On October 6th, in a departure from our usual serious simulation and gaming, Lessons Learned participated in an experiment: an educational “megagame”, or large-format board game for 40+ players, in partnership with Ottawa Megagames.
LLST and OMG co-sponsored the “edutainment” experience, “Undeniable Victory”, a simulation of the infamous Iran-Iraq War of 1980-88 by UK designer Ben Moores. Ben was flown in from London to facilitate the event, and Rex Brynen of PAXsims/McGill University and Tom Fisher of Imaginetic, both Canadian simulation and gaming titans, were invited to take part as dictators of Iran and Iraq, respectively. Combined with the extremely talented OMG team, it was terribly exciting to have such a fantastic group of facilitators shaping players’ experiences.
Megagames are an obscure-but-growing hobby in the UK and internationally. LLST’s (serious) simulation methodology borrows from the (less serious) megagame development doctrine, inspired by similar cross-over work by Jim Wallman at Stone Paper Scissors and Paul Howarth at Story Living Games (for a fantastic look at how a megagame can serve as a training tool, take a look at this short video documentary of SLG’s “EnTRUSTed Hospital Simulation”). Ben Moores, the hosted designer of Undeniable Victory, has worked professionally with Stone Paper Scissors and the LLST team could not resist the opportunity to co-host.
While the “learning for entertainment” approach was an experiment for LLST, the serious theme was similarly a departure for Ottawa Megagames. The group has put on several science fiction and fantasy games in the past year, including political responses to alien invasions and the economic hardships of being pursued by space villains. OMG has also run special events in the Diefenbunker Cold War Musuem.
Response was positive, and players reported both learning new things about an obscure piece of recent history and having some serious fun. It has to be admitted (perhaps hearteningly) that convincing people to spend a day exploring the moral dilemmas and political hard places of a terrible conflict spurred on by terrible dictators was more difficult than convincing them to come fight zombies or space pirates.
For Rex’s summary of the experience, see his post on PAXsims: https://paxsims.wordpress.com/2019/11/12/undeniably-victorious-refighting-the-iran-iraq-war/
For a full photo album, visit the event Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.1393640690803620&type=3