When getting all the details about war right means getting everything wrong
Thanks for sharing.
I feel like there’s a way to conceptualize video games like this as part of the war itself. Instead of viewing Wargame as a simulation of the Cold War, might it also be a subset or extension of it? An aspect of its ritualization? Maybe, now more than ever, IRL-war-based video games are simply a new dimension of the actual conflict.
As someone who spent more time in my 20s than I’d care to admit on the Civ and Total War franchises, I feel seen but also tempted to give this thing a go. Fun, thoughtful read.
Thanks for sharing. As someone that used to be a Marshall for Wargame... I get it. I do think that Wargame does not have to be so... "far from reality" let say. I am the one that made the devs turn the burratino from a devastating weapon into a showy area of effect denial. That was a complex decision to take at the time. And i can tell you. I knew deeply what this does to civilians. I do think that playing these kind of games is important to understand the impact of these weapons too. In Wargame, you do learn that these units are deeply deeply deeply important and that using these weapons means putting yourself in danger and destroying rare things on the other side.
Yes there are no civilians.. but that is also because you never fight near to cities. Because cities... are deeply not an area where you can fight. Not in a way that can be a "game". And in a way, that is the other lesson we all learn. You cannot learn the game of war without learning about the cost of it. In real term of blood.
I didn't know people still played Wargame. I picked it up a few years ago, and then dropped it due to what I perceived as requiring overly aggressive micro to be competitive - and crappy naval warfare mechanics.
As someone who's spent more time than I'd like to admit on grand strategy games, the focus is always on a highly sanitized version of war. Troops march to the front and - though they might die - it's always in service of a glorious cause. Civilian deaths are either not mentioned, or not mechanically possible (looking at you, HOI4). For the people who play these games, it makes it much easier to stomach a real-world war. The most familiar "war" to them is of NATO unit counters moving around on a screen, appearing, disappearing. Nothing about the utter destruction of cities wreaked by industrial warfare, or the starvation rations issued to occupied areas.
Maybe if wargames were realistic, some people would have a much different view of war.
But then we probably wouldn't play them in the first place.