Modelling and Simulation

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[edit] Summaries

Seeing Around Corners Jonathan Rauch

Jonathan Rauch introduces us to the concept of agent based modeling and artificial societies. The major theme or argument throughout Rauch’s article is that artificial societies reflect accurately in many aspects “real” societies. Rauch discusses the beginnings of artificial societies and looks at the work of Thomas Schelling, who was interested in segregated neighbourhoods and created an artificial society in which each agent (either blue or red dot) was only happy if they had a certain number of their own colour in regards to their nearest neighbours. The results configure to patterns reminiscent of the peculiarities of linguist George Zipf who discovered “power laws” of statistical distribution while studying the frequency of words in English. These “power laws” concerning complex societies appeared once again in a simulation of artificial societies created by programmer Rob Axtell. His research demonstrated that we arrange ourselves into complex patterns as societies that we are not consciously aware of and as a result, these models could help determine patterns of development and social change unnoticed before.

Josh Epstein, one of the pioneers of the agent based modeling movement, chose to recreate the conditions in Arizona in the eighth to fourteenth centuries to try to explain why the Anasazi culture disappeared. Theories had ranged from war to natural disaster, but in the end the record was incomplete. The agents of his model accurately recreate settlements and patterns that mimic the historic record in a convincing fashion. Through the creation of an artificial Anasazi society that changes over time according to environmental conditions and available farmland, and then comparing that to the actual Anasazi settlement, Rauch concludes that it was quite probable that environmental conditions led to the collapse of their society. Rauch concludes by suggesting that these agent based simulations will continue to help in answering questions that were only theoretical and unprovable until the digital age.

Knowing True Things Willard McCarty

The major purpose of McCarty's article is to explore the term "modelling" within a digital humanities context. He is attempting to create a definition of "modelling" through a study of the natural sciences, specifically physics, and then give an example of such modelling in humanities. McCarty makes the distinction between a "model of" and a "model for." He states that a "model of" something is a substitute when the original is inaccessible or too complex to change or take apart. A model made for something on the other hand, is a design or archetype built to help us visualize the final product. McCarty gives the example of an airplane: we build a model of one to see how it works, while we build a model for a certain airplane to aid in its creation.

McCarty then discusses an example of modelling within the humanities that he is currently working on. He is currently working on a project which tracks instances of personification in Ovid's Metamorphoses. He first mentions that other technologies did not give him the results he was looking for: text encoding was not sophisticated enough and a database was far too removed from the text to be of any assistance. In order to gain the results he wanted, he developed a theoretical model of personification in the poem, in which personifications were defined as "...any shift up the chain to or toward the human state." He created a model by identifying personifications according to linguistic elements (verbs, adverbs, etc) that are attached to them. However, McCarty warns us that the model is not as valid as the real thing, and to be aware of this distinction.

Genre Trouble Espen Aarseth

Aarseth cautions us to avoid classifying games as we would texts or other traditional forms of narrative, since they defy those characterizations. He points out that games are not texts in the classic sense, because unlike texts games must possess three elements:

1. Rules 2. A game world in which to interact 3. Gameplay – the purpose of the activity: goals, achievements, and victory.

He points out that deep narrative is incompatible in games and that in the conflict between gameplay and storytelling, the narrative always loses. This is especially true in the simulated game worlds where players will forego story in order to win. . He explores some similarities between stories and games and why the two are seen by others to be a perfect match. However, Aarseth states that when you translate a story into a game or vice-versa, many elements of each are lost. The only holdout is a true digital literature project with game elements. In this case, the author must ensure that the gameplay cannot overwhelm the story; in this sense it is then true literature, not gameplay. Aarseth concludes with his hope that more fields will become involved in the study of gaming and that this may break the hold that the narrativist camp has on the study of simulations and gaming.

