Foreign Relations & International Law

Lawfare Daily: Wargaming’s Past, Present, and Future with Andrew Reddie

Tyler McBrien, Andrew Reddie, Jen Patja
Tuesday, May 7, 2024, 8:00 AM
How can wargaming be used to understand the risks of climate change? 

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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Andrew Reddie is an Associate Research Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and the founder and faculty director of the Berkeley Risk and Security Lab. Lawfare Managing Editor Tyler McBrien spoke with Andrew about wargaming as a tool to manage risk from war to climate—and beyond.

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Click the button below to view a transcript of this podcast. Please note that the transcript was auto-generated and may contain errors.



[Audio Excerpt]

Andrew Reddie

What you're trying to do is balance analytical utility in terms of getting an answer to the question with contextual realism and trying to get all of the elements of the scenario that you're interested in, whether that be a problem around climate change or a business decision, right? Do you invest? Do you not? Or do you buy a particular weapons system or do you not?

Natalie Orpett

It's the Lawfare Podcast. I'm Natalie Orpett, Executive Editor of Lawfare, introducing a conversation between our Managing Editor, Tyler McBrien, and Andrew Reddie, Associate Research Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and the founder and faculty director of the Berkeley Risk and Security Lab.

Andrew Reddie

Particularly where you have problems that you don't have empirical data for, you're going to need to figure out new ways to create synthetic data that look a little bit different than computer-based modeling and simulation that are fundamentally limited by the assumptions that you're having to make about human behavior.

Natalie Orpett

Tyler and Andrew spoke about wargaming as a tool to manage risk from war to climate and beyond.

[Main Podcast]

Tyler McBrien

So Andrew, I think a lot of our listeners will already be familiar with the concept of wargaming, but just so we're all on the same page, I want to start with a definitional question. So when we're talking about war games in this conversation today, what are we talking about?

Andrew Reddie

We're actually talking about a wide variety of methods that we effectively used to engage with challenging situations, whether they be crisis and security context or strategic planning and business context. What sets wargaming apart from some of its alternatives, whether they be computer-based modeling and simulation or survey experiments as a synthetic data-generating tool, is that what you're trying to do is to create a scenario in which players, either in single teams or working across purposes against another team, have a really hard problem that they're trying to engage with. And whilst they're inside of our environment, they're making decisions that matter. So there's consequential decision-making. There's a little bit of strategic interaction, whether it's against a scenario or another team. And then ultimately, we're carrying forward that scenario over time, whether that game lasts for a few hours, a full day, a week, in some cases, even longer. And really try to get to grips with that really hard strategic problem.

Tyler McBrien

And before we get into some of the really interesting history and applications and design questions of war games, I want to mention, of course, to our listeners that you have launched a mini-series podcast for your podcast Risk Calculus at the Berkeley Risk and Security Lab. What motivated this podcast series? Why wargaming, and why make a podcast about it?

Andrew Reddie

So I think one of the things that we're really excited about in the academic space is moving what has been a conversation that traditionally occurred in Washington amongst the defense community and the FFRDCs, whether they be RAND Corporation or MITRE or the Center for Naval Analysis, and then more recently, the think tanks, like CSIS, and really think hard about how to leverage some of these wargaming tools in academic contexts. Both to try to improve the ways in which wargames are used in policymaking, but also to think about how they might be used in a research context.

And because that research context is so new, one of the things that we're trying to do is situate our students that are rising in the field to understand where these methods came from and what they can subsequently be useful for. And bless my students, I think that sometimes engaging with multimedia, like podcasts, YouTube videos, etc., can be a much easier way to grapple with a new concept, rather than having to read an academic journal article, actually, particularly an academic journal article. And so that was what really drove the push towards thinking about creating something in this medium as a really quick one-on-one for students to be able to pick up. And of course, I think one of the things that makes that series a little bit different is that it is so academically oriented with amazing speakers like Reid Pauly from Brown university, John Emery from Oklahoma, Jackie Schneider from Stanford, Bethany, my colleague at Berkeley. And then Ellie Bartels is representing that practitioner perspective from RAND. But we’re really focused on those kind of academic applications and thinking about what the university setting has to add to this conversation. And so that was really what was driving us creating this particular series.

