In this article, the authors describe a three-team seminar game of community governmental policy toward the sale and use of illicit drugs. The game takes 3 days to play and simulated roughly 5 years. The players are city and county officials and others active in community drug policy. A key feature of the game is a computer model that tracks the costs and benefits of enforcement, treatment, and prevention programs; the numbers of heavy and light drug users; and the amount of drugs consumed. The authors report the lessons learned from 4 runs of the game. These runs suggest that one can successfully conduct seminar games of a diffuse and long-term social issue such as local drug policy and that playing the game induces pollicymakers to pay attention not only to the immediate problems of drug abuse, but also to the surrounding community context. The design of the game is founded on the belief that psychological principles useful in the analysis of peace and conflict can be fruitfully applied to the "war on drugs." The lessons learned from the game highlight 3 principles used in conflict resolution: (a) increasing actors' awareness that the environment is mixed-motive rather than zero-sum; (b) avoiding the escalatory effects of oversimplified thinking; and (c) making explicit the underlying needs and values of the different actors.
Originally published in: Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, v. 1, no. 3, 1995, pp. 275-290.
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