army_war_college_decal_grandeThe US Army War College is seeking a Wargaming Instructional Fellow.

This is a part-time civilian position at the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) as provided under Title 10 USC 4021. Initial appointment will be for 6 months. The appointment may be renewed for up to one year in total. The position is structured for current or recently matriculated undergraduates with an interest in developing and teaching educational wargames for use in strategic-level education.

Responsibilities

  • Collaborate with professional strategic game developers and faculty to design, develop and teach custom strategic games in graduate-level curriculum and to inform senior leader decision making
  • Collaborate with Department of Defense Officials to determine the scope and applicability of wargames as a technique for conducting research into issue of military strategic importance
  • Serve as a member of a gaming team in teaching games in graduate-level education and inform senior leader decision making
  • Participate in wargames and workshops, and write and publish on matters of importance related to strategic wargaming
  • Engage in internal and external service in support of institutional missions

Applicants must be US citizens, and will be rated based on the following criteria:

1. Pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree or a recent graduate with Bachelor’s Degree in a field relevant to strategic gaming.
2. Understanding of game principles or theory.
3. Strong written and oral communication skills – able to develop and teach a game’s fundamentals or outcomes to students
4. Ability to learn and act in a fast-paced environment.
5. A high level of energy and motivation.
6. Demonstrated potential to work with a team of wargamers, faculty and other leaders to conceptualize, program, test, teach, or document games for use by students.
7. Active involvement in networks relevant to wargaming or gaming.

You will find full details at USAJOBS. The application deadline is April 10, 2020.

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