09 April 2013

Decisive-Point Games and an Underhanded Swipe at Army Bureaucracy

LTC(R) Lunsford is a great guy, and his games are excellent teaching tools.

Doug Tystad, a retired Army colonel, calls Lunsford “one of the most innovative guys I’ve ever met.” He encouraged Lunsford to develop the games while he was still in the service.

“He is helping the Army learn by doing,” Tystad said. “He and his games are helping to train better leaders.”

Tystad has seen the games work.

“The students suddenly realize — ‘What do you mean we didn’t bring fuel?’” he said. “Well, now you’re stuck. You’re out of gas. Those are the kinds of aha moments that crop up. And after playing the game for a while the students stopped and analyzed things and talked about what was working, or not working. If their plan was off track, they could adjust it. That’s the beauty of the serious game. You can run it as many times as you want.”

Lt. Col. Chuck Allen, chief of simulations for the college at Fort Leavenworth, said Lunsford’s games have allowed teachers to train more students more often.

“In February we ran 16 division exercises with Jim’s games, all simultaneously, all run on classroom computers, all operated by students,” he said. “There is no other Army program that can do that.”

Lunsford’s games allow students to learn from their mistakes — and even try atypical tactics in a consequence-free environment.

But some military leaders are seriously worried about serious gaming. “The bureaucrats who don’t like it are in charge of the big Army simulations,” Lunsford said. “They don’t like it because they don’t understand it. They see this as threatening some of the bigger programs, which is not true. They are complementary.”

A spokesman at Fort Leavenworth said game critics at the base declined to comment.

By: Brant

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