A Step-by-Step Approach to Developing a Professional Game
The 15 steps shown above and described below are for a "medium scale
professional game" where the organization in question has little prior
history of using such methods. The steps are organized in terms of an
operations research study, where analysis and data collection will be an
integral part. Many professional games may be conducted with little or
no requirement for an operations research component and analysis and data
collection may not be required.
Most military organizations will have some history of war gaming and have within
them an operations research staff. With these elements already within the culture,
many steps may be quickly addressed as they will be familiar. For organizations that
are new to professional gaming, the steps may be unfamiliar.
A 'medium scale game' would be one that would take a few days to
conduct and a month or so to prepare, and the main participants would
number fewer than about a dozen. If the scale were significantly
larger, there may be a requirement for more workshops -- these are
generally to coordinate various aspects of game development, so a more
complex game would probably require more than the two planning workshops
shown above to keep it on track. If the scale were smaller, some workshops
might be dispensed with, or at least replaced by small and short coordination
meetings of a few critical staff.
If the organization (Executive Team and Study Team) already
has a good relationship and a history of gaming, many steps could be
eliminated or completed with little effort and attention. For example,
if a Study Team is a permanent fixture within the organization, Step 3
need hardly be addressed (although some change in personnel might be
appropriate from time to time). Similarly, for gaming that is a
continuation of some previous effort, steps 4 through 9 might all be
truncated if the factors, background information, and scenarios are
readily available from a library or archive, or can be reused from one
game to another.
The Ralson and Wilson
18-step process for scenario-based strategy development was the
inspiration for the format used here. Their book should be consulted
for more detail, although some translation may be required if the
context is moved from the business world to the military world. Also note
that their approach is more about developing scenarios and having
others contemplate the ramifications. Professional gaming has a much
larger component of playing out the scenarios. When professional gaming
is used for course of action analysis or for evaluation concepts or
technologies, there should be a larger component of data collection and
analysis -- a contribution for which operations research analysts are
particularly well suited. When professional gaming is used for training,
education, or historical reassessment, military methods of after action
reviews and a lessons learned process should be incorporated (and a role
operations research personnel may not be required).
Step 1: Developing the Relationship with Executive Team.
- The Executive Team (typically a commander and senior staff for a
military organization or a CEO and senior managers for a firm) may require
some convincing that professional gaming will resolve some of their obstacles
or illuminate some quandary they are confronting. However, in military organizations
it is highly likely that the use of war gaming in the decision-making process will
already be a familiar method for the investigation of courses of action (COA).
For example, in the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) as used by the US Army,
Step 4 of 7 is specifically called 'COA Analysis (Wargame)' (see Figure B-1 for the
seven steps and Figure B-5 for Step 4 in a superceded edition of FM-5
The Operations Process.
- While the specific form of war gaming within MDMP may remain
unspecified, at least the existing doctrine specifies that war gaming
should be applied. That other military organizations are familiar with
the use of war gaming (or command post exercises) means that the Executive
Team will be familiar with the general procedures and the potential value.
Some civilian organizations may be familiar with procedures that are similar
to war gaming, e.g., legal scholars review prior
case law as hypotheticals
of how new evidence might affect an outcome and software engineers use
walkthroughs to see the branching that might occur in a computer program.
- Beyond simply persuading the Executive Team that professional gaming would
benefit their situation, the relationship between the Executive Team needs
periodic attention through to the final step (hence the dashed arrow to the right
of step 1). It may be appealing to gamble that the Executive Team can be excluded
until the final step when the report will vindicate the Study Team and convince
the Executive Team that the resources for the game were well spent.
However, periodic reviews with the Executive Team should ensure a continuing bond
of mutual respect.
- Continuous attention to the relationship with the Executive Team can have
several additional and more practical benefits for the Study Team. For example,
it may be that, as preparations unfold for the game, the larger
context has changed, say due to new information or a change in course at the
top. If the Study Team is aware of this as it happens, the direction for the
gaming can be adjusted accordingly. Or, it may be that the Study Team finds
after the project is underway that it needs access to some special information
or to engage some inaccessible individual (with special skills or knowledge);
if the Executive Team has been periodically advised of progress and impediments,
they may intervene to ease the course of the Study Team.
