My career in wargaming began by chance, not by design. Initially hired for my writing on national security and my Marine Corps background, I learned to be a wargamer on the job. With no prior wargaming experience, I was taught to combine my storytelling ability, my knowledge of the military, and my personal experience with commercial board games to develop analytical wargames. Surprisingly, my unexpected introduction to the field is not an aberration, but the norm. Across the defense community, wargaming is cultivating innovation and guiding important discussions.
Fox News Flash top headlines for Oct. 9 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com If land-based precision artillery, maneuvering Air Force fighter jets and Navy destroyers were all able to seamlessly share sensitive targeting information in real time during high-intensity combat, the Pentagon would be closely approaching its currently-envisioned concept of modern joint multi-domain warfare. While elements of this kind of information sharing, of course, already exist, the Department of Defense is currently refining and expanding its concept of joint attack with the intention of reaching an entirely new level of modern operational effectiveness. This not only includes incorporating previously less-impactful warfare domains, such as space, cyber and electronic warfare, but also envisions new dimensions of land, air, surface and undersea integrated attack.
Becky Esteness was fed up. She was at a local wargaming convention, where enthusiasts schlep their pewter armies to beige conference halls for a long, meditative weekend of stone cold tactics, and Esteness couldn't wait to get her orders out. She's been a hobbyist wargamer for decades. In fact, she runs a company with her husband that ships boxes full of miniatures to eager customers all over the world. Esteness specializes in the historical sets; no orcs, or elves, or dark magic, just a small cadre of frilly line infantry mirroring the feints and stratagems of vintage Napoleonic campaigns.
Over the past century, and particularly since the outset of the Cold War, wargames (interactive simulations used to evaluate aspects of tactics, operations, and strategy) have become an integral means for militaries and policy-makers to evaluate how strategic decisions are made related to nuclear weapons strategy and international security (1). These methods have also been applied beyond the military realm, to examine phenomena as varied as elections, government policy, international trade, and supply-chain mechanics. Today, a renewed focus on wargaming combined with access to sophisticated and inexpensive drag-and-drop digital game development frameworks and new cloud computing architectures have democratized the ability to enable massive multiplayer gaming experiences. With the integration of simulation tools and experimental methods from a variety of social science disciplines, a science-based experimental gaming approach has the potential to transform the insights generated from gaming by creating human-derived, large-n datasets for replicable, quantitative analysis. In the following, we outline challenges associated with contemporary simulation and wargaming tools, investigate where scholars have searched for game data, and explore the utility of new experimental gaming and data analysis methods in both policy-making and academic settings.
In 2017, a poker bot called Libratus made headlines when it roundly defeated four top human players at no-limit Texas Hold'Em. Now, Libratus's technology is being adapted to take on opponents of a different kind--in service of the US military. Libratus--Latin for balanced--was created by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University to test ideas for automated decision-making based on game theory. Early last year, the professor who led the project, Tuomas Sandholm, founded a startup called Strategy Robot to adapt his lab's game-playing technology for government use, such as in wargames and simulations used to explore military strategy and planning. Late in August, public records show, the company received a two-year contract of up to $10 million with the US Army.