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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.
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Simulation & Gaming
44(1) 27 –35
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DOI: 10.1177/1046878112455485
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455485SAG44110.1177/104687811245548
5Simulation & GamingBrynen and Milante
1McGill University, Montréal, Quebec, Canada
2World Bank, Washington, DC, USA
Corresponding Author:
Rex Brynen, Department of Political Science, McGill University, 855 Sherbrooke St. W, Montréal, Quebec
H3A 2T7, Canada
Email: rex.brynen@mcgill.ca
Peacebuilding With Games
and Simulations
Rex Brynen1 and Gary Milante2
Abstract
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.
Keywords
audiences, conflict management, conflict resolution, design, experiential learning,
peacebuilding, peacekeeping, policy making, scenario choices, simulation design,
wargaming
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,
Guest Editorial
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28 Simulation & Gaming 44(1)
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, priori-
tization, 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, stu-
dents, 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 understand-
ing 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, espe-
cially if a simulation is designed to reproduce some of the organizational silos and
bureaucratic politics that exist in the real world.
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Brynen and Milante 29
The value of peacebuilding games is particularly evident in training and educa-
tional 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 com-
mon, 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 ver-
sion of this approach (Barnard College, 2012). In some cases, such educational simu-
lations 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, interac-
tion, 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 counterinsur-
gency 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
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30 Simulation & Gaming 44(1)
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 vari-
ety 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.
Beginning at the broadest dimension, the articles in this symposium could be divided
into the How or the Why. The first group—Landwehr, Spraragen, Ranganathan, Carley,
and Zyda (THE SUDAN GAME), Mason and Patterson (AFGHAN PRT GAME),
Harding and Whitlock (COUNTRY X), Schofield (SUPERPOWER CONFRONTA-
TION, MULTIPOLAR ASIAN SIMULATION), and McMahon and Miller (CAMP
DAVID SIMULATION)—introduce particular games used to explore specific scenar-
ios of peacebuilding. Each describes a game, often including the phenomena they are
modeling, the choices they made in designing the simulation, and, where possible,
evaluations of the game as a learning or modeling tool. Within this group, the underly-
ing motives for using a simulation vary. Landwehr et al. see value in crowdsourcing
complicated social relationships through making a game accessible on a Massive
Multiplayer Online (MMO) platform, whereas Mason and Patterson and Harding and
Table 1. Articles and the Simulations Covered in This Symposium
Article Simulations introduced or discussed
Bartels, McCown, and Wilkie WATER CONFLICT
RUSSIA EXERCISE
Harding and Whitlock COUNTRY X
Landwehr, Spraragen,
Ranganathan, Carley, and Zyda
THE SUDAN GAME
Mason and Patterson AFGHAN PRT GAME
McMahon and Miller CAMP DAVID SIMULATION
Powers and Kirkpatrick TAKE A CHANCE
CONCENTRIC CIRCLES
THE BIG WIND BLOWS
MRS. MUMBLY
NEW COMMONS GAME
DRAMA TRIANGLE
GROUP, GRIPE, GROPE
UNFAIR GAME
RAISING CANE
Schofield SUPERPOWER CONFRONTATION
MULTIPOLAR ASIAN SIMULATION
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Brynen and Milante 31
Whitlock are interested in the teaching benefits of an immersive scenario. Schofield is
interested in the teaching value of the scenario, and also tests some hypotheses in the
broader literature on deterrence and escalation.
The second group of two articles guide the reader through some considerations for
designing a simulation (Bartels, McCown, and Wilkie) or designing a course about con-
flict mediation (Powers and Kirkpatrick). Of course, the How cannot be separated wholly
from the Why—Authors in the first group in the course of describing their game design
often reflect on the teaching environment for which the game was designed, and those in
the second group use specific games as examples to support their arguments.
The articles in this symposium can also be contrasted among those reflecting on
simulations and games of real-world phenomena (THE SUDAN GAME, AFGHAN
PRT GAME, CAMP DAVID), those that simulate conflict environments in the abstract
(TAKE A CHANCE), and those that explore hypotheticals somewhere in between
(SUPERPOWER CONFRONTATION, MULTIPOLAR ASIAN SIMULATION, and
COUNTRY X). Good reasons exist for each possible location of a simulation on this
spectrum. In some of the cases, the authors are interested in exploring hypotheticals
and what-ifs, and hence alternative scenarios that might constructively inform current
peacebuilding exercises in these conflicts. Indeed in some cases, these simulations
have been used to conceptualize other solutions to complex problems with the deci-
sion makers themselves or it is expected that the simulation will inform future policy
making. In other cases, the simulation may be intended as a teaching tool, to introduce
students to a particular historical or current event. In this context, accuracy in model-
ing is important. In still other cases, the learning is in the experience itself and less in
the specifics. Indeed, historical detail can actually be distracting, especially in the
event that experts are sitting in the room who know the case and spend more time on
“what was” rather than “what could be.”