Tyler McBrien

Yeah, that's exactly why I wanted to talk to you. I really love the podcast. Even though you said it has an academic focus for academic applications, it was really accessible and engaging, sort of demystifying wargaming. I think, some people can have this idea of a Dr. Strangelove-type setting with a big map on the table, but there's a lot more to it as you were hinting at in the beginning. So could you take us through just a bit of history of wargaming? I know it's a very long centuries-, maybe, old history. But in your mind, what are some of the high points of the history of wargaming?

Andrew Reddie

Yeah, it is. It's a terribly long history and it goes back even longer than we actually ended up discussing in the series. You see examples of effectively what are war games for both military training and then also just leisure going back over 3000 years. Of course, some of the games that we live with today, whether they be GO or chess kind of really come out of that milieu.

But really, we're gaming in the way that we think about it in the U.S. and defense context. Today, we have a lot to thank the Germans for. In the mid-1800s, Van Moltke, among various others, were really thinking about ways to try to educate their military strategists and generals, such that they didn't require so much central oversight. And really one of the things that was a good predictor of a victory in the battlefield was that flexibility that was given to generals. And so it became a really useful tool for that both education piece, and then also thinking through really hard strategic problems. And so you saw the development of various different types of war games. As I mentioned, war games can take the form of a board, like you just mentioned. But they can also take the form of effectively like a little storybook, and that's something that we saw in that German case, where basically there were problem sets that German officers were asked to play and think through as part of their training. And then that subsequently they would carry with them onto the battlefield. And of course, Prussia was terribly successful during this period. And so you effectively had various different copycats across the globe.

And so the German innovations in the word gaming space travel to the United Kingdom and you see various different wargaming societies at places like the university of Oxford and then McCarty Little from the United States, while traveling through Europe, ends up taking the method back to the Naval War College. And really, the Naval War College is the major driver of the use of these tools in our military here in the United States, starting in the very early 1900s. And of course it becomes something that our own naval strategists in particular really pick up and use and is credited with our various successes, particularly in World War II. There's a very famous apocryphal quote from General Nimitz, who actually formed the ROTC program at Berkeley. And he was alleged to have said that nothing that the Japanese did in the Pacific theater was a surprise, with the exception of the kamikaze pilots. All the rest of it had been modeled during various different war games across the 1920s.

One interesting historical tidbit from that period is that actually the Naval War College was modeling against the Japanese in the Pacific theater and was actually modeling against the UK, the British, in the Atlantic theater. And that wasn't necessarily because they were expecting to go to war against the Brits. It was because the Brits had the largest Navy of the period, and so subsequently, the U.S. was trying to think about how to address a fairly well-endowed Naval force.

And of course, as you're thinking about all of the new technologies that were coming into the military during that period of time, whether it's fighter aircraft, bomber aircraft, submarines, and then obviously anti-submarine warfare, war games were a really integral piece to figuring out both how to develop and use those tools, and then also how to counter them. There's very famous stories of actually during World War II and the various different attempts to deal with the U-boat problem among the British, where they stood up a really significant gaming capability in Liverpool, and that ended up being terribly successful in turning the tide in the Battle of the Atlantic. And of course, if the Battle of the Atlantic had moved a slightly different way, things might look very different in that particular conflict.

And then fast forwarding just a little bit during the Cold War, that's where we see the beginnings of a lot of the war games that we do today. And so the likes of the RAND Corporation, Thomas Schelling at MIT. They pick up this method and start using it for strategic level questions and really were interested in the conduct of the Cold War, whether they be proxy conflicts in Korea and Vietnam to broader U.S. meets USSR in places like Germany and the European theater. And that really opens up the aperture for a lot of the things that we still do today in terms of wargaming Taiwan Straits crises, Baltic Sea scenarios, etc.

