The Quest To Foggy Bottom

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 30 2012 @ 8:06pm

Brad Smith wants social scientists to use Live Action Role Play (LARP) as a testing ground for their theories:

About a year back, I posted about "Darkon," a documentary about a group of live-action role players whose games tended towards resembling the interactions of states in the international system.  Besides the obvious entertainment that can be gained from watching a bunch of nerds smack each other with foam swords, the documentary was quite thought provoking.  Just imagine what you might be able to learn from following these guys around for a few months and observing their behavior (besides how much mountain dew and doritos an individual can consume before keeling over.) 

Sure, players in these games adhere (for the most part) to a simplified set of rules, but is that really any different from the game-theoretic models we all love so much?  In fact, I would argue that, by observing these players, it may be possible to gain some insights into the reasons that individuals don't always act in accordance with the rational-choice framework.  This could potentially make the use of rational choice models even more valuable in the long run, as it could help us to integrate these models with a more psychological approach to the study of international relations.