PAXsims is pleased to present some recent items on conflict simulation and serious (and not-so-serious) gaming that may be of interest to our readers.
Aaron Danis suggested some of the items included in this latest edition.
The NATO Allied Command Transformation website features a piece by Sue Collins on “wargaming the future” at the 2019 Concept Development and Experimentation Conference.
There has been resurgence in interest in wargaming amongst NATO organizations and NATO Nations. The practice of wargaming has been around for hundreds of years, so it is nothing new, but it fell out of favour to all but hard-core hobby-wargamers and now a new generation of staff are re-discovering the practice and its associated benefits, and building up their wargaming experience.
Recent examples of wargames that Allied Command Transformation staff designed include; a matrix game for Allied Command Operations to test NATO’s Military Deterrence Response Options and further the Deterrence Concept; a human-in-the-loop simulation wargame to test Anti-Access Area Denial strategies; and a game to validate NATO’s Urbanization concept. Upcoming games are planned to explore and test the NATO Mine Warfare concept and the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept.
At the 2019 Concept Development and Experimentation Conference in Madrid, Spain, there will be a workshop called “Wargaming the Future” where participants will be introduced to the practice and get the opportunity to play games including a dilemma game and matrix wargame. The games will focus on scenarios relevant to Allied Command Transformation’s Strategic Foresight Analysis exploring future trends such as the Arctic and High North, China and new technological advances. Participants will learn how wargaming can be applied to individual Nations’ Concept Development and Experimentation projects. The “Wargaming the Future” workshop is a joint venture between Allied Command Transformation and the Netherlands Defence Research Agency.
Beyond the workshop, NATO is continuing to advance the art and science of wargaming. NATO Nations host annual wargaming conferences, and the NATO Science and Technology organization are sponsoring research task groups to advance wargaming practices.
Speaking of NATO, how would Europe organize its security and defence if the US were to withdraw from the alliance? The International Institute for Strategic Studies organized a policy game to explore this issue in July, and the report is now available.
The Körber Policy Game brought together a high-level group of senior experts and government officials to address a fictional scenario that involves a US withdrawal from NATO followed by multiple crises in Europe.
Recent developments in transatlantic relations have reignited the debate about the need for Europeans to assume greater responsibility for their own security. Yet, efforts by European leaders to substantiate the general commitment to ‘take their fate into their own hands’ are so far lacking sufficient progress.
Against this backdrop, the Körber Policy Game brought together a high-level group of senior experts and government officials from France, Germany, Poland, the UK and the US to address a fictional scenario that involves a US withdrawal from NATO, followed by multiple crises in Europe.
How will Europeans organise their security and defence if the US withdraws from NATO? To what extent will future European security be based on mutual solidarity, ad-hoc coalitions or a bilateralisation of relations with the US? Which interests would the respective European governments regard as vital and non-negotiable? What role would the US play in European security after the withdrawal?
The Körber Policy Game is based on the idea of projecting current foreign and security policy trends into a future scenario – seeking to develop a deeper understanding of the interests and priorities of different actors as well as possible policy options. The starting point is a short to medium-term scenario. Participants are part of country teams and assume the role of advisers to their respective governments.
The UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory has put together a brief overview of the recent Connections UK professional wargaming conference.
For more on Connections UK 2019, see also the Connections UK website and PAXsims’ own report on the conference.
Linköping University in Sweden is planning a climate change megagame for April 2020.
“The Climate Change Megagame” takes place in Östergötland. It starts in 2020 and the scenario may run right up until 2100. The participants play various local roles, such as politicians and representatives for the business world. At least half of the participants will play the role of local inhabitants. As the climate changes, they will be faced with new situations and must take difficult decisions.
“One aim of the game is to cause participants to consider how we will have to adapt the way we live in response to climate change. We also want to know more about decision making in a future characterised by uncertainty about the climate. This uncertainty is not just about the physical climate, but also the political climate, where effects such as large-scale refugee movements, and food and water shortages, may have an effect”, says Ola Leifler.
One intention of the research project is to investigate whether a megagame is an effective way of passing on knowledge about climate change.
“I hope that the game can be held as a course here at LiU in the future.”
This is the first time that a megagame is used for research at Linköping University. Ola Leifler wants to determine whether decision making can be studied using this type of game.
“Do the players gain insight into the significance of climate change? Some members of the project team are experts who have previously studied how decisions are taken in simulated worlds.”
The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, together with the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, hosted Event 201: a high-level simulation exercise for pandemic preparedness and response, in New York on 18 October. According to a report in Modern Diplomacy:
The exercise will bring together business, government, security and public health leaders to address a hypothetical global pandemic scenario. It will also feature a live virtual experience from 08.50 – 12.30 EDT to engage stakeholders worldwide and members of the public in a meaningful conversation of difficult high-level policy choices that could arise in the midst of a severe pandemic.
The world has seen a growing number of epidemics in recent years, with about 200 events annually including Ebola, Zika, MERS and SARS. At the same time, collective vulnerability to the social and economic impacts of infectious disease crises appears to be increasing. Experts suggest there is a growing likelihood of one of these events becoming a global threat – or an “event 201” pandemic – that would pose disruptions to health and society and cause average annual economic losses of 0.7% global GDP, similar in scale to climate change.