- Note: The dashed arrow in the diagram to the right of Step 1 indicates that
the relationship with the Executive Team will last to the conclusion of the work.
Indeed, the long-term trust that the Executive Team will have in the Study Team
and their work will depend fundamentally on the successful conclusion of Step 15
and the quality of the final report. Plato said "the beginning is the most
important part of any work", and it applies here.
Step 2: Determining the Focus and the Process.
- Professional games are often intended to assist in a decision-making process
or in resolving a problem. Establishing the decision alternatives will focus
gaming activity on those alternatives, and not on irrelevant alternatives.
Using gaming exclusively to resolve a problem may not be as simple: often
a problem persists precisely because it cannot or has not been properly described.
Gaming can often help to characterize a problem more clearly, with beneficial effects
on eventually resolving it. As problem solving may not be as simple as decision making
where the alternatives may be evident, this step should include describing the
general characteristics of the problem and the constraints on potential
solutions as well.
- Note that, for gaming to resolve problems, the result from gaming may be
no more than determining in greater detail some of the conditions that have
led to the problem; an appropriate resolution of the problem may still be
unclear, but it may be clearer than without the gaming results.
- Also note that, as with many operations research studies, a sponsor's
description of a decision or of a problem may be wrong, say because the
sponsor is too close to the issues. So some 'negotiations' with the sponsor
(or Executive Team) may be required to uncover such issues. In fact such a
situation may not be apparent until the conclusion of the last few steps:
"Fine, but you've solved the wrong problem". While not the ideal outcome,
getting to this stage through gaming rather than some larger and
more expensive project may be a much more efficient investment.
- This step should include an estimate of the resources needed to complete
the gaming activity. While this estimate may still be subject to
revision a bit later, the general scope of the game activity
should be clearer -- Will it be a small, medium, or large activity? Will it
take weeks or months? Will it involve a few people or lots? Can most of the
people do it on a part-time basis, or will full-time participation be required?
Does the organization already have all the resources needed or will outside
assistance be required? Will the participants come from a central location,
or will their involvement mean significant travel costs? Will automated tools
be required (audio or video recording, models or computer support)?
Step 3: Forming the Study Team and Analysis Plan.
Capabilities-Based Assessment (CBA) User’s Guide
from the Joint Chiefs of Staff material on future
joint warfare provides extensive guidance on assembling a study team for a
Capabilities-Based Assessment or CBA (in Section 3.1). In many respects a Study
Team for a gaming project needs similar expertise. The organizational matrix,
used for planning purposes, shows roles or the skill sets down the left and potential
sources across the top.
- Some additional skills or roles not mentioned for CBA but potentially important
for gaming include:
- The facilitator (see below)
- Experts on
- geographic areas (e.g., country experts),
- specific systems or equipment (e.g., weapon, sensor, or mobility systems), and
- specific geo-political aspects (e.g., foreign policy, foreign aid)
- Support personnel for any unique systems that are used within the game.
For example the players in a war game may be cocooned in a real or surrogate command
centre, with access to automated C2 systems; technical support to train on these systems
and to keep them running may be required. Or the analysts may wish, for example, to deploy
data-capture systems, audio or video recording equipment, geographic information
systems -- such systems will require appropriate technical support.
- Note that not all of this expertise will be required at all times. For example,
an expert on video recording might be needed in Step 6 'Preparing Rules and Support
Tools' and in Step 12 'Conducting a Professional Game'. When not needed in the
Study Team, such experts can continue with their other duties.
- The Title X war games of the US military services are large-scale seminar war
games and the Study Team extends to hundreds. Such a study team is organized in a
hierarchy. Perla and Markowitz in
Wargaming Strategic Linkage propose a triumvirate at the top for Global War Games
for the playing of the games: an overall Game Director, supported by a
Director of Assessment and a Director of Adjudication. The Director
of Assessment would manage a team of Facilitators. And the Director of Adjudication
would manage a team of "pucksters" -- staff who work intimately with any supporting
combat simulations or models. The Game Director, the Director of Assessment and the
Facilitators work closely with the players, particularly for activity at the strategic
or operational levels.
- If there is a large technical component (e.g., command systems, communications
systems, combat simulations, models, databases, audio or video recording equipment),
the Study Team may include a technical sub-team to deal with related issues.
