A crisis game is a political role-playing exercise or simulation. Students are given a background dossier that provides a context for the game. Groups of students are then assigned roles to play and the members (also known as ‘gods’) of Simulation Control Team (SIMCON) – comprising staff from the Department – serve as the referee. The aim of the exercise is to provide insight into the complexities of national and international politics and a greater appreciation of the difficulties faced by decision-makers when confronted with an international crisis. The simulation is a game in diplomacy, and although teams are not prevented from making military moves, in the real world states initially seeks to secure their objectives using diplomatic means, only resorting to military force after all other options have been tried and failed. In this respect, a crisis game is not a war game.
The main objectives of the exercise are:
- To help students learn more about the subject at the heart of the game and to enable them to deepen their understanding of the international political scenario that the game is embedded within;
- To give students a more direct perspective on the decision-making processes of governmental, media and other political organisations under the pressures of a crisis situation;
- To challenge students to respond to a crisis situation, often under intense pressure;
- To encourage students to examine the range of policy options available to governments and political organisations and to learn how to build support for particular policies in pursuit of their wider tactical and strategic objectives;
- To help students develop and improve careers-oriented skills such as project management, diplomacy and negotiation; team-building and leadership, information management, problem-solving, public speaking, presentation, communication and media skills.