Shaping Stories and Building Worlds Alex Mitchell and Nick Montfort

This article explores simulation and text-based adventure games/interactive fiction from a more technical standpoint. Mitchell and Montfort, studying the games Bad Machine and Savoir-Faire, argue that the platforms (TADS 2 and Inform 6 respectively) which these games were built in had an influence over the authors as they created their simulation products. They argue that the platforms had an impact over the simulated storylines and worlds that are within the games themselves. After giving a brief overview of the history of adventure games and interactive fiction, Mitchell and Montfort describe the basic gameplay of Bad Machine and Savoir-Faire. Bad Machine, created by Dan Shiovitz in 1998, involves the player controlling a robot in a large factory, who has the ability to act independently from the rest of the robots. The main character has many characteristics, including power, mobility, and the ability to exchange its own parts for others, to which it then inherits the “properties and behaviours of that part.” In Savoir-Faire, created by Emily Short in 2002, the player is a young man who has come back to his abandoned childhood home, where he is made to link up similar objects in order to move through the game.

According to Mitchell and Montfort, TADS 2 is an object-oriented platform, which is made up of code objects representing physical ones. These objects are then divided into classes and sub-classes, as well as predefined classes. Since Bad Machine focuses on the interchangeability of parts and the inheritance of those parts’ qualities, Mitchell and Montfort believe that the game is object-oriented, much like its platform. With Inform 6, a major focus is on properties/attributes related to objects. In Savoir-Faire, such attributes of objects are taken into account when linking items together. For two items to link, they must share some common characteristics. As well, properties like colour can be used to show if a link between objects is plausible. Mitchell and Montfort also make the distinction that TADS 2 has a parser library that wont allow for substitutions or additions, while with Inform 6, translation into another language and changes to suit a specific program are allowed with the library.

Behaviour Space: Simulating Roman Social Life and Civil Violence Shawn Graham

Shawn Graham presents his agent based model PatronWorld, which aims to reconstruct the salutatio aspect of Roman patronage and discover how and why acts of civil violence occurred within Rome’s social networks. This practice was key to securing contracts, favour and position within ancient Rome. In order to conduct these experiments, Graham and his team employed agent based models to reflect the conditions that existed in their study. The individual agents were given attributes that allowed them to behave in certain fashions and interact with other agents who also had specific rules of conduct. The designers of the world need to have a clear sense of the society that they are modeling, or else the agents will behave in erratic patterns useless to the project. The code that was used was one that is transparent for those looking to validate the results. Netlogo is an English language interface designed to allow ease of access for people who have a limited knowledge of programming. As a result, the data can be examined by anyone quite easily, eliminating the “black box syndrome” where those using the model can’t understand the programming language.

The researchers devised 5 sets of rules that the agents must follow and these rules ensured that the researchers had a benchmark upon which to base their findings. Graham’s team could then change the attributes of the agents in order to test theories concerning civil violence, the rise of certain agents and the stagnation or rise of the Roman economy. By using historic data to mimic effects in the simulation, the researchers were able to accurately reproduce real world effects that allowed them to ask several questions concerning the rise of violence in Roman society and also how to use the simulation to test counterfactual outcomes. This allowed Graham to determine that violence arose predictably when certain conditions were established, such as the announcement of large public works projects.

The most interesting aspect of the study was the development of complex emergent systems, typical of societies. These were demonstrated by the ability of the groups within the simulation dissolving and reforming after civil violence outbreaks, much as they had in ancient Rome. PatronWorld is an outstanding example of the power of a computer to accurately model the past and give measurable data concerning counterfactual analyses as well. Link to PatronWorld program

Simulation and Its Discontents by Sherry Turkle

In the introduction to her book, Sherry Turkle discusses the reaction of her fellow colleagues and other scholars to simulation. She examines the doubts and concerns of scholars from such schools as MIT, where professors see simulation as a key part to the future of their disciplines, but are also weary of it, as it could hypnotize and lure students away from reality into a perpetual virtual world. Turkle also makes note that scholars who shy away from simulation may be seen as “…nostalgic or committed to futile protest.” She discusses the actions and beliefs of early protesters against simulation and advanced technology in their fields. These skeptics wanted to preserve what was important to them: “sacred spaces” according to Turkle, or traditional methods of doing work and research. For example, Turkle mentions that architects wanted to keep drawing by hand, while physicists fought to preserve the lecture hall. According to Turkle, skepticism still reigns true today with professionals when dealing with simulation, but they are forced to deal with it as it is a part of their everyday work. The basic message of Turkle's introduction is to have some doubt with simulation, while also becoming immersed in it to a certain extent, as it offers multiple benefits to the advancement of research and everyday life.