- Special attention should be paid to who can play the role of the facilitator
(aka umpire, adjudicator, or controller). A facilitator should be chosen early
in the study (in Step 3 if possible); he or she should participate in Study Team
sessions that determine key factors and initiate quests for information
(Steps 4, 5, 6, and 7), and be mindful of how these will need to be addressed
in subsequent steps. In general the Study Director should not
assume the role of facilitator as, during the gaming, the Study Director
may be otherwise engaged (e.g., participating in the discourse, escorting VIPs,
interpreting or providing guidance from the Executive Team, even critiquing the
facilitator to ensure even-handedness is maintained). The role of facilitator will
become a full-time role by this point (Step 12) and a Study Director has other
- Videos from the Fred Friendly series
of seminars illustrate how a facilitator should behave:
- The primary abilities of a good facilitator are:
- Ability to stimulate frank and open discourse.
- Attention to detecting and handling biases when they appear, which
is inevitable. (Biases when dealt with properly often lead to valuable
discourse. However, the biases exhibited by participants should never
be used to embarrass or to attack them... well, within reason -- see
comments below on using "good humour".)
- Confidence from the Executive Team that the game has
explored all reasonable outcomes in suitable depth, but without undue
diversions due to biases and without unnecessary and wasteful digressions.
- Abilities a facilitator may be able to finesse:
- The facilitator may not need extensive expertise in any specific
topics the participants may pursue. If there are extensive technical
issues lurking within a seminar war game, the facilitator may have a
panel of experts to call upon to assist in adjudication, or in discussing
the consequences of some participant's actions or proposed actions.
- In some cases a facilitator who has too much expertise in some
particular area of specialist competency, e.g., qualifications as a submarine
commander, as a pilot, as a combat soldier, could be detrimental. He or she
may be viewed by participants as coming into the game with his or her own
biases, and they may feel a sense of hostility based on a perception of
bias (even when no such bias is evident).
- The facilitator does need to be familiar with common
concepts and jargon terms. Asking repeatedly for participants
to explain terms that are already well known to the others
will probably reduce the respect for the facilitator. However, many
participants will appreciate a facilitator who challenges other participants
to explain terms that are not familiar to all, or that are fuzzy or woolly
effects based operations").
- Additional competencies of a facilitator are:
- Keeping the participants on time and on the agreed-upon agenda. (But
a facilitator should maintain a reserve of time so participants can complete
their thoughts while energy levels are still high and the debate is lively,
by shortening coffee or lunch breaks for example).
- Ensuring that debate remains professional and that participants are
generally retaining their good humour (or regaining it if they temporarily
- Keeping a clear record (although the Study Team may have others to do
this, typically a scribe).
- Listening carefully and respectfully to the participants -- including
an ability to ensure more reticent participants have their say, an ability
to draw participants out when the point they are trying to make is still
too obscure for the others, an ability to paraphrase a discussion for the
sake of clarity or to promote further deliberation, and an ability to
maintain a balance in participation.
- Sensitivity to non-verbal cues from individual players that they may
have something to contribute, but are reluctant to speak (e.g., use of
- Having the knowledge and skill that can encourage the group's creativity
and not to diminish or limit it.
- Determining that a consensus has not or cannot be reached, and then
working with the group to understand the reasons for remaining dissension.
- Maintaining a good sense of humour, and ensuring all participants find
the experience rewarding.
- Development of an Analysis Plan should be started in this step. While it
will be a work in progress for some time, the draft analysis plan will provide
a developing document covering objectives, resources, timing, and many other elements
around which the gaming effort will be organized. Many resources are available on how
analysis plans are developed; one that covers military applications is the Analysis
Handbook (ABCA Pub 354) from the ABCA Armies'
Step 4: Initiating the Search of Relevant Information (examples: Master
Questions, Perspectives, Issues, Data).
- Once the focus has been set and early members of the Study Team become
available, a search for relevant information should be undertaken. Developing
a list of master questions will be valuable even if specifying the focus may
already provide some of this in general terms: what are the higher level
questions that the Executive Team hopes may be resolved, or at least
illuminated. As the project continues, some of these questions may be deferred,
or re-worded. But initiating the documentation process early will provide master
questions for later steps as the scenarios are constructed and the data
collection and analysis plans are developed.
