Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What Can We Learn From War Gaming?

"The Epistemology of War Gaming" - This article from the Spring 2006 Naval War College Review addresses the question of how one can assess the knowledge gained from a war game. Can you extract valid knowledge that will be of use in future, while avoiding drawing unsupported conclusions? This is a fascinating piece, and it ends with a call for a "guild" of war gamers to professionalize the discipline. The author, Robert Rubel, was head of the War Gaming Department at the Naval War College when he wrote this, but has moved up to the position of Dean of Naval Warfare Studies.

I can't find much else on the internet referencing this article, or anything that provides any indication of whether this has prompted the debate that Rubel wanted to start. It's a worthwhile discussion. As I have noted previously, "war gaming" encompasses much more than the seminar-style games I am focused on, but most of the points made here are very relevant to games at the strategic level.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Here's a Joint Forces Quarterly article from 2005 about the National Strategic Gaming Center, one of the premier gaming shops. The NSGC is part of National Defense University, located at Ft. McNair in Washington, DC. This is a pretty good summary of the types of games that most interest me: strategic-level policy-oriented foreign affairs simulations conducted in person (not computer moderated or "distributed simulations").

Friday, January 26, 2007

Gaming and Simulation

Welcome to A Horse of Peas. I hope to use this space to explore and examine the use of gaming and simulation in studying international relations. Specifically, my interest is in the seminar-style, political/military games of the kind organized by various entities within the U.S. Government, as well as some government contractors. Part of the problem in looking for information on this type of exercise is that different groups use different terminology. "Wargaming," "strategic simulation," "crisis gaming," "policy-level gaming" and "operational gaming" are all examples, with the problem being that the terms are often either vague or overly broad. For example, wargaming covers a wide range of activities, many far removed from the kind of exercise I am primarily concerned with. Hopefully, I can use this space to refine my description and my understanding of this interesting analytical tool.

On a personal level, maintaining this blog will require me to overcome my tendency to avoid sharing my ideas until they are fully developed. This could be a rocky process. An explanation of the title of this blog will eventually appear, but it has nothing to do with gaming, simulation, or the topics discussed here in general.