[edit] Questions

[edit] Question 1

In "Seeing Around Corners", Rauch takes us through the history of Agent Based Simulations. What practical applications can you see Agent Based Simulations playing in your own research?

[edit] Question 2

Is Turkle correct in stating that in allowing ourselves to be immersed in the seduction of simulation that we are letting "something important slip away"? What could that be and how can we prevent it?

[edit] Question 3

In "Behaviour Space" Shawn Graham concludes that "Such models can be made to reflect not only our assumptions about the past, but also information derived from historical data. In the latter case, providing our assumptions are valid, there are grounds to suggest that the emergent results of such models must necessarily have some historical truth to them." He is arguing that counterfactuals can be valid objects of study through the use of computer programs like PatronWorld. Do you agree, or are CF's still just a "parlor game" (to quote A.J.P. Taylor) regardless of the technology?

[edit] Question 4

Are there educational benefits with interactive fiction? Could they be used in schools to teach students about certain topics?

[edit] Question 5

Should we trust simulations in regards to predicting future events? Can they accurately predict natural disasters or outpourings of violence that haven’t happened yet?

[edit] Question 6

Is there a link between GIS and simulations? Can they work together to give a proper and accurate simulation?

[edit] Learned Discussion and Discourse

[edit] Val

I will address question five. My initial answer to both questions posed would be no. No we can not trust simulations in regards to predicting future events, and no they probably can not predict natural disasters or outpourings of violence that have yet to happen. That being said, I think work being done on artificial societies, and through agent-based modelling, by researchers like Epstein, Axtell, Hammond, and Graham should be taken seriously and may have a lot of offer us in terms of understanding both past and present societies. And of course, their research is just really cool.

But as Rauch explained, most scholars involved in simulation research would agree that their work, particularly research on genocide and violence by individuals like Epstein, does little to explain specific contexts of outbreaks of genocide or mass violence. While I agree that, as the senior advisor to Human Rights Watch Africa quoted in Rauch’s article suggested, perhaps such modelling allows us to see similarities between different instances of social violence in different places of the world, it does not help to predict whether violence will erupt. What about areas where similar characteristics have existed but no violence has occurred? Also wouldn’t following such a model lead to potentially dangerous social arrangements by suggesting that different ethnic groups should simply avoid interaction because the outcome will ultimately be tension leading to mass violence?

As for the ability of such simulations to predict future events, once again I see potential dangers. Particularly, Zipf’s Law mentioned by Rauch, and this idea that individuals arrange themselves and follow larger patterns without knowing, is problematic to me. Is there really a “higher order” influencing the decisions of individuals that only simulations are capable of identifying, or are individuals simply responding to their own cultural and social contexts? That being said, I have very limited knowledge of simulations and agent based modeling and would be interested in seeing this type of research expand and what it can tell us about societies and ourselves. Perhaps I am biased, but I think such an approach would be particularly useful for historians, and Graham’s article does a good job at showing how ABM can be used for historical research. So no I don't think simulations can predict future events (natural disasters, violence, etc) but I do think they can tell us much about past events.

[edit] Ryan

Well Val, I both agree and disagree with you here. I agree that an outright prediction of future events quite far fetched. Unless of course one is able to contact the ‘other side,’ because we all know that if anyone is to accurately predict the future they need to rely on other worldly entities! And no, the digital realm is not other worldly.

