Wargaming is a simulation game depicting armed conflict.  But wargames are so much more than this simple definition.  They have core elements, have complex types, and reliable applications.  In other words, wargaming serves a much broader purpose than simply simulating armed conflict.  One of the major reasons Connections was formed was the unite the wargaming community, in order to demonstrate the true scope of wargaming and to develop a sense of best practices within the group.

Every wargame has three to four core elements:

  • Friendly forces
    • Also called a “blue team”
  • Opposing forces
    • Frequently referred to as “OPFOR” or a “red team”
  • A method of adjudication
    • A group which determines how the game progresses when the teams take actions against one another
    • Often called a “white cell”
  • A scenario or starting situation
    • This forms the basis of conflict between the teams

In addition, there are four types of wargames:

  • Constructive
    • Forces are represented abstractly, