PAXsims

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Tag Archives: Derby House Principles

The need for diversity in wargaming

The following piece was written for PAXsims by Brandon Valeriano. Dr. Valeriano (PhD Vanderbilt University) is the Bren Chair of Military Innovation at the Marine Corps University. He also serves as Senior Advisor for the Cyber Solarium Commission and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. 

PAXsims is a proud cosponsor of the Derby House Principles, and this post is part of an ongoing discussion we hope to encourage on diversity and inclusion in wargaming. If you have something to contribute, get in touch!


My father was a proud Latino. I remember quite early on that I found an old button of his that had the phrase “we don’t need no stinkin’ badges.” It was from Blazing Saddles, a famous scene where the villain gathers up all the scum of the area to harass a local town, including the KKK. The Latinos took their place in line and rejected a need for law enforcement badges.  (The original quote is “we don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you no stinking badges!” from the Treasure of Sierra Madre

My father explained that ownership of the phrase was a statement of pride, a statement of identify, and a statement of action. While the Latino community is often vilified, they more commonly known as industrious, innovative, and dedicated. The Black community in many ways has similar traits, pride, individuality, and drive. Overcoming negative stereotypes often is more about identifying with the positive rather than focusing on the negatives, therefore, “we don’t need no stinkin’ badges” became a statement of action and identity.  

We need action and awareness of identity issues now more than ever. The recent wave of protests over the death of George Floyd has unleashed an enormous amount of questioning and activism in all communities, and the wargaming community is no different. 

Statements of purpose are important, but action is more critical.  We can do no less because inclusive diversity is critical in the process of developing, testing, and engaging in wargames as a discipline. Perla famously applied the phrase, BOGSAT, “bunch of guys sitting around a table” to wargames. We should revise that statement to BOWGSAT, bunch of white guys sitting around a table. It is critical that wargames engage diverse populations because there should be an accurate reflection of reality in our games and because diversity is associated with better solutions to problems. 

If the purpose of wargames is to engage communities of interest, these communities need to reflect the diversity that is inherent in our political systems. The US military is an incredibly diverse body at the topline (although there are many problems with diversity and promotion). Understanding the application of strategy and tactics is imperative. If those that design, participate, and assess wargames are only from certain ethnic or gendered populations, much knowledge is lost. The process of communication and dissemination of the lessons from wargames requires diverse participation from all groups.  

Even more critical than representation is the need to include diverse populations in wargames because they increasingly are demonstrated to produce better outcomes. Diverse teams are required to solve problems because the groupthink is endemic to the wargaming community. We need people who will think outside the box, who will bring in new and innovative ideas, and who will seek to make the red team experience more real through a difference in play style. 

The goal should be to diversify the wargaming community through example and inclusion. I was literally pulled into the wargame community by hook and crook by my friend and co-author Ben Jensen. He has been working on wargames for over a decade at this point and rarely writes on the subject, preferring to just put things into action. We devised a wargame (or simulation) on national security decision making that has led our team to open new pathways in the field examining escalation pathways through technological innovation

We also helped devise the wargame the Cyberspace Solarium Commission used to evaluate its proposals, along with Nina Kollars and Erica Borghard. Our colleague and friend, Jacquelyn Schneider, devised the wargame that was used to kick off the Solarium Commission

The Krulak Center, my place of work, is incredibly diverse. Our current Director and Deputy Director are female, one is Black. Our incoming deputy director is Latino. Our key point person for wargames with Futures Command was a Latino Major who is now off working on his PhD. Many of our wargaming efforts are led by an Asian American former soldier and now academic. We have put diversity into action and are reaping the rewards. 

There has been a great amount of progress in the field of wargaming lately. With interest from Senior officials like former Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work and the current Marine Corps Commandant, initiatives are coming from the top that seek to transform the field.  Yet, we cannot become complacent and fall into the trap of performative diversity. Diversity must be put in action in a real concentrated way to have an impact on outcomes.

Every organization must ask themselves, what are they doing to promote diversity. Awareness is not enough; we need to move beyond simple token statements or “badges” of good feeling and produce action. How diverse is your organization? How diverse are those playing your game? Did you think about a diversity of perspectives and experiences in developing your game? 

Understanding the purpose and need for diversity is critical in our new era of awakening. While this movement was a long time coming, it is now time to put into practice what we have known academically for a long time. Diversity increases outcomes and it provides innovation though differences in thought. Every organization would be better served by recognizing the utility of listening to diverse voices and engaging the differences in perspective that produce enhanced outcomes. We have more than a moral obligation, we have a service obligation to promote solutions to the challenges facing our world through breaking the mold and seeking to value diversity. 

Brandon Valeriano

Defence Academy of the UK calls for diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming

The Defence Academy of the United Kingdom is the latest sponsor of the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming.

The Defence Academy is part of the Ministry of Defence. Our purpose is to develop the intellectual edge needed for success on operations and leadership in government. We deliver courses designed to unlock the cognitive skills of our students to expand their intellectual horizons and capacity. Our portfolio of long and short courses covers leadership, strategy, science and technology, and business skills.

Welcome aboard!

