Sunday, November 05, 2006

Square the Circle - Myself as Commander

I have just read the posting last entered on a near run thing (a blog I have continued to visit in the hope it keeps the breath of life). It speaks of the existential sickness that can strike a wargamer when they think long and hard about what it is they are 'simulating' - the revulsion at the abstract enjoyment as it builds itself upon historical tragedy. Rob, of A Near Thing, dealt with it by getting rid of his historicals, and venturing out in a smaller way with fantasy/sci-fi stuff. Good on him, hope he keeps on gaming.

From my own experience in my twenties, I remember also going through this 'phase' in my moral development. It lead to a several year hiatus with gaming generally, and then a remergence via a long term fantasy role playing campaign. From there, it wasn't too far before I was introduced to 6mm historical miniatures. And here we are now.

I remember playing the first of my 6mm games, I played the german in a simulation of the 'fourth' DDay beach. It was at a meeting of the South Australian Historical Wargaming Society. I remember thinking about the realities of what I was doing, and wanting to punch out several SS worshipping wargamers who had also been roped in.

As the game progressed, however, I started seeing the game as being more about myself as 'commander', and realised that the commander in 'real life' would have had less contact with the front than I had in the game. I started looking at the decisions I was making as being about minimising casualty while achieving objective, something one has to do when you have no other choices. Far better to get some idea of the mentality needed than to remain ignorant. The experience also led to quite an interest in strategy.

Of course, what made me extra proud as a wargamer was to see so many faces I first saw at that wargaming exhibition on the huge anti war march which Adelaide turned out prior to the present gulf war (over 100,000 marched, the city is about 1,000,000).

Somehow, those of us who have these vital human sensitivities have to square the circle. If we can't, it's not the hobby's fault.

2 comments:

simon said...

I was once accused of being heartless for being into wargames and making a game out of tragic battles. I found though, by reading about the men and their regiments and their brave deeds etc, it helped to put names and faces to these men and for me it kept their memory alive. I think it is better to read about these men and have some idea of what they had to go through than not to know anything about the past. Wargames to me is just another way of reading about and learning about history, which is a good thing I think.Saying this though...I would find it hard to game the first world war.

simon said...

I was once accused of being heartless for being into wargames and making a game out of tragic battles. I found though, by reading about the men and their regiments and their brave deeds etc, it helped to put names and faces to these men and for me it kept their memory alive. I think it is better to read about these men and have some idea of what they had to go through than not to know anything about the past. Wargames to me is just another way of reading about and learning about history, which is a good thing I think.Saying this though...I would find it hard to game the first world war.