I do however believe that simulation and modelling can provide us with valuable insights into the future and it could allow us to make, in some circumstances, accurate inferences about what might occur. I am thinking here about the ‘tipping points’ in Grahams PatronWorld simulations and also those referred to by Rauch. When certain conditions are met within society there is the potential for, as Graham states “wildly divergent outcomes.” If we run simulations and see that certain conditions within a society often produce “interesting emergent behaviours” we can apply that to our own society. Perhaps we won’t know exactly what the outcome will be but by being aware that we are on the verge of a societal shift policy makers are better situated to guide the situation in beneficial ways. Or at least to minimize the potentially negative outcomes. Perhaps I should be running simulations to figure out when the time is ripe to push for a riot? RiotousRyan

[edit] Ryan

On question 4...

Education benefits to interactive fiction? What’re we living in the early 90s? Let me just hop in my time machine and regress a decade! If you’re looking to educate a new generation, or even an older generation it doesn’t make sense to rely on the outdated as a ‘new’ vehicle. We have access to intricate game engines that might be harnessed for educational purposes. Or learning through play, as we will see more next week. Linking objects through similarity? In games (I thinking Fallout 3) you harvest the required components and combine them at a workbench using a necessary skill. Already there is more at work here, it would seem, than in the text based game and it is all aided by the fact that it might incorporate both textual analysis and visualization. You could even incorporate interactive fiction components in a larger game. Overall I would say that yes, interactive fiction is a good vehicle for education. It encourages people to test the boundaries, examine and manipulate their surroundings through trial and error and eventually formulate solutions. In effect the players become expert problem solvers. It’s not a terrible idea to use these platforms for educating, it’s just that interactive fiction is dated. RiotousRyan

[edit] Dave

Just as a reply to your diatribe against the "aged" games, I want to point out that the first version of an interactive game I played was called "Zork" and it was very similar to the "Adventure" game described in the articles. In that interactive game you had to map out all of the directions and pay close attention to the information given to you by the descriptions. It was up to the user to figure out the subtle differences, combinations of objects and areas to use them in in order to be successful in these games. The puzzles were hard (in some cases) and frustrating at times, but an integral part of the game play. In effect, they were the game play; solving these puzzles was the only way through these games (and no Ryan, there were no cheat codes...). Sadly, I can still map out the first several levels of Zork in my head; I would hazard a guess that I spent too much time there as a young man. The text adventure games are the genus of so many of the games (like the Fallout series) that we take for granted. I know it is probably antithetical to our course goals, but I would say that the old text only games are superior to some of the current, graphics heavy crop by far. The gameplay is in using the full engagement of the text and the puzzles that it describes and solving each one is the key to going deeper into the game - not killing random level boss # 3.

You kids today...


[edit] Spencer

Clearly we are all somewhat swamped this week, but the above discussion involves some interesting comments and ideas. Firstly, Val and Ryan (in-page links) have hit on a conversation that runs throughout the readings and will likely persist for some time: what does simulation offer to humanities? In my opinion, modelling and simulation, whether focused on systems or counterfactuals, are a unique way to identify and manipulate factors that contribute to the resulting system or history. As in our discussion of building, the end result is not really the most important part; what matters is the process and investigation.

The second conversation between Dave and Ryan begins to approach a topic that I know will become crucial next week when we discuss games. I'm not surprised it came up now, because the line between simulation and gaming is blurred, or as Aarseth argues, does not exist at all. The readings next week will likely spark more controversy, but will also inform us about the complexities of this argument. Kevin is particularly interested in gaming; a quick look at his list of publications demonstrates his stance.

Arguably the most important reading for us to keep in mind if we move forward in digital humanities (specifically, simulation or modelling) is Turkle's warning that "simulation demands immersion and immersion makes it hard to doubt simulation" (pg. 8). We've noted throughout all the topics so far that we must be critical in our approach to these tools and techniques; when it comes to simulation, however, how do we strive for excellence, which requires deep immersion, while maintaining critical distance? Imagine Neo (or Morpheus) critiquing the Matrix while he pines, as Cypher does, for the deeply immersive experience it provides. The conflict is perhaps insurmountable.

