Board Games and Political Theory- Part 1

Before I begin to analyze popular board games for their relationship with International Relations (IR) theory, I needed to create a comprehensive pool of all IR theory since one did not previously exist. Having a single source for all of my reference work when conducting analysis of board games will reduce any errors resulting from cognitive bias (forgetting, lack of understanding, etc..) It will also help to delineate the ‘edges’ of my project. Creating a single source to reference before conducting analysis will eliminate the temptation to cherry-pick theories from the sprawling IR-literature.

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Abstract- Board Games and Political Theory

I want to demonstrate the relationship between international relations theory and strategy board games. To accomplish this task, I will create a comprehensive catalog of international relations concepts and terms by referencing summaries of international relations theory in relevant journals and books. This catalog will be arranged (to the greatest extent possible) in the form of a cladogram for the purpose of organizational simplicity. I will then use this catalog to code several of the most popular American strategy board games for associated IR theory concepts. Summaries of how each board game fits into international relations theory will be written based on the attributes they are assigned within the catalog. I will then use the cataloged games to explore new and innovative ways to incorporate strategy board games into the classroom. I want to do this research because it ties together my interest in international relations and my longtime passion for strategy board games. My goal is to use something tangible and fun, like board games, to explain abstract concepts that are often difficult to understand. I find this project exciting because I would be solving a problem (the task of understanding the myriad IR theory concepts) creatively, through something that I love—board games. Some examples of concepts that I believe would be easier to teach and learn through board games are: 1) The Implications of Anarchy, 2) The Effects of Power Distribution on the International System, and 3) The Logic of Deterrence.