- As the master questions materialize, perspectives of the participants
(both on the Executive Team and on the Study Team) should emerge. It may be
that different members have perspectives that are diametrically opposed and
the game can determine flaws (and strengths) of each of these. For one
participant the perspective may be that resources and logistics are the key
to resolving the problem, while another's perspective may be that poor
training is the obstacle. By scoping the perspectives that may be in play,
the game can be designed to provide material that will assist with all of
the critical perspectives, even if it should determine that some formerly
key perspective is really a myth and needs to be of no further concern.
- The term "issues" is for matters that the game may illuminate
without seeming to take sides. The participants are aware of issues where no
one yet holds a position, but where a better understanding will benefit the
- As lists of master questions, perspectives, and issues are compiled it
should become apparent that more information will be required in certain areas.
In a military context, this may be data on a country's armed forces, or the
strength of its economy, or on geographic features that may become key in some
conflict. Games outside of the military community may require information on
investment opportunities or future budget constraints. The Study Team
can pursue some this data at this stage as it will be required in subsequent
steps. There is a step later (Step 7) where the quest for such information
will be at a more refined level. For Step 4, the Study Team will need information
at a granularity sufficient to begin Step 8 (Developing Prototype Scenarios).
Step 5: Determining the Key Decision Factors and Drivers.
- With the focus established and initial collection of master questions
and issues in progress, it is timely to outline key decision factors and
drivers. The idea is certainly not to draw conclusions prematurely. But
it is relevant at this point to develop a framework for the problem or
- The Study Team may use diagramming methods for this. Speculative
influence diagrams may be useful; however they need to be viewed as
prototypes at this step, since the subsequent steps may result in
significant revisions to such mental models. Indeed members of the Study
Team should not become so committed to these speculations that they cannot
be changed as the game play proceeds.
- It may be appropriate to develop lists of perceived resources,
assumptions, and constraints. As well, there may be a perception of
what the commander's intent may be (unstated so far by the commander).
Perceptions of these elements often drive decisions -- and those
perceptions may be wrong. A game is an effective tool to
question those perceptions in a relatively benign and frugal context,
before significant resources, even lives, are on the line. At this
stage recording the perceptions of drivers -- intent, resources,
assumptions, constraints -- provides a framework for the following steps.
Step 6: Preparing Rules and Support Tools. (Examples: map or chart,
spreadsheet formula, look-up table, aide mémoire)
- While many adjudications in professional games rely upon the judgement
of the facilitator (or umpire), there are many areas where support tools
may be required. For war gaming, these may be of four general types:
command and control (C2) assistance for players, planning aids for players,
the means for resolving combat outcomes for interactions within the game
(to aid in adjudications), and data collection and analysis procedures.
For professional games conducted outside of the military world, counterparts
to these tools will be required as well. There is a page specifically on
tools that provides more detail.
- Players in war games may be cocooned in a network of command
and control systems. For instance, if a "command team" can use familiar
C2 systems, they can collaborate using familiar approaches and procedures.
But if they have to develop a bespoke C2 approach specifically for the
war game, this may be a drain on resources or a distraction.
- Players may be provided with the typical tools they would have
available for planning, or surrogates of those tools. For example,
they may have geographic information systems that can give them time
and distance estimates, say to move a convoy from one location to
another, or a spreadsheet to calculate the consumption of fuel and
rations. Players can use these tools, as they would if they were
planning a real operation, to estimate various outcomes. Note: these
are generally tools used to estimate results without regard to what
an enemy or opponent may do (or even the unforseen circumstances that
fate might impose). Such results are considered to be the results of
- Adjudication will be applied when factors that are unknown to
the players affect results. The unknown factors may be as simple as
environmental factors, e.g., the weather. Or, they may be the results
of the decisions of others, e.g., a thinking enemy. Computer support,
say in the form of a combat simulation, may be essential here to
account for complex aspects of weapons and sensor systems of friendly
and hostile forces. However, panels of experts may be required to
adjudicate other results; this is generally the case when subtle human
reactions are a critical component of the result -- say the response
of a local population to collateral damage.
