Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Tag Archives: Simulation & Gaming

Simulation & Gaming, October 2015


The latest issue of Simulation & Gaming 46, 5 (October 2015) is now available. Much of the issue is devoted to using games to aid in “understanding complexity.”

Guest Editorial

Understanding Complexity: The Use of Simulation Games for Engineering Systems

  • Geertje Bekebrede, Julia Lo, and Heide Lukosch

Symposium Articles

Designing SNAKES AND LADDERS: An Analogy for Asset Management Strategy Development

  • Melinda Hodkiewicz

Model-Based Concept of Operations Development Using Gaming Simulation: Preliminary Findings

  • Peter Korfiatis, Robert Cloutier, and Teresa Zigh

Gaming and Simulation for Railway Innovation: A Case Study of the Dutch Railway System

  • Jop van den Hoogen and Sebastiaan Meijer

The Power of Sponges: Comparing High-Tech and Low-Tech Gaming for Innovation

  • Sebastiaan Meijer

Understanding Complex Systems Through Mental Models and Shared Experiences: A Case Study

  • Geertje Bekebrede, Julia Lo, and Heide Lukosch


Transportation Modeling as a Didactic Tool: Human Settlement and Transport

  • Timo Ohnmacht, Widar von Arx, Norbert Schick, Philipp Wegelin, and Jonas Frölicher

Ready-to-use simulations

CONFIDENTIAL COMMUNICATION: A Corporate Social Responsibility Game

  • Shlomo Sher

PUZZLED? A Hierarchical-Group, Problem-Solving Simulation

  • Kathleen H. Wall and Sandra Morgan

Simulation & Gaming, June-August 2015


The latest issue of Simulation & Gaming 46, 3-4 (June-August 2015) has now been published. It is a special symposium issue on system dynamics and simulation/gaming.

Simulation & Gaming, April 2015


The latest issue of Simulation & Gaming 46, 2 (April 2015) is now available. This is a symposium issue devoted to Theory to Practice in Simulation.

Simulation & Gaming (February 2015) now available

The latest issue of Simulation & Gaming 46, 1 (February 2015) is now available. It includes a tribute to the late Donald Featherstone by John Curry of the History of Wargaming Project.


CFP: Temporality in Simulation Gaming


Timo Lainema (University of Turku) has issued a call for papers for a symposium issue of Simulation & Gaming on “Temporality in Simulation Gaming.”

With this symposium (special issue) of Simulation & Gaming, we call on authors to prepare and contribute original and unpublished articles exploring temporality in simulation gaming. Research on time in gaming is becoming more common, but is still rare. This is surprising considering that the majority of business simulation/games, for example, have a time dimension embedded in their virtual world.

Possible topics of interest (not necessarily limited to these):

  • review of existing literature on simulation gaming time processing and presentation methods, with the most recent developments;
  • the nature of time during a simulation game and how it affects the gaming experience;
  • flow/immersion and time – how they are linked together;
  • what kinds of phenomena can be represented with simulation games that have different ways of dealing with the flow of gaming decisions and tasks;
  • how the time presentation of a simulation game affects the authenticity of the game;
  • problems of condensed and simplified simulation time – does condensation lead to potential problems and misunderstandings ;
  • studies on the relationship between the progression of events within the game internal world time and the progression of real-world time
  • how temporality affects the cognitive processes of the player
  • time in team based games – how temporality affects team processes, communication and collaboration
  • temporal structures for arranging optimal game learning processes: when to motivate, brief, and debrief the game content and outcomes, how the participants change on the temporal continuum during this process (from newcomers to experts in the gaming context)
  • presentation and analysis of simulation games which aim at teaching future-oriented awareness of the players – learning about time, its horizon and future;
  • how various perceptions and notions of time influence the debriefing process.

Unfortunately, I’ve only just seen the CFP, and so the deadline for submission of abstracts is soon—”summer 2015.” For further details, see the link above.

Simulation & Gaming, April 2014


The latest issue of Simulation & Gaming 45, 2 (April 2014) is now available.

