Research on war games and learning

The Swedish Defence University's research on war games is at the intersection of war studies, game science, and pedagogy. This interdisciplinary approach makes it possible to use and develop pedagogical theories to understand how game design and game environments provide opportunities for learning military knowledge and skills, such as tactics, leadership, and capability development.

War games are a relatively unexplored field. Even though professional war gaming is used in most armed forces, there is not much research on how war gaming works, what the learning processes look like, and what knowledge is generated.

Our research provides information about what knowledge war games can develop, which elements of warfare need to be simulated for the right kind of learning to take place, and what type of game design will best support this learning.

War games in an educational context

A common feature of our research is that we want to understand war games in an educational context. The war game is key in military education, but by understanding how war gaming fits into an educational context, we obtain a broader understanding of how games can best be used.

Theoretical studies in this field look at how analytical frameworks can be developed, which elements of warfare need to be simulated for the right kind of learning to take place, and what type of game design will best support this learning.

The empirical studies explore the actual use of war games in the military education programs at the Swedish Defence University. Video recordings are used, a method that can capture the dynamic interaction between players, the game and teachers in the game environment. How participants talk to each other during and after the game is an important component of learning. Understanding how this interaction takes place is important to improve the use and effectiveness of war games.

The game environments can also be used for research on tactics and decision-making, where the games become experimental environments in which officers' understanding of events on the battlefield can be studied.

Close collaboration between education and game development

The research is conducted in close collaboration with the war games-based education at the Swedish Defence University. This means that both students and teachers participate in the research projects and the main purpose of the research is to improve the Swedish Defence University's war games-based education.

Our research is used for insights into how game-based education can be conducted, and the implementation of the game elements opens for additional research questions. Through the research, we can give suggestions for game design and pedagogical approaches, which will have immediate benefits in military training programs. Moreover, the research can help us to better understand and reduce the risks of different types of unwanted effects of gaming in educational settings.

Conflict management and war games

War games research at the Swedish Defence University is supported by the Swedish Armed Forces through the project "Games for conflict management and war", and is part of the research and technology development area for war studies.

Together with the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), an annual conference on games and game use is organised: Games in the Defence Sector.

More about war games in research and education

War Games and Teaching

By using war games, students at the Swedish Defence University learn how to plan and conduct military operations on land, in the air, and at sea.


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