But I will say it again. This particular method applies to any particular strategic challenge that an institution might have, not just in security context. And so we see a lot of examples of these tools used in business. Shell Oil had a very famous scenario analysis wargaming capability that they used to come out of the oil crisis in the 1970s, fairly well with. You also see those types of things happening as well. And really what's made things exciting in the field over the last decade or so now, Bob Work released a memo basically doubling down on the need for us to make sure that our wargaming communities stays robust, particularly in an era of strategic competition. And so you saw doubling down amongst the think tanks and the FFRDCs in this space. And then also, some folks like myself and Jackie, Erik Lin-Greenberg at MIT thinking about if we were using these tools in defense contexts, how can we start using them in academic ones? And so it's a long history and it's an important history to understand where we're coming from. But I think one of the things that we're also trying to do is make sure that these tools continue to get better moving forward.

Tyler McBrien

There's a lot to dig into there. But before we move on from the history lesson, I want to make sure that we touch on one of the quirkier, I think, historical vignettes that we've talked about, actually, in which war games were promoted not only to inform decisions with war, but rather to replace war entirely. I'm talking, as you know, of H.G. Wells’s strange book, “Little Wars.” Could you talk a bit about that?

Andrew Reddie

Ultimately, there's a couple of different ways to think about conflict, right? Like even in the more contemporary literature, that's moved on significantly from H.G. Wells. You have various conversations about the bargaining model of war and ultimately why we ought to be fighting. If we have good information about an adversary's capabilities and resolve, and they have the same about us, ultimately, we should be able to come to some sort of deal. And so, the base idea is that you can simulate these conflicts, figure out where they're going to land, and then effectively end them via some sort of settlement without the loss of blood and treasure. And that's a little bit Pollyannish, certainly is something that continues to exist in theory.

But I will say from the academic side of it, what we're the most interested in is not the optimal playing out of a particular conflict and scenario. It's more about trying to put the human being in the crisis situation and really understanding how they react to the various different scenarios that they're ultimately given. Because I think one of the things that we've observed in particularly government context over the last 30 years is a wish to simulate, model various different outcomes as if the human is this kind of perfectly rational individual, which doesn't really reflect the ways in which humans actually behave. Which any of us that have locked ourselves out of our house or misplaced our car keys will understand. Your heartbeat rises, you make decisions that are a little bit irrational. Ultimately, we're trying to create environments where the human really is central and you're not just playing through.

Tyler McBrien

Yeah. I want to get into some of the mechanics of actually designing and building a war game or some sort of risk-based scenario, and then actually playing it out. Could you give some examples of how this works in practice? Not only in the defense or military way, but in some of the other ways. Perhaps climate-related war games or something like that.

Andrew Reddie

Yeah, absolutely. Ultimately, I have a perspective that I share with some of my academic colleagues about how to do this appropriately. So for us, wargaming methods are an analytical endeavor. We're not using them to rubber-stamp a decision that's already been made elsewhere. We really are trying to get new insight from the particular gaming environment, or you're using it for pedagogical purposes to teach. In both cases, really, the research question that you have is what's going to be driving your design. And so, anytime that you have a phenomenon of interest and various different, what we would call it in social science terms, variables, independent variables that are going to be driving the variation in that outcome, that's what you're going to be designing around.

Once you have your research design solid, you've understood what it is that you might want to vary, you might not want to vary, then it becomes a question of scaffolding your scenario. For example, do you want to have a game that uses real world country names, or do you want to try to abstract that away? That's a design choice that has a lot of downstream consequences. If I make a game that is blue versus red, where the red player thinks that they're modeling a Russia or a China, I'm going to have players that are effectively caricaturing what they think Beijing might do or Moscow might do. But if I build a game that is orange, purple, green, I get to alight some of that confound against my strategic problem set. And other types of design decisions, right? Do I want to have the board that you mentioned before? Do I want to have a map? Do I need it? Do I want to have cards and dice to really build the world in which your players are ultimately engaging?

