This paper from 1985 describes the procedures, appropriate uses, and limitations of the free-form game. It discusses free-form gaming as a procedure for organized study of the complex problems entailed in confrontations and crises, whether between nations or within organizations.
Our Focus: Analytic Games We Create
Our work supports RAND researchers by applying methodological rigor to design and tailor analytic games to meet our sponsors’ needs. Here are the types of games we develop, with some examples and links.
Also known as free-form games, or loosely structured games, seminar-style games can include matrix games, 360 games, and “The Day After...” exercises.
Seminar-style games are characterized by the absence of formal rules to determine game outcomes, and they superficially may look like a workshop where a group of people gather in a room, deliberate, and eventually submit a verbal or written “move.”
Unlike games with fully specified rule sets that limit player actions and determine game outcomes, seminar-style games rely on experts to decide how the different teams’ moves interact and what effect they might have. These games are particularly useful for exploring a relatively poorly understood problem.
Manual games use physical game pieces such geographic maps, abstract board displays, cards, counters, and dice. Examples include the RAND Framework for Live Exercises (RFLEX), allocation games, and card-driven games. Manual games employ flexible yet systematic methods to adjudicate outcomes and present concrete choices to players.
Computer-assisted games use computer-based models to determine outcomes from the players’ choices. Computer models can offer systematic adjudication of complex and/or physics-based outcomes, although player decisions are limited to the scope of its often closed design.