Simulmatics’ shadow

An early example of an urban COIN megagame

A while back I posted about an interesting urban insurgency game I found on the shelves of the US Army War College called URB-INS. It was produced by Simulmatics, a political consulting and analysis company that started in 1959, rocketed to prominence as one of the early proponents of big data for political analysis, and went bankrupt by 1970. 

Jill Lepore, a professor of history at Harvard, has written a book called If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future that traces out just how far, high and fast Simulmatics went in the world of politics, government and academia. Have a look at this interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education – if nothing else, for the description of what Eugene Burdick, writer of The Ugly American and Fail-Safe and spokesman for Ballantine Ale, had to do with it all!

https://www.chronicle.com/article/higher-ed-has-a-silicon-valley-problem

Back to the Green

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Telling the US Defence Attache I will not hesitate to disarm their refugee survivalist militias by force, or something else sternly declarative. I guess for CDS verisimilitude I should be wearing my glasses halfway down my nose. Photo: Kevin Farnworth?

Okay, back from Montreal, and while I didn’t need a reminder of what real cold felt like, I still got one.

Presentation went fine and I met a lot of familiar faces as well as some new ones. My substandard pre-production replica copy of Nights of Fire even got a spin for a couple of turns!

Rex Brynen wrote a very good summation of the conference here: https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2019/02/21/connections-north-2019-conference-report/

The Apocalypse North megagame was also an excellent experience. For six intense hours I played the Chief of the Defence Staff: I had two division commanders, five brigade commanders, a Special Operations commander and an Air commander to boss around. Things went pretty well and I hardly ever had to use “knife hands”*.

Again, Rex does a great and copiously illustrated writeup here: https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2019/02/21/alas-poor-windsor-an-apocalypse-north-megagame-report/

On Monday Jim Wallman and I had a session with some of Rex’s students, dispensing free advice on the games they were designing for his 422 course. Worth every penny they paid for it, I’m sure. It was great hanging out with Jim; we hatched ideas for games like strings of firecrackers.

A long and fortunately not involved flight back and here I am. It was six degrees, sunny and almost springlike out here today. I can see the buds on the cherry trees.

* American usage: also known as the “Sandhurst chop” or the “pie cutter”. https://angrystaffofficer.com/2017/06/26/the-history-of-the-military-knife-hand/