Christle Grace G. Carabeo, Charisse May M. Dalida, Erica Marla Z. Padilla, and Ma. Mercedes T. Rodrigo
Timothy C. Clapper
Ki-Young Jeong and Ipek Bozkurt
Alice Y. Kolb, David A. Kolb, Angela Passarelli, and Garima Sharma
Jonna Koponen, Eeva Pyörälä, and Pekka Isotalus
Kimmo Oksanen and Raija Hämäläinen
Call for Papers

The call for papers that forms part of the issue is on the topic of “theory to practice in simulation.”

Call for Papers

Theory to Practice in Simulation

Symposium issue of Simulation & Gaming: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Theory, Practice and Research.

Guest Editors: Timothy C. Clapper, PhD, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, TC Curriculum & Instructional Design, LLC, USA and Iris G. Cornell, PhD, RN, Rasmussen College, USA Email:

With this special issue of Simulation & Gaming, we call on authors to prepare and contribute original and unpublished articles exploring specific learning theories that guide best practices in simulation. Theory guides practice and practice guides theory. Practice theory is descriptive and we have a need to describe the use of the learning theories that support best-practices in active, engaging, and informative simulation-based instruction.

We will use a Conceptual paper design and a structured abstract. For this special issue, we prefer articles to be short communications (1500-2500 words) of one or two specific learning theories applicable to appropriate instructional design and simulation-based instruction.

Process: Before submitting a manuscript, please consult the Guide for S&G Authors and the detailed call for papers available on the S&G web site and (LINK). The first step involves sending an abstract and keywords to the guest editors. After the approval of your abstract by the guest editors, you will be invited to submit your full manuscript. Only those articles of the highest quality will move forward for publication.


  • Receipt of proposals: summer, 2014.
  • Response to proposals: within in a month.
  •  Submission of manuscripts: fall, 2014
  • First review: to be submitted by end of fall 2014.
  • Revision (maybe 2nd review), editing, proofing, in a month • Online publication: as articles are accepted.
  • Publication of special issue: possibly early/mid 2015

More details at:

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CFP: Special issue of S&G on sustainability and simulation/gaming


Levent Yilmaz (Auburn University) and  Tuncer Ören (University of Ottawa) have issued a call for papers for a special issue of Simulation & Gaming that would be devoted to sustainability and simulation/gaming.

As the challenges involving the achievement of a sustainable society become truly global involving complex interdependencies among social, political, and technical dimensions that collectively influence risk, simulation gaming with complex system models is becoming a highly effective strategy to study them. In today’s challenging policy environment, government officials and other decision-makers are confronting difficult sustainability problems whose common feature is their complexity.

Even under optimistic conditions, unexpected disasters and crises will increase severity of conditions for immediate disaster relief and the need to assist large number of refugees. Also, human actions contribute to environmental disasters such as oil spills. These emerging challenges suggest development of adaptive and resilient plans that can be revised under conditions of deep uncertainty. Development of simulation-based predictive displays for a control system or predictive displays based on multisimulation to evaluate several futures and decisions based on the outcomes of several futures will be critical enablers to deal with uncertainty that is pervasive in complex interconnected systems that need to be properly managed. Better data can also drive simulation games, which can help predicting important trends, assessing how well proposed policies and strategies would meet desired system-level objectives, and determining the optimal levels of resource use. Examples include growth, development, and evolution of urban areas, management of critical infrastructures during crisis and disaster, and management of natural environments such as forests or rivers as well as policies for governance such as fiscal and economic policies to assure sustainability and definitely to avoid disasters. However, effectiveness and relevance of simulation games to decision-making require careful consideration of the integration of the simulation gaming solutions with deliberation and political process. Hence, the issues pertaining to transparency, legitimacy, and participation are critical pillars of an integrated strategy.