The way that I describe the game design process comes from an article that I've been writing with a colleague, Ruby Booth, at Sandia National Labs. And the way that we think about game design is that what you're trying to do is balance analytical utility in terms of getting an answer to the question with contextual realism and trying to get all of the elements of the scenario that you're interested in, whether that be a problem around climate change or a business decision. Do you invest? Do you not? Or do you buy a particular weapons system or do you not? What are all the things that need to be in there to make this feel real for my player?

And then, finally engaging play. Is it actually something that a player can pick up and engage with and play within a fairly short period of time? One of the things is definitely an imperfect science for us at this point is really figuring out how complex we can make these games while allowing players to pick them up in and play. To give you an example of what this sometimes looks like in some of these contexts is that we'll write novels and players will often read those novels to get in their role for the game while they're flying out to the game location. And it requires all of that kind of preparation for them to actually play. But obviously, there's other games that you want people to be playing within five minutes. And so those are going to look much more like Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride or Risk or any of the other games that you might've seen in your daily life.

And those design decisions really do need to be balanced against one another: engaging play, analytical utility, contextual realism. And we have lots of tools at our disposal to build those environment now. We can build these environments online. One of our fairly well-known games is Signal, which is a nuclear game that was deployed on our browser. It also exists as a board game. We have games that are entirely seminar-based, where you're putting scenarios up for the various teams on a PowerPoint and having pretty hard conversations about what it is that you're going to do, given that particular scenario. And then you can collect those orders and then move the game forward using a white cell. So all that scaffolding follows from that kind of research question forward.

The problem that I think a lot of the academics have observed in this space, when we reflect on the ways that these games are being used elsewhere, is that oftentimes what happens is you have a stakeholder that says, I want to look at the Baltic Sea. And so you build an environment that approximates the Baltic Sea in some important way, but there's no question that lies behind it. It's just, hey, show me, what this particular scenario might look like. And it can be a little bit aimless and not necessarily pegged to a particular question. And so, one of the things that we, as academics, are trying to do in this space is really move the needle forward in terms of making sure that all designers are really thinking hard about what the game is for and then designing around that.

So just to give an example of where the research question influences a game mechanic, if I am to use a lot of dice in a game, it can make the game a lot of fun, dialing up some chance. But analytically, it's actually quite hard because when I dial up the stochasticity that's introduced with the dice, I'm less able to collect data on what the players actually want to do because they're performing an action that is going to be mediated by a dice roll. And so generally speaking, when we're collecting data on games, we want less and less stochasticity-introducing tools. And really, you do have to make sure that the form follows function in this case.

Tyler McBrien

What are some other design flaws that you've seen? I know you mentioned, just now, the sort of aimlessness of walking into a wargame or designing one without a defined question. You also mentioned earlier an assumption of rationality can sometimes lead to different outcomes. What are other design flaws that you've seen that you're trying to correct for as you push the needle forward?

Andrew Reddie

I think the most pernicious is really sponsorship bias. And so, where you've got games that are being built not for their analytical applications but more for they're rubber-stamping a policy decision that's already been made. And so that's something that obviously as an academic and an analyst, you're really trying to push against. If you're going to be using an analytical tool and pretending that it has analytical half, then you need to use it as such. And I think there are a large number of us that have been a part of games where we have seen the twisting of the game towards a particular sponsor's preferences which, ultimately that's, to some extent, that's got a lot to do with the milieu of sponsor pushing into the think tank or the FFRDC. There's building a game and then subsequently trying to map on what it is that you think your sponsor might want. And so, I think when sponsors are asking for war games, we need to make sure that they're educated insofar as, you may get a finding that you weren't necessarily expecting and that's still useful for you. So that's one of the things that we're really pushing against.

But I think one of the other things that was happening inside of the wargaming community was a lot of games that were designed to be quote unquote “experiential” and to provide an opportunity for senior policymakers to engage with a particular scenario of interest were subsequently being used as if they were analytical. And so you would have a game that was designed for, for example, an incoming secretary of state. And it would perform the role that it needs to, which is really situating that secretary to their roles, responsibilities, even their movements during a crisis. And indeed, that's another apocryphal quote of Condi Rice during 9/11 where she said, one of the really nice things about the wargaming that I had done prior to 9/11 was that I understood— obviously they weren't modeling a scenario that even remotely approximated 9/11—but she knew exactly where it was that she would be taken. And who it was that she would be talking to. And she said that was very useful.

So that experiential use case is really important. But the problem comes in when you start saying things like, during the game I saw this really interesting outcome and therefore I think that a conflict with China is going to play out in a particular way. Because on the basis of 1 n, you can't really tell me anything meaningful about outcomes. And recently, we've had a big conversation in the field emanating from a few think tank games that made a lot of news around casualties in a particular conflict context. And ultimately when you're only playing a game once, it's very hard to tell, is that the highest number of casualties possible? Is that a floor? Is that the modal or the mean? Really, you're not getting there.

And so, one of the other things that's happening in the academic space, that are really trying to play these games tens of times, hundreds of times, potentially thousands of times, such that you're actually going to be able to capture the distribution over whatever problem set that you're actually interested in, and start to apply some of the standards of experimentation to this tool that has traditionally been used in one shot orientations. Now, of course, playing games multiple times comes with its own problems. Not least that you're not always going to have the sample that you're going to want to have. So there's certainly a disagreement in the field about who ought to be playing games of different types. I'm fairly sympathetic to the perspective that you're going to want to have people playing your games that are close corollaries to those that are dealing with the problem inside of your game day-to-day. But on the flip side, you're not going to get a three-star general to play a hundred iterations of a war game, right? That's not reasonable. You're not going to get an undersecretary of defense, right, to play a war game a hundred times. We have to figure out what the Goldilocks amount of movement away from having only elite play, if you will, against trying to get some of that increased data flow that you can really start to use to get some analytical heft behind your findings. Those are the types of types of debates that we're having that are very much alive.

Tyler McBrien

So just to draw that distinction a bit more, the one I think you're making, what should a player walk away with from a well-designed war game? And then similarly, ideally, how would that player then apply it to decision-making in the field once they're back in the real world?

Andrew Reddie

So in the best case, you're really trying to build an environment that, again, is not going to approximate one-for-one the challenge of their daily job. But you do want to force them into challenging situations that are akin to those that are faced in their day-to-day job.

One of the major challenges that we have in the U.S. with our political appointee structure is that you've got individuals walking into roles in the January following the election, and they are not steeped inside of that particular bureaucracy and have to get up to speed very quickly. And in my view, there's very few tools better than a war game or wargaming methods or scenario methods to get them up to speed as quickly as possible. So again, in the Condi Rice example, you're not necessarily going to have her play through a scenario that involved a terrorist hijacking of an airplane, but you probably were playing through various different types of attacks on the U.S. homeland that built off of the Oklahoma City bombing case, for example, or maybe some of the prior attacks that we'd had on various embassies, or the USS Cole bombing.

And so you're using real world historical corollaries building an artificial environment for the policymaker to play through and have that be really useful in terms of, what is the information that you need in order to make decisions? Do you feel comfortable making decisions under pretty significant time constraints and also uncertainty? Those are the kind of the things that you really do want your players to walk away with in that particular type of context.

Now, if I'm designing a game against a research question, I sometimes care a little bit less about what my players are walking away from and care more about what I'm learning. But on the flip side, if I have a game that is not “real,” quote unquote, to the player, then the data that I'm deriving from that game isn't particularly useful. Almost all of us are trying to make sure that we're driving up that engaging play as much as we possibly can.

Tyler McBrien

One of the only times that I see war games often make headlines or loom large in the public imagination is when some of these more doom and gloom scenarios come up. So I'm thinking specifically of, I think a few months ago, when there were headlines that in the Taiwan Straits example, the U.S. is ill-prepared to defend Taiwan in the case of an invasion or there would be mass casualties. What does the media get wrong and, similarly, get right about war games? I'm interested in these misperceptions that you've been correcting so far. What are some others that you can think of?

