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Strategic Gaming Facilitation: Dark Networks — Peruvian War College and CORE Lab (NPS)

Date: July 6, 2020
Location: Online

Members of the CORE lab from the Naval Postgraduate School will be facilitating the game, Dark Networks, for the course titled, "Trust, Intelligence, and Networks"  at the Peruvian War College. 

This course examines the basic principles of trust and influence, especially as they relate to social networks. Students will acquire a theoretical foundation for these concepts and how they apply to a broad spectrum of areas. The course also introduces the basic concepts discussed in the class—trust, influence, and social networks—and how they are interrelated as well as explores various ways that trust, influence, and networks play themselves out in different aspects of life and irregular warfare, such as small groups, military teams, social movements, dark networks, and so on.

The Dark Networks game focuses on the organizational structure of terrorist groups and how these structures can be altered to make the terrorist group more or less effective. It reinforces many of the concepts and ideas from the field of social network analysis (SNA). It is a two-player, strategic game between the state and the terrorist. Each player may have a strategy to defeat the other, but they must adapt their strategies over time to maximize their advantages. The core tradeoff in this game is between security and effectiveness for the terrorist group. Measures taken to increase effectiveness (growing, centralizing) will diminish the terrorist group's security, and vice versa. This forces players to think about which attribute (security or effectiveness) they wish to maximize. This will change depending on the timing in the game and players' strategies.

Serious Play Conference Presentation: "The Do's and Don't of Facilitating Games Effectively"

Date: June 23, 2020 to June 25, 2020
Location: Online

The Serious Play Conference is a leadership conference for professionals who are exploring the use of game-based learning, sharing their experience and working together to shape the future of training and education. 

Members of the Global ECCO team from the Naval Postgraduate School located in Monterey, CA spoke at the event on June 23, 3030 and delved into the lessons they learned over the years in facilitating serious games they developed. The majority of the serious games focus on counter terrorism and strategic thinking about combatting terrorism.  Some of the games include: Balance of Terror, Dark Networks, Coin of the Realm, and Cyber Strike, as well as a game about energy efficiency and a current game being developed on Women, Peace and Security.  Facilitating serious games is not simply watching students play games, it is more multi-faceted and dynamic than it may appear.  From the initial brief to understanding the technology and overcoming operator error and technical issues to the debrief, facilitating serious games requires not only a mastery of games but also technical skills, teaching skills, time, coordination, and patience.  This presentation describes the experience of, and best practices gleaned from, over 100 strategic gaming facilitations at various institutions and schoolhouses.

Strategic Gaming Facilitation: Cyberstrike Advanced — Naval Postgraduate School

Date: June 3, 2020
Location: Online

The Global ECCO team facilitated the Global ECCO game, Cyberstrike Advanced, for a cyber security course at the Naval Postgraduate School. 

CyberStrike is a six-player game that simulates the complex strategic environment of cyber conflict.  Players can play as criminals, terrorists, hackers, or states, with each role having different capabilities and goals.  Players have to consider how their offensive capabilities match up with their adversaries' defensive capabilities, and vice versa; whether to attack opponents or defend against them; whether to retaliate against attacks, particularly if the perpetrator is unknown; whether to invest in offense, defense, or detection capabilities; whether to ally with others; whether to share information or not; and how they can deter future attacks.

The game is intentionally designed for thinking about the macro, strategic decisions in the cyber world. It does not require or teach any technical aspects of cyber conflict.

Strategic Gaming Facilitation: Coin of the Realm — National Defense University

Date: April 22, 2020
Location: Online

The Global ECCO team facilitated the game, Coin of the Realm, at the College of International Security Affairs of the National Defense University. 

Coin of the Realm challenges players to think about many of the core interactions between governments and insurgents. Each player must generate resources, mobilize forces, secure their bases, move units, conduct combat operations, and gain popular support. Importantly, each side performs these tasks in different ways with advantages and disadvantages for each, highlighting the asymmetries of insurgency/counterinsurgency types of conflict. To win, both players need to gain a certain level of popular support (68 for the state, 27 for the insurgents). The higher requirements for the state give the insurgents an advantage. It is also possible for the insurgent to win if the state vacates the capital, whether voluntarily or if all state pieces in the capital are destroyed. This forces the state to always leave one or more pieces in the capital and gives an advantage in operational flexibility to the insurgent.

Strategic Gaming Facilitation: Contagion — JSOU

Date: February 24, 2020
Location: Florida, CA

The Global ECCO team facilitated the game, Contagion, for the Special Operations Combating Terrorism Course (SOCbT) at JSOU. Contagion introduces players to how terrorists spread their ideologies and how states counter that with their own ideology. Both sides try to gain as much popular support as possible, all while also denying their opponent support. With limited resources, players must choose whether to defend their gains against attacks or grow their support in new areas. They must also weigh the value of promoting their own message versus undermining their opponent's message. While the game is won by gaining sufficient popular support, players can also choose to take actions to undermine their rivals. For every agent placed or boost enacted, players can choose between a positive message, a mixed message (half the power of both positive and negative), or a negative message. Players must pay attention to their opponent's actions and make strategic choices between expanding their own control or undermining their opponent's loyalty, or a little bit of both.

Strategic Gaming Facilitation: Balance of Terror — JSOU

Date: January 28, 2020
Location: Online

The Global ECCO team facilitated the game, Balance of Terror, for the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) course at JSOU.

Balance of Terror is a strategic two-player game of terrorism and counterterrorism. Nothing comes easy for either side, with both players facing difficult tradeoffs. The state must protect its citizens (stability), but cannot over-react and lose the support of the people (legitimacy). The state is also financially constrained, with limited resources (budget) to spend each turn, and a reserve fund of unspent resources from previous turns (bank). The terrorist, meanwhile, must grow its organization (mobilization), while protecting existing members (security). The terrorist also has a budget for each turn plus a bank of unspent resources. The state player wins if the terrorist's security or mobilization drops too low, while the terrorist wins if the state's stability or legitimacy drops too low.