- Finally, for the sake of the study itself, support tools may be
required for data collection and analysis. These may range from a
facilitator tracking issues on a flipchart in point form, to audio or
visual recordings, to surveys or questionnaires and associated
Step 7: Researching Further on Master Questions, Perspectives,
- Master Questions. The Study Team should maintain a running
list of master questions, questions that are usually open-ended and
broad. As the Study Team moves through the various steps these master
questions may be re-worded, say if the context was not properly
understood at the start or if more nuances emerge. It is likely that
many of the master questions cannot be answered even after conclusion
of the gaming (Step 12). Some may be set aside entirely if they are
seen as far beyond the agreed scope of the study. A good example of
master questions are the ten proposed for General Zinni's
DESERT CROSSING exercise of 1999 when he was CINC CENTCOM (Section
II of the AAR Report).
- Perspectives. Perspectives from key individuals on what
the study should deliver need to be recorded. In particular,
perspectives of members of the Executive Team are particularly
important, after all, the fundamental decision or problem belongs to
the Executive Team and they have been living with for some time.
- Issues. In many respects the master questions and the
issues may be indistinguishable (the DESERT CROSSING AAR report
Section II for example, uses the terms interchangeably). Sometimes
it can be useful to maintain a Master Questions List or MQL (actually
framed as questions) and an Issues List. The entries in the MQL will
suggest that the game will provide an answer (although
often it will clarify some aspects of the question, but then propose
codicil questions). Using a question format, may have an advantage in
making clear there is presently no good answer, so study is required
before committing to one.
- Data. In preparing for a game, the required
data may cover a broad spectrum: maps and charts for the geographic
area of interest, orders of battle for military components and
specification sheets for weapons, platforms, and sensors, geo-political
positions of the main players, and so on. As shown in the diagram at
the top, the process of gathering this sort of data will continue
through to the execution phase (to the start of Step 12). The quest
for data in this step should be in harmony with Step 8 and Step 9 --
namely what details are necessary to provide the players with a plausible
Scenarios Development Phase
Step 8: Developing Prototype Scenarios.
- There is a separate web page on scenarios.
It includes various approaches to scenario develop as used in both the
civilian and military communities.
- "Story boarding", a technique from the cinema, can be adapted to this.
Essentially "pictures" of critical stages can be developed. The idea will
be to provide the context for how these "pictures" can be presented to the
players through the scenario. Of course, as often happens with cinematic
"storyboarding", many of the frames of the storyboard are overtaken by
events, and are never used in the final film.
- The scenario framework (or storyboards) give guidance to further
refinement of the scenario, and for other aspects like what data will
be required for this (e.g., data on countries, military forces, biographies
and positions associated with key leaders).
Step 9: Refining Scenarios.
- The web page on scenarios provides more
detail for this.
- After Workshop 2 provides confirmation that the general framework for
the scenarios is appropriate, this step consists of filling in the gaps,
developing depth, providing branches, and preparing the material that will
be provided to players to prepare them for Step 12 (the Game).
Step 10: Selecting and Preparing the Participants and the Venue.
- The Executive Team: There should be sufficient participants from
the Executive Team that those not present will have reports from a
source they consider particularly reliable on the credibility of the
process and the results. The senior leadership from the Executive Team
may engage personally, or they may nominate one or more representatives.
- The Study Team: The Study Team or the Wargame Team may be views as having
two components: the Analysis Team and the Design Team. The Analysis Team should
be thinking of the game as an opportunity to develop a better understanding of
the problems of the Executive Team. The Design Team will be focused on the mechanics
of the game. However, there should be considerable cross-fertilization between
the Analysis Team and the Design Team; the relationship should be collegial as
the Analysis Team and the Design Team share an ultimate objective supporting
the Executive Team. In some ways the Analysis Team will view
the whole affair as a study with the war game as the most obvious
component. The Design Team may view the whole affair as a game, which
they will design to illuminate some of the issue in the study.
Key members of the Study Team who will participate
are the Facilitator and the Scribe. These should be different individuals
as each role is a full-time commitment when gaming is under way. Data
collectors and analysts should participant in the Execution Phase. Other
members of the Study Team may also attend the Execution Phase, e.g.,
scenario writers may double as country experts or foreign policy experts.
