(like helicopters, tanks, trucks, and fighters) in the simulator. Some of these simulators (like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s SIMNET in the 1980s and RealWorld today) are networked and support full communications. Modeling humans is as important in simulations as in massively multiplayer games. In addition, while simulations generally require high-performance computing capabilities, platform games typically run on consumer-grade hardware (though online games now require large data centers of commodity servers with high bandwidth to support high levels of concurrency).

While the committee observed that MS&G-related technologies as a whole (both hardware and software) are increasingly accessible to a wide range of global players, it is also true that the global nature of the games industry and its relatively low computing requirements make games potentially more available as a national security resource to actors friendly and unfriendly to the United States. Finally, it is possible to conceive that games as a whole have the potential to fill a gap in current modeling and simulation efforts not likely to be addressed adequately by current Department of Defense efforts in terms of time, quality, and lack of innovation. That gap lies primarily in the applicability of MS&G-related technologies to human activity.


This report provides an overview of research in modeling, simulation, and games and poses a series of questions of likely relevance to decision makers.

Chapter 2 provides detail on factors that have led to the recent rise in the usage and utility, including growing computational power and human capital, and factors deemed by the committee to have the potential to transform MS&G in the future.

Chapter 3 emphasizes games specifically. It serves as a tutorial on the relevant components, vocabulary, and recent developments of the field and provides an analysis of the history and potential of games to impact economics, social interaction, and culture.

Chapter 4 applies the take-away messages from the previous two chapters to survey MS&G in a defense context. Through war games, cyber propaganda, and other security issues, it is shown that the United States is in a position to take advantage of some of the exciting new applications in the field of MS&G, but the global investment in these areas (and broadened access to U.S. tools and technologies) means that these technologies must be watched carefully.

Appendix C (Chapter 2 from Avoiding Surprise) provides a full account and explanation of the technology warning methodology and terminology used in Chapters 2, 3, and 4. Readers will find it helpful to read Appendix C before reading the rest of this report. Appendix D summarizes key findings from three related modeling and simulation reports, and Appendix E serves as a tutorial on the types, platforms, and business structures of games and the games industry.


NRC (National Research Council). 2005. Avoiding Surprise in an Era of Global Technology Advances. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Available from http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11286.

NRC. 2006. Critical Technology Accessibility. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Available from http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11658.

NRC. 2008a. Emerging Cognitive Neuroscience and Related Technologies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Available from http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id= 12177.

NRC. 2008b. Nanophotonics: Accessibility and Applicability. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Available from http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11907.

NRC. 2009. Persistent Forecasting of Disruptive Technologies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Available from http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12557.

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