The problem of “Peacegaming”
During one of our staff group brainstorming sessions, we were considering the shortfalls of conventional wargaming when it came to examining/understanding Stability operations, and the transition to them.
The conventional wargaming methods didn’t feel right in helping us try to visualize our situation and solve our problem.
We weren’t sure that it made sense to take a technique that has been optimized for force-on-force conventional fighting, between “units” of capabilities operating with a common frame of reference in terms of time, space, purpose, capability, and criteria for success that is well understood by both sides, and somehow try to translate that into a process that features multiple players, partial and complete, with varied interests, shifting loyalties, degrees of commitment, different problem definitions and scopes, criteria for success etc.
It emerged from our discussions that conventional wargaming, is an attempt to model warfighting as a game of chess, with defined terms, rules, pieces, outcomes, predictability and control; a game in which it makes sense to act-react-counteract; where actions can be known, and results reasonably forecasted, and effects to be reasonably calibrated, and future actions evaluated on the basis of doctrine.
It didnt seem that this kind of model and approach was suitable for evaluating, analyzing, understanding and appreciating the nuances and complexities of Stability or nation-building.
It occurred to us that we might need a “peace-gaming” model that was more like Poker or the old parlor game of “Diplomacy” to capture the right feel; a game where multiple parties could be modeled or represented; where actions, reactions, counteractions and the results that occur as a result of how and when they are mixed, are neither deterministic or definitive.
We spent some time puzzling through how such a game might be modeled by a staff trying to evaluate or appreciate a complex game plan.
Somehow it seemed that we needed more than just the Black & White of enemy and friendly forces. Somehow the game must reflect the complexities, the anthropological nuances of modern social reality in a major city or populous region. This begged the question of how we could assemble an expert panel that could “judge” the outcomes of potential policy mixes. The idea of Human Terrain Teams and Red Teaming were inevitably considered.
The only thing harder than that seemed to be what to do with the output of any such process, and how serious to treat it, with what degree of confidence, and how to describe the limits of its applicability, and how to turn that into actionable orders
These are essentially many of the same cognitive challenges that associate with Design itself.
It intrigued us so much in 24 C&D that examining these ideas will carry over in to some independent research during the upcoming elective period.
If you have some thoughts about this or can recommend some resources or a research/cognitive strategy, we’d like to hear it so it can inform our own efforts.
Related articles by Zemanta
- King Arthur: The Genre Ambiguous Wargame (rockpapershotgun.com)
- Book Review: Verdy’s Free Kriegspiel (nirya.be)
- Table Top Teasers (nirya.be)
- 10 Things To Do While Waiting For… (rockpapershotgun.com)
- Strength & Honour 2: No Place Like Rome? (rockpapershotgun.com)
- Crisis 2009 (nirya.be)
- The Retard Would Be You, Actually (yesthetruthhurts.com)