Connections UK 2023.
Dates: Connections 2023 was held at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, in Old College building, on Tues 05 to Thur 07 Sept, 2023.
Report from the Sandhurst Trust.
After two years of scaled-down, remote events, Connections UK returned with a face-to-face conference. The timing dovetailed with the initiative by Ben Wallace, the Secretary of State for Defence, to embed wargaming throughout the UK Ministry of Defence; increasing capacity and capability. This initiative reflects similar efforts around the world, and the increasing adoption of wargaming and serious gaming techniques across governments (in NATO and in non-defence contexts).
Our mission remains the same as ever: to advance and sustain the art, science and application of wargaming. As such, and building on the online conferences of 2021 and 2022, the theme of this year’s conference was "bringing on the next generation, and helping practitioners cross the ‘practitioner desert’". Hence, the conference was aimed at delegates who have a basic understanding of wargaming, although enthusiastic newcomers are always welcome. If you are a complete beginner, it might be worth looking at the material on the Introduction to Wargaming page.
Connections UK offers a 'safe-to-fail' (and fun!) environment where gamers, and games, can develop in the company of some of the best wargaming experts from around the world.
Speaker and Chair Biographies. The Speaker and Session Chair Biographies are here.
Day 1 Tuesday 05 September 2023.
Icebreaker Event. "This is not a game!" Game play, networking and real-world analysis.
Three large scale large-scale games designed by the Connections UK organisers, concerning commissioning, staffing and delivering professional wargames. The game models the delivery of wargames to government customers (Joint, single-Service and Other Government Departments). A realistic model of the highs and lows, challenges and opportunities, in delivering wargames in a professional context, designed by experienced practitioners in this area. The event included an after-action review to compare game play to the real world and identify lessons.
Guided tour of The Royal Military Academy.
Day 2 Wednesday 06 September 2023.
Practitioner-level Presentations and Seminars (All 45 mins and repeated):
- Next Generation of Learning with Stefanie Game, Will Bone and Betsy Joslyn. (Slides) (Audio).
- Producing Professional Games with Tom Fischer. (Slides) (Audio).
- Defence Systems Approach to Training (DSAT) and wargames for training with Ed Oates. (Slides) (Audio).
- The Psychology of Facilitation with Dr Suzie Kellett. (Audio only).
- Wargames without War with Rob Grayston. (Slides) (Audio).
- Multi-Domain Wargaming with Berke Capli. (Slides) (Audio).
- Nuclear Educational Wargaming with James Gifford. (Slides) (Audio).
- Overcoming the Limitations of Matrix Games with Mike Bagwell and Rikki Parsons. (Slides) (Audio)
Deep Dive Panels (All 60 mins):
Running throughout: No Dice, No Rules, by Wilf Owen
Social gaming and demonstration games This took place from 1830hrs onwards.
Day 3 Thursday 07 September 2023.
Parallel plenaries with subsequent breakouts:
Plenary 1. Developing the wargaming capability and capacity. Chair: Tom Ellen.
- UK MOD - Establishing the requirement with Eugene Morgan.
- Forging wargamers with Seb Bae.
- Developing wargamers and a wargaming mindset in your organization with Rob Burks and Jeff Appleget.Aaron Beam.
- NATO Audatious Wargaming Project with Aaron Beam.
Plenary 2. Academic research papers into wargaming. Chair Anna Nettleship. (Audio Introduction)
- Further Investigations into Wargaming Best Practice: Guidance with Jeremy Smith, Cranfield University. (Slides) (Audio)
- Strategic Culture and Wargaming for scenarios in the Indo-Pacific with Cath Jones, St Andrews University. (Slides) (Audio).
- Immersion in games with Evan D'Alessandro, King's College, London. (Audio only).
- Tracking the Insurgency, measuring political effects in counterinsurgency games with Pete Sizer, Bath Spa University. (Slides) (Audio).
- Wargaming Intelligence History and Analysis with Steven Wagner, Brunel University. (Slides) (Audio)
Plenary Panel. Ender's Game - the Future of Wargaming. Chair: Colin Marston (Slides) with Matt Caffrey (Slides), Seb Bae (Slides), Iain McNeil (Slides), David Banks (Slides) and Andrew Elliott (Slides). Discussion: (Audio).
Wargaming lessons identified from contemporary operations with Andrew Sharpe, Director CHACR. (Slides) (Audio).
Day 2&3 Games Fair Session Sessions:
Privacy/Security: As part of the Connections UK conference proceedings, photos of the event may be put on this website. The assumption is that the name on your badge and your image does not amount to the definition of "personal data" under GDPR. If you do not wish to have a photo with you name/face on it used in this way, you MUST ensure you wear a RED lanyard (available when booking in).
Naming. Please ensure your badge name is appropriate for a professional context, so "Phil Sabin" or "Amanda" are fine, but "OrkBossKillah" is probably not. You are also encouraged to add personal pronouns - this is totally voluntary but helps signal that you are committed to diversity and inclusion.
Guidelines: The aim and purpose of Connections UK is to help bring together two main audiences: People that have something to say about wargaming in order to help build / generate / broaden the community; and People that want to use wargaming to help understanding in order to find out if it is appropriate for their needs. You are therefore asked to note:
If you have any questions, please contact the organisers here.
- Wargaming is mainstream. To this end, we don't need to waste any time on justifying our existence or apologising for ourselves. All the delegates attending a "professional wargaming conference" will know what they are getting themselves into (and if they aren't, they should be). Let's just assume that they are and you can spend more time concentrating on your area of expertise.
- Timings are tight. Please don't overrun as it simply messes up the programme for everyone else.
- Do not advertise. It would be remiss to not mention that the cardinal sin for a presenter is to give a thinly veiled advertising slot for your sponsor's products or services. The delegates want to be informed and educated about Wargaming ways, means and methods - you are the expert so please concentrate on these. If any delegate wants more commercial information, they can contact you afterwards. Please include your sponsor's details in a slide at the beginning or the end, but no organisation diagrams or other company details that have nothing to do with the topic.
- Making Changes. We understand that you are likely to have to make changes to your presentation. This is completely acceptable, and new versions can be sent at any time up to and including the event date.
- Conference Proceedings. We will try to have an audio recording and a PDF copy of your presentation (but not questions) placed on the Connections UK website following the conference, except in the case of Senior Government Officials. You have been invited on the basis that this is acceptable - the clue is in the title "Connections" - we are trying to share information and best practice with each other.
- Presentation File Formats. Please provide your presentation in PowerPoint or PDF format, but ODF is acceptable.