Knowledge center: a simple test of reactions in a crisis

Friday, 9 May 2003, 10:04 AM EST

In war, truth is the first casualty. Ask the 50 players who just finished the information security "Crisis Collaborative Gaming Exercise," all of whom were sporting knowing smiles and grins in a simultaneous display of innocence betrayed.

Moments before, they had been a study in concentration and consternation as they silently competed in what they thought was a simple card game.

Now the last card had been played, and the players were told how they had been duped. They had all dutifully followed the rules, which purposely were designed to create anarchy and sow discord.

Each of the four players at a table received contradictory and unique rules. Some were told the ace was the high card in a suit. Others were told it was the low card. Each was told a different suit was the trump suit, leading each player to blindly pursue capturing tricks with a spade, heart, diamond or club, to disbelieving eyes. One rule they all had in common was to remain silent and passive. No form of communication was allowed and facilitators were looking for violators.

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