Wednesday, August 14, 2013

NOW AVAILABLE: The Ancient Viking Game Every Intelligence Professional Should Play

Panel from the comic, Cthulhu Vs The Vikings 
A couple of weeks ago I posted an article about the ancient Viking game, Hnefatafl, along with some thoughts about why I thought it was a good game for intel professionals to play. 

A lot - and I mean a lot - has happened since then.

The most important thing (at least to me) is that I have developed a new version of the game that is now for sale.  It is called Cthulhu vs. The Vikings and is currently available on Kickstarter.  The backstory to the game, which is told in the form of a comic, mashes-up the Viking sagas with the Cthulhu stories from H.P. Lovecraft (a horror writer from the 1920's).

While the game itself also plays on those themes in terms of the design work (in the board and the pieces), the rules are straight Hnefatafl.  In fact, I got permission from the Fetlar Hnefatafl Panel, which sponsors the Hnefatafl World Championships, to use their rules (Note:  The Hnefatafl World Championships were held AUG 3 in Fetlar Scotland and Amanda Caukwell is the new World Champion!).

Bottomline:  If you are looking for an attractive and affordable copy of the ancient Viking game, Hnefatafl, you can now find one here.

The blog post also got picked up by the radio show, The World, produced jointly by the BBC, Public Radio International and Boston's WGBH.  They interviewed me about the game and about its importance to intelligence professionals.  You can listen to the interview below:

Finally, the game and its relationship to intel also got a little local press and a lot of interest from the readers of this blog (Thanks for the emails and kind words)! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Game-based Learning And Intelligence Analysis: Current Trends And Future Prospects (Article Summary)

(Eds. Note:  On August 7th, we published an article in e-International Relations (an excellent resource), reviewing the utility of games-based learning in the intelligence classroom. The article is summarized below, but you can read the full article here.


Games like The Mind's Lie were designed
to teach key skills to intelligence analysts.
Eyes glazed, texting, fidgeting in their seats.  For all too many educators, this is an increasingly common sight in classrooms.  One promising solution to this problem, at least with respect to intelligence analysis, comes from the growing body of research into game-based learning.

One of the most useful skills games teach students is the ability to identify deep patterns in disparate sets of data, a skill which consequently addresses precisely the kind of strategic and metacognitive thinking most relevant to the work of an intelligence analyst. So how do games achieve this?

The article asserts that pedagogical strategies such as peer-learning, implicit learning and practice-at-recall are all active in a games-based approach. These strategies have wide support from the academic community addressing pedagogy, and a more recent body of research to emerge from this very domain finds that “extensive experience with music or video games is associated with enhanced implicit learning of sequential regularities” (Bergstrom et al 2011). Findings such as these in the academic literature promote the article’s main point that games teach pattern recognition implicitly.

The only way to achieve this, though, is by playing games, and playing a lot of them. A challenge to taking a games-based approach in the classroom is that there is no one game that a) teaches everything necessary to convey in a course and b) fits the learning style (or gaming style, as it were) of every student. For this reason, students shouldn’t play just one game, they should play many games. The article references another caveat to the games-based approach presented in Kris Wheaton’s 2011 paper Teaching StrategicIntelligence Through Games; that though student success in course projects increased over time with the implementation of a games-based approach, student satisfaction with the course decreased. The article elaborates on potential explanations for this phenomenon.

Attention is the currency of learning and the standard lecture format is not long for this world. The games-based provides a possible solution as an innovative approach to imparting knowledge.