Serious Games Lab

Serious Games Lab is an initiative launched by the Centre for International Security in 2022 with the aim of exploring games and gamification as tools of higher education, training and research. The lab gathers researchers and teachers who are also passionate gamers to investigate how existing board games can be adapted for the purposes of education and research in the field of international politics and security. We also plan to connect with other professionals in higher education and scientific research from Serbia and beyond who are interested in serious games and gamification of education and research. Additionally, our goal is to build capacities to make our own tailor-made games for the purpose of education, training and research across different disciplines and sectors.

By utilizing games to perform simulations and trainings we hope to enable students to gain hands-on practical experiences and a better understanding of the dynamics of strategic thinking and resource management. Our sessions are also designed to teach participants the historical circumstances that lead countries to various strategic choices.

Pilot sessions of Hedgemony 

On November 9-13, 2022, through an OSCE grant, Belgrade University’s Faculty of Political Science and Serious Games Lab (SGL) took 24 alumni to Kopaonik Resort for a series of lectures and a pilot session of the game Hedgemony: A Game of Strategic Choices.

This serious game is designed by the Rand Corporation to teach U.S. defense professionals how different strategies could affect key planning factors for country force “development, management, posture, and employment.” The game consists of six teams: the United States and its EU/NATO strategic partner versus Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. The players are then presented with a global scenario in which each country has competing national incentives, constraints, and objectives. Furthermore, each country has a set of military forces with defined capacities and a pool of renewable resources.

The SGL team adapted Hedgemony to fit educational purposes of our students but also to reflect the current geopolitical landscape. For the pilot session, we created a unique global scenario, various events as well as new country specific actions and capabilities. Our learning objective for this initial session was to expand the participants’ knowledge of global grand strategies; strategies and motives that drive states actions on a global level. Furthermore, our aim was to simulate the decision-making process countries go through when weighing their options in the allocation of resources and military forces to accomplish diverse strategic objectives, also known as hedging.

At the start, each team was asked to outline their country’s strategies and then challenged to make choices by managing resources and forces in alignment with these strategies to accomplish objectives and reach victory. SLG participates in the game as a so-called White-Cell, which assists, overseas and arbitrates gameplay. For this session we expanded the role of the White-Cell to serve as mentors for each team during the initial rounds. This was done to facilitate gameplay and assists participants in learning the rules of the game.

The pilot session lasted for six rounds, which were played over three days. Day one served as an introductory session to the rules, strategies and an initial round was played to demonstrate gameplay. Over the next two days participants engaged in a close fought battle, keeping with their county’s proposed strategies and objectives, in which one of the red teams managed to secure victory in the last round of play. Serious Games Lab gathered a lot of valuable data during the game sessions and the post-game debrief with students. We will continue to adapt and modify Hedgemony and already have two new game sessions planned for December 2022 and January 2023.

Stay tuned for more updates on our work!


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