With this special issue, we aim to provide the opportunity for authors to contribute original and unpublished articles that present the use of simulation/gaming, including debriefing, for exploring social, economic, and environmental sustainability of human and natural systems. Simulation/gaming, with debriefing, can serve as a proactive anticipatory system to examine possibly unintended consequences of course of actions, as their impacts are amplified and are often unforeseeable due to complex interactions and emergence that permeate through the components of a complex interconnected system of systems. Multidisciplinary approaches are particularly welcome to address the problem of complex system sustainability.

  • Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
  • Integrated economic, social, and environmental simulation games for sustainability
  • Models of human factors and social dynamics in relation to human and organizational enterprises
  • Simulation games for decision support under uncertainty and long-term policy analysis
  • Metrics for proactive anticipation of unsustainable conditions and their solution
  • Tools and techniques for assessing adaptability, resilience, and emergent behaviour in complex adaptive human and social systems
  • Simulation gaming for disaster management and recovery
  • Advanced methods and tools for testing of the resilience of proposed financial regulations
  • New ways of thinking for policy makers for predictability, control, and explanation of complex adaptive phenomena
  • New resource management paradigms investigated by M&S
  • Data needs and validation of sustainability models and simulation games
  • Synergy of software agents and simulation games, including agent-monitored simulation games
  • The use of debriefing, and the integration of debriefing into simulation/games, for sustainability.

Proposals will be accepted through spring/summer 2014. For more information on submissions, click the link above.

Simulation & Gaming (October 2013)


A new issue of Simulation & Gaming 44, 5 (October 2013) is available:

Autobiographical article


Simulation & Gaming (August 2013)


The new issue of Simulation & Gaming 44, 3 (August 2013) is now available:



Ready-to-use simulation

Simulation & Gaming (April 2013)


The latest issue of Simulation & Gaming 44, 2-3 (April 2013) has now been published. The issue is devoted to the subject of climate change:






Guest Editorial


S&G: Simulations, games and peace

SGpeaceThe latest issue of Simulation & Gaming 44, 1 (February 2013) has just been published—and it is a special issue on “Simulations, games and peace” coedited by Gary and myself. Most of the articles are paywalled by SAGE and you’ll need a subscription to access them, but our introduction to the issue (excerpted below) is open access:

Simulations and games have long been used to examine war-fighting. Chess—one of the world’s oldest, and certainly most ubiquitous, games—has its origins some 1,500 years ago in India as a game of contemporary warfare. Since the invention of KRIEGSSPIEL in 19th century Prussia, professional wargames have been used to educate officers and train armies for battle (Perla, 1990).

Similar mechanisms can also be used, however, to examine conflict from another perspective: that is, how it might be avoided, reduced, managed, transformed, or resolved. Whether we focus on nuclear deterrence, provincial reconstruction in Afghanistan, tribal tensions in Sudan, or efforts to avert genocide in COUNTRY X, the games featured in this special symposium issue of Simulation & Gaming share a common interest the in building or maintaining of peace.

Our interest in this area comes from our own practical experience using games as an experiential teaching technique. One of us works as a senior economist at the World Bank, where he designed and implements the CARANA simulation, used to teach World Bank staff the skills necessary for assessment, strategic planning, prioritization, and program design in conflict-affected and fragile states (World Bank, 2012). The other uses a variety of games in teaching about development and war- to-peace transitions at McGill University, most notably the annual BRYNANIA civil war role-playing simulation (Brynen, 2010). Together, we also coedit the PAXsims (2012) blog on conflict simulation, which brings together game designers, users, students, and practitioners.

Why Use Games?

With regard to military matters, Philip Sabin (2012) has argued that the educational value of games can be substantial:

The most important function of wargames is to convey a vicarious understanding of some of the strategic and tactical dynamics associated with real military operations. Besides learning about the force, space and time relationships in the specific battle or campaign being simulated, players soon acquire an intuitive feel for more generic interactive dynamics associated with warfare as a whole. . . . As variation in combat outcomes during the game creates unexpected threats and opportunities, players will be faced with other classic real world dilemmas such as whether to reinforce success or salvage failure. Actually grappling with such dilemmas at first hand rather than simply reading or hearing about them has enormous educational potential. (p. 31)

