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Gaming Political Science

Conflict, Terrorism, and War


From the website: PAXsims is devoted to the discussion of conflict simulations and serious games that address issues of security, development, and peacebuilding for educational, training, and policy purposes.

Peacekeeping the Game

A political science simulation created by Michael F. Goon. “The game is designed to entertain and educate about the long-term challenges in fostering lasting peace in war-torn countries. Using peacekeepers and points of economic aid received from international sources, you will try to secure your nation, form a moderate government, and structure a market economy.” Game is designed for 3 or 4 players. Article


This online game has teams of students run fictional countries in a world facing terrorism, resource shortages, and climate change. In addition to negotiating with other states, students face two sets of domestic policy challenges: the various interest groups in the country who clamor for particular projects and actions, and the dynamic of working with teammates responsible for different aspects of policymaking. There is an individual cost to each student.

World Without Oil

This alternate reality game asks students to consider how they and others would respond to a world where oil becomes scarce and expensive. Ten lesson plans walk students through the fear, the shortages, and the violence, using films and blog entries written by the original players of the game. This game is free to use.

Mandela's Choices and Conflict in Cygnia

Associate Professor Nick Vaccaro of Doane College has created several text-based digital games oriented toward comparative politics and international relations. In Mandela's Choices, students play the role of Nelson Mandela and grapple with the key leadership decisions he must make between 1985 and 1993. Conflict in Cygnia is a constitution-making simulation in an ethnically-divided hypothetical nation. There's also a game of nuclear deterrence "Chicken" and an interactive version of the Prisoner's Dilemma for IR students.

Articles, Books, and Conference Papers

Baylouny, Anne Marie. 2009. “Seeing Other Sides: Nongame Simulations and Alternative Perspectives of Middle East Conflict.” Journal of Political Science Education 5(3): 214-232. Abstract

Belloni, Roberto. 2008. “Role-Playing International Intervention in Conflict Areas: Lessons from Bosnia for Northern Ireland Education.” International Studies Perspectives 9(2): 220-34. Abstract

Biswas, Bidisha. 2012. “Teaching International Crises with Online Simulations: A Case Study of an India-Pakistan Crisis.” Paper presented at the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, Washington, D.C. Abstract

Brewer, David C. and Boris Maciejovsky 2005. “Child of Neglect: Crisis Gaming for Politics and War.” Orbis 27(4): 803-812.

Fielder, James D. 2019. "The Narrative History of the Chocolate Wars: A Short and Tasty Bargaining Game." Journal of Political Science Education 15(1): 82-93. Abstract

Franke, Volker. 2006. “The Meyerhoff Incident: Simulating Bioterrorism in a National Security Class.” PS: Political Science and Politics 39(1): 153-6. Abstract

Frank, Richard W. and Jessica Genauer. 2019. "A Classroom Simulation of the Syrian Conflict." PS: Political Science and Politics 52(4): 737-742. Abstract

Gilley, Bruce. 2013. “Using a Virtual History Conference to Teach the Iraq War.” Journal of Political Science Education 9(2): 222-235. Abstract

Hemda, Ben-Yehuda and Guy Zohar. 2018. "Fanaticism Through the Looking Glass of Simulations." Journal of Political Science Education 14(2): 197-221. Abstract

Hunzeker, Michael A., and Kristen A. Harkness. 2014. "The Strategy Project: Teaching Strategic Thinking through Crisis Simulation." PS: Political Science and Politics 47(2): 513-517. Abstract

Jefferson, Kurt W. 1999. “The Bosnian War Crimes Trial Simulation: Teaching Students about the Fuzziness of World Politics and International Law.” PS: Political Science and Politics 32(3): 588-92. Abstract

McCarthy, Mary M. 2014. "The Role of Games and Simulations to Teach Abstract Concepts of Anarchy, Cooperation, and Conflict in World Politics." Journal of Political Science Education 10(4): 400-413. Abstract

McCarthy, Mary M. 2012. “Is an Abstract Game or Role-Play Simulation Better to Explore Anarchy, Cooperation, and Conflict in World Politics?” Paper presented at the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, Washington, DC, February 17-19. Contact

Mendenhall, Elizabeth and Tarek Tutunji. 2018. "Teaching Critical Understandings of Realism through Historical War Simulations." PS: Political Science and Politics 51(2): 440-444. Abstract

Mosinger, Eric. 2019. "Control and Collaboration: Simulating the Logic of Violence in Civil War for Political Science Students." PS: Political Science and Politics 52(3): 543-548. Abstract

Sabin, P. 2012. Simulating War: Studying Conflict through Simulation Games. London, Continuum.

Schofield, Julian. 2013. “Modeling Choices in Nuclear Warfighting: Two Classroom Simulations on Escalation and Retaliation.” Simulation & Gaming 44(1): 73-93. Abstract

Sears, Nathan Alexander. 2018. "War and Peace in International Relations Theory: A Classroom Simulation." Journal of Political Science Education 14(2): 222-239. Abstract

Siegel, David A., and Joseph K. Young. 2009. “Simulating Terrorism: Credible Commitment, Costly Signaling, and Strategic Behavior.” PS: Political Science and Politics 42(4): 765-71. Abstract

Stoll, Richard J. 2011. “Civil Engineering: Does a Realist World Influence the Onset of Civil Wars?” Simulation and Gaming 42(6): 748-771. Abstract

Stover, William James. 2007. “Simulating the Cuban Missile Crisis: Crossing Time and Space in Virtual Reality.” International Studies Perspectives 8(1): 111-120. Abstract

Stover, William James. 2005. “Teaching and Learning Empathy: An Interactive, Online Diplomatic Simulation of Middle East Conflict.” Journal of Political Science Education 1(2): 207-219. Abstract

Williams, Alexander J. and Robert H. Williams. 2011. “Multiple Identification Theory: Attitude and Behavior Change in a Simulated International Conflict.” Simulation and Gaming 42(6): 733-747. Abstract