Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What is Wargaming?

Wargaming is more than just playing with toy soldiers. It is learning about history, geography, politics, technological development, as well as the military arts. By participating in these simulations of historical or recent events, we can gain a greater understanding of them.

I have spent my entire adult life in the military, police and private security. I have attended the funerals of four of my private security officers. Two died in the line of duty. That is not something I want to do again. It is a terrible thing to loose a friend that way. But I still play wargames that simulate police and private security activities. Several years ago we played a large game about the “Drug War.” I buy miniature police cars to use in my modern games.

While a member of the U.S. Army Reserve I wargamed NATO vs. Warsaw Pact games. In the event of a real war, I would have been called up and sent off to fight the very war I was gaming. During the Reagan administration I read an article about the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. The listed the strength of their armed forces. I realized, I have that many Soviet vehicles in my collection. So we played a game about a hypothetical Nicaraguan invasion of Honduras. One of the members of our wargame group at the time had been a U.S. soldier in El Salvador.

Wargaming is not about the gore, the death, injury, homelessness, and starvation. It is about the history. Understanding what others went through to bring us to where we are today. War brings many negatives. It also brings positive results. Sometimes it accelerates technological development. War brings freedom to people who are oppressed. War allows people to demonstrate the best humans have to offer in self-sacrifice, patriotism, and comradeship.

The crucible of military and paramilitary service and especially in war creates a bonding of comrades that often transcends even family ties. The ancient Romans and Egyptians had toy soldiers. These days hunting, fishing, gun collecting, wargaming are all sometimes branded as “offensive.” I owe no one an apology for my wargaming. I make no excuses for my wargaming, because it needs no excuse or apology.

Wargamers learn more about war, colonialism, history, and geography then the average person. They know the terrible waste of real war, because they have simulated it on the wargame table. I have never met a wargamer who did not have a big library to allow him to obtain a greater understanding of the period they play.

I have made friends in many countries and have a better understanding of our history. This is what makes wargaming valuable.


Arquinsiel said...

This holds true for historical wargaming, but it is very easy to go years and decades and never venture outside the nice safe bubble of sci-fi or fantasy wargaming.

I do agree though, wargaming is an entirely beneficial hobby if for no other reason than relaxation and improved analytical skills.

ModernKiwi said...

Very true words Mike. No apologies are needed.

ccm2361 said...

In addition to enjoyment I use wargaming to teach about history to the kids in our church. I got a bunch of 1/72 Israelites & Philistines & am going to do Wars of David this winter. Next I want to American Revolution. Not enoug kids know about that

Bunkermeister said...

I like Weird War, Pulp and Sci Fi gaming too, but my base is historical. Historical gaming teaches us so much.

Thanks Kiwi.

Schools and churchs often use wargaming as teaching aids. I am glad you are picking up on that mantle. Figures in 1/72nd scale are cheap, after the class, you can give each kid a few and start a new generation of wargamers!

Al said...

I've seen plenty of elephants, gaming is just a hobby, good post Mike.

Bunkermeister said...

Thanks Al.