Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Tag Archives: GUWS

GUWS: Fielder on the Psychology of Effective Game Design


The Georgetown University Wargames Society will be hosting a virtual presentation by James “Pigeon” Fielder on the psychology of effective game design on June 8.

In this talk, Dr. James “Pigeon” Fielder of Colorado State University will discuss why good games tap the minds and emotions of players. Drawing from interdisciplinary literature, Pigeon will delve into the gaming symbolism from board games to sports and how games transform into rituals inside which play becomes real to the participants.

Zoom information will be sent to participants from our GUWS email no later than 72 hours before the event!

Speaker Bio

Dr. James “Pigeon” Fielder joined Colorado State University in 2019 as an Adjunct Professor after retiring from the U.S. Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel and Associate Professor of Political Science at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is also the founder and president of Liminal Operations, LLC, a corporate wargaming consultancy. Pigeon researches interpersonal trust and emergent political processes through tabletop, live-action, and online gaming as natural experiments. He also has over two decades of experience designing, executing, and assessing training exercises and wargames, from small-group tabletop discussions to multi-day exercises engaging 5,000+ participants.

Registration is via Eventbrite.


A video of this presentation can be seen below.

GUWS: Wong on wargaming and design thinking


The Georgetown University Wargaming Society will be hosting a virtual presentation by Dr. Yuna Wong (RAND) on “Wargaming and design thinking” on 14 July 2020.

RAND Corporation is about to launch its first commercially available boardgame, Hedgemony, a version of the wargame that it developed to support the Pentagon write the 2018 National Defense Strategy. This presentation will go over the design thinking approach we used to develop the game.

Speaker Bio: Yuna Huh Wong is a policy researcher who works on a number of defense and national security topics.

Projects that she has led or co-led includes:

  • A look at the way artificial intelligence and autonomous systems could affect deterrence and escalation. This project used wargamed a future conflict involving the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea where all but the latter had widespread AI and autonomous systems.
  • Wargaming methods, tools, best practices, and recommendations for developing U.S. Marine Corps wargaming capabilities.
  • Development of the game that stress tested the first ever NATO Military Strategy in 2019.
  • Development of the wargame that supported the 2018 National Defense Strategy.
    Recommendations for wargaming operations in the information environment.
    Options for human-machine teaming in a littoral environment.
  • She was the co-chair for the 2016 and 2017 Military Operations Research Society (MORS) special meetings on wargaming. She also keynoted at the Connections North wargaming conference in Montreal in February 2020.

She holds a Ph.D. in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School, where her dissertation was on non-combatants in urban operations and in military models and simulations. She has a M.A. in political science from Columbia University and a B.S. in economics and a B.S. political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Registration is via Eventbrite.

GUWS: Sterrett on commercial wargames in professional military education (May 19)


The Georgetown University Wargames Society will be hosting a virtual presentation by James Sterrett on the use of commercial wargames in military education on May 19

James Sterrett will discuss the use of commercial wargames in military education, including selection, employment, and modification of commercial games for the classroom. Leveraging his experience teaching at the Command & General Staff College at the U.S. Army University, he will highlight specific games he has utilized in past courses and provide lessons learned for other educators.

James Sterrett is the Chief of the Simulation Education Division in the Directorate of Simulation Education of U.S. Army University/Command & General Staff College. Since 2004, he has taught the use and design of simulations and games, and supported their use in education. He also earned a PhD in War Studies from King’s College London, resulting in publication of Soviet Air Force Theory 1918-1945. He has also participated in beta test and design teams for many games, notably including Steel Beasts and Attack Vector: Tactical.

A video of the presentation is now available:

GUWS: How to start a career in wargaming


On April 22, the Georgetown University Wargames Society will be hosting yet another of their excellent free, online panel discussions—this time on “How to start a career in wargaming.” Details and registration via Eventbrite.


Becca Wasser: Becca Wasser is a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, where her primary research areas include wargaming, international security, and U.S. defense and foreign policy in the Middle East. She specializes in designing and running structured strategy games for the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense. Becca is also an adjunct instructor in the BSFS program, where she teaches a course on analytical gaming. She is a graduate of the MSFS program at Georgetown University.

