Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Reading for Diplomacy Players

I highly recommend "Anticipating Surprise" by Cynthia Grabo. I just devoured it for one of my master's classes and found it to be a quick, easy, and useful read. It formalized and clarified a lot of concepts that I'm familiar with both from my professional, educational (especially the poli sci side -- game theory, I'm looking at you!), and personal (diplomacy, gaming) experience.

Many ideas that I had inklings of but was afraid to acknowledge were confirmed ("A few smart people in a room are often better at predicting something bad will happen than many, many uninformed people going for consensus will be"), and confirmed others that I was quite sure of ("Most people will be hesitant to predict that conflict is coming because conflict is the universal human phobia"). Brownie points if you know who I stole the last half of that parenthetical from, too.

For gamers, I think its of some value. The savvy dungeon master will get some use out of reading it so that he can craft scenarios that really stretch his player's analytical capabilities. For Diplomacy players it really shines. The scenarios described in Grabo's work apply equally to Diplomacy players as they do for statesmen. If I ever find myself teaching strategic analysis (as I might someday, in a quaint town in the American SW that I know H-- loves) I think I may have my students play Diplomacy because I can think of no better way to illustrate some of the points than through that game.

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