Another cut at the issue, this time from the perspective of game design, is inspired
by the scholarship of Peter Perla and McGrady (2007). They suggest a threefold
typology of wargame design that is equally applicable to games that focus on issues
of conflict management, transformation, and resolution. In their typology, Analyst
approaches are those that focus on modeling reality, usually in an effort to determine
what sorts of effects a given course of action might have. Artists, by contrast, focus
on creating an immersive and engaging emotional and intellectual game environ-
ment. Architects focus on presenting players with choices and trade-offs in a simpli-
fied depiction of the decision-making environment. Although many of the games
described herein share characteristics of more than one of these approaches, a pal-
pable difference remains between those who emphasize immersive engagement and
trade-offs (such as the AFGHAN PRT GAME, COUNTRY X, or our own CARANA
and BRYNANIA simulations), and those who hope that their exercises might gener-
ate greater analytical insight into real-life cases (THE SUDAN GAME) or current
theoretical debates (SUPERPOWER CONFRONTATION and MULTIPOLAR
ASIAN SIMULATION)—a difference that we have elsewhere referred to as being
between sages and seers (Milante, 2010).
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32 Simulation & Gaming 44(1)
The games and simulations in this issue vary by intended audience as well. Powers
and Kirkpatrick discuss the formulation and design choices involved in weekend long
course on conflict resolution for graduate- and undergraduate-level students. Schofield
presents two simulations used to teach arms race theory to college students (as well as
test theories about student behavior). McMahon and Miller also aim their simulation
at a university student audience. Meanwhile, the intended audience for Harding and
Whitlock or Mason and Patterson is the policy maker or practitioner preparing for the
field, although their games can also be used in an academic classroom context too. As
a result, the metrics for impact presented by each of these authors varies as well, rang-
ing from course/class engagement and measures of learning to self-reporting on impact
and application from practitioners.
The question of games and simulations as a substantive guide to policy making is
a contentious one. As many of the contributors point out, simulations simplify reality.
Like models, philosophies or worldviews, games reduce extremely complex phenom-
ena to tractable problems with limited numbers of stakeholders (players), solutions
(end game results or conditions), and limited scope of action (rules). Similarly, policy
makers attempt to understand and reduce complex problems and challenges to the
key stakeholders and end results (often limited to those objectives the policy maker
would like to achieve). Because both processes (simulations and policy making) sim-
plify the world, it can be very tempting to ascribe prescriptive policy-making power
to simulations. This is often a mistake because it misleads policy makers into believ-
ing that they have explored the options space that they need to dutifully explore in
order to make informed decisions, when they have really only explored the limited
action space defined by the simulation design. This phenomenon is particularly perni-
cious when the simulation is sponsored by an entity (government, military, interna-
tional organization) that has objectives, interventions, or outcomes that it would like
to achieve and, under the guise of simulating an open environment, drives particular
agendas through a constrained simulation design. In their professional capacities,
both guest editors of this symposium have been involved in experiences where it
quickly became clear where the simulation sponsor wanted us to end up and to whom
we were supposed to be reporting our solutions.
Because of this, we had considerable discussion between us about one of the
pieces that we have included, precisely because we believe it risks overstating the
contribution the simulation would make to policy makers. In THE SUDAN GAME,
the authors suggest “we will consider [successful results from simulation play] to be
good suggestions for consideration in formulating a policy approach towards issues
in Sudan.” THE SUDAN GAME has a great many interesting merits, including
crowdsourcing of complex problems, an interactive application of CONSTRUCT and
an engaging interface for learning about stakeholders, tribal relationships, and recent
history in Sudan. However, given the much wider action space available to policy
makers working on peacebuilding in Sudan and Southern Sudan (ranging on the
entire spectrum from public information campaigns to negotiations and sanctions),
we find it unrealistic to suggest that policy making will be improved by knowing
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Brynen and Milante 33
which tribes should talk to each other on what issues and in what order. Furthermore,
we would be concerned with any policy recommendations that came out of historical
relationship information (newspaper data from 2003 to 2008) and static tribal rela-
tionships to inform current policy making in a politically fluid environment like the
two Sudans. Indeed, recent intertribal violence and political developments in Southern
Sudan since independence are the product of stakeholders and policy makers chang-
ing the tribal relationships, forming new alliances, and adapting to new political con-
ditions, which are assumed static in THE SUDAN GAME. Despite these differences,
we felt it important to include the paper by Landwehr et al. so as to open the discus-
sion on the tricky issue of using simulations to inform policy making.
Finally, the art of simulation continues racing forward on the backs of two horses:
traditional tabletop and computer-based modeling. We certainly have our own biases,
but we have endeavored to include a sufficient mix to reflect the diversity of approaches
in the peacegaming industry. Landwehr et al. use a virtual, online approach, which
they hope will engage many participants in exploring a complicated action space, and
provide a platform for virtual discussions on the games, strategies, and outcomes.
Likewise, Harding and Whitlock use an online interface to allow users to engage with
each other in game remotely, conceal hidden information (allowing for simultaneous
turns), and automate responses for games at different nodes on a complex tree of inter-
actions. Meanwhile, Mason and Patterson, McMahon and Miller, and Schofield all
describe simulations run in person that are more akin to the traditional BOGSAT
(Bunch of Guys/Gals Sitting Around a Table) exercises that are more similar to table-
top wargaming. As the authors suggest, the form that a simulation takes will often be
contingent upon what is being taught, the audience, scale and scope of the scenario
(Bartels, McCown, and Wilkie), and resources available.
Final Thoughts
We love games. When designed, facilitated, and debriefed well, they can be imagina-
tive and immersive tools for engaging people who are learning a complicated concept
or understanding a complex environment. Because we love games, we tend to be quite
demanding, and at PAXsims (2012) and elsewhere we have often been quite critical
of games that we think miss their mark. When simulations and games are executed or
debriefed badly they threaten to undermine the use of simulations and gaming else-
where. In this issue, we have been particularly difficult on our contributing authors,
asking for multiple revisions, clarifications, and pestering them about why they have
made particular design choices or how they really know that their simulations are
effective teaching/learning tools. As a result, we think we have produced an interest-
ing and thoughtful issue of Simulations & Gaming. This symposium contains a variety
of methods and approaches, which on their own demonstrate lessons learned, but,
also, given the broad scope of multiple dimensions described above, provide depth in
their contrast. Whether you agree or disagree, we hope to continue the conversation,
whether at the PAXsims website (http://www.paxsims.org) or elsewhere.
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34 Simulation & Gaming 44(1)
Acknowledgments
We would like to thank Simulation & Gaming editor, David Crookall, for his advice, assistance,
and encouragement during the preparation of the symposium issue. We would also like to thank
the external reviewers who provided comments on the contributions, as well as the student
playtesters who helped us explore one of the game designs.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship,
and/or publication of this article.
Funding
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship,
and/or publication of this article: Rex Brynen gratefully acknowledges funding support from
the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for his research.
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Bios
Rex Brynen is a professor of Political Science at McGill University, and author, editor, or
coeditor of 11 books on conflict and development in the Middle East. He is coeditor of the
PAXsims website on conflict simulation (http://www.paxsims.org).
Contact: rex.brynen@mcgill.ca
Gary Milante, PhD, is an economist for the World Bank working on various aspects of devel-
opment in the presence of conflict and fragility, and has co-led development of the CARANA
simulation used in operations courses at the Bank. He is coeditor of the PAXsims website on
conflict simulation (http://www.paxsims.org).
Contact: gmilante@gmail.com
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... Peace institutions and other international NGOs use a range of methods and techniques to build capacity in peacebuilding and development skills and techniques. E-learning and games are methods used to train and educate people in situations where face-to-face meetings are not possible (Brynen & Milante, 2012). Serious games can enable participants to retry, relearn, adapt, and develop new ways to better understand the complex challenges they face in the real world whilst also recognising the limitations of (Vukosavljevic, 2007). ...
