The MIT SSP Wargaming Lab is a research group that seeks to innovate wargaming to better understand how to deter conflict and preserve peace. We strive to be a center of excellence that advances the practice of wargaming and builds networks of scholars and practitioners.
Leveraging SSP’s expertise in security studies and its extensive network of scholars and national security practitioners, the Wargaming Lab engages policymakers, informs public policy, and advances academic research on critical national security issues. To do this, the Wargaming Lab designs and runs wargames and simulations, develops wargaming best practices, and hosts scholarly conferences and workshops that support research and help train next-generation wargaming experts.
Through these efforts, the SSP Wargaming Lab develops the use of wargames and simulations as rigorous, accessible, and transparent tools to enhance understanding of international politics and security.
History of wargaming at MIT
The SSP Wargaming Lab is the latest phase of a long tradition of wargaming at MIT.
MIT Political Science faculty members began integrating wargames into graduate seminars in the late 1950s as a means of studying the Cold War security environment. In addition to using games as a teaching tool for graduate students, MIT professors developed games to serve as immersive training experiences for policymakers.
Between 1958 and 1971, MIT professor Lincoln Bloomfield in collaboration with Nobel-prize winning economist Thomas Schelling pioneered the use of political-military wargames. The Pentagon adopted the Bloomfield-Schelling approach to wargaming, helping to inform policymaking during several Cold War crises. During the 1990s and 2000s, MIT professor Richard Samuels organized a series of five political-military simulations that examined the long-term consequences of the end of the Cold War for Asian international politics.
Most recently, SSP faculty have partnered with think tanks and other academic institutions to field wargames, developed new methodological approaches to use wargaming as a research tool, and taught graduate courses on gaming and simulation to train the next generation of wargaming experts.
With the generous support of private funders, the SSP Wargaming Lab builds upon this strong foundation of wargaming at MIT.
For more information, contact us: SSP-Wargaming@mit.edu