Scenario Gaming

Scenario gaming is all about looking at possible future (or even past) scenarios and working through different ways to deal with them. Three of the key elements to me are that:

 

  • they should be opposed (e.g. by an enemy, the competition, socio-economics, technology or nature) - "the enemy has a vote" in military parlance,

  • there should be some element of friction, so what you want to happen doesn't necessarily happen, and

  • there should be an element of randomness - the future is unpredicatable

After that everything is up for grabs and scenarios can be gamed by unstructured discussion and role-play, by red-teaming, by matrix games, board games, computer games and even model/figure games. Each has their part to play.

My specific commercial interests are detailed below, and they mostly sit at the intersection of the two technologies covered by Daden - virtual worlds and virtual humans - with wargaming. Beyond that in my hobby life I have nearly 5 decades (!) of game design experience, at least that amount or wargaming experience and just short of it in role-playing gaming experience (as well as 10 years in the Military working typically at Bde HQ level). So I'd be more than happy to help out as an extra-pair-of-hands at scenario gaming events, or perhaps to give a fresh perspective to scenario game designers or users.

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Areas of Interest

These are the main areas which interest me in scenario-gaming and where I might be able to help out.

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Synthetic Wraps

Most scenario-games are resources limited, but a key part of many considerations is how the public will react - particularly on social media. We've done two projects for MOD generating social media synthetic wraps either semi-automatically or fully automatically from both turn-based and real-time wargames. Utilising some of our NPC and NLP skills there may even be scope to use the synthetic agents as "stars" - foreground characters interacting directly with the players where there aren't enough humans to go round!

  • Give participants a better idea of the real-world impact of their actions

  • Use social media as a potential additional open-source intelligence channel

  • By automating the "background noise" hand-crafted messages that reflect a golden-thread or Master Event List serial aren't so obvious to the players

  • Have agents reflect different levels of chattiness, and expertise

  • Give agents allegiances and sentiments, and have them change dynamically as the player actions evolve

  • Use templating, variables and synonym approaches to generate thousands of message variations for minimal human set-up effort.

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Game Support Agents

Scenario games can be quite daunting undertaking for many people. And large-scale events happen so rarely that there can be a lot of knowledge fade between them. Building on the work we've done with Reflexive Agents, Employee Support Bots and Virtual Personas I'm interested in how you could create a virtual agent to help in the delivery of scenario gaming. Not only helping both players and directing staff out with the process of the game, but also using the reflexive element to think through the risks, ethics and consequences of the decisions they make.

  • Use the bot to help automate some processes, or at least remind players/DS of the process and data

  • A Reflexive Agent to could reflect a whole range of different lenses through which to examine a situation, plan or decision, such as PESTLE, ASCOPE, PMESII and the 7 Questions.

  • Lift some of the cognitive burden from the player/DS so that they can focus on the parts of the game which really matter

  • Improve the agent with each iteration so as build lessons learned and minimise skill and knowledge fade

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Virtual War-Rooms

The obvious intersection between virtual reality and scenario gaming is the creation of virtual war-rooms. If its not feasible for staff to get together for a game why not bring them into a 3D virtual collaborative space, where you can have maps as big as you want, walls covered with interactive media sources, and the ability to see and chat with your colleagues whilst working through the scenario - with far more of a sense of "being there" compared to doing it all over Zoom!

  • Players can access through DesktopVR or HMD-VR

  • Easily set up "blind" games, where sides are in different virtual rooms, and the DS in another and with the ability to move between all

  • Link in-world rooms and their data to each other - and even to external sources (like our synthetic wrap) and applications (such as Google Docs/Sheets)

  • Use dedicated spaces/applications or leverage existing VR collaboration tools and environments (e.g. Mozilla Hubs)

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Augmented Reality Tours

Slightly more specific to wargaming I've developed prototypes of both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality virtual battlefield tours. Whilst the VR variety takes a lot of effort to model terrain the AR version is so straight forward there there's the potential to crowd source the battlefield data and descriptions.

  • Use your mobile phone to view the locations of key locations and units at any time during the battle

  • Provide text/image descriptions of key points of the battle

  • Put yourself in context wherever you are on the battlefield

  • Animate the timeline of the battle, so you see the locations of units move literally before your eyes

  • The rigour of encoding location data really makes you think about who was where when!

  • If the data is stored in a neutral format (I'm working on a Conflict Markup Language) then it could also be viewed in 2D on Google Maps/OpenStreetMap or in 3D in VR!

The Hobby Side

It's sometime quite hard to tell where the professional and hobby sides of scenario/war-gaming meet or overlap, and when they should be kept apart! But for a bit more context here's a few things I've been involved with hobby-wise. Hover over or click on an image for more information.

Can I Help?

Here are some of the services which I can provide to help you make the best of scenario-gaming:

  • Help you think through and possibly implement virtual spaces for scenario-gaming​

  • Implement an automated synthetic social media wrap for your next scenario-gaming event

  • Develop a Game Support Agent to help users and build your corporate gaming knowledge

  • Develop a Virtual Battlefield Tour in AR or VR

  • Provide a wargame to help support physical battlefield tours or staff rides to get a better understanding of the terrain and the commanders choices and decisions

  • Provide an independent view of how you are currently implementing scenario gaming and wargaming

  • Just be an extra pair of hands at your next wargame!

More Information

For more information about my work on Scenario and Wargaming check out: