CIA uses boardgames for training

CIA uses boardgames for training

If your idea of a dream job is to design games for the CIA, chin up: there's a chance after all!  According to this article on CNN, the American intelligence agency frequently uses card and board games to train their intelligence officers and political analysts.

"Gaming," senior collection analysts David Clopper said, "is part of the human condition. Why not take advantage of that and incorporate into the way we learn?"  Clopper has 16 years of experience with the CIA and began making training programs based off popular tabletop games in 2008.  

One of his games, "Collection Deck", is loosely based off the Pokemon Trading Card Game and has players take on the role of either an intelligence collection agency or the obstacles that stand in the way of said agency: obstacles such as bureaucracy, red tape, or just simple bad luck.  The Agency player could, for instance, play a card to collect intelligence via satellite photos, but the other player can counter that card by playing a "Ground Station Failure" card.

 At least you know they can't wiretap your boardgames.  Not easily, anyway.

At least you know they can't wiretap your boardgames.  Not easily, anyway.

This was revealed at a recent games-themed panel discussion at the South by Southwest Interactive technology festival.  Also present was Volko Ruhnke, a freelance game designer and an intelligence educator at the CIA, who said that he was particularly interested in simulation games that could help analysts not only improve their analytical abilities, but also train them to handle multiple complex scenarios at the same time.

Ruhnke is most well-known in boardgaming circles for his work on Labyrinth: the War on Terror, 2001 -? and the COIN series of wargames, all of which are commercially available boardgames dealing with tough subjects such as the American-Afghanistan conflict.

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