SPIR608 Political Simulations and Gaming/2011

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The module SPIR608 Political Simulations and Gaming will be run for the first time in 2011

Calendar (January–April 2011)[edit]

Week 1 (21st January)
Lecture: Introduction to module.
Game: Charles Darrow and Elizabeth Magie Phillips, Monopoly.
Week 1 Discussion

Week 2 (28th January)
Lecture: Politics as a game.
Film: Class Wargames Presents Guy Debord's The Game of War.
Game: Guy Debord, The Game of War.
Week 2 Discussion

Week 3 (4th February)
Lecture: Military historians and gaming.
Games: Randell Reed, 1776; and Andrew McNeil, Kingmaker.
Week 3 Discussion

Week 4 (11th February)
Lecture: Game theory and gaming
Games: TerrorBull Games, War on Terror - the board game; and Jim Dunnigan, Origins of World War II.
Week 4 Discussion

Week 5 (18th February)
Lecture: Cultural theorists and gaming
Game: Anders Fager, Comrade Koba; and Jussi Autio, Modern Society.
Week 5 Discussion

Week 6 (25th February)
Game: Russell King from Serious Games, Vietnam 1955 role-playing exercise.
Week 6 Discussion

Week 7 (4th March)
Lecture: Game design principles: abstraction, competition & realism.
Game: Harold Enoksson, 2010 Swedish Election; and Brian Train, Red Guard!
Week 7 Discussion

Week 8 (11th March)
Lecture: Game design principles: iteration, sociability & playability
Game: Martin Wallace, London; and Klaus Teuber, The Settlers of Catan.
Week 8 Discussion

Week 9 (18th March)
Guided Independent Study.

Week 10 (25th March)
Tutorials and play-testing of Prototype Political Simulations.

Week 11 (1st April)
Tutorials and play-testing of Prototype Political Simulations.

Week 12 (8th April)
Final assessment of Prototype Political Simulations.

Assessment[edit]

Assessment Rationale[edit]

Two methods of assessment are used in this module: a Reflective Practical Analysis and a Prototype Political Simulation with an oral presentation.

The Reflective Practical Analysis allows the student to undertake and present a detailed analysis of four or more political simulations, and to demonstrate the capacity to understand the effectiveness of these simulations with appropriate critical insight, showing how the playing of these games has helped the student to clarify his/her own understanding of debates, methodologies and perspectives in political simulations (learning outcomes 1, 2, 3 and 4).

The Prototype Political Simulation requires the student to demonstrate his/her ability to put the theoretical insights acquired on the module into practice, to implement the best techniques in political modelling, and to explain the workings of a political simulation to an audience (learning outcomes 2, 3, 4 and 5).

Assessment Criteria[edit]

The assessment checks the development and application of the theoretical and practical skills associated with the understanding and analysis of political gaming and simulation. It does this by providing both presentation (written and oral) and game design opportunities to test different aspects of the module learning outcomes. Students are specifically required to develop and combine both theoretical and practical skills to complete this module. All elements of the assessment criteria must be attempted.

In marking the Reflective Practice Analyses, lecturers will consider:

  • extent to which the remit of the assignment has been met;
  • technical accuracy with which relevant theoretical arguments and historical analysis are met;
  • degree to which theories and concepts discussed are integrated, contextualised and evaluated;
  • range of source material used;
  • coherence of the structure and argument;
  • clarity (clear and grammatically correct use of English, including proper spelling and punctuation) with which ideas are expressed;
  • the selection and correct attribution of sources in support of an argument.

In marking the Prototype Political Simulations, lecturers will consider:

  • understanding of the subject of the political simulation;
  • comprehensibility of the rules of the prototype game;
  • effectiveness and credibility of the modelling of the chosen political conflict;
  • design and usability of the game mechanics (board, pieces, cards, etc.);
  • clarity and coherence of the overall presentation of the prototype to the class;
  • clarity of delivery (pace, audibility, etc.) when making the group presentation;
  • organisation of the play-testing of the prototype simulation;
  • observation of time limits;
  • effectiveness of responses to oral questions and discussions.