- The Technical Sub-Team: If hardware and software are key components
(e.g., combat simulations, geographic information systems, databases,
C2 systems, audio or video recorders), anticipate that a substantial
technical team may be required. Allocate time for technical aspects to
be resolved before the play begins -- avoid keeping players waiting
while technical glitches are resolved.
- Players: The context of the game should generally dictate the player
expertise that is recruited.
- Numbers: As with facilitated workshops for other purposes, the players
should not number more than a dozen. Unfortunately, this may have to be
violated for larger war games.
- Seating: A large U-shaped table is best, with the main participants
seated around it (up to about 15). Beyond those numbers, arrange additional
seating against the walls. (Classroom or theatre style seating should be
avoided as players will find it difficult to make eye contact in this arrangement.
Eye contact is a critical component to vigorous and lively interaction.)
- Physical Environment: Pay attention to issues to keep participants focused
like sight lines to other participants and to screens and white boards. Ensure
comfort in terms of ambient temperature, ventilation, lighting, acoustics, seats,
and potential distractions from noise and similar factors.
- Ensure the facilitator has freedom to rove about the room. Most of the time
the facilitator will be stationed near the opening of the U of the table to be
equally accessible to all. But the facilitator should be prepared to move about
to engage specific participants on issues where their input will be crucial.
- Rehearsals: If rehearsals have not been conducted before this step, one or more
should be carried out here. Rehearsals are not intended to consist of a full game
(the game should be the focus of attention of the players not the rehearsal).
However, rehearsals should provide an opportunity to see what may have been missed, e.g.,
parts of the scenario that do not hang together, or issues that will not be addressed
due to missing elements, or possible situations where there will be no assessment procedure
for the control staff to use, or even potential administrative/logistics glitches like
no plans for food or transportation for the players.
Step 11: Initiating Data Collection.
- Various methods for data collection are described on the web pages on
records and feedback. In
many respects data collection, in a way, should start at Step 1 (with entries in
a study workbook). Step 11 is specifically oriented towards collecting data as
the game itself unfolds.
Step 12: Conducting Professional Game.
- A web page on rules provides more background on the
specifics of conducting play and resolving issues.
- Before initiating a game, there should be agreement on whether the conduct
should conform to some anticipated sequence (with some restrictions on the
creativity of players) versus full "free play".
- Creative players will often take a game in some unanticipated direction.
Sometimes a scenario can be adapted on the fly to this. But if necessary the
facilitator should use a "Tactical Pause" to re-work a scenario.
Step 13: Providing a "Quick Look Report".
- An organization may have a lot invested in a professional game and may wish
to hear of some successes immediately at "close of play". Also the players are
owed an acknowledgement of their contributions and something to justify the
valuable time they invested in the game. So the facilitator and
the rest of the Study Team should plan on a "Quick Look Report" within hours
of close of play.
- However, as with most studies, there are dangers to reporting incipient
results too early. An obvious risk is that the preliminary results may be wrong
(and corrected after further analysis and deliberation). But if the wrong results
were offered in a "quick look report", myths may develop as the "quick look results"
are accepted and acted upon before they should be. Also those involved in the study
may feel they must remain committed to the "quick look results" long past when they
should have been corrected (no one likes to admit a mistake).
- If a "quick look report" must be given upon completion of the play of
a game, here are a few guidelines:
- Conduct it within hours of conclusion of the gaming. Many participants may have
travel plans and only a short time to participate in the "quick look report". It is
best to have their attention rather than have them fretting about getting away.
- Exploit the collected wisdom provided by the participants: frame the issues in
the form of a confirming question back to the participants. For example, points can
be framed: "We heard you say this. Did we get that right?" Just ensure the activity
does not turn into a revisiting of material that has already been covered extensively.
If someone wants to go on a length about some point, have them take it "offline".
- Frame most issues in terms of "study mandates" for further work. Doing this means
that the Study Team has not staked their reputations on some specific course of action.
If there are still questions in the minds of players about the validity of results,
they should respect a conclusion that the issues still need further study.
- To give participants a sense of progress, give them an assessment of material that
has been resolved or clarified. Point out that all concerned have a better understanding
of issues, even if more work remains.
- Conclude with acknowledgement of the time and effort from all concerned and a
statement of appreciation.