Much the same arguments can be made about the use of simulation and gaming techniques to enhance our understanding, not of warfare, but rather of the process whereby peace might be achieved and sustained. Through serious games, participants can gain a better sense of the dynamic relationships at work in complex environments, explore good fits and practical solutions, and understand how mistakes occur (often, by making them themselves). These are real skills needed in the real world: In recent decades, policy makers working on peacekeeping and peacebuilding have certainly been faced with the prospects of failure and have been forced to choose between “rein- forcing success and salvaging failure.” When games engage multiple participants, the games reproduce some of the political, coordination, communication, and coalition- building challenges that often accompany peace and stabilization operations, especially if a simulation is designed to reproduce some of the organizational silos and bureaucratic politics that exist in the real world.

The value of peacebuilding games is particularly evident in training and educational settings (Lantis, Kuzma, & Boehrer, 2000). However, they have other uses as well. Because simulations are inevitably built upon an explicit or implicit model of reality, their construction is essentially an exercise in social science theorizing. As a consequence, they can be used as a research tool to examine the implications of hypothesized relationships and conflict dynamics (Boyer, 2011). Advances in both computation power and conflict modeling allow this to be done with ever-greater degrees of sophistication (Yilmaz, Ören, & Ghasem-Aghaee, 2006).

There are, of course, good reasons to be doubtful about the ability of games to work as predictive tools, as social and political processes are complicated things and the particular dynamics of peace and conflict are often highly context dependent; they are “wicked problems” (Rittel & Webber, 1973). However, games can certainly serve as useful heuristic devices, helping practitioners and policy makers to think in new and creative ways about challenging issues or simply to compare worldviews for a better shared understanding of these complex challenges. The use of games as problem-solving spaces and as exercises to better understand complex problems are explored in all the articles in this issue; the reader is directed to the contributions by McMahon and Miller and by Bartels, McCown, and Wilkie for more substantial discussion.

Such games can take a variety of forms. Abstract games can be used to highlight particular issues that arise in conflict resolution, or to build key communication, mediation, coordination, or other skills. Role-playing exercises are also quite common, in which participants explore either historical and contemporary conflicts (for example, Kumar, 2009; Public and International Law Policy Group [PILPG], n.d.) or fictional ones (such as Gamson & Peppers, 2000, or Tessman, 2007). Such games may involve rule sets that govern interaction and resource management, or simply focus on processes of discussion, debate, and negotiation. The REACTING TO THE PAST series of books and role-play resources, although aimed more at history courses than at the development of conflict resolution skills, is a particularly successful version of this approach (Barnard College, 2012). In some cases, such educational simulations have been taken a step further, in the form of digital implementations of these traditional approaches. In such cases (such as the Open Simulation Platform or the ICONS Project), software serves to facilitate customizable player briefings, interaction, and debriefs (Brynen, 2012; ICONS Project, n.d.; United States Institute of Peace [USIP], n.d.-b). In still other examples—such as the USIP’s Strategic Economic Needs and Security Exercise (SENSE) simulation, or the GEMSTONE counterinsurgency wargame at National Defense University (NDU)—players may interact with a digital model of the political, social, and economic model of the society in conflict, which provides a focus for broader discussion and negotiation (NDU, n.d.; USIP, n.d.-a). Although there remain relatively few traditional boardgames that have peacemaking as an educational (as opposed to entertainment) focus, recent years have seen the development of serious video games that serve this purpose, such as PEACEMAKER, in which participants seek to achieve a negotiated outcome to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict (Kampf & Gürkanyak, 2012).

Inside This Issue

The contributions to this special issue of Simulation & Gaming examine a wide variety of different types of learning games and simulations (Table 1). In drawing out the many lessons that the contributors have to offer, it is useful to think about both the similarities and differences in their approaches to the topic….