My Simulation

[edit] Sean

Since I’m late into the conversation here, I’ll try to address a few of the questions posed.

In terms of the potential practical applications of these resources, I think that the possibilities raised by both Rauch and McCarthy with regards to how simulations give way to the further understanding of historical events and actions are wonderful. I believe that the ability to run possible scenarios of events and actions allows scholars the potential to reconsider previous events and unknowns in an interesting way. Furthermore, I think that digital resources and models certainly provide an ideal tool for putting together a number of data sets and considering them in rapid succession from new perspectives. However, I also have a great deal of hesitancy with regards to the tendency of people….even scholars….to to conclude based on models which are far from complete or comprehensive.

In particular, with models and simulations I think that the fact that they are bounded by the scope of their imputs serves to limit the types of information and perspectives which can be arrived at from them. Moreover, I also think that the inability to fully account for or program in randomization or the unexpected serves to - in many ways - limit the range of understanding which simulations can account for. While I'll admit that both individuals and groups follow natural and social trends as well as reacting to both the real and perceived actions of others, the ability of programs to go beyond such simple interactions and therefore "predict the future" is a highly problematic assertion. One which Turkle notes and moves away from.

In terms of the notion of counterfactual research - while I can appreciate the insight that such research can and undoubtedly does give way to - I can equally see the problematic draw they would have to pull the scholar increasingly away from the actual towards the hypothetical.

In terms of my own research, I think that the process of modeling and simulating societies and individual interactions serves to force historians to reconsider the balance of factors and influences upon events and individual actions. In terms of my own research on the interrelationship between Imperial and Local cultural developments I think that the sorts of questions being raised by the formulation of such models are important and often poorly considered – conceiving of and creating models of such interactions force us as academics to more fully examine these sorts of dynamic exchanges.


[edit] Rob

While I am still mulling over potential uses of simulations with regard to Rauch and how it could pertain to my research, I would like especially to comment on Aaseth.

Aaseth goes too far!!! haha. But seriously, I think he is only demonstrating his own lack of imagination when it comes to games. Especially games as interactive fiction. I agree with him that MOST games lack that certain spark that good storytelling has, he does not consider that some of them do. The reason why so many rpg games especially are so appealing is because they at least loosely follow "The Hero's Journey". As Joseph Campbell would argue, this is so ingrained within our psyche that we can be attracted to it and not know why. Further, it allows us to have some measure of control or interactivity with the characters and the world in which it takes place, allowing us to vicariously experience it in some small measure. Key events and relationships can and do remain the highly crafted games. Additionally, he criticizes the lack of character development he sees in games. I say fair enough. But what about those games where your decisions affect how your character turns out? I'm thinking of games like Knights of the Old Republic or Mass Effect here. Need I mention the Elder Scrolls?

Really, as far as education (and counterfactuals) goes, I have to say the possibilities are endless when it comes to games. Add simulations to this and it could be a real powerhouse. That is not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There will always remain a place for more traditional methods (what up Turkle!)but these new methods can also have the effect of simply making learning and scholarship more, well, fun.

Regarding some of the simulations mentioned, I might add however that they can be immensely helpful, but again should not be relied up wholly. They presuppose a lot of things in the whole IF, THEN sort of way. In life, it's not always so simple. But I'm stating the obvious here. I think they can be a good predictor of human behavior. The models on segregation are very interesting when we compare them to real life. Think about it, what's the first thing a people do when there are a lot of them together in another country? See Toronto (China Town, Little India, Greek Town, Little Portugal...etc.)


[edit] Stacey

To weight in on this week's readings, I would first like to praise Shawn Graham for allowing me to understand what the heck he was talking about in relation to not only computer games and simulations but also in actually how these events would play out! I also enjoyed how he showed how the agents were individually controlled, for someone who doesn't even play video games (I grew up with a very bossy older brother who wouldn't allow me to play most of the time and as I resulted I don't really have a desire to enter the gaming world!), nor really understand computers I found this really helpful! I also had never thought about simulations from an individual level before, just always thought you had to impose mass wide factors into your game in order to make it function.

