Cover: How Can the Coast Guard Use Gaming?

How Can the Coast Guard Use Gaming?

Published Sep 9, 2020

by Abbie Tingstad, Yuna Huh Wong, Scott Savitz

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Games are widely used to better understand and prepare for a diverse set of challenges. Gaming is a generic term for a suite of structured methodological approaches that can qualitatively (and occasionally reinforced using quantitative data) support decisionmaking in many contexts. What makes a game a game is interactive, rule-based problem solving that includes adjudication of outcomes. Games can be played in formal or more relaxed settings and be supported by different communication tools, such as printed media, whiteboards, digital devices, and applications. Gaming is often associated with the U.S. Department of Defense, but many types of organizations outside of defense—governmental, commercial, nonprofit, and academic—develop and use gaming to support decisionmaking or other functions. The U.S. Coast Guard employs some approaches—largely informally—that fall under the umbrella of gaming. Conducting gaming more formally could help the service expand its analytic, training, and engagement tool kits. In this Perspective, the authors discuss what more the service might do to employ gaming, and why. In particular, the authors highlight the idea of deployable gaming: a low-cost, scalable, structured scenario-based approach that can help gather information, aid decisionmaking, and promote learning at different echelons within the service.

This research was sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Emerging Policy and conducted within the Strategy, Policy and Operations Program of the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center.

This commentary is part of the RAND expert insight series. RAND Expert Insights present perspectives on timely policy issues. All RAND Expert Insights undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

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