Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Tag Archives: NASAGA

Registration now open for NASAGA 2021

Registration is now open for the North American Simulation and Gaming Association‘s annual (virtual) conference, to be held on 5-7 November 2021. You’ll find further detail here.


The North American Simulation and Gaming Association will hold its annual conference virtually, on 5-7 November 2021. The theme will be “Into the Future.”

A call for presentations will be issued soon and registration will open in August. For further details and updates, check the NASAGA 2021 website.

Simulation and gaming miscellany, International Tabletop Day 2017 edition


Geek & Sundry has declared April 29 to be International Tabletop Day, and we at PAXsims are happy to celebrate the occasion with some recent items on conflict simulation and serious (or not-so-serious) gaming that may be of interest to our readers.


How might Brexit negotiations go? Back in January 2016, Open Europe “wargamed” possible British-EU negotiations. According to the The Economist:

…the second part of the war games, a mock-up of how the EU would respond to a vote for Brexit, was worse. Lord Lamont, a former Tory chancellor of the exchequer representing Britain, argued that an “amicable divorce” was in everybody’s interests. Britain could negotiate a trade deal similar to Canada’s, liberating it from EU rules, including free movement of people. He even volunteered to pay something into the EU budget.

Yet other countries were unimpressed. John Bruton, a former prime minister representing Ireland, said Brexit would be seen as an “unfriendly act” and would threaten the peace process in Northern Ireland (Enda Kenny, Ireland’s real prime minister, made a similar point after meeting Mr Cameron on the same day). Steffen Kampeter, a former deputy finance minister representing Germany, said Britain would not be allowed to cherry-pick the benefits of membership without the costs. Mr de Gucht noted that a new trade deal would be negotiated by the European Commission and national governments with minimal British input. He and others added that they would try to shift Europe’s financial centre from London.

The starkest warning came from Leszek Balcerowicz, a former deputy prime minister representing Poland. He said the priority would be to deter populists in other countries who wanted to copy Brexit. For this reason Britain would be punished by its partners even if that seemed to be against their interests. Mr Cameron’s negotiations may be hard, but they are a picnic compared with what he would face were he to lose his referendum.

Earlier this year, students at the Blavatnik School of Government (University of Oxford) also conducted a Brexit simulation:

In our simulation, British negotiators successfully deployed “divide and conquer” tactics, particularly when individual member states became sympathetic to the UK’s domestic constraints and frustrated with the slow pace of talks. Michel Barnier and the European Commission were at their most effective when they framed issues through the indivisibility of the “four freedoms”. However, when it became apparent member states were willing to forgo freedom of movement, EU leverage was sharply diminished.

The participants in our simulation recognised the close economic relationship between the EU and the UK. On finance and the City, discussions centred on how to make “equivalence” work post-Brexit, with some creative proposals to sidestep the ECJ. However, in trade the UK quickly announced its decision to step out of both the Single Market and the Customs Union, leaving detailed negotiations for a future FTA until after Brexit.

Despite this mutual reliance, the Brexit talks might still shift to a game in which the two players seek to inflict pain on one another. In part this is because preserving the EU is seen to require a demonstration that leaving the club comes at a significant economic price, even though this would leave both worse off than under the status quo.

You can find additional discussion of classroom simulation of Brexit negotiations at the Active Learning in Political Science blog.


NASAGA (the North American Simulation and Gaming Association) has podcasts! The latest edition by Sonya and Nicholas Wolfram explores “designed and emergent narrative” in game design.


Following the US decision to respond to Syrian chemical weapon use at Khan Shaykhun with a punitive strike on April 7 against a Syrian air base, the always-interesting Red Team Journal used the event to highlight the importance of “Asking the Right Questions (Before and After).” In doing so, they noted the potential contribution of red teaming methodologies.


You’ll find their full discussion here.