Article
“Training,” whether for civil society organisations, diplomats, conflict parties, military, police and security forces, or other stakeholders in the field, is widely implemented in peacebuilding and development contexts. Recent years have seen tremendous innovations and advancements in training methodologies and approaches, and there has been an increase in the number and breadth of trainings and topics covered, as well as a shift away from a training mindset to one of developing capacity. However, many practitioners still lack some of the core competencies for engaging effectively in peacebuilding, stabilisation, and prevention, demonstrating a need for capacity building. However, existing capacity-building efforts do not always use methodologies and approaches that successfully develop these needed competencies to the level needed for practitioners to use them effectively in the field. An October 2018 conference on Shaping the Future of Peace Training in Europe and Beyond held in Vienna1 concluded that whilst ongoing training and capacity development is critical for long-term peacebuilding success, a number of challenges remain, including a disconnect between the competencies of trainers and those receiving training (i.e., mismatch between the focus of the training and local needs and/or lack of context sensitivity), the lack of local ownership, unclear mandates, the need for more gender sensitive approaches, and the diversification of training approaches and actors involved in training. Indeed, international agencies are increasingly aware of the need for peacebuilding training, and thus organisations like the Barcelona International Peace Center are building such courses to try to address this need. This special issue of peacebuilding and development emerged out of a recognition of the importance of training and capacity building within the field; the topic also reflects an area of potential synergy between the scholarship and practice of peacebuilding and development, a key part of this journal’s mandate. Capacity building can be defined as the increasing ability of an organisation’s systems and people to accomplish its mission; however, measuring the effectiveness of capacity building can take years (Wing, 2004). Ideally, training should be conceptualised with such a view towards improving capacity. Diamond (1997, p. 357) argues that training has three main purposes, which are “to develop new skills; to explore attitudes, values, wisdom, behaviours, and interactive patterns; and to consider how participants may integrate learnings on these subjects and apply them to back home situations.” Brand-Jacobsen et al. (2018) suggest that “training may catalyse participants to explore theories, devise strategies, understand local contexts and develop an understanding of self.” Further in the peacebuilding context, the goal of training is often to “facilitate a change from the participants’ narrow, exclusionist, antagonistic, or prejudiced attitudes and perspectives” to more tolerant and open-minded ones (Abu-Nimer, 2001). Peace institutions and other international NGOs use a range of methods and techniques to build capacity in peacebuilding and development skills and techniques. E-learning and games are methods used to train and educate people in situations where face-to-face meetings are not possible (Brynen & Milante, 2012). Serious games can enable participants to retry, relearn, adapt, and develop new ways to better understand the complex challenges they face in the real world whilst also recognising the limitations of their existing strategies, thereby facilitating learning (Brand-Jacobsen & Shiroka, 2018). However, many challenges exist for such training in peacebuilding and development contexts. For example, managing expectations is critical, for when participants complete a training and return to their societies, the high expectations that might be generated during training may not be supported in their own environments. Further, training exercises and gaming applications are often geared towards Western examples and audiences and do not always correlate with the real-life needs of peacebuilders from other parts of the world (Vukosavljevic, 2007). The authors in this volume identify several key issues involved in training and capacity building, including the need to engage in complexity, the importance of gender sensitivity and following the lead of local partners in identifying training and capacity building needs, and the importance of thinking beyond “training” in traditional formats.
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Este es un libro resultado de la investigación denominada Construcción de Paz y Desarrollo Sostenible: una mirada desde los Derechos Humanos y el DICA. Memorias Foros Regionales 2019, que recopila las ponencias desarrolladas dentro del marco de los diferentes foros regionales organizados y liderados por la Maestría en Derechos Humanos y DICA, de la Escuela Superior de Guerra (ESDEG). Las ponencias aquí mostradas son de un contenido temático fuerte en temas relacionados con Derechos Humanos (DD. HH.), desarrollo sostenible y construcción de paz. Para cada uno de dichos eventos académicos se contó con la valiosa colaboración de otras instituciones de educación superior (IES), tales como la Universidad de Medellín, la Corporación Universitaria Autónoma del Cauca y el Instituto Berg, de España. La presente obra expone, por otra parte, los resultados de dos proyectos de investigación: 1) Construcción de paz y desarrollo sostenible: una mirada desde los Derechos Humanos y el DICA, que hace parte de la Memoria Histórica, Memoria Institucional, Derechos Humanos y Derecho Internacional de los Conflictos Armados (DICA), reconocido y categorizado en (C) por Minciencias, registrado con el có- digo COL0141423 y vinculado a la Maestría en Derechos Humanos, Derecho Internacional Humanitario y Derecho Internacional de los Conflictos Armados (DICA) y al Centro de Investigación en Memoria Histórica Militar (CIMHM), adscritos y financiados por la Escuela Superior de Guerra “General Rafael Reyes Prieto” de la República de Colombia (ESDEG); y 2) Grupo Interdisciplinar de Ciencias Sociales y Humanas (GICSH), que hace parte de la línea de investigación Derecho Público y Probado, de la Fundación Universitaria Autónoma del Cauca.
