Decisions and the Making Thereof


I have floated this idea in meetings before, but I think now is the time to formalize it. When I was in middle-school, I attended a Duke TIP summer camp where I spent a few weeks learning about international relations around people who were much better at it than I. One of the things I remember best about that camp was a pair of games we played over two days. Basically, the class was split in two and one half would be given titles like “US Labor Secretary” or “US President” (I think they were all executive-branch positions in the US government) and the other side of the class would be ‘reporters’ who would make up increasingly horrific things that would happen in some ongoing crisis (a nuclear situation in North Korea, I believe).

Over the years I have tried to find this game and its rules again and while it is similar to Model UN and several government simulation games I have yet to find an exact replica and am convinced that my instructor made it up. Well, if he can do it, why can’t we? (Aside from a lack of a PhD or really any relevant experience)

To this end, I have begun scouring the web for similar games and have found disturbingly little, especial without paying thousands of dollars for a custom ‘solution’. Still, what I have found is promising and it seems the variety and scope of these games can be practically anything we can put our minds to. However, these games usually have many players (often a dozen or more) and have been set up in advance by experts. We are not experts, and there are not many of us, so we will require a bit of creativity to get a game that works.

I think the best way to design this is for everyone to act as both designer and player. We will first pick a topic or scenario we would like to explore, and then we will do as much research as possible about that scenario to the point where we could generate a reasonable probabilistic and mental model of the situation. Then, each of us will pick roles (including one game master) relevant to the scenario and play the game in the form of correspondence over Slack and decisions made public on here (probably under a special category for that game session). After a certain amount of time, the game master will collect the decisions and interpret them in light of the model we built beforehand and post the results of that cycle. The game continues until it is clear the crisis is either resolved or has evolved past the point where our model is any good.

This will probably be a game of many debates and discussion between the players and game master to decide if an outcome is realistic, this is a good thing as the whole point of this thing is to get us to understand what we are talking about. Imagine it like a court room, where we use precedence to decide how the game ought to unfold.

Anyway, feedback is highly encouraged as what I have right now is just the barest beginnings of a functional game. Also, we need ideas for good scenarios. Ideally these will be realistic modern or historical situations, but they needn’t be governmental (there are a lot of interesting first responder, business, and city planning ideas I have seen).

Ad Victoriam,

1 thought on “Decisions and the Making Thereof”

Leave a Reply