Assessment Methods and Weightings[edit]

Reflective Practice Analysis: 40% of final marks[edit]

Each student will be required to keep a reflective practice analysis that identifies and assesses the experience of playing at least 4 out of the 8 political games and simulations during the course of the semester. The conclusions drawn in this analysis must be accompanied by appropriate investigation and justification. It must contain an assessment of the positive and negative features of each game with a special emphasis on its credibility and effectiveness as a model of its intended subject. This analysis should compare and contrast the different strengths and weaknesses of each of the games examined. The analysis is NOT a move-by-move record of the playing of a specific game. Instead it is a reflection on the theoretical debates and socio-historical context within which the 4 or more different games are situated. The reflective practice analysis should be at least 2,500 words long.

Prototype Political Simulation: 60% of final marks[edit]

This takes the form of a 15-20 minutes in-class presentation of the rationale for a prototype of a political simulation by an individual student or a group of students to the entire class which must include leading a play-testing of this game during the rest of the session. A 500 word background paper, submitted with the Reflective Practice Analysis, will accompany it.

Assessments: Details and Deadlines[edit]

Reflective Practice Analysis: 40% of final marks

This must be completed and placed in the assessment box in the Wells Street building on Thursday 7th April 2011.

Prototype Political Simulation: 60% of final marks

The in-class assessments of these games will take place on Friday 8th April 2011. Further guidance on the structure and nature of a Prototype Political Simulation will be discussed in the Week 1 introduction to the module and the Weeks 10 & 11 tutorial and play-testing sessions. The 500 word background paper accompanying the Prototype Political Simulation must be completed and placed in the assessment box in the Wells Street building on Thursday 7th April 2011.

N.B. It is a course requirement that students publish both their Reflective Practice Analysis and their Prototype Political Simulation with its background paper on the module's Wikiversity pages. For further details, see section 12 below.

TurnItIn Details

This module requires you to submit a paper and an electronic copy of the Reflective Practice Analysis. The assessment for this module is partially marked and graded online via GradeMark. You are required to submit both a paper and electronic copy of your coursework by 6pm on the day the coursework is due. All coursework must be submitted on, or before, the deadline given by the Module Leader. Please note, work submitted after 6:00pm on the same day will be recorded as being received the next day and will therefore receive a late penalty.

You will be able to view a marking grid and brief comments via GradeMark but detailed feedback can be obtained from your module leader. If you submitted your essay late, then penalties will be noted in the comments box in GradeMark and noted on the paper copy. Please note, all marks will remain provisional until formally agreed by an Assessment Board (Academic Regulations, Section 6.20).

To register for this module, you should go to the TurnItIn website and use the class ID and password details below. Please ensure that you register for the correct seminar leader, as failure to do so may delay your feedback and release of any provisional results.

TurnItIn Website: http://www.submit.ac.uk Class ID: 243071 Enrollment Password: reisswitz

Guidance Notes for the Reflective Practice Analysis[edit]

This analysis must be in essay format, typed and be at least 2,500 words long. The assessment of the games played during Weeks 1-8 of the module should include a discussion of the following questions:

  • Is the design of the game's mechanics (board, pieces, cards, etc.) fit for purpose?
  • Are the rules of the game easy to learn and follow?
  • Is the game enjoyable and sociable to play?
  • What techniques does the game use to model its chosen subject?
  • How does the game combine abstraction and realism in its workings?
  • How accurately does the game simulate the decision-making processes faced by the real-life protagonists of its chosen subject?
  • What political lessons can people learn by playing the game?
  • How would you improve the structure and mechanics of the game?

N.B. These questions are for guidance only and must NOT be used as headings for the Reflective Practice Analysis.

Guidance Notes for the Prototype Political Simulation's Background Paper[edit]

This paper must be in essay format, typed and be at least 500 words long. It should cover these topics:

Wikiversity course registration[edit]

Students are asked to add a link to their Wikiversity page here: