Nusbacher Associates

The wargaming and simulation community needs to continue to sell gaming to think tanks and universities. Wargaming is still too dependent on creative and ambitious individuals adopting the technique.

Dr Lynette Nusbacher, the Devil’s Advocate at Nusbacher Associates, gave a keynote address at the Connections UK Professional Wargaming conference in London on 4 September 2019. The conference, at King’s College, brought together a global audience of professional wargamers, especially those working in government. Dr Nusbacher’s keynote focussed on the difficulties in making government strategy, and how those difficulties map onto the difficulties of bringing structured techniques like wargaming into strategy processes.

Quoting Professor Rex Brynen‘s review:

The first keynote of the conference was delivered by Dr. Lynette Nusbacher (Nusbacher Associates). Entitled “There’s No Pro like an Old Pro:  Professionalism and Wargaming,” she addressed how games can more effectively shape policy processes. She discussed the value of gaming as a forming of inoculation against strategic surprise and shock. When senior leaders encounter cognitive dissonance and ideas for which they are not prepared for they may stop thinking. Challenge may be unwelcome. At its base, she stressed, simulation and gaming should introduce disruption. In the UK, she suggested, government does not really develop strategy to implement policy, but tends to reverse the direction. Strategy is just presumed to exist. There is typically no structured process to marshal ways and means to deliver ends. The US benefits from a more robust think-tank community (partly as a home for former or aspiring political appointees) that are more receptive to critical analysis.

The wargaming and simulation community needs to continue to sell gaming to think tanks and universities. Wargaming is still too dependent on creative and ambitious individuals adopting the technique. Gaming needs to be a fundamental part of procurement. Gaming needs to be sold not only on the internal merits of the game, but as a general antidote to some of the endemic pathologies of UK policymaking.

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