Anyways, to answer you first question, at first I was confused how simulations would help my own MRP research because it is heavily texted based but then I started thinking. I wondered if there would be a way to simulate Scottish politics, such as a Council of the Privy Seal, in which I could have all the major players in 1579 attend and start to discuss with one another. I think that might bring some clarity to my Hamilton versus Campbell family issues on how they interacted and might emphasize the tensions between them! Or in a much simpler context it could help me to get a basic understanding of how politics/kingship worked during the early years of James VI's reign. Its times like these I am jealous that Heidi and Dave have specific battles to work on for their MRPs because I think it would be cool to simulate a battle!

Like Robert, I also had an issue with Aaseth's Genre Theory because I feel like its a stretch to call games a genre in comparison to literary studies. I think that a game's purpose depends on the player, such as when most kids are playing games such as Call of Duty they aren't analyzing specific World War Two battles, they simply just want to win the game. That is if they play on their own at home. However the utilization of a game that's based on historical events could potentially be used in a classroom if it was explained what exactly it was teaching such as military strategedy. Then can games be an academic tool? It depends on their context and what message the educator is trying to convey to their students.

[edit] Zombies

An Agent Based Simulation: Zombies attack Chicago! Run!!!!!! Grrr! Argghh!


[edit] Heidi

I shall join my colleagues in discussing Questions 4 and 5. Clearly very popular for discussion so far! For question four, I felt just as strongly about Aarseth's position as Robert did. At this point in time, ignoring the educational benefits of gaming and interactive fiction is just as crazy and outdated as Ryan mentioned. (By the way, may I borrow your time machine? I don't have one of those. It's on my list for Santa though!) I feel perhaps TOO strongly about this, and I am most definitely biased as I plan to teach teenagers who spend 8 hours a day playing COD. If games are what students are finding engaging we have to find a way to exploit this. Can elements of a text be lost in translation? Of course. Perhaps I have a risqué position, but I do not see why narrative always HAS to win against game play. (I'm try to avoid rambling into next week's topic... I apologize) I really enjoyed Dave's reference to "Zork", and I think this idea of losing textual elements of the game over time is fascinating. We are afraid to go from text to simulation, and we also have to worry about how simulation will develop over time (even if we are on board with it). Perhaps this comes back to the idea that in order to make DH exactly what we want, we need to learn the basics of coding. Tailoring a game may be just as important as tailoring a program humanists will use. As for Question five... Val, I've got your back on this one. The idea of using simulation to predict future events weirds me out completely. I am trying to find a way that I could use this, but I'm drawing a blank. I am so glad that Spencer mentioned it was common to ask "what can simulation offer to the humanities", because I am not seeing it. Perhaps our discussion tomorrow will inspire me to look at it in a different way!

[edit] Melanie

I am struck by everyone's addressing the issue of whether or not modelling and simulation can be solely relied on. I think the point is somewhat a non-issue, as I did not get the sense from any of the readings that that is what any of the authors are suggesting. Graham discusses using modelling in conjunction with actual historical events, and says there is potential for 'some' historical truth to what they find; Rauch notes that the simulations show worlds that can be "influenced but not directed, understood but not anticipated". I did not get the sense that anyone was saying they will predict the future with the tools, or use these tools alone to come to a historical conclusion. (I may have missed something, so please correct me if I'm wrong) In terms of my own MRP, I could see a simple simulation like the ones about segregation in Rauch being useful for my work. If I was able to input data about fashion, I could perhaps simulate the way trends travel through various groups of people, in relation to various factors. In conjunction with question 6, GIS could perhaps provide a way to track the way trends functioned or traveled throughout the British Empire (so yes, I think GIS could be used to provide accurate simulations, just don't ask me how they would make it work). I have to say, I am so happy that Spencer referenced the Matrix to explain issue of immersion in simulation, because it is a perfect example of it. The points he raised reminds me of something we discussed in our historiography class, about how what was understood as an acceptable historical/critical distance to one's subject has remained fluid for hundreds of years. Perhaps simulation will be part of/a catalyst for another shift in historical understanding, where the amount of critical distance is reduced and still considered acceptable for critical understanding.

