Wargaming in Information Warfare Training: A Study of Finnish Officials





Wargaming, Information warfare, government training, gamification, role-playing, inter-agency collaboration


In the digital age, information warfare has become a significant global concern, with malicious actors exploiting various media to manipulate public opinion, destabilising governments, and sowing discord. Automated and algorithmic tools are used to spread false and misleading information on social media platforms, and states have been unable to control the spread of it. In addressing new challenges, national governments globally reassess strategies, communications, and responses to adapt to evolving threat environments. To counter information influence activities, it is crucial to have informed, educated, and well-trained communicators. This case study focuses on the innovative use of wargaming in training government officials, providing them with abilities to respond to different tactics and methods of malign influence operations. This article is based on an information warfare exercise conducted in January 2024 involving 27 Finnish officials from various ministries and agencies critical to national security. The participants participated in an interactive simulation, where they explored and responded to challenges related to disinformation campaigns and other tactics designed to manipulate and influence information within a hybrid warfare context. The players were divided into two teams: red and blue, with the reds assuming the role of the offensive team while the blues took on the defensive role. The teams competed for control over the information space, employing various information warfare methods. After the exercise, each participant was asked to complete a post-exercise survey to evaluate the knowledge acquired and the exercise's overall usefulness, including scenario clarity and the effectiveness of role-playing. We also explored potential differences in perceptions and experiences between inexperienced and experienced players in the wargaming exercise. Key findings revealed the effectiveness of wargaming as an educational tool, particularly benefiting novices over experienced players. Role-playing proved valuable, emphasizing the importance of explicit scenarios for effective engagement. The study highlighted cross-departmental cooperation's significance, facilitating a dynamic learning environment.

Author Biographies

Dominic Saari, University of Jyväskylä

Dominic Saari is a PhD student at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. His upcoming PhD thesis will delve into the role of narratives in information and cognitive warfare.

Hilkka Grahn, University of Jyväskylä

Hilkka Grahn is a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Information Technology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Her research has been published in journals such as International Journal of Human–Computer Studies and Accident Analysis & Prevention. Her current research interests include cognitive security and human behavior within security contexts.

Teemu Häkkinen, University of Jyväskylä

Teemu Häkkinen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. His research interests include parliamentary history and political decision-making. He has published in journals such as European Review of History / revue européenne d histoire and Journal of Political and Military Sociology.

Miriam Hautala, University of Jyväskylä

Miriam Hautala is a PhD student in the Jyväskylä School of Business and Economics, Finland. In her doctoral dissertation, Hautala investigates strategic authority communication, focusing on its vulnerabilities and role in building cognitive security and resilience in society.

Oskari Vesterinen, University of Jyväskylä

Oskari Vesterinen is a project researcher at the Faculty of Information Technology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland. He is also a student of the University of Jyväskylä's Security and Strategic Analysis Master's degree program.

Panu Moilanen, University of Jyväskylä

Dr. Sc. Panu Moilanen is a senior lecturer and degree program manager for the Security and Strategic Analysis MDP at the Faculty of Information Technology, University of Jyväskylä (Finland). His teaching and research interests are the role of technology as part of the security of today's increasingly complex societies, information influence and warfare, cyber security, and resilience. He also works for the National Defence University (Finland) and National Defence Training Association of Finland.