Academic journal article Military Review

Simulating War: Studying Conflict through Simulation Games

Academic journal article Military Review

Simulating War: Studying Conflict through Simulation Games

Article excerpt

SIMULATING WAR:

Studying Conflict through Simulation Games

Philip Sabin, Continuum International

Publishing Group, New York

2012, 416 pages, $34.95

THE USE OF war games and simulations as an aid to military education and training has a long history. Therefore, it is somewhat surprising that there is so little written about how to use war games in the classroom. This is particularly so given the prodigious amounts of paper that are often devoted to the latest fads of thinking or teaching. Massive computer simulations sometimes take days to run and often focus more on the process of doing something than on the lessons learned from the study of a campaign. Philip Sabin, a professor in the War Studies Department of King's College in London, has written a book explaining the theory and mechanics of designing and running simulations that actually aids the student in understanding the study of a conflict--no mean feat.

Sabin points out that the main problem with computer simulations (despite the potential for immense levels of detail and the use of sophisticated tools for the user) is that the user often does not need to understand the system the designers have created, whereas with a board or tabletop game, the user has to. The latter "obviously requires a lot more intellectual effort from the user." In a classroom setting, it is the critical thinking that occurs during the interaction between humans (something that cannot happen with a computer) that is most important for us as we try to create future leaders who need to be adaptive, critical thinkers. …

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