A reader writes:
I think Brad Smith is a bit late to the party. Expert IR wonks and their clients – diplomats, policy makers, NGOs – already do things that are pretty much the same as LARPing. They're called scenario games (or scenario exercises, if you don't want them to sound like fun). Imagine a high school model UN with adult participants and some squints in the background collecting data. They're very popular and actually quite useful in conflict prevention and management, and I will agree with Smith that they are a tool that merits further use and study – possibly with the inclusion of foam swords and capes made out of blankets.
As a graduate of Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, as well as an avid gamer, I can tell you: there are quite a few State Department employees who've been doing that sort of thing for years.
Maybe not LARPing specifically, but SFS was full of strategy and other gaming nuts that played Diplomacy, 1776, Risk – even good old-fashioned Dungeons & Dragons, for the people more interested in inter-group dynamics. Those kinds of games had a real intellectual appeal to the sort of person who studied foreign policy. You also had the benefit of a bunch of type-A personalities who were actually capable of playing an entire game of Risk start to finish, whether or not a term paper was due the next day.
Some fun facts about Diplomacy, introduced in the above video:
In its catalog, Avalon Hill advertised Diplomacy as John F. Kennedy's and Henry Kissinger's favorite game. Kissinger described it as his favorite in an interview published in a games magazine. American broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite was also reported to be a fan of the game.