At Small Wars Journal, Spencer B. Meredith III recently discussed “Reclaiming Strategic Initiative in the Not-So-Gray Zone: Winning Big Conflicts Inside Small Ones.” In the article he has some very positive things to say about the value of wargames and other simulations:

The first example occurred during a recent US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Senior Leader Seminar looking at competition short of armed conflict. Framed as a wargame, this seminar simulated several scenarios where traditional power politics and violent extremism collided. Participants were asked to dig deeply into the underlying causes of threats, and how perceptions shape everything from core interests to immediate grievances. Yet the event did much more than explain why stability is so elusive, and peace even more so. It also raised several key areas where the United States and its partner nations can mutually support each other.

One centrally important area is in building responsive governance. The notion rests on several claims, foremost that nations and the governments that govern them need not homogenize their interests, to say nothing of values, in order to cooperate. This pragmatism stands in contrast to nearly three decades of idealistic foreign policy that claimed the universality of certain collective goods, but which really defined them along a US-centric vision of what they needed to look like, even when the substance was foreign to the nations being “helped”. This idealistic vision took many forms, from economic liberalization that forced developing markets open through IMF austerity measures; to military imposition of democracy in places that had neither centralized governance capacity, nor the social consensus to build it; to more recent social reengineering to fit a narrow vision of Western pluralism. All have run headlong into local values, competing national interests, and ultimately, contending visions of what the global order should look like and what leadership among peer and near-peer rivals can realistically be.

Responsive governance also requires that states establish and defend parameters for public debate. Yet like pragmatism, this does not have to mean democracy in any particular form. NATO partner nations have a range of electoral systems that speak to a variety of cultural, historical, and normative differences about who should govern, how, and under what constraints. By relying on the core concept of responsivity, rather than the vastly over-used “democracy”, the analytical frameworks expressed in the USSOCOM event have traction within solid scholarly research, and equally important, with buy-in from partner nations on whom the United States will continue to rely and give support.

There is particular praise for a series of simulations designed and run by the ICONS Project:

Administered for the Joint Staff SMA program, the University of Maryland runs a series of simulations designed to provide short, sharp scenarios that evolve over multiple iterations. Harnessing real-world events and massaging them into realistic near-term future situations, the ICONS project (International Communication & Negotiation Simulations) brings together subject matter experts to play various roles in real-time, web-based engagements. Several lessons emerge from the simulations. The most important are the complexity of the problems each party faces, and the battle for strategic initiative as more ebb and flow than a sole power defending against all comers. These perspectives provide vital reminders for both academia and practitioners with our respective checklists for analyzing the “facts on the ground”. In addition, the potency for non-state spoilers remains incredibly high, higher than a cursory glance of the configuration of forces would otherwise reveal. Much like small parties in coalition political systems that can swing the balance of power either way, non-state proxies can serve as force multipliers for larger states, as much as independent agents seeking their own highest good at the expense of others. The ICONS simulations highlight these challenges, while providing avenues for practical courses of action for the United States and its partners of concern.

I don’t doubt the value of ICONS simulations—they’re excellent. However I’ll admit to a certain degree of cynicism about the conceptual utility of “grey zones”—that messy area, short of full-scale armed conflict, where politics, diplomacy, social and economic economic forces, covert action, and violence interact. Specifically:

  1. It has always been thus. Pretty much the entire history of European colonial expansion involved all that stuff, for example. Supposed civil society actors (the Royal Geographical Society) working in hand with national governments! Foreign “volunteer” troops in local wars! Bribery! Subsidies for friendly potentates and warlords! Piracy! Local alliances! Powerful social and economic forces! Trade agreements as an instrument of national power! It’s all so new.
  2. The notion of grey zones risks becoming the self-licking ice cream cone of national security discourse, where people eagerly frame things as “grey zone” aggression when they actually have far more prosaic explanations. This was certainly one of the accidental findings of last year’s Atlantic Council simulation on conflict in the Gulf.
  3. The rest of us call this “political science.”


Russian “little green men” caught in the act of gray/grey zone conflict Crimea? No, this is the British East India Company in Madras. Their British officers and advisors declined to be painted, citing operational security.




NASAGA2015logoThe North American Simulation and Gaming Association has issued a call for proposals for its 2015 annual conference, to be held in Seattle on 21-25 October 2015:

In October 2015 we are Building Gamification Buzz in lively Seattle, Washington. The conference will include workshops, expo, posters, playful sessions and the ever popular game night.

Concurrent Session Proposals

We are calling for proposals for  15-minute, 90-minute, or 3-hour highly-interactive, games, simulations, or experiential sessions that explore ways in which we can add play to technology-led learning environments, use technology-driven games as tools for learning and, of course, use playful activities for face-to-face teaching, learning, and leading groups. To submit your proposal download and complete the application document. Submit your proposal as a Word document to on or before May 15, 2015.

Poster Session Proposals

This year’s NASAGA conference also will include a poster session to share your research. NASAGA invites proposals from people working on the theory and application of games and simulations for learning challenges, or gamification, including but not limited to active learning methods to increase engagement, retention, and performance. If you are interested in submitting a proposal for a poster session download the poster information sheet and submit your 300-500 word abstract to

You’ll find further information on submitting an application here.

Simulations miscellany, 11 June 2014


Some recent items on conflict simulations and serious games that may be of interest to PAXsims readers.

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At Ideas.TED, game designer Brenda Romero discusses how a manual game can illustrate the economic dynamics of undocumented workers in the restaurant industry:

IMG_2489_1024px“There are five players and they’re all restaurant owners. The rules are modeled on real-world economics. Which means that if one of us chooses to use illegal, undocumented labor, pricewise we will destroy everybody else.

In its fourth iteration now, the game is looking at this system that propagates disparity because it needs to, while externally talking about how it’s all wrong. It’s a system that is blind to its brokenness. It’s a system that requires disparity. In play tests, some really unique things happened, right from the prototype. I had glass beads out, those flat marbles you use in vases with flowers, and people just naturally picked up brown ones to go in the kitchen, which was horrifying. They picked up the clear beads to be front of house.

The one point in the game that really bothers me is the disposable nature of the workers when they’re represented by game pieces. This isn’t like Monopoly, where you get a fake $200 bill or four houses. I’m exploring using real people in the game, so that when you hire them you see these real people — not resources, but real people with real lives. If I use real people, I would probably have them waiting around on chairs, just standing in small groups like the guys standing around in front of Home Depot. It should reflect reality — you’re not pulling them out of a bag. I want people to leave this game having a feeling for the actual people behind the system. We see the system as way too abstracted. We caused this problem, it’s because of us.”

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Registration is now open for the Connections 2014 interdisciplinary wargaming conference. Matt Caffrey has provided this update on this year’s plans:

Colleagues, In recognition of his life time of contributions to national defense and the field of wargaming it is the  unanimous decision of planning team  to dedicate Connections 2014 (Quantico MCB, VA, 4-7 August ) to the memory of Colonel Morgan.

For those of you not lucky enough to know him; as a captain he helped convinced the Air Staff to fund printing commercial style wargames and then designed both, as a Lt Col he let innovative wargaming efforts at Air Command and Staff College and as a civilian he advanced the state of wargaming used to help prepare The Air Forces young Lieutenants and Captains. He was also a successful designer of commercial wargames.  His titles included the very successful Flight Leader. He also contributed to many computer wargames. Lt Col Gary Morgan USAF (ret.) passes away on 21 May. Through sheer luck I was able to attend Mo’s funeral in Alabama.  I was – well – moved by the size of the contingent from the Squadron Officers College.

During Connections  2012  I think it was Ellie Bartels that suggested we add “and sustain” to our original mission of “advance the art, science and application of wargaming.”  Mo’s passing clarifies just how prescient her suggestion was.  Our goal to ensure Connections 2014 is worthy of his memory and effective in passing on knowledge of a field he nobly advanced.