Jeremy Sepinsky: Jeremy Sepinsky is the Lead Wargame Designer at CNA, the Navy and Marine Corps’ FFRDC. He started at CNA in 2013 and has been the primary facilitator and designer of CNA’s Wargames since 2017, running about a dozen wargames each year. He holds a PhD in Physics and Astronomy from Northwestern University, taught University level physics for 5 years, and spent 18 months in Yuma, AZ working with the Marine Corps on Operational Test and Evaluation.

Taylor Teaford: Taylor Teaford is a wargame designer and program manager at Systems Planning and Analysis (SPA). He develops future technology focused wargames in support of the Strategic Intelligence and Analysis Cell (SIAC) within the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD R&E). He previously designed wargames at the Marine Corps Wargaming Division and is a graduate of Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program (SSP).

Phillip Pournelle: Commander Phillip Pournelle retired from the US Navy after 26 year of service as a Surface Warfare Officer. He served on Cruisers, Destroyers, Amphibious ships and an experimental High Speed Vessel. He served on the Navy Staff doing Campaign Analysis, at the Office of Secretary of Defense Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, and at the Office of Net Assessment. He is a senior operations research analyst, net assessor, and wargame designer.


If you missed the panel discussion, here it is on YouTube.

Herman: The Intersection of Professional and Commercial Wargaming (GUWS)

The following was first posted to Facebook by Christopher Weuve (Air Force Research Laboratory). Reprinted with permission.

On Thursday,  I watched a presention by Mark Herman called “The Intersection of Professional and Commercial Wargaming,” hosted by the Georgetown University Wargaming Society. As expected, Mark had a lot of interesting things to say.

For those who don’t know him, Mark is somewhat of a legend in the wargaming community. Mark is widely recognized within both the DOD and hobby wargaming communities, having started with hobby publisher Simulations Publications, Inc in the 1970s, working as a professional wargamer in the Pentagon for the 1980s and 1990s (including, famously, wargaming the Gulf War in the Pentagon while the initial invasion was still going on), and eventually leading Booz Allen’s wargaming division before his retirement a couple of years ago. Most wargame professionals have their expertise mostly in either the hobby or professional side; Mark’s experience puts him at the top of **both** lists. When you take into account the breadth of his wargaming efforts, he may be the most accomplished wargame professional in history.

A couple of things stood out from his talk. One is that, for a wargame, “the most important decision is who to invite.” The right players are critical.

The second was a slide that Mark put up regarding the utility of wargame. The bullet points are:

  • Wargames approximate and illuminate the human dimension of warfare. All else is commentary.” [He did not name the colleague who said this.]
  • Wargames offer the ability to observe human behavior within a conflict context.
  • Wargames are to Modelling & Simulation what Anthropology is to Mathematics.
  • If wargames had a patron saint it would be Jane Goodall, not James Clerk Maxwell.
  • An insight is a human participant reaching a first order conclusion based on experiences and information uniquely produced in a wargame.

A large portion of the talk consisted of personal examples that highlighted these points.

Christopher Weuve 

GUWS: Mark Herman on the intersection of professional and commercial wargaming (April 16)

On April 16, the Georgetown University Wargaming Society will be hosting a virtual presentation by wargame designer Mark Herman on “the intersection of professional and commercial wargaming” from 1800-2000 EDT.

Mark Herman will discuss how his commercial wargame design and publishing experience intersected with his professional career as a defense analyst specializing in DoD wargaming. The focus on the talk will be on the skills that transferred between these two disciplines and which were unique. There will be a Q and A after his remarks.

Mark Herman has produced several successful wargames, including We, the People, Pericles, Fire in the Lake, and more. In his commercial career, he served as the CEO for Victory Games and worked for SPI. He also served as a Senior Partner at Booz Allen Hamilton and co-authored Wargaming for Leaders: Strategic Decision Making from the Battlefield to the Boardroom (McGraw-Hill, December 2008). Mark Herman holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a master’s degree in national security studies from Georgetown University.

Details and registration at the link above.


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