03 August 2011

Connections 2011, Day 3, Morning Panel

0800 - 0950 Expanding The Application of Wargaming Panel, Co-chairs: Merle Robinson & Mark Montroll
Speakers: Steven P. Webber, Lt Col, USAF, AF Future Capabilities WG; Garth Jensen, About MMOWGLI; Skip Cole (whose arrival we're awaiting); Larry Bond, designer extraordinaire

(as always, we're going to try to link to the slides)

First up, Garth Jensen talking about MMOWGLI
What is MMOWGLI? (slide of Rorschach blot)
Online game designed to find and collectively grow breakthrough ideas to some of our most "wicked problems" - those 21st century threats that demand new forms of collaboration and truly outlying ideas
First scenario dealt with piracy off the coast of Somalia
Three books being highlighted:
Bennis, Organizing Genius
Senge, The Fifth Discipline
Schwartz, The Art of the Long View
---- and holy crap, -zero- mention of Surowiecki!?
Genesis of MMOWGLI from ONR, trying to get "innovations" into the hands of users
Hostility/indifference from Pentagon to ONR's "game-changing technology"
Discussions with the Institute For The Future about technology and how to leverage it.
---- Question to the crowd about how many people had been to IITSEC, disappointingly few hands went up...
Had some ideas coming from elsewhere on the ideas that no matter the interface or flashiness of the game, the game itself lives in the minds of the participants
---- a point that would be well-remembered by the last presentation from yesterday about Global Engagements
Mention of knowledge accidents - what happens in the brain when the 'aha' moments occur
Picked the Somali piracy scenario because (a) it's unclass, and (b) everyone has an opinion on it

Actual run of the game:
- 3 chapters set up by video: Somali-Yemeni union, and the aftermath
Play of "cards"
- Innovate (positive-ish)
--- Reaction cards: expand, counter, adapt, another one I didn't get quick enough
- Defend (negative-ish)

presentation cut off for time, but will try to get more later in Q&A.

more after the jump, including Larry Bond!

Next up: Larry Bond talking about Persian Incursion
---- note about this: we adapted this to use at Origins for a staff wargame. Details here (scroll down).
Needs of the game:
- Describe the Iranian nuke infrastructure, defenses
- Israeli capabilities
- Political situation & reactions
Build off of Harpoon tabletop system b/c of the high-fidelity of the combat modeling (ranges, ordnance, PK, etc)
Designed to give 2 sides the freedom to inter/act as they would in real world
Military (air, naval, missile, spec-ops)
I/O, political, wider implications
Wanted high variability and support for numerous "what-if" systems: varying orbats, upgrades, political setups, card-based political interaction
Victory conditions: If Iran doesn't lose, they win... no "marginal" victories
Map is a general visualization for planning
The war is fought "below" the map on the opinion tracks, which is where the Iranian player needs to focus: pushing the right country to the right direction gives either player different bonuses
The straight weapon-to-weapon fighting is "clubbing baby seals" as the Israelis are fighting the Iranians; just no real comparison
A lot of detail about the inner workings of the game model, including calculations of building size, type, construction, etc.
Started out as a Harpoon-4 supplement, and turned into a standalone boardgame

Next speaker LTC Webber - no slides (huzzah!)
"I am not a wargame expert"
---- this is not a reflection on LTC Webber, but all week long we've heard about this mantra over and over from the guys in uniform... how can we constantly put guys in the wargaming billets in the military that are not wargame experts?

Futures Wargame:
- fight it 20 years out
- focus from the leadership (missiles, area denial, etc)
- focus on platforms and technology, building off of the known/planned force structure
- use projections, plus mods, to fight as 2 diff blue forces against a common enemy
- compare those forces at the end of the war
What is 'winning'? Is it sufficient to "not lose"?

Biggest challenges in USAF? No culture of wargaming. No institutional 'home' of wargaming.
How do you run a wargame for the USAF and get the right people into the room?

Quick talk, now switching to Skip Cole from USIP.
Skip if here from Sea Change Simulations, LLC (formerly from USIP, I guess...)
The code from Open Sim Project at USIP is openly-available on Google Code
Built a quick, flexible system to bring in folks from different agencies for online-based collaboration
---- man, we keep hearing that that over and over, don't we?
How to create simulations without programmers
Already going in the civilian world (slide highlighted Gamestar Mechanic)
BOGSAT ------------------ Holodeck Where are we on the spectrum?
How to make a one-stop shop in which the technology is invisible?
---- I'm not going to fully-describe the technical workings of it... I'll link the slides

Discussion of how the platform has been put to use with college students who have explored some complex solutions. That's a good thing b/c it gets the kids thinking about these issues.

Q&A time, and first up is CAPT Rochford talking about the migration of open-source platform onto SIPRnet... it's not an issue of how time-consuming or complicated open-source-to-SIPRnet is, it's an issue of putting anything on SIPRnet

Does 'winning' really matter to USAF Futures Game? Not to the guys running the wargame, but to the guys you need the buy-in from for repeat play care about the winning/losing and if you want them to continue to play you need to provide them some meaningful feedback.

A comment from across the room about McGonigal's book.
---- Look people... her book is interesting, but just b/c it's the latest "it" book to come out doesn't mean everyone needs to fall all over themselves to show off that they've read it and if you haven't you're not cool. She asks a lot of good questions, it's not the Holy Grail...

Question about the futures game that got a bit muddy...

Some tap-dancing around some of the interface/participation issues of MMOWGLI.
Expecting a re-run of MMOWGLI in September, with 140000 people instead of just 1200 or so.
Still highlighting anonymity as a bonus.

By: Brant

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