I believe we are on track to reach that goal with Nobel Laureate Professor Thomas Schelling our lead Keynote, excellent tutorials in advance of Connections proper and our most international, our broadest set of speakers to date.  However, Connections has always been about connecting contributors to the field of wargaming.  To be truly successful Connections 2014 needs – you.

With zero registration fee and lodging on base there is nothing we can do to make Connections less expensive.  For those who still cannot attend lice we are working with our marine Corps hosts to make as much of Connections as practical available via VTC

Please go to our website to learn more and register.  Please register as even though there is no fee we need to know how many participants to expect.  Registering for virtual participation lets us know who to contact with instructions on how to connect.

However you can participate you will be contributing to an effort to advance and sustain a field that Mo Morgan spent his life making more effective.  I can think of no better way to honor his memory.


Matt Caffrey

PS. I’ll be at Origins Friday and Saturday. If any of you are attending I hope to see you there.

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Registration is also now open for the 2014 annual conference of the North American Simulation and Gaming Association (NASAGA), to be held in Baltimore on 8-12 October 2014. Details can be found here.
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Zach Morgan’s blog Useful Historian has recently had a couple of articles posted on learning history through boardgames. You’ll find them here:
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On the subject of teaching history with games, have you ever wondered how accurate is the game Crusader Kings 2 in portraying medieval Europe and India? There was an excellent discussion on this a few weeks at Reddit, which examines a number of issues related to history and game design.
h/t Jack McDonald (@jackmcd83)
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After considerable controversy, it has been confirmed that Final Fantasy XIV will enable same-sex marriage by a player character in a forthcoming patch.

That, of course, will place the  fictional world of Eorzea ahead of thirty US states….


Simulations miscellany, 21 August 2013

miscellanySome recent material on peace/conflict/development simulations and gaming that may be of interest to our readers:

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Registration is still open until August 23 for the Connections UK interdisciplinary wargaming conference to be held at King’s College London on September 3rd and 4th. I’ll be there, as will be several other PAXsims contributors.

Registration for the conference (including lunches and dinner) costs £100, and should be done via KCL.

I’ll also be running and demo and playtest of the Humanitarian Crisis Game that I’m developing for classroom use, based on ideas from the Connections 2012 “Hati HADR Game Lab” (see here and here and here), as well as Gary Milante’s Crisis Response card game (featured on PAXsims here). I could do with a few more volunteers for the game, so if you’ll be attending Connections UK and are interested, let me know.

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The McGill Humanitarian Studies Initiative as offering a multi-disciplinary program that includes both in-classroom learning (one evening per week, September 10 to December 17) as well as a 3-day Field Simulation (Spring 2014):

The course provides registered medical students, residents, public health students, and other graduate-level students with relevant backgrounds, mid-career professionals and humanitarian workers with the globally recognized competencies relevant to humanitarian work.  The course is created so course participants gained competency-based essentials in humanitarian response practice recognized by Non-governmental Organizations (NGO’s), Canadian universities and government as the standard for professional-level humanitarian training.

You’ll find further details at the HSI website. You can also find a review of the Spring 2013 version of the course by PAXsims contributor June McCabe here.

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The North American Simulation and Gaming Association will be having an online discussion on Twitter (#NASAGAchat) on August 29:


Time: August 27, 2013 from 9pm to 10pm (EDT)
Location: Twitter, Twubs
Organized By: Melissa Peterson

Event Description:

One of the things we discussed last time was the large difference between the design and implementation of in-person games, board games and virtual or video games.

This time we will be delving into that in more detail. What are those differences, what are the pros and cons of each, and how do we decide what the best option is for a particular project?
Join us to learn or provide your expertise!

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The annual conference of the Digital Games Research Association will be hosted by Georgia Institute of Technology at the Georgian Terrace Hotel in Atlanta on 26-29 August 2013:


This year’s proposed theme is a playful linguistic remix of the terms “frag” and “defrag.” Defragging is the computer term for reducing file fragmentation. Fragging, derived from the military term for killing a superior officer of one’s own unit, has become video game parlance for the temporary killing of another player.