Article
Background and Motivation A plethora of warfighting games exist commercially, but there is a lack of digital games that deal with peace processes. Furthermore, none simulate actual peacekeeping. The United Nations currently deploys about 100,000 peacekeepers to some of the world’s most dangerous zones, where peacekeepers save lives, alleviate suffering, and help create conditions for peace. The United Nations and national militaries lack peacekeeping simulations to help train their soldiers. Additionally, the public needs to learn more about the way peacekeeping works. Thus, peacekeeping simulation and gaming are worth exploring, especially in the rapidly evolving digital space, which offers new avenues and benefits. Methods We review the meager literature on the subject and observe that there are few digital games to directly draw from. We build on previous work that argued the need for such development, but we now assess important design principles and parameters. We draw upon peacekeeping tabletop exercises that are already well developed. Results We conclude that excellent scenarios and simulation technologies exist that could be combined quite easily for effective peacekeeping training and public education. We find key materials and scenarios in exercises of the United Nations and of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. Highlighted areas for future digital design are the inclusion of non-military avatars, emphasis on soft skills development (especially empathy), and realistically complex links between actions and consequences. Conclusion While describing some UN exploration at a proof-of-concept stage, we suggest that both the United Nations and the gaming industry should explore the idea further to achieve synergies between institutional and entertainment applications. The growing capacity of digital technology allows significant innovation, yielding results that could be useful, ethical, enjoyable, and potentially profitable.
Conference Paper
The aim of conflict resolution education is to impart essential strategies and skills for resolving conflicts effectively. While these are important life skills, conflict resolution can be difficult to teach because it requires individuals to interact with others, explore new strategies, and receive feedback within a natural social context in order for strong connections to be made. As board games often involve co-located multiplayer interaction and can be effective tools for young learners, we explore the possibility of incorporating learning about conflict resolution into a tabletop game. We describe the process of designing an educational board game - StarStruck - that fosters discussions about conflict management via operationalization of conflict strategies drawn from an instrument founded in social psychology theory. Through in- and out-of-board interactions, StarStruck is designed to provide players with affordances to explore different resolution strategies within their natural social environment. We present examples from initial playtesting sessions to consider the expressive range of conflict scenarios generated by playing the game. This work serves as a preliminary illustration of how to map the vocabulary of conflict resolution to game mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics so that players can naturally engage with and discuss conflict interactions.
Article
In recent decades, governmental and non-governmental organisations have increased the number and scale of Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding (CPPB) activities in conflict-affected countries. This development has also led to an increase in personnel in these organisations, posing challenges for staff training. In response, many organisations are looking at e-learning applications to provide cost-effective training at a broad geographical scale. Online courses and “serious games” have in particular received interest in recent years. In this article, we discuss the opportunities and limitations of such applications for CPPB training. We argue that they face challenges in contributing to skills and knowledge development but emphasise nevertheless that these challenges are similar to those faced by current classroom training initiatives. The potential of technology should not be exaggerated, yet digital applications can broaden the scope of participation and professionalization in CPPB activities to a wider range of (non-Western) actors.
Article
Joint narratives are often used in the context of reconciliation interventions for people in social conflict situations, which arise, for example, due to ethnic or religious differences. The interventions aim to encourage a change in attitudes of the participants towards each other. Typically, a human mediator is fundamental for achieving a successful intervention. In this work, we present an automated approach to support remote interactions between pairs of participants as they contribute to a shared story in their own language. A key component is an automated cognitive tutor that guides the participants through a controlled escalation/de-escalation process during the development of a joint narrative. We performed a controlled study comparing a trained human mediator to the automated mediator. The results demonstrate that an automated mediator, although simple at this stage, effectively supports interactions and helps to achieve positive outcomes comparable to those attained by the trained human mediator.
Article
Full-text available
At the dawn of the 21st century, uncertainty, change, and conflicts are inescapable facts of life. The challenge is to explore how the advances in simulation gaming as reflected in its state-of-the-art as well as in its potential can be helpful for conflict and peace studies. This article presents the issues, challenges, and foundations underlying multimodels and the multisimulation gaming strategy. Taxonomy of multimodels and plausible multisimulation realization strategies are presented to contribute to the development of advanced simulation-based problem-solving environments for social and political scientists to improve their ability to conceive, perceive, and foresee conflicting situations to ideally prevent them and—if they are inevitable—to resolve them.
