Connections UK conference: Day 2

Before the second day of the conference started Donald Featherstone’s death was announced, and John Curry and Phil Barker gave a short but poignant eulogy about Don, his life, his work, and his legacy.

During the morning the topics of non-kinetic conflict dynamics and the common faults of wargaming in the military were explored, and after lunch there was a discussion about the stigma and scepticism wargaming attracts within the military, academia, and the general public.

The final session of the day was spent discussing what to do next with regard to Connections UK. The general consensus seemed to be:

  • That another conference should be held next year … and that this would become an annual event.
  • That access to Connections UK should be open to anyone who was willing ‘to advance the art, science and application of wargaming‘ and to participate in the ‘exchange (of) information on achievements, best practices and needs.
  • That once the concept of running an annual conference was embedded, consideration should be given to it being held in other European countries on alternate years.
  • That the Connections UK website would be used as a means through which participants can access the papers, presentations etc., from this and future conferences.
  • That the possibility of creating a dedicated LinkedIn group should be examined.

The most important outcome of the conference was, however, the opportunity it presented for networking, and I suspect that many of the contacts that were made over the past few days will be very fruitful.


10 Comments on “Connections UK conference: Day 2”

  1. On a kind of associated note, I wonder how much time Don Featherstone spent thinking about “non-kinetic conflict dynamics”?? Yours, ruminatively…. :o)

  2. Steve-the-Wargamer,

    I should imagine that it occupied his thoughts all the time … NOT!

    All the best,


  3. Steve-the-Wargamer,

    How very true …

    All the best,


  4. brtrain says:

    It was great to meet you at Connections – I was kind of glad you didn't go on that cruise after all!
    I don't know when I will be back on the other side of the pond for another Connections, but I hope we will be able to meet again then too.

    Brian Train

  5. Brtrain (Brian),

    I hope that your journey home did not leave you as jet-lagged as your journey to the UK seemed to … although the adrenaline seemed to have 'kicked in' during the conference and enabled you to keep going.

    It was great to meet you too! It is always nice to put a face – and voice – to someone one meets over the Internet, especially if that other person is a wargamer. I also hope that we will be able to meet again soon … and perhaps we may even manage to fight a battle or two as well!

    All the best,


  6. brtrain says:

    I certainly can't travel as well as I used to… I got just as jet-lagged coming back but I am getting more sleep; I had very little sleep all the time I was in London.
    But it sure was exciting meeting so many people I had only heard of, or traded e-mails with. What a pity that these things are always so rushed as well.
    One thing I liked about the organization of this conference was a longer period to show/demonstrate games and have a play night; unfortunately I was busy with “A Distant Plain” and didn't have much of a chance to see everyone else's wares.
    Well, here's hoping that this conference becomes a going concern!


  7. Brtrain (Brian),

    I have found that as I get older, my body seems to cope less and less well with travel between time zones. The effect is lessened when travelling by ship … but it still happens.

    I think that the conference could easily have lasted another day or so, just so that people could get to know each other better. That seems to be part of the planning for the future … and I think that it would make a lot of sense.

    Whilst at the conference I kept noticing the parallels in the way in which the whole thing was beginning to develop and the way that COW (the Conference of Wargamers) developed. COW started off as a traditional conference (lecture/talks during the day, with informal game sessions after dinner) but in the matter of four or five years it had moved from the theoretical to the practical in terms of its sessions. There are still talks/lectures, but the majority of the sessions are what we term 'try it on the dog' sessions, where a wide range of different types of games are tried by the participants, with varying levels of discussion afterwards. I can see Connections UK following that route, all be it that they are likely to be less recreational in style and content.

    I hope to meet you again in the future. In the meantime, keep in contact.

    All the best,


  8. brtrain says:

    Thanks Bob – one day I will have to take a cruise and see what it's like.
    Though right now the prospect of spending time on a wobbly hotel that can catch fire, sink or give everyone in it the Dreaded Lurgi, with no chance of checking out when you want, does not appeal.
    Obviously you see more in it than I do!

    I'd like to see Connections-UK develop along those lines too. Certainly the focus of the games will be more towards something HM Armed Forces (or at least HM Government Agency) might be able to use, but the practical end of things needs to be stressed otherwise it's just another conference.
    The rapid game development exercise we ran at the Connections 2012 meeting in Washington that Prof. Rex Brynen addressed briefly was a success i think.
    In fact, I was kind of surprised they hadn't tried it before.
    Looks as if we will do it again when possible, and the Military Operations Research Society was planning on having something like this earlier this year, but continuing budget cuts and uncertaintly have forced its postponement.

    I'll keep in touch, for sure!


  9. Brian,

    My wife and I enjoy cruises … but they are not for everyone … although they tend not to be very wobbly, sink regularly, catch fire weekly, or be pestilential plague ships!

    It is interesting that the military want to use wargaming as a practical learning process … and then go to conferences where they spend most of their time talking about it and not doing it! (A simplified version of what happened at Connections UK I know but …)

    Rex Brynen's session at Connections 2012 sounds interesting, and exactly the sort of practical session that Connections UK needs to include in future.

    All the best,


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