Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Daily Archives: 22/11/2014

CounterFact magazine


The first issue of CounterFact magazine is now available, published by One Small Step Games.

CounterFact magazine is a journal of professional and commercial wargaming. It is published approximately four times per year on an “as ready” basis. Each issue contains articles on professional and commercial wargaming to include game analysis, commentary, polemology, and provocative pieces on conflict and design theory. Also included in each issue is a manual wargame, usually consisting of a tabloid map-sheet, a sheet of playing pieces, and a rules booklet.

The first issue includes a critical analysis by Jon Compton of Breaking the Chains (Compass Games, 2014), in which he assesses the insight the game offers into future Sino-American conflict in the South China Sea. Game designer John Gorkowski then offers a rebuttal.

Cover01The issue also contains a very nitpicky, negative review of At Nueve Chapelle (White Dog Games, 2012) by the game’s own graphic artist. There’s a piece on “Wargaming by the Rules of War,” that offers a satirical take on the Red Cross movement’s efforts to have video games more accurately reflect the role of international humanitarian law in modern warfare. (Personally, I didn’t find it that funny or on-target, given what the ICRC and American Red Cross are actually trying to do. However, I’m a bit of an IHL nerd.)

A preview is offered of the forthcoming American Civil War game Huzzah! (One Small Step 2014). Finally, the issue contains a  game (120 counter, 11″x17″ map) of the fighting at the Mule Shoe Salient during the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse (1864) during the American Civil War. This uses also Huzzah’s “Rebel Yell Light” rules. Since I haven’t played it yet, I can’t really comment on the game or rules.

Overall, I thought CounterFact was a worthy initiative, but one with uneven content that is still very much in search of its niche, voice, and identity. I very much like the idea of well-informed debates over game design and game philosophy that draw on both game reviews and informed assessment of historical or future conflict. Despite its title, there is no consistent focus on games as a rigorous method of counterfactual analysis in CounterFact, other than in the very general sense that all historical conflict simulations embody this to a greater or lesser degree.

Big Board Gaming had somewhat similar impressions of the first issue—for that review, see below.

Simulation and gaming miscellany, Albanian Alphabet Day edition 2014

Albanian_Alphabet_from_Manastir_CongressSince today is the 106th anniversary of the unification of the Albanian alphabet, it seemed appropriate to mark that happy occasion with some tidbits of simulation and serious gaming news that might be of interest to PAXsims readers:

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This War of Mine, a digital game by Eleven Bit Studios in which the goal of the player is to simply survive as a civilian caught up in the horrors of war, is now available from Games Republic, Humble Bundle, or Steam. More than one PAXsims contributor has already spent more time playing it than they should given the work they ought to be doing, and a review will be forthcoming once one of us can go a month of game time without starving, dying of disease, being killed by soldiers/looters/other survivors, or suffering from fatal depression.

twom_screen_pax_06* * *

The online journal/resource centre e-International Relations has featured several recent articles that address the depiction of conflict in contemporary videogames:

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The Charnel House blog features a short piece last month by Ross Wolfe on Soviet boardgames from 1920 to 1938—all replete with socialist realism in both artwork and theme.

Chemical Warfare (1925)

Chemical Warfare (1925)

Electrification (1928)

Electrification (1928)

See his blog for more examples.

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