The articles included in the issue are as follows:


  • Peace, Violence, and Simulation/Gaming
    • David Crookall 

Guest Editorial

  • Peacebuilding With Games and Simulations
    • Rex Brynen and Gary Milante


  • Designing Peace and Conflict Exercises: Level of Analysis, Scenario, and Role Specification
    • Elizabeth Bartels, Margaret McCown, and Timothy Wilkie
  • Playing With Conflict: Teaching Conflict Resolution Through Simulations and Games
    • Richard B. Powers and Kat Kirkpatrick
  • Modeling Choices in Nuclear Warfighting: Two Classroom Simulations on Escalation and Retaliation
    • Julian Schofield
  • Leveraging Web-Based Environments for Mass Atrocity Prevention
    • Tucker B. Harding and Mark A. Whitlock
  • War Gaming Peace Operations
    • Roger Mason and Eric Patterson
  • Simulating the Camp David Negotiations: A Problem-Solving Tool in Critical Pedagogy
    • Sean F. McMahon and Chris Miller
  • Games, Social Simulations, and Data—Integration for Policy Decisions: The SUDAN Game
    • Peter Landwehr, Marc Spraragen, Balki Ranganathan, Kathleen M. Carley, and Michael Zyda


We would like to thank both S&G editor David Crookall and the various authors for their contributions. We hope that our collective efforts spur further discussion of the role that conflict simulations can play in enhancing both the theory and practice of peacebuilding.

Simulation & Gaming (October 2012)

A new issue of Simulation & Gaming 43, 5 (October 2012) is now available online:


Unreliable Information in Infantry Situation Awareness: Improvement Through Game-Based Training

  • Eric T. Chancey and James P. Bliss

Gaming Research in Policy and Organization: An Assessment From the Netherlands

  • Leon de Caluwé, Jac Geurts, and Wouter Jan Kleinlugtenbelt

Goals, Success Factors, and Barriers for Simulation-Based Learning: A Qualitative Interview Study in Health Care

  • Peter Dieckmann, Susanne Molin Friis, Anne Lippert, and Doris Østergaard

The Coaching Cycle: A Coaching-by-Gaming Approach in Serious Games

  • Anna-Sofia Alklind Taylor, Per Backlund, and Lars Niklasson

Ready-to-use simulations

BUILDING TIES IN A STRATIFIED SOCIETY: A Social Networking Simulation Game

  • An Ansoms and Sara Geenen


  • Cecile N. Gerwel and Shamim Bodhanya


CFP: Engagement, Simulation/Gaming and Learning

Nicola Whitton  (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Alex Moseley  (University of Leicester) will be editing a special issue of Simulation & Gaming devoted to “Engagement, Simulation/Gaming and Learning.” The deadline for article proposals is 31 October 2012 (details below, click to enlarge).

Forthcoming Simulation & Gaming articles on peacebuilding

Several more articles from the forthcoming special issue of Simulation & Gaming on peacebuilding have now been made available in advance by SAGE, including our own short introduction to the collection:

Rex Brynen and Gary Milante, “Peacebuilding With Games and Simulations.”

Simulations and games can offer valuable insight into the management of conflict and the achievement of peace. This special symposium issue of Simulation & Gaming examines several such approaches, used in both educational settings and to prepare practitioners to deal with the concrete challenges of peacebuilding. In the introduction, the authors offer some brief thoughts on the how and why of simulations and games-based approaches, scenario choices (abstract, fictional, and real world), intended audiences, and design approaches. They also address the question of how games might (or might not) contribute to policy making in this field.

Tucker B. Harding and Mark A. Whitlock, “Leveraging Web-Based Environments for Mass Atrocity Prevention.”

A growing literature exploring large-scale, identity-based political violence, including mass killing and genocide, debates the plausibility of, and prospects for, early warning and prevention. An extension of the debate involves the prospects for creating educational experiences that result in more sophisticated analytical products that enhance preventive policy action. This article details an attempt to bridge the theory to practice gap. It describes the role of a simulation COUNTRY X within the educational contexts of both a graduate course in prevention of mass killing and genocide at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), and a practitioner training workshop designed for regional conflict early warning analysts in Africa. The authors review educational theory describing problem-based learning and apply it to a web-based educational simulation. Using a recent training of professional conflict early warning analysts as their case study, they explore several assumptions regarding the utility of simulated environments as educational tools in moving from theory to practice. Use of the simulation resulted in active and engaged participation by learners, increased capacity for well-reasoned perspective taking, and improved analytical confidence in complex scenarios.