“We are in a new era of epidemic risk, where essential public-private cooperation remains challenged, despite being necessary to mitigate risk and impact” said Arnaud Bernaert, Head of Shaping the Future of Health and Health Care, World Economic Forum. “Now is the time to scale up cooperation between national governments, key international institutions and critical industries, to enhance global capacity for preparedness and response.”
Additional information can be found at the Event 201 website.
“A series of September and November wargames led by the Pentagon’s Joint Staff will evaluate new battle plans for fighting China and Russia, Pentagon officials say.” according to Defense One.
“What we don’t have is a concept that accurately and with rigor describes how the services will fight against a peer adversary,” Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Futures Command and director of Futures and Concepts Center, told reporters Wednesday on the sidelines of the Defense News Conference.
A key part of the Global Integrated Wargame will be testing new gear intended to help troops in the various military services to communicate more seamlessly with one another. Today, each branch generally uses stovepiped networks — meaning, for example, that a pilot over the battlefield cannot easily talk to ground troops, who cannot easily talk to a ship’s crew just offshore.
Many studies of educational simulation and gaming use self-reported learning as a measure of effectiveness. However, we have long known this is a poor indicator, since students are likely to assess teaching methods (in part) on how much they have enjoyed them—not how much they have actually learned. Ars Technica discusses recent studies that suggest “College students think they learn less with an effective teaching method.”
A posting at the Institute for World Politics discusses 9/11 – The Second Wave, a strategic game designed by IWP interns.
An eight-week summer gaming workshop utilizing the skills of IWP’s intern team resulted in a mid-August presentation at the Connections 2019 wargaming conference at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, PA, by project coordinator Professor Aaron Danis. “The poster session at Connections garnered a lot of foot traffic and interest, as it was the only terrorism-themed analytic game at the conference,” stated Professor Danis.
The strategic analytic game, titled 9/11 – The Second Wave, is based on a little-known disrupted al-Qa‘ida plot to attack the West Coast and Midwest with aircraft after the 9/11 attacks. While al-Qa‘ida was unable to conduct follow-on attacks because of increased U.S. security measures, the plot remained in the mind of 9/11’s primary planner until his arrest in 2003. This “what if?” game postulates that the Second Wave became the primary targets for 9/11.
Prof. Danis comments: “The purpose of this game is to provide students in my Counterterrorism and the Democracies course with a challenging terrorist scenario on scale with 9/11, while mitigating some of the hindsight bias of those who have read a lot about or have personal experience from 9/11. Game objectives include counterterrorism response, crisis and consequence management, and indications and warning of further attacks.”
The interns did research into the plot, worked on game mechanics, designed the play map, and drafted the action cards that drive play. They also did an initial playtest of the first day, which focuses on the actual attack, its consequences, and the U.S. response.
Rebel Inc is an outstanding iOS game that is also perhaps the best stabilization simulation out there. Now it’s coming to the PC, in an expanded version, Rebel Inc: Escalation.
According to Rock Paper Shotgun, the full and final versaion will be available in late 2020. The early access version is already available on Steam.
Giaime Alonge has written a thoughtful piece on “Playing the Nazis: Political Implications in Analogue Wars” at Analogue Game Studies.
Last month, a truck turned too sharply on Interstate 75 in Atlanta and spilled much of its load: 216,000 gaming dice.
Further details at Kotaku.
The Military Operations Research Society Cyberspace Wargaming & Analytics II Workshop is taking place 22-24 October in Alexandria, VA.
The primary objective of the workshop is to build upon the success of the 2018 Cyber Wargaming Workshop and continue the collaboration on data, models and wargaming best practices and sharing lessons for current cyberspace wargames and operations. This includes describing the current state, clarifying gaps and developing solutions for cyberspace operations data, models and wargaming. The workshops are geared to span the spectrum of wargaming experience from the novice wargamer, who want to increase their knowledge of wargaming techniques in the training working groups, to master game designers, who want to share and increase the wargaming body of knowledge within a cyber-context. A new addition this year is a working group which will focus on cyber data science.
There is still time to register.
The American Political Science Association’s 16th annual Teaching and Learning Conference will be held 7-9 February 202 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The conference includes a simulation and gaming track:
Simulations and games can immerse students in an environment that enables them to experience the decision-making processes of real-world political actors. Examples include in-person and online role-play scenarios like the Model European Union and ICONS, off-the-shelf board games, Reacting to the Past, and exercises that model subjects like poverty, institutions of government, and ethnic conflict. This track will examine topics such as the effects of gamification of course content on student motivation and engagement, cognitive and affective outcomes from simulations and games in comparison to other teaching techniques, and the contexts in which the use of simulations and games makes sense for the instructor.
Additional details can be found here.
Registration is open for the 2019 annual conference of the North American Simulation and Gaming Association, to be held in Chicago on 6-9 November.
The Winter conference of the Reacting to the Past Consortium (“Engaging the Future: Purposeful Teaching for Real World Learning”) will take place on 18-19 January 2020 at the University of Georgia. Further information is available here.
On the subject of conferences, don’t forget that registration is also now open for the Connections North professional wargaming conference at McGill University, Montréal on 15 February 2020, as well as the ATLANTIC RIM megagame on February 16.