RAND Center for Gaming supports the Derby House Principles

We are very happy to announce that the RAND Center for Gaming is the latest group of serious gamers to endorse the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming.

The Center for Gaming promotes the use of games in research to improve decision-making across a wide range of policy areas. The Center supports the innovative application of gaming, the development of new gaming tools and techniques, and the evolution of existing forms and methods.

The RAND Centre for Gaming is not only a world leader in the development of serious games, but has also done much to support women and other underrepresented groups in professional wargaming.

If your organization would like more information on the Derby House Principles or would like to endorse them, email us here at PAXsims.

Nuts! Publishing endorses the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in wargaming

We’re happy to announce that Nuts! Publishing is the latest gaming company or organization to endorse the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming.

On a personal note, I’m especially happy to welcome Nuts! on board. I use their games (notably Urban Operations) in teaching wargame design. Moreover, they will be publishing We Are Coming Nineveh!, a game exploring the liberation of Mosul from ISIS control in 2017.

I am one of the codesigners of WACN, along with Juliette Le Ménahèze, Harrison Brewer and Brian Train. It was Juliette who first launched the project and drove it forward. Florent Coupeau at Nuts! has been really supportive and encouraging of her efforts as a new, female wargame designer. The Serious Games Network – France, another Derby House Principles signatory, has also been very encouraging to her.

Finally, for those who are wondering: while the pandemic has slowed down the publication schedule, WACN is still on track to be published next year.

UK Fight Club endorses the Derby House Principles

UK Fight Club is the latest organization to endorse the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming.

If your organization would like to join us too, email us.

Connections Netherlands endorses the Derby House Priciples

Connections Netherlands has joined the growing list of organizations that have endorsed the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in serious gaming.

If your organization would like to join them in endorsing the Derby House Principles, drop us a line.

Latest endorsements of the Derby House Principles

We are pleased to report that four more organizations and companies have endorsed the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional (war)gaming:

If your organization would like to join us in making serious gaming more tolerant and inclusive, drop us a line.

Derby House Principles update

We are pleased to announce the latest groups and organizations that have chosen to endorse the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming:

If your organization would like to join, let us know.

Announcing the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming

We are very pleased to announce that several of the world’s major professional (war)gaming organizations have come together to endorse the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in serious gaming.

THE DERBY HOUSE PRINCIPLES*

We believe that promoting diversity and inclusion is the right thing to do. 

Diversity and inclusion are more than just words for us. They are the hard-and-fast principles guiding how we will build our teams, cultivate leaders and create a community that supports everyone in it. No one should ever feel excluded or less welcome because of gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, or background. Experience and social science has shown that diversity can generate better results, in analysis, insight, and professional decision-making.

As professional gamers we are committed to the Derby House Principles:

1)   Promoting inclusion and diversity in professional wargaming, through the standards we set, the opportunities we offer, and access to activities we organise.

2)   Making clear our opposition to sexism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination across the board, as well as in wargaming.

3)   Encouraging a greater role and higher profile for colleagues from underrepresented groups in our professional activities.

4)   Seeking out and listening to the concerns and suggestions of our colleagues as to how our commitment to diversity and inclusion could be enhanced.

5)   Demonstrating our commitment to diversity and inclusion through ongoing assessment of progress made and discussion of future steps.  

PAXsims

Connections North (Canada)

Connections UK

Connections (US)

Serious Games Network—France

*Derby House in Liverpool was the location of Western Approaches Tactical Unit during WWII. 

WATU conducted some of the most consequential wargaming in the history of armed conflict. It was staffed by women from all walks of life, and men considered unfit for duty at sea through illness and injury. Between them was the breadth of tactical, technical, social and cultural knowledge necessary to train naval officers from every Allied nation.

This initiative has been underway since February, when Connections North hosted a panel on diversity and inclusion at its annual conference in Montréal. Thereafter, confronted with examples of misogyny and racism directed at wargaming professionals on social media, a working group was established in mid-May consisting of Kiera Bentley (Connections UK), Rex Brynen (PAXsims/Connections North/McGill University), Sally Davis (PAXsims/Dstl), Tom Mouat (PAXsims/Connections UK/Defence Academy of the UK), Briana Proceviat (PAXsims/Canadian Joint Warfare Centre) and Yuna Wong (RAND) to develop a common vision and language.

These efforts were given new urgency by the killing of George Floyd on May 25 and the subsequent protests in the United States and around the world calling for an end to systemic racial and other discrimination.

We are currently working with the cosponsors and other groups to address these issues in conferences, workshops, and other activities. At PAXsims, you can complete our survey on diversity in wargaming or read some of the various articles we have published on diversity, inclusion, and representation. We also strongly recommend Becca Wasser’s September 2019 piece on women and wargaming in the New York Times Magazine, as well as reading up on the history of the Western Approaches Tactical Unit at Derby House.

We also look to widen the conversation and broaden the coalition for change. If your organization would like to endorse the Derby House Principles, email us to let us know. While we are not accepting individual endorsements, we would encourage readers to promote the statement and the values it represent. If you have ideas, we want to hear them!

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