Richard B. Powers and Kat Kirkpatrick, “Playing With Conflict: Teaching Conflict Resolution Through Simulations and Games.”

Playing With Conflict is a weekend course for graduate students in Portland State University’s Conflict Resolution program and undergraduates in all majors. Students participate in simulations, games, and experiential exercises to learn and practice conflict resolution skills. Graduate students create a guided role-play of a conflict. In addition to an oral debriefing, students wrote a debriefing report following the Description, Interpretation, Evaluation (DIE) model of debriefing. The written debriefing report gave all students an opportunity to reflect, analyze, and evaluate their experience in depth. The use of two facilitators allows one to facilitate while the other observes and rests, makes 2 points of view available for the debriefing, and offers a model for resolving minor disagreements between them. Trust among students increased across the weekend as evidenced by an increase in cooperative choices and estimates of the likelihood that others would cooperate in the TAKE-A-CHANCE game, a version of PRISONER’S DILEMMA. Most reported having fun while they learned about themselves, interpersonal conflict, and some large-scale social conflicts.

Julian Schofield, “Modeling Choices in Nuclear Warfighting: Two Classroom Simulations on Escalation and Retaliation.”

Two classroom simulations—SUPERPOWER CONFRONTATION and MULTIPOLAR ASIAN SIMULATION—are used to teach and test various aspects of the Borden versus Brodie debate on the Schelling versus Lanchester approach to nuclear conflict modeling and resolution. The author applies a Schelling test to segregate high from low empathic students, and assigns them to hard case positions in three simulations to test whether high empathy students can engage in tactic bargaining and whether low empathetic students are necessarily as escalation prone. He has a bipolar nuclear simulation that is an easy case for the Brodie set of assumptions about nuclear war, avoidance, and Schelling-esque tacit bargaining. He expects the system structure and high empathy leader selection to contain escalation, despite the temptation of relying on accelerated Single Integrated Operational Plan solutions and the counterincentive of diminished tacit bargaining through decapitation attacks. The second simulation is a multipolar nuclear simulation set in the near future of Asia, and emulates the Borden-esque logic of nuclear war as artillery exchanges, with a Lanchester square law logic encouraging rapid escalation, coupled with a selection for the most autistic leadership. The author expects rapid nuclear escalation under these structural and decision-making conditions. His conclusions are anecdotal, but seem to indicate, from student feedback during class discussions, that the failure to model fear may be a factor in undermining successful tacit bargaining by players, suggesting that Borden rather than Brodie better conceptualized nuclear conflict. Therefore, peace is about restraining war initiation, as there are great pressures for escalation once war is initiated.

These and other forthcoming articles can be found here.

Bartels, McCown, and Wilkie on Designing Peace and Conflict Exercises

While the special issue of Simulation & Gaming on simulations and peacebuilding (coedited by Gary and myself) has not yet been published, some of the articles have started to appear via SAGE Journal’s “Online First” ahead-of-print service. The first to so so is by Elizabeth Bartels, Margaret McCown, and Timothy Wilkie on “Designing Peace and Conflict Exercises: Level of Analysis, Scenario, and Role Specification.”

Attentiveness to and transparency about the methodological implications of the level of analysis selected for peace and conflict exercises constitute essential elements of good game design. The article explores the impact of level of analysis choices in the context of two key portions of exercises, scenario construction and role specification. It weighs the consequences of these choices in terms of the differing conclusions one can draw from exercises and potential pitfalls of careless choices. Finally, it argues that level of analysis considerations in game design parallels specific debates within segments of the social science literature, connections that are also explored in this article for their relevance to game design.

You’ll need a personal or institutional subscription to access the full article. Other items from the special issue will be appearing in the coming weeks and months.

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