This Note describes the procedures, appropriate uses, and limitations of the free-form game. It discusses free-form gaming as a procedure for organized study of the complex problems entailed in confrontations and crises, whether between nations or within organizations. The author suggests that to be useful, a study game must have a substantively informed design and playing teams whose members, in combination, bring knowledge of the issues and processes being simulated into the exercise. Free-form games have a number of limitations: They cannot adequately represent the multiple and diverse staff and systems operations that go on in "real life" national crises; they rarely can be used to cover a simulated crisis from beginning to end; and they do not lend themselves to detailed and mechanically rigorous comparative analysis across several games.
Jones, William M., On Free-Form Gaming. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1985. https://www.rand.org/pubs/notes/N2322.html. Also available in print form.
Jones, William M., On Free-Form Gaming, RAND Corporation, N-2322-RC, 1985. As of December 8, 2023: https://www.rand.org/pubs/notes/N2322.html