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Inside the Mind of a Sim Director

Within some of the smallest simulations at AMUN, the Security Councils and Commissions of Inquiry, you’ll also find members of one of the smallest departments of the AMUN Secretariat: Simulations Staff. Also known as “Simulation Directors” and “Sim Directors,” or even less formally, “AMUN Dungeon Masters,” Simulation Directors drive the content of the simulations in which they work. But what does driving content mean in the context of an AMUN simulation?

At AMUN, we strive to give representatives an educational experience that mirrors the United Nations as much as possible. For Historical Security Councils and Commissions of Inquiry, this means maintaining an accurate timeline of events. When Historical Sim Directors are given the year of their simulation, the first question they ask themselves is: “What is the start date?” A “start date” is the date on which that simulation would begin at Conference. This means that any historical event after the chosen “start date” did not happen, and it is up to both the Sim Directors and representatives to cultivate the events of that year. While the “start date” question is the first, it is also arguably the most important for a historical simulation. The Historial Sim Director will review the events of that year, and determine which point would be the best for representatives to start in order to maximize the educational experience. 

The contemporary Security Council, in contrast, does not have a “start date,” but an “end date” – which is the first day of the Conference. For AMUN 2019, this means that any event that happens in the contemporary world after 23 November 2019 has not happened in the simulation, unless the Sim Directors choose to bring the details of that event before the Council. 

So what drives the choices of the Sim Directors and in turn drives the content of the simulation? The positive educational experience we, the Sim Directors, want to create for you, the representatives. 

In each simulation, representatives are given ample opportunities to act: through dialogue with their counterparts in their AMUN simulation, operative decisions, responses to backchannels (information given specifically to State representatives from a Sim Director), presidential statements and resolutions. When a representative acts, Sim Directors will ask themselves, “What is the ‘win’ for the representative in this situation? Is there a potential ‘loss’ for the representative, and if so, what does it look like? What are the opportunities for compromise and consensus building? What is a stalemate?”

While every Sim Director strives to ensure their representatives “win” in some way, modern-day diplomacy illustrates that what may be a “win” for one State may be a “loss” for another. Take, for example, the current situation in Myanmar. While a “win” for Myanmar could look like the complete removal of Rohingya individuals, that would be a “loss” for the Rohingya themselves as well as for Bangladesh, as it is struggling to secure and provide for Rohingya refugees. 

You may be wondering why Sim Directors are so obsessed with wins. The answer to that question is tied to our goal of creating a positive educational experience. If you aren’t having fun in the simulation, if you are frustrated at every turn, the chances are that your learning experience will suffer. But, if we, as Sim Directors, can help you make positive strides towards your goals and the goals of the Council, then the chances are your learning experience will be a positive one. This isn’t to say that our goal is to give you what you want or make things easy for you. International diplomacy can be very tricky, and sometimes you’ll fail. But failure can still be part of a positive experience. This is why we always keep the educational experience as our goal, win or lose.

Bearing all this in mind, what can you do to best prepare for a simulation at AMUN run by a Sim Director? 

 Read the Handbook. The Sim Directors that are driving the content of your simulation also authored the handbook sections for your specific simulation. This is the best place to begin to go “inside the mind” of your Sim Director, when it comes to the content you can expect to encounter at AMUN. For the contemporary Security Council, this also means turning to any Situation Reports (updates on the situations in the Handbook) that are published on the AMUN website

Ask yourself questions. As noted above, Sim Directors ask themselves lots of questions when it comes to analyzing the actions and potential actions of representatives. Make sure to ask yourself similar types of questions as you move through the simulation. “What are the goals of my State here? Am I moving toward a ‘loss,’ and how can I prevent it? What am I willing to compromise on? What is non-negotiable?” 

Ask your Sim Director questions. When in simulation, your Sim Director may take on different roles, or wear different “hats.” Sometimes, a Sim Director will speak to you as a representative of your home government. Other times, they will speak to you as only the Sim Director, clarifying any information you’ve received from your home government and, if needed, clarifying the scope or implementation of any actions of the Council or Commission. If at any point you need information on the content of your simulation, your Sim Directors are there to assist.

Have fun! Your Sim Directors, and members of the AMUN Secretariat generally, want to foster the best experience possible for representatives. If at any point you feel that you are not getting the most of your AMUN experience, talk to your Sim Director or a member of AMUN Secretariat, and they will work with you to improve the situation.

Overall, going inside the mind of an AMUN Sim Director is akin to going inside a complex piece of machinery: lots of moving parts contributing to a single goal – ensuring you have the best educational experience possible. 

Want to know more about the inner workings of a Security Council or Commission of Inquiry simulation? Check out our Accords article, Solving Problems and Diplomacy in the Security Councils

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