Analysis and Reporting Phase
Step 14: Reviewing and Processing Data.
- During the course of a game project, a considerable amount of material
(data) will be collected. This includes information dating back even to Step 1 (for
larger context of the study). Much of the record preceding Step 12 (the game itself)
can be assembled as it develops, thus reducing the time required after conclusion of
the game to generate the report. However the extent and complexity of the other data
will be contingent upon how the game unfolds.
- The material can consist of records of the activity
and of feedback from the participants. There are diverse
means to capture both aspects and the effort required to process them will be a
consequence of the prior choices on which means to use.
- In a very simple game, the data on game play may be little more than
a gist of the discourse, supplemented by flipcharts of some of the brainstorming. For
more substantial efforts, there may often be records of the ranking of courses of action
or of expressions of group preferences for new concepts or candidate technologies for
future employment. And, the rationale for such preferences should be included. For any
particularly astute intervention, the record should elaborate on the issue, and give
due credit to the participant who offered it.
- Analysts should beware of audio and video recording as a means of data collection.
These can provide invaluable augmentation to other means, and may be a source of resolving
some ambiguity or the source of some dispute. However audio and video records can be
tedious to review and the process can be time consuming. The results may also prove
disappointing if some particular intervention should go unrecorded when out of microphone
range or out of view of the cameras.
- At the start of Step 12 (the game) players should be told if they will be needed at
the conclusion (e.g., for interviews or questionnaires) and time should be committed on
their agenda for this. Players can become notoriously hard to find once a game concludes,
especially if they were not warned in advance they would be needed in Step 14.
Step 15: Reporting Results.
- A study if not complete until the final report has been issued -- if there is no
report, there was no study! As with the report on a scientific experiment, this report
should include background on methods and procedures, and not simply on results. The
credibility of any results will depend on the professionalism of the Study Team's
activities, beginning way back at Step 1. Material in the report on these steps should
be sufficient for any reader to see how the project developed, what aspects were included
and what was rejected, the backgrounds of participants, some commentary on how the game
unfolded. To ensure that the main body of the report is concise, many of these
elements can be consigned to annexes or appendices. See the NATO Land Ops 2020 and Urban
Ops 2020 reports for how such a report may be configured for a major activity, and the
Canadian Army of Tomorrow report for a configuration for a medium scale activity.
- Most readers on the Executive Team will be interested in specific results: issues
that have been resolved, remaining problems that have been better defined, subsequent
studies that may be required. These should be highlighted in an "executive summary"
of the report.
- Typical games require the support of many individuals. Some acknowledgement
of this support should be included. Apart from expressing appreciation, such acknowledgements
may add credibility (derived from the reputations of those who were engaged) and provide
contacts for readers to get perspectives directly from players with whom they are in contact.
- A web page on numbers provides some examples of using
quantitative methods within the framework of games.
Bauman's Inferno and
Time, Workshops, and Milestones
The steps shown above are in a rough chronological order. However for some specific
applications, the sequence may be adjusted.
If the scope is fairly limited or if the problem is familiar to most participants, it
may be possible to skip through many of the steps fairly quickly. If this were the case,
it is still beneficial to consider each step and confirm that it has been completed.
If there has been a long-standing relationship between the Executive Team and the Study
Team and if the problem is familiar with stock scenarios ready to use, it may seem attractive
(and expeditious) to jump immediately to Step 10 and Step 11 and get on with the Execution
Once engaged in a particular step, it may become clear that a previous step needs to
be revisited. For example as the key factors and drivers are being determined (Step 5), it
may become clear that the focus of the gaming (set in Step 2) needs to be
adjusted -- the focus needs to be expanded to include key factors that were not apparent.
So it would be appropriate to return to Step 2 to establish some revised focus. If the
extent of the adjustment is relatively small, it may be possible to go back to Step 5
Workshops are opportunities to coordinate activities. If the game is being
treated as a military exercise (e.g., a command post exercise), the workshops may be called
exercise planning conferences. Members of the Executive Team, the Study Team, and the players
should participate. If there is a large technical components (e.g., simulations, models,
command and control systems), they should also be represented -- normally support of this
sort would be a component of the Study Team, but for a large-scale activity may constitute a