Armchair Dragoons Public Affairs Office, 8 May 2022
Connections Online 2022 was another shared effort between Chris Weuve, NSDM’s Merle Robinson, and The Armchair Dragoons. Again, this one is not a gameplay convention, but rather a professional conference.
Please note that there is a dedicated archive page for the Connections Online 2022 conference, with panel descriptions, and links to the videos for any event that was recorded.
As is the plan for Connections Online – in case it wasn’t obvious from the name – this is a digital-only conference, where we’re remaining focused on providing a distributed professional conference experience for our attendees. Moreover, the low-overhead commitment of an online conference will allow Connections Online to continue with some experimental panels and programs, as well as bringing in a wider range of hobby-focused wargamers who have a curiosity about the practitioner world, but perhaps neither the time or resources to take a full plunge into a live conference.
As with last year, this AAR is focused on the participant feedback, and comments from the attendees. Also, just like last year, the participants were asked “Of the sessions you attended, which session was the most valuable?” With over 25 different respondents, there were 15 different answers, indicating that among the broad based of possible topics, value was found across the board. Responses included:
- Connections Happy Hour & Social
- Cyber-wargaming Using Merlin (12%)
- Game-Based Learning & Student Involvement (HMGS)
- Hiring New Wargamers
- How do you Design a Professional Wargame? (12%)
- Innovations in Hobby Wargaming
- NSDM Design-a-Game Workshop
- The Essential Wargaming Library
- Wargame Bootcamp – Learn to Use Discord, VASSAL, TTS
- Wargaming Large-Scale Combat Operations
- Wargaming Other Than War
- Wargaming Outside the National Security Space
- Wargaming Practitioner Certification: Necessary or not?
- Western Approaches Tactical Unit, Revisited
- Why Politics Matters ~ Wargaming Politics
Awareness has definitely improved. Whereas last year, the dominant means of learning about Connections Online was directly from one of the organizers, this year, that was barely 1/3 of responses, and social media and “other” picked up the slack.
Folks are still OK with the cost of the conference, and most importantly, no one thinks we’re over-charging them.
Several of the participants were asked to sum up their experiences with a short statement or four. Three of them replied with the following remarks.
- Keep the wide breadth of topics. Excellent counterpoint to the physical conferences.
- I’m really pleased to see this initiative continue, taking advantage of our new general understanding of how to make the most of online platforms.
- A lot of the professional gaming seems directed at the ‘high’ operational and strategic levels and the hobbyist on all three levels. I am interested in more professional tactical level wargaming to teach and share with younger Soldiers (officers and NCOs).
When asking about topics for future conferences, 2 trends definitely stuck out: cyber wargaming, and modern/contemporary scenarios (and not just Ukraine). With multiple mentions of both, that does give the committee some potential direction for recruiting participants for upcoming conferences.
Additionally, the committee did identify the challenge of broadening the scope beyond “the usual suspects” for both attendance and presentation. We’re hoping to push much harder next year for better integration of wider audiences whether it’s college students, servicemembers, long-time hobbyists, or any of the above, but from non-US audiences. We intend to continue to cast a wider net to increase the exposure of potential audiences to the art, science, and application of wargaming.
We are still compiling many of the documents, articles, and other references from the panels to be added to our existing bibliography page. Look for that to be completed in the next few weeks, with a larger overhaul of that bibliography coming later in the Summer.
Also, please feel free to continue discussions of Connections Online in our forums.
Thank you for visiting The Armchair Dragoons and spending some time with the Regiment of Strategy Gaming.
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