Gaming for Research

Illustration of people playing a strategy game

In conflict situations, the choices made by decision makers are crucial. Yet complex situations typically have multiple dimensions that should be considered well before decisions are made. So how can decision makers evaluate their options for scenarios that have not yet happened?

Gaming, an established research methodology, brings people together to consider what steps might be taken in hypothetical situations rooted in the real world. By interacting with people from a range of domains, participants can gain wider perspectives and explore the possible ramifications of their decisions. Gaming comes in many forms and can be applied to many sectors.

RAND Europe's use of gaming techniques allows decision makers to consider complex problems in a simulated environment as a test bed for different policy options. Participants are able to think creatively about ways to tackle issues and gain perspective on the cross-sector consequences of decisions.

To learn more about how RAND Europe uses gaming and other futures methodologies, visit the Centre for Futures and Foresight Studies.

Developing strategies to address antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an incredibly complex policy issue, affecting human health, animal health and the environment. RAND Europe developed and led a resource allocation game to encourage stakeholders to discuss and consider the potential consequences of different policy actions to address the rise in resistance to antibiotics. The game reached policy makers, practitioners, funders and academics, including the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, and the UK's Chief Veterinary Officer, Professor Nigel Gibbens. The insights gained during the game were used to inform policy decisions regarding what to include in the UK's revision of its current AMR strategy.

Examining the future of Arctic cooperation

The Arctic has become an area with increased potential for conflict among nations due to its rich natural resources, maritime activity and other factors. RAND Europe conducted a tabletop gaming exercise to examine the factors that could potentially upset cooperation over the 2020 decade. Attendees included participants from the Arctic nations, including diplomatic and defence organisations, shipping and oil industries, indigenous communities and security research institutions. The participants were presented with plausible starting conditions for the year 2020 and asked to consider courses of action and possible reactions as various events transpired. The game helped generate insights about the strength of cooperation, potential triggers for tensions and the advantages and shortcomings of potential policy options in the Arctic.

The Royal Navy Trafalgar class attack submarine HMS Tireless (S88) sits on the surface of the North Pole. Tireless surfaced with the U.S. Navy Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Hampton (SSN 767) for ICEX 04, a joint operational exercise beneath the polar ice cap

Supporting the UK Royal College of Defence Studies

RAND Europe has been asked to design and deliver the strategic gaming component of the UK Royal College of Defence Studies' (RCDS) one year Strategic Studies Course for senior defence officials from around the world. Each strategy exercise involves all 110 RCDS course members facing a number of hypothetical international crises in near real time. Participants play in groups as designated countries to generate national security strategies, decide courses of action, brief officials, conduct negotiations and handle the press. In addition to building knowledge of strategic-level decision making, the strategy exercises help strengthen bonds between RCDS course members, many of whom will become future Chiefs of Defence or hold other senior roles in their respective countries.

Seaford House, home of the Royal College of Defence Studies