Saturday, July 21, 2007

WaPo article on gaming a withdrawal from Iraq

The Washington Post ran a piece this week describing several recent games on potential courses that U.S. disengagement from Iraq could take.

The piece illustrates one of the problems about reporting on gaming exercises. Games are not terribly good at predicting outcomes, but the natural question that occurs to a journalist writing about an exercise is: what did it "show?" Lincoln Bloomfield made a wonderful statement on prediction in gaming which I can't lay my hand on at the moment, to the effect that what is often forgotten when discussing games as predictors of events is that the defining predictions have already taken place in the writing of the scenarios involved. Without seeing more information from the games, like the initial scenarios and the final game reports, it's hard to know just what the comments in the article about the lessons of the games are based on. Wargamers are generally pretty careful when it comes to ascribing a predictive basis to their exercises, so it seems likely that the reporters are responsible for giving that impression.


persis said...

Hi Tim,

just to let you know how much I appreciate your blog. I'm a PhD student also working on gaming, albeit from a somewhat different perspective (policy exercises on global environmental change), but I enjoy your excellent comments/literature summaries a lot!

Constanze from Amsterdam

Tim said...

Thanks, Constanze. That's a very nice thing to hear, and I appreciate your taking the time to leave a comment.