Book
Negotiating Peace in Deeply Divided Societies, delineates a novel application of simulations-as training exercises in peacemaking. It puts readers in the shoes of key actors in conflict and conflict resolution processes in order to give a more nuanced understanding of the risks and opportunities, as well as the costs, of making peace. The book has six simulation exercises based largely on actual or potential negotiations in ongoing peace processes. While the overarching theme of these simulations is to learn from peacemaking in societies that have been violently divided by ethnic or religious conflict, only two of them replicate actual negotiations as they have taken place. Two others envisage an imaginary stage in ongoing negotiations while the others are abstract simulations that address crucial issues of contemporary debate, ending violence and humanitarian intervention. This combination permits participants to focus on the different stages of conflict resolution in deeply divided societies, the critical issues that are involved, and the changing role that key actors play in making a breakthrough. The six simulation exercises cover important aspects of successful conflict resolution - the early stage of paving the way for a political settlement through achieving a ceasefire; the crucial middle stages of trust-building and addressing root causes; the later stages of negotiations and compromises to reach a final agreement; the post agreement stage of reconstruction and reconciliation; and the role of third parties in pushing through an end to conflict.
Book
Over the past 50 years, many thousands of conflict simulations have been published that bring the dynamics of past and possible future wars to life. In this book, Philip Sabin explores the theory and practice of conflict simulation as a topic in its own right, based on his 30 years of experience in designing wargames and using them in teaching. Simulating War sets conflict simulation in its proper context alongside more academically familiar techniques such as game theory and operational analysis. It explains in detail the analytical and modelling techniques involved, and it teaches you how to design your own simulations of conflicts of your choice. The book provides eight simple illustrative simulations of specific historical conflicts, complete with rules, maps and counters. Simulating War is essential reading for all recreational or professional simulation gamers, and for anyone who is interested in modelling war, from teachers and students to military officers.
Article
Social scientists have long worked to replicate real-world phenomena in their research and teaching environments. Unlike our biophysical science colleagues, we are faced with an area of study that is not governed by the laws of physics and other more predictable relationships. As a result, social scientists, and international studies scholars more specifically here, must make use of simulation and experimentation to study and replicate social phenomena. Growing out of the increasing use of simulation in the international studies field, the following symposium is an excellent collection of articles that demonstrate the diversity of approaches to the use of simulation in international studies scholarship and approaches to learning.
Article
There often exists a problematic gap between more theoretical works on war-to-peace transitions, and the practical challenges that peacebuilding operations face in the field. This article describes the use of classroom simulation to highlight the complexity of contemporary multilateral peace operations. It describes the content and mechanics of the simulation, the issues that can arise in its operation, and strategies for most effectively integrating such a simulation into overall course objectives.
Article
The search for scientific bases for confronting problems of social policy is bound to fail, becuase of the nature of these problems. They are wicked problems, whereas science has developed to deal with tame problems. Policy problems cannot be definitively described. Moreover, in a pluralistic society there is nothing like the undisputable public good; there is no objective definition of equity; policies that respond to social problems cannot be meaningfully correct or false; and it makes no sense to talk about optimal solutions to social problems unless severe qualifications are imposed first. Even worse, there are no solutions in the sense of definitive and objective answers.
PAXsims: Simulations—Conflict, Peacebuilding and Development—Training and Education The art of wargaming
  • Paxsims
PAXsims. (2012). PAXsims: Simulations—Conflict, Peacebuilding and Development—Training and Education. Retrieved from http://www.paxsims.org Perla, P. (1990). The art of wargaming. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press.
Wargaming and analysis. Presentation made to Military Operations Research Society special meeting. Alexandria, VA: CNA
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Perla, P., & McGrady, E. (2007). Wargaming and analysis. Presentation made to Military Operations Research Society special meeting. Alexandria, VA: CNA. Retrieved from http://www .cna.org/sites/default/files/research/D0016966.A1.pdf Public and International Law Policy Group. (n.d.). Negotiation simulations. Retrieved from http://publicinternationallawandpolicygroup.org/library/negotiation-simulations/
Some Saturday afternoon thoughts on technology-enhanced role-play. PAXsims: Simulations-Conflict, Peacebuilding and Development-Training and Education
  • R Brynen
Brynen, R. (2012). Some Saturday afternoon thoughts on technology-enhanced role-play. PAXsims: Simulations-Conflict, Peacebuilding and Development-Training and Education. Retrieved from http://paxsims.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/some-saturday-afternoonthoughts-on-technology-enhanced-role-play/