In order to better explain the relationship between the constituent parts of a wargame I developed a simple analogy that proved most helpful. All actions required and issues arising could be explained in terms of the analogy, which helped Excon and support staff understand their role in the wargame and how best to progress it.
A simple analogy to explain a wargame
The best analogy I could think of was that of a tour bus. Although the Qatar SIMEx was a one-sided single-level educational wargame, the tour bus could be a double-decker (or more) to accommodate two-sided and multi-level wargames. It could easily be adapted to apply to analytical event.
The constituent parts of the tour bus/wargame were:
The Players are the Passengers
Their Decisions are the Diesel; the fuel without which the bus cannot move and there can be no wargame
Their Story-living experience is the route they take through the Scenery, ideally determined by their decisions
Excon is the (quite large!) driving compartment, staffed appropriately
The Game Controller is the bus driver
The simulation(s) is the engine, fuelled by the players’ decisions
The setting and scenario is the scenery along the tour route, populated by factions and actors, role-players etc
The Training/Learning Objectives are the waypoints through the scenery
The interfaces (Common Operations Pictures, role-players et al) include the windows to the (synthetic) scenery, intercoms, in-seat communication devices, video screens etc
The processes are everything that holds the bus together, allow all occupants to communicate, see out etc; the engineering
The Exercise Manager is the chief engineer, who ensures all technical aspects of the bus
Real-life support is the victualler, accommodation booker etc
In essence, the players shout decisions up the bus (verbally, using intercom, in-seat devices, or whatever) to the Game Controller. Supported by Excon, the Game Controller should follow these directions but can change the route, apply the brakes, speed up etc, and is ultimately responsible for taking the bus through the scenery via the Training/Learning Objectives waypoints.
An example. It was useful to visualise the level of pressure on the players using the bus analogy. Were they sat in their seats bored, staring at the (lovely) scenery? Were they sending e-mails home? Was the pressure too great? Were we racing too quickly to the next waypoint, causing the players to do nothing but hang on grimly? Were we introducing too much friction and taking the top off the bus? Did an appointment change as we were speeding round a bend cause players to lose their grip and go spinning out of the open-topped bus altogether? Were some left desperately clinging to the outside of the bus, or were they inside shouting directions up to Excon and the Game Controller? Did they pop out of a Time Jump tunnel with sufficient time to re-orientate to the new scene?
Couching discussions in these terms helped Excon quickly understand and discuss key issues.