At King’s College London, students are designing games that explore diplomacy, drones and the psychological impact of battle. But can they really help?
On the second floor of the stately King’s College London building on the Strand, Vladimir Putin, Emmanuel Macron, Olaf Scholz and Joe Biden are sitting around a table studying a map of Ukraine. They are here to negotiate the future of the country, but they all have ulterior objectives too. Germany wants to ensure the safe transit of refugees; the US wants Russia to cease its disinformation campaign; France wants trade; and Russia needs dozens of sanctions to be lifted. But nobody is giving anything away. It’s tense as hell and the clock is ticking.
This is not real, of course, it’s just a game – but it’s a game with serious intentions. Today, the heads of state are being played by four people attending an event organised by the university’s department of war studies. Several students who have taken an MA module entitled Designing Wargames for Education & Analysis are showing games they have created to a select crowd of wargaming professionals, members of the military and representatives of a few big corporations.