Like many first year students here at American University I have a passion for international relations and the world around me. I came to AU with a purpose, a goal to further my understandings of world events and their underlying causes. However, like many students I quickly realized this was a far more complex task than I had originally thought. I was inundated by theories such as Realism and Constructivism, as well as introduced to concepts such as globalization and transnational crime. I learned two things from this experience: knowing these theories does not mean understanding global affairs and you need some sort of hands on experience to truly grasp the intricacies of international relations. Because the State Department and other government institutions are not in the business of handing out jobs, this real world experience is hard to come by. Multiply this by the fact that the majority of IR students are not located in D.C., with all of its resources, and you quickly see the problem. There are too many IR students who don’t truly understand the discipline, and there is simply not enough experience going around.
This is where gaming comes in. Gaming is the ultimate interactive tool. Games engage their users, convey stories, and can be easily modded to create infinite possibilities. When it comes to teaching IR and conveying real world experience, games seem like the perfect remedy. Those with the real world experience can direct the creation of games so that they present real world scenarios. This would allow players to be put into positions that otherwise would require a job in the IR field. Through this, concepts learned in class could be applied and fuller understanding will come about. Truly understanding something means living it, and what better way to do this than through a game?
That being said it seems as if this idea has found favor in American University’s academic community. Through the generosity of several donors AU has been able to purchase several strategy games created with IR practitioners in mind. On March 18th, in support of AU’s Persuasive Play initiative, the library will be holding a RSVP only launch reception for this recent acquisition to be followed up in April with a game night co-hosted with several AU student groups. 4N Policy Now has been granted access to this event and will be providing coverage. Be on the look out for more information and our coverage of the event!
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