In the early game studies community, a good deal of fragging (in all three senses) took place between various camps, schools of thought and disciplines. This included discussions as to whether or not game studies should split into more discipline-centered communities; however, the overall trend has been to continue to grow our field as an “interdiscipline” that includes humanities, social sciences and psychology, computer science, design studies, and fine arts.

Borrowing from the computer engineering term, the theme for DiGRA 2013 highlights this process of defragmenting, which both embraces and better articulates our diverse methods and perspectives while allowing the game studies research community to remain a coherent and unified whole.

DiGRA 2013 will take place immediately proceeding Dragon*Con, America’s largest multigenre fan convention. For more information, visit:


Questions about the conference?

Celia Pearce, John Sharp, Helen Kennedy
DiGRA 2013 Conference Co-Chairs

DiGRA Students have put together some useful research resources:

As our updated version of the Games Research Positions Map ( has received so much positive feedback, the new “Games Research Journal Map” has been structured in a similar way. It is completely searchable, sortable (by journal name, discipline, publisher, or frequency of publication), and contains a range of important information about the different academic journals in the field that regularly publish games-centric research (e.g., impact factor, word limits, link to submission guidelines, etc.). Check it out here:

We hope that this will soon become a valuable resource for students and academics alike! Please feel free to pass this information along to any other mailing lists/researchers who may be interested in such a resource.

Also, if there is a journal that has been overlooked, or see an error in one of the postings, please let us know via this thread ( on the DiGRA Student forums. As the only known list of its kind, we would like to keep it as accurate and comprehensive as possible.

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In a very thoughtful review at BoardGameGeek, game reviewer (and insurgency groupie) extraordinaire Tom Grant has high praise indeed for Andean Abyss:

Volko Ruhnke’s Andean Abyss recently won the Charles S. Roberts award for best post-World War II boardgame. That deceptively simple statement means a lot more than it might seem at first glance. Andean Abyss is one of the most important wargames published in the last decade, a real watershed in the history of the hobby. And it’s a damn good game, too.

We were very positive about the game too, as you’ll see from our earlier review.

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This month in Seattle, the world championships for the fantasy-themed computer game DOTA 2 featured the largest ever prize for a digital game competition, $1.4 million. As noted in the  BBC’s reporting on the competition, it follows an earlier decision by the US government to grant P1 visas to professional gamers, much like internationally renowned athletes or entertainers.

Alas, D&D never paid like that…

#NASAGAchat: Anastasia Salter on “Narrative in Games and Sims” (June 11)

The North American Simulation and Gaming Association has organized an online discussion with Anastasia Salter (University of Baltimore) on “Narrative in Games and Sims,” to be held via Twitter from 21:00 to 22:00 (EDT) on June 11.

Next week we will be welcoming Anastasia Salter to #NASAGAchat! She will be coming to chat with us and answer our questions about narratives in games and simulations – a topic she has been spending time on as part of her research into digital narratives. Anastasia is also presenting the ARG design workshop at NASAGA this year, so we will also talk about design of narrative driven experiences.

Come ready to talk about or listen to the stories we experience, the stories we tell about games and simulations, and how to incorporate narratives into your own designs!

You’ll find archived tweets from the previous #NASAGAchat on “Alternate Realities in Games and Sims” here.

simulations miscellany, Spring 2013 edition


As the northern hemisphere welcomes the imminent arrival of Spring 2013—evidenced by the view outside my front window this morning (above)—PAXsims is pleased to present another collection of conflict simulation and gaming news from around the internet.


Need a virtual continent? Look no further than “Missionland,” the four million square kilometres of politically-correct terrain data produced by the NATO Science and Technology Organization, Modeling and Simulation Group. You’ll find the full story at Defense News.


The folks at Reacting to the Past have announced the formation of a new “Reacting Consortium.”

