wargames; warring, learning and analyzing

wargames, learning, analyzing,

Games and sports are the two elements which play an important role in the development of a person and society for a healthy and up to mark performance of that person and society. The two have more or less the same purpose, nature and benefits albeit with slight variation in them.

Games are activities in which two or more players involve in some sort of physical or mental activities. Players playing the game would have to follow a specific and set rules of the game. For example Chess, Cards and Puzzles are games examples that quickly comes to one’s mind.

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Sports on the other hand are any activity in which players do some physical activities and motions in playing this specific sport. Player may either be a single individual playing the sport or they may be two or more players playing the sport under already defined and fixed rules for the sport.  Football, Gymnastics and baseball are its handy examples to differentiate it from games.

One contrasting element that separate games from sports are the absence of physical activities in them. Sports usually have too much physical activities and hectic in theirs.  

When keeping in view the above short quick delineation between sports and games, we will discuss wargames and their utility in enhancing as well as raising the learning curve of individuals and organization as well for the futuristic requirements of them.

Wargames are basically used as an analytical tool to train individuals for some special tasks and operations. Military and strategic organizations are the foremost users and developers of such games. In the real war like simulations the players, military officers and strategists, deicide and execute their plans for their victory. Any miscalculation, late or wrong decision may result in their loss or less outputs. The plus point of these wargames is their virtuality avoiding any real conflict and men and material loss.

Multi-national companies and Industry leaders also use these games to explore and exploit the possible scenario for them.

In military and strategic wargames epic battles and campaigns of the past are re-enacted through computer simulations. The players in games have to choose the best available options for victory, mistake of any sort may give them undesired result.

Prussian Army was the first precursor who developed and used wargames for their officers training and planning in 19th century.

The novelty of this device proved to the outside world in the Franco Prussian war (1870) when French were defeated.

In Cold War era the two blocs, USA and USSR, used these imaginative wargames to train their military and civil decision makers and give proper response in case of a possible nuclear attack from the other side.

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The danger of communism and possible attacking scenario, both conventional and unconventional, from Soviets on USA and its allies were the hot spices of US wargames. Armoured Brigade, Cold waters, Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2, World in Conflict, Crisis in Kremlin and B1 nuclear bombing are framing to players the communist menace to the capitalist world.

To counter-balance these US wargames, Soviets strategized on the potential attack from the capitalist bloc in patriotic-games like Diversant (Saboteur), the Iron Curtain; the War in Central Europe 1945-1989, the Truth about 9th Company, IL-2 Sturmovik; the Battle of Stalingrad.

Apart from analytical and decisioning in these wargames somewhere else the undercurrents of indoctrination, national superiority and eliminate-your-enemy concepts run.

Soviet Union are planning to sabotage the free world and its development. While the guinea hoarders of capitalism are snakes in grass in the Utopia of socialism!!!

The any side who decide better, plan better and execute better definitely are the best!!

Main elements of a wargame

The constructing blocks of any wargame are, Realism, complexity, scale, fog of war…

1. Realism.

The crux of any wargame and for its developer are to depict any historical war, battle or campaign in the most possible realistic way. Anything that will add an aura of “game ‘ to a wargame will depreciate its value to user as a tool of analysis and decisioning. The fantasy or recreational games are despised for this absence. This true Conflict-Like depiction of situation in a wargame is the measuring scale of its validity. How far the wargame has been successful in re-enacting a battle or campaign of past to modern players giving them real like scenario to decide for them.

2. Complexity

The easy and merry-go-round approach in a wargame would does not provide any tactical or decisioning honing in to players.

The World and its dynamics are ever changing. Be it politics, economics or anything else nothing could be taken on its face value. Multi options, right and spot on decision with fears of possible repercussions make the situation even more precipitous for players. 

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Since professional organizations are the major users of wargames whose objectives and purposes differ from one organization to another one, there is no hard-and-fast universal rules for them to apply with. All that a player has to do is to use a few rules, principles and mental alertness to win trophy for them.

3. Scalability

The 3rd element of a wargame is its Scalability. Distance, time, location and manoeuvrings etc all are calculated in a most realistic manner. The computation and simulation are drawn to the utmost level of reality avoiding even a tint of war gaming in the specific game. As war is war any wrong or miscalculation may wrought disaster to player(s).

4. Fog of War

The fourth constructing element of a wargame is the Fog of War. Opposite to wargame for entertainment, a military or crisis wargame do not have full information. Commanders and strategists have to make the best use of available information to them. They would have no further information available to them. Analysing the given details, understanding and elaborating the different scenarios for them and then diving deep through them for their best usability is the process what makes a real war or crisis complex and dangerous and this is Fog of War is the fourth pillaring of any wargame.

A wargame mainly with closed or some concealed information analyses the tactical and analytical skills of players. While war gaming for entertainment does not have any such hobbling.

However, despite their massive utility and applicability in defence and strategic organizations they are not so much appreciated by some scholars of the field. They term these wargames as the “Regency-games” where few of elites sit, plan and execute their imagination believing them to be perfect and ideal for an unideal and imperfect world. Trainees trying to prepare themselves for the real world scenarios through the apprenticeship and the vice-regality of these games!!


Any wargame that focuses on some serious motifs and outputs have three dimensions for its developer and players.

1. Education 2. Evaluation 3. Innovation.

If the wargame is mainly pinned on the point of war prevention, deterrence and interrupting the tactical moves of the opponent, the strategic communications must make use of wargames in lieu of classified ones for enhancing the capability of decision makers or policy makers to forecast the next step of the opponent for avoiding an unpleasant and unlikely situation. Declassifying wargames would make the decisioning and steps of the concerned elite towards opponent more mathematical, meticulous like an equation.

For evaluation and innovation purposes, the accessibility and making public of wargames is good as it would generate mass data for analysis and innovation in place of a closed and a limited community. Thus providing a peep into unforeseen future and issues and for their possible solutions, too.

The process of evaluating, innovating would lead to further educating of the society, community and concerned organization as well.

wargames; warring, learning and analyzing

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