[edit] Dave

From the general discussion it seems that the Aarseth and Rauch articles struck a chord with most of the class. I was taken with them as well, but I was also glad to see that Graham's article on PatronWorld also sparked reactions. Thanks for the discussion folks - looking forward to picking up on these topics in class. I'll also be interested to see what people thought of the zombie/Chicago simulation...eternal vigilance is the price of freedom! Trust in simulations or risk wandering the earth as the undead!

[edit] After Discussion Notes

This week's seminar began with a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks to simulation, and how humanists or history students can use it for their research. Sean was concerned that simulation was pulling us away from textual material, while the point was made that you need to get closer to texts to make a model or simulation. Heidi mentioned that she felt she needed to understand coding before using simulation, bewildered by some of the complexities with formulating a simulation. It was also stated that a drawback to simulation is that a large world view is needed for it. A major theme brought out with this week's discussion is that simulation allows us to identify patterns in society, patterns that we can and can't see. For example, the simulation by Graham allowed us to see patterns in Roman civil unrest and the interaction between patrons and other Roman citizens. Yet, as illustrated by Terry's "interesting" example of Colonel Russell Williams, simulations do not predict individual experiences and anomalies. Lastly, Robert mentioned that simulation could be an interdisciplinary method, encompassing history, psychology and sociology. The link between societies and the complexity of emergent systems as outlined in Rauch's article concerning Zipf's law was discussed as a counter to the 'rogue' individual agent in any ABM program. It was possible to program for that variable, as Spencer pointed out, but the need to have those qualities in any simulation had to answer specific questions. It was concluded by the group that simulation has the potential to show relationships between individuals and can open new doorways for history, such as with a Draugr vs. Zombie simulation.

Our discussion then turned to modern day uses of simulation and its placement in history. We had a lengthy discussion about Deadliest Warrior[1]and its use of simulation. The group talked about the basic make up of Dealiest Warrior and how it used simulation to pit different historical figures or warriors against each other, to see who would win in a deathmatch. Although it was agreed that the show was a stretch in terms of 'history', Spencer argued that that program was doing the type of simulations that we had been reading about in order to connect to their audience in an effective manner. Valerie was concerned that this type of populism might be detrimental to DH by its 'pseudo-historic' approach and focus too greatly on military histories, but Ryan countered that simulations were a perfect venue to help revive the flagging studies of battles and their consequences. The discussion then turned to the place of simulation in history. Multiple uses of it were mentioned throughout the discussion, including the simulation of the Battle of Clontarf for Heidi's project. However, it was a concern that simulation could prioritize types of history, favouring military history over the cultural aspects of historical subjects (with the exception to the study of the Anasazi people).

In an almost circular pattern, the discussion ended with the idea that simulation is moving research too far away from traditional methods. Sean was concerned that the simulations we had been reading about could ultimately move us too far from the historic record, a real danger with simulations and our new adherence to them in his view. Robert was afraid that computers will eventually do everything for you, yet many of us answered his concern by underlining that computers still need humans to input data and ask those questions only we can in order to create a proper simulation. Melanie then mentioned that she didn't see this concern in any of the articles we read this week, refuting the idea that simulation was the only method that will be used in humanities' projects. In her opinion, shared by many at the table including Stacey, Spencer and Ryan, the simulations and models were tools that we could use at our discretion in addition to many of the others we have discussed in past weeks. The discussion ended with a brief mentioning of modelling. Dave brought up the distinction of a model for and a model of, while it was also mentioned that the failure of a model to give us what we want just leads researchers like ourselves to start things over and continue our quest for information. The fact that models often don't give the desired results makes them all that much more valuable since the unintended results are opportunities to learn new things about the subject being researched. Kevin then made a brief summary of the two gaming articles and gave us a preview of next week's topic.

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