Reacting Consortium is an independently chartered organization of colleges and universities committed to developing and publishing the “Reacting to the Past” series of role playing games and providing programs for faculty development and curricular change. Its broader mission is to promote imagination, inquiry, and engagement as foundational features of teaching and student learning in higher education. Institutions interested in exploring the benefits of membership should contact Dana Johnson, Administrative Director, at

We are already working to expand our outreach activities, as well as to strengthen our collaborative enterprise.  Several faculty workshops will be held in the coming months, including a Regional Conference at Pikes Peak Community College (Colorado Springs, April 19-21) and a special JALT Faculty Workshop at Sophia University in Tokyo (May 11-12).  Registration is also open for the Thirteenth Annual Faculty Institute at Barnard College (New York, June 6-9). Interested faculty are encouraged are encouraged to register early. For further details about the program, registration rates, and the call for proposals, please visit the institute web site.

Finally, the Reacting Consortium is developing a partnership with a new publisher, W.W. Norton & Company. Norton will be working closely with the Reacting Consortium Editorial Board to prepare revised editions of existing games and to publish new games, as well as to expand the resources available to instructors and students

You’ll find several forthcoming RTTP events and conferences listed on their website, including a RTTP Game Development Conference to be held at Central Michigan University on 18-20 July 2013.

This conference focuses on designing games for the pedagogical method “Reacting to the Past.”  We will play several Reacting-style games that are currently in development, discuss game design principles and processes, and work to expand and explore ideas for new games.

For further information, please visit the conference web site.


The latest issue (March 2013) of Simages—the newsletter of the North American Simulation and Gaming Association—has been published, with NASAGA news, several articles, and information on the 2013 conference. You can download it here.


At Forbes, Michael Peck comments on “Al Qaeda’s Goofy Video Game.” Technically it’s not really an al-Qaida game at all, but rather a game by a couple of AQ wannabe game designers, but he’s right that it isn’t very good. You’ll also find coverage at Foreign Policy magazine, Kotaku, and Globalpost.


What have the folks at MMOWGLI been up to lately with their Massive Multiplayer Online War Game Leveraging the Internet? You can find out at DoD Live.


Kris Wheaton (Institute for Intelligence Studies, Mercyhurst University) offers more thoughts on game-based learning and intelligence at his Sources and Methods blog. What’s more, he’s also formed a gaming company!


We missed this one before: an academic paper by Nina Kollars and Amanda M. Rosen  on “Arming the Canon: Reviving the Foundation of International Relations through Games—another of the many game/simulation papers presented at the recent 2013 APSA Teaching & Learning Conference.

This paper attempts to add a layer of conceptual clarity to the study of simulations and games in international relations by classifying simulations and games according to their unit of analysis and the number of sources they attempt to incorporate. We present this classification and note the advantages and disadvantages of such a model with particular attention paid to the potential misuses of topic-based and multi-source games. We introduce a new unit of analysis, the question- or problem-based approach, and offer a new game to illustrate the potential benefits of such an approach. Ultimately we conclude that a large part of the answer to whether or not simulations are effective in advancing learning may depends on how a particular game is framed and executed.

simulations miscellany, 12 August 2012

A few recent items that may be of interest to PAXsims readers:

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I’ve updated the links to various report on the Connections 2012  interdisciplinary wargaming conference at the Wargaming Connection website. Even if you missed the conference, you can find out what happened.

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PAXsims gets a shout-out in an article on crowd-sourcing ideas in the military at the Training & Simulation Journal.

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According to “learning guru” John Seely Brown, businesses would be better to hire a World of Warcraft player than it is to hire a Harvard MBA:

While he’s right about the collaboration skills and inventiveness that can characterize some high-end play, and I do think people are often inappropriately dismissive about the skills and social element of MMORGs, I do think (as a moderately experienced WoW player myself) that he’s rather overselling it—unless, of course, your business model involves a lot of ganking newbies.

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Back in April 2012, the Rockefeller Foundation and Institute for the Future ran Catalysts for Change, a “a 48-hour online game to engage people around the world to reimagine the future of poverty and global well-being.” The summary report of that exercise is now available.

