Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

War Games: A Short History

Foreign Policy magazine this month features an article on War Games: A Short History. Oddly, it seems to entirely miss the emergence and evolution of commercial, hobby wargaming—although it does talk about videogames:

 Ever since the first warrior picked up a wooden stick in imitation of a sword, the line between war and entertainment has been decidedly blurry. Military training in ancient Greece and chivalric Europe gave rise to the Olympics and medieval jousting tournaments; paintball guns and video games have become tools for honing the skills of today’s soldiers. The realm of strategy, however, is where games have exerted the most remarkable impact on the conduct of war, serving as a tool for, as one U.S. Army general put it, “writing history in advance.”

Over at Wargaming Connection, Brant Guillory comments that the article “manages to miss so many things that we would’ve considered “major” developments in the history of wargaming.” He’s right, too–among other things, the Foreign Policy piece pretty much omits the entire history of commercial, hobby wargaming (other than a few video game  references).

If you want a much more informed and useful account, go pick up a copy of Peter Perla’s The Art of Wargaming instead.

2 responses to “War Games: A Short History

  1. Mike Cosgrave 06/09/2011 at 4:27 am

    you need to register to post comments – is anyone registered on the site who could insert a short reference to Charles Roberts, Tactics II and SPI and the genre. I’d link it to the publication date for Tactics II as a critical date.

    Also missing is miniatures wargaming where Robert Louis Stevenson, H.G. Wells and some others deserve a mention. What date would you lock that to though – I think US and Uk readers might differ slightly on which ruleset marked the start of the modern era!

    Looking at it again quickly before class, I cannot see Fletcher Pratt

  2. Brant 06/09/2011 at 3:36 pm

    I broke down and left a comment over there. It was more rambling that I’d’ve preferred, but I”ve got a huge headache today…

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