CIA Board Games

    We all loved board games in childhood. This is an excellent tool for developing socialization skills and logical thinking. But then we grew older, most of us “matured” and began to be dismissive of desktops. Some switched to "adult" board games, such as the same Magic The Gathering. But it turns out that even such a serious organization of the CIA does not neglect board games. In this forge of spies of our most probable global partner, special games have been developed for training agents. Maybe it’s time for most of us to reconsider our attitude towards desktops? Under the cut, Sam Mashkovich ’s story about the marvelous world of board games played by agents of the western special services. I came across this story by accident. Sin could not be translated. The original is available here.. I hope that after the publication of this article I will have no problems outside the borders of our homeland.

    David Klopper, one of the CIA analysts, demonstrates in the conference room the training materials developed by his department. Next to it are 10-sided cubes, over 100 colorful chips and packs of cards, which describe all kinds of military-political crises. And at the other end of the hall, cards that were just used to track and capture drug lord El Chapo are scattered on the table .

    From Venezuela again, some trouble!

    The hall is testing the strangest teaching tool ever released by the CIA: board games. They cannot be bought at the store. They are designed and manufactured in the bowels of the Office, and reflect the realities of the daily operations of the special services.

    Unfortunately, it was not possible to take a photo of the card on which the roles are explained. But this card explains how the result of the roll of the cube affects the collection of data for a specific operation.

    Some of the operations that may occur to you during the game. One of my favorites is “Venezuela creates trouble.”

    Almost every card “expansion of the crisis” leads to the appearance of three critical zones on the field. But they can also force agencies to step up their efforts. Like in life: when shit gets into the fan, the special services start running more actively and solve problems urgently.

    I want to get as many of these cards as possible - in the game they talk about what results on the dice will lead to successful data collection.

    Klopper recalls how, in 2008, “the boss of his boss” invited him to a meeting and asked him to develop new practical exercises. Typically, such exercises were used to check how agents learned materials from recent lectures and seminars, and looked something like this: "teams, gather at the boards and arrange briefings." Incredibly boring. The boss told Klopper that he had worked at the CIA long enough to figure out how to make the exercises more interesting. He was inspired and said: “I am a gamer. I like video games and desktops. Can we bring the game into the learning process? ”

    At the South by Southwest FestivalKlopper introduced three board games designed for practical training by CIA agents. They have been developed for 4 years. One of them, described above, has the laconic name “Collection”. This game is more interesting than the popular collaborative game “Pandemic”. Here, a group of participants should work together to resolve three major crises around the world. Each participant plays for the CIA agent with certain capabilities, and the main task is to collect enough intelligence. If one of the three crises flares up, then the team loses. Each game must have at least three roles of “political analyst”, “military analyst” and “economic analyst”. They must collect information in their fields, and additional players (up to seven people in a team) have their own specializations.

    Each player can do a bit per turn. Intrigue adds a high rate of crisis development. Players can complete one of the actions per move: move their agent, establishing new connections in a new place, or try to collect intelligence. At the end of the turn, a die is thrown. Fallen points allow you to establish more connections in a specific area either by moving additional agents there (if they have an appropriate bonus), or by using a bonus card, as well as subject to good relations with a specific agency.

    But all these improvements and bonuses are rare, so it’s difficult to play. As Klopper says: “The game allows you to understand the value of collaboration. We observed how during the game the agents began to negotiate, discuss each other's opportunities, mutual benefit, and thought out a strategy. That is, they tried to win. And in those game sessions where the participants went about their own business and did not start cooperating until it was too late, they failed to resolve crises. This is a simulation of everyday intelligence activity that allows you to teach the most important skill - teamwork. ”

    Magic: The Gathering (covert operations)

    One of Clopper's other games.

    Unfinished game about the creation and management of satellite constellation. A team is better off using fewer satellites, but making them more powerful? Use more satellites to compensate for glitches? Each path has its own difficulties.

    Klopper's other game is called “Collection Deck”. It focuses not on collaboration, but on intelligence-gathering activities. It divides “classified and non-classified information”. According to Klopper, the principle is similar to “Magic: The Gathering”. Players try to achieve their intelligence goals (represented by cards on the table), simultaneously solving the problems that arise (represented by “practice check” cards that can be used against each other). For example, you can use a card designating a reconnaissance satellite to shoot an object. And another player can interrupt her with a “ground tracking station failure” card.

    The game is designed to introduce the conditions and methods of intelligence gathering, as well as to feel how unforeseen situations can interfere. According to Klopper, agents had already approached him and said that this game helped them make the right decisions in these operations.

    The unfinished game is called “Satellite Construction Kit”. In it, players must collaborate to manage the resources, budget, and time needed to create and maintain a satellite constellation. By managing expenses and creating reserves, players learn to cope with difficulties such as the emergence of new requirements by the Department of Defense, or a 10% reduction in the budget of Congress.

    Unfortunately, I could not play “Kingpin: The Hunt for El Chapo” - a game dedicated to the search and capture of drug lord El Chapo.

    The game “Kingpin: The Hunt for El Chapo” is a hunt for El Chapo.

    Surgical face reconstruction.

    CIA officials refused to answer how this photo of El Chapo was taken.

    The game was developed in conjunction with the US Defense Intelligence Agency. Its goal: “to train analysts who can work with law enforcement agencies and partners around the world to find and capture the most dangerous criminals.

    In the game, two teams play against each other. After all, analysts also need to understand how their opponents work. According to the authors, this is a battle of intellects. Criminals are analyzed, but they also analyze the actions of the security forces.

    According to the CIA, such data models are best represented as board games.

    According to the creators, such board games are very useful in terms of gaining orientation skills in difficult real situations. For example, in Afghanistan, a surgical change in appearance with subsequent reconstruction is used. Thanks to desktops with game mechanics such as Bonkers , employees can clearly see how their decisions affect the situation. During the games, not only schemes useful in the future are developed, but also past experience is rethought, possibly negative.

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