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The preliminary programme is now available for the North American Simulation and Gaming Association annual conference, which will be held 7-10 November 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. You’ll find full details here, and registration is here.

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My colleague Neil Caplan passed on a recent piece (coauthored with Wendy Pearlman, Brent E. Sasley, and Mira Sucharov ) on “History, Rationality, Narrative, Imagery: A Four-Way Conversation on Teaching the Arab-Israeli Conflict” in the Journal of Political Science Education   8, 3 (August 2012). What does that have to do with games and simulations? Well, they are mentioned a couple of times in the article as teaching techniques:

Simulations are games in which students are (often) divided into groups representing specific actors, and sometimes individual students are given specific roles within the unit. The groups then interact with each other in the process of working toward a specified outcome (e.g., a peace agreement, a conference communique ́, etc.). The benefits to simulations have been highlighted at length elsewhere (for some discussion see Sasley 2010). Here, I would like to add that it is the ‘‘real life’’ experiences that such games provide to students that benefit them.

Let me explain by an example. In a recent class I divided students into ‘‘Israel,’’ ‘‘Fatah,’’ ‘‘Hamas,’’ and the ‘‘United States.’’ Their task was to reach the broad outlines of a written agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. This was complicated by the fact that the Palestinians were composed of two factions. What was most interesting about this simulation was that the students came very close to achieving their goals; in fact, with another two or three minutes they would have.

Hamas was composed of hardliners and moderates (not always helpful descriptions, but conventional and easy to work with in this case). They had major disagreements with each other, until one group began to plot the overthrow of the other group to take over the organization. The group that planned the coup was the one that would have signed a final agreement. Time ran out before they completed their takeover; however students were so excited by this part of the simulation that they continued to discuss it for the rest of the course.

What is interesting about this outcome is that it reflects real-life disagreements within the Hamas leadership. Certainly students could have read about this, but feeling it as they did—and generating the excitement that it did, as evidenced by evaluations and after-simulation comments to me—provided them with a real sense of the complexities and pitfalls inherent in any interactor relationship.

Interestingly, a forthcoming article in Simulation & Gaming by Sean McMahon and Chris Miller will argue that simulations of the Arab-Israeli conflict also have potential ideological biases that could be seen as problematic:

This paper reflects critically on simulations. Building on our experience(s) simulating the Palestinian-Israeli-American Camp David negotiations of 2000, we argue that simulations are useful pedagogical tools that encourage creative—but not critical—thinking and constructivist learning, but can also have the deleterious effect of reproducing unequal power relations in the classroom. We develop this argument in five stages. First, we distinguish between problem-solving and critical theory and define “critical thinking” – something not done by the simulation orthodoxy. Second, we describe the Camp David simulation. This is our contribution to the relatively small corpus of literature on simulating Palestinian-Israeli relations. Third, we review the constructivist learning and peer teaching done through our simulation. This section is notable because it is authored by a graduate student who participated in the simulation as a meaning maker. Fourth, we review the manner in which simulations promote creative, not critical, thinking and reproduce asymmetrical power relations. Fifth, we reflect on the overall utility of simulating the Camp David negotiations in the classroom.

The latter piece will appear in a special issue of Simulation & Gaming on “simulations and games to build peace,” coedited by Gary and myself.

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Finally, what serious wargamer hasn’t wondered what are the optimal siege tactics for taking Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle? (h/t @MahmudNaqi)


The North American Simulation and Gaming Association will be holding its 50th anniversary conference in Columbus, Ohio on 7-10 November 2012. You will find more information in this leaflet, or on the NASAGA website.

They are also still accepting applications for sessions until March 15. Proposals may be for either of two types of sessions.

Concurrent sessions are 90 minutes, interactive, energetic, lively and original – typically PowerPoint-free. Game night sessions are two hours, held concurrently one evening, and allow time for playing and debriefing a complete game or simulation.

For further information on submitting a proposal, see here.



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