Andrew Reddie

I think obviously the media is going to fall victim even more perhaps than our think tank and FFRDC colleagues. So they’re kinda the one shot-ness. The headline from that particular game, I believe that the number was 30,000 casualties in the event of a Taiwan Straits crisis. And of course, very quickly on places like—I think it was still Twitter then I'm not sure. You had people saying that number is way too low. And then there are people saying that number is way too high. And really the answer is like, hey, look, I need to play the game thousands of times more to figure out what this particular game design is going to yield by way of civilian casualties or the likelihood of being able to defend Taiwan or not. And so, I think that they're certainly falling victim to that kind of that one shot-ness.

There's also a lack of appreciation for the degree to which your players pool and your game design is going to be driving that particular outcome. And that's really why you want to try to be playing these games more than once, if you possibly can. Because I could have played the same game the CNA has put together with an entirely different set of players, and maybe things look slightly different. I could have played it with—and that's the blue side. And if I were to play a different red cell, right? What's that variation? A different white cell? What does that variation introduce? And then of course, conversations about the game design and the degree to which it yields particular outcomes.

One of the things that we do spend a lot of time doing and we're game design is beta testing and making sure that our game designs don't yield singular strategy sets that are going to lead you to victory over and over again. You really do want to try to build games that have multiple pathways through them. And so, one of the things that I think is really important that, both we do on the academic side and that also the whole war gaming community does is get a little bit more serious about publishing our game designs, sharing some of the assumptions that lie behind those game designs, interrogating some of the laboratory effects with our game designs, understanding that's going to be a little bit uncomfortable. and people are going to say, hey, Andrew, your game has this problem.

But ultimately, the way that I think that we get better is if folks say, hey, Andrew, your game has this problem. I tried it this other way, and this is how it ended up. And that's the way in which we approach it as academics because we want to make sure that we are actually moving an entire discipline forward when we're engaging with it. Unfortunately, the challenge in the defense community, in particular, is that, as you can well imagine, a lot of the data from a war game will be classified. And a lot of the game designs are treated as proprietary. And so you're never really unpacking the degree to which your game design is yielding a particular outcome.

I will say one of the really nice things about the media engagement, then the think tanks engaging in this field too, is that they're doing it in the open. And so subsequently, we actually are learning about their game designs and learning about their data outputs, if you will. From my perspective, definitely the more the merrier. There have been various efforts to try to share some of the data that are emanating from war games happening in government context. But broadly, we're still not doing a good enough job of making sure that we get all that out there.

Tyler McBrien

And speaking of moving forward, as the field continues to get more sophisticated, as some of these forms or practices that you were just mentioning, get further adoption, new technologies are developed, where do you see or where do you hope wargaming is heading? And again, not just in the defense context, but in private industry, in climate risk, etc.

Andrew Reddie

Yeah, I hope it continues on this current trajectory. The cost to engage in the field has significantly reduced, even in the last five years. There's new online tools to spin up games fairly quickly. We hope that we can continue to build sandboxes that allow graduate students and postdocs to very quickly create games around their problems of interest, such that it doesn't require tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, sometimes a million dollars to create a particular gaming architecture.

I hope that we continue to learn a little bit more about the degree to which various different game design decisions influence outcomes. We're very much at the kind of the beginning of learning about the tool itself. If you can compare it to survey experiments, for example, they've had the better part of four decades of really interrogating how to do survey experiments the best way possible. We're just at the very beginning of having that conversation in the war gaming space. And so, I fully expect that conversation to continue and to improve.

And one of the things that's particularly gratifying is seeing then the next generation of scholars really think hard about using this tool as a part of their dissertation, as a part of their scholarly work. And we do have this next generation of scholars coming up behind some of the scholars that you heard from in our podcast series. They're getting trained by Jackie and Eric and Reid and others. And that's particularly exciting. And at the same time, I think that we've seen some of the traditional wargaming players take seriously some of the causal inference challenges that are faced when they're trying to use wargames analytically. We're seeing that as well.

And obviously, this conversation was reinvigorated in the defense context, but in the business context and the climate context and development context, because you're seeing the success in the use of these tools in the security context, there's renewed interest in thinking about, how do I bring some of that back into what's going to ultimately help me? And I think there's an appreciation of the fact that particularly where you have problems that you don't have empirical data for, you're going to need to figure out new ways to create synthetic data that look a little bit different than computer-based modeling and simulation that are fundamentally limited by the assumptions that you're having to make about human behavior. And it's a particularly exciting time to add this tool to a toolkit, if you will. And again, I'm not, I don't want to come off as saying, this is like a panacea. This is the only tool that we ought to be using as analysts. It absolutely is not. Our team is using surveys and game theory and other tools as well. But it's a really interesting additional tool to the toolkit.

I will say that it's interesting, some of the longer-term problems can be a little bit harder to game out. So climate has a really hard problem insofar as when I'm building climate scenarios, the slow burn of the impact of climate change can be very difficult to drive engaging play. And so often what we have to do with climate scenarios is really push people towards pretty significant, proximate consequences of global warming. So, for example, a typhoon that has a particular impact or a particularly horrendous tornado season or fire season. That's the way in which we get at climate. And so even there, I think there are really interesting questions for analysts to think about in terms of how do you build games that are able to get at the slower burning problems rather than these very acute proximate consequences. Obviously, both are useful and important to do. But I certainly do wish that there were ways to get at the slow changes that comes from the impact of climate change instead of a gaming environment without having to give people approximate, a fire season crisis, like the type that we see here in Northern California.

Tyler McBrien

I think at this point in the conversation, some listeners may be wanting to try their hand at this or bring this to life in some way. Do you have any recommendations for where members of the public can try out a war game?

Andrew Reddie

Yeah. So there's a really fun conference held on the East Coast every summer called Connections U.S. that involves both individuals and scholars and analysts that are using these games against a particular research problem and research question. But that also are interested in just in the nuts and bolts of game design. So Connections is a really fun place where the hobby gaming community that's given us, things like Risk and Monopoly and Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan, it's where that community meets the defense and analysis community. And so that's a really fun conference if you're looking for a place to go there.

In terms of reading material, the late and great Peter Perla has a wonderful book called “The Art of Wargaming,” where he basically builds a ho-to guide in terms of how you might apply and use these tools. There's a couple of other books that I quite enjoy. There's a game called “The One Hour Skirmish Wargames.” And so you can actually play those with your friends. They look not too dissimilar to some of those historical German exercises that I mentioned. And so there's lots of different ways to get involved based on where you situate yourself in the field. But certainly the conference in Connections is always a good time.

Tyler McBrien

I said listeners, but I was obviously selfishly talking about myself. So I will be taking you up on a lot of those. As I mentioned earlier the podcast is fantastic and I encourage listeners to go check it out. But I also have to ask, I know that was the first mini-series of hopefully many. So are you able to say what's next for the Risk Calculus?

Andrew Reddie

Yes, indeed. We’ve just finished running a major strategic initiative focused on the next generation of arms control and technology governance arrangements, and so that's the next season that you'll see from us.

Tyler McBrien

You'll have to come back and tell us all about it.

Andrew Reddie

I would love to.

Tyler McBrien

Andrew, thank you so much for joining me.

Andrew Reddie

Perfect. Thanks so much, Tyler.

Natalie Orpett

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The podcast is edited by Jen Patja and your audio engineer this episode was Noam Osband of Goat Rodeo. Our theme song is from Alibi Music. As always, thank you for listening.

Tyler McBrien is the managing editor of Lawfare. He previously worked as an editor with the Council on Foreign Relations and a Princeton in Africa Fellow with Equal Education in South Africa, and holds an MA in international relations from the University of Chicago.
Andrew W. Reddie is an Associate Research Professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, and Founder of the Berkeley Risk and Security Lab where he examines how technology shapes international order—with a focus on nuclear weapons policy, cybersecurity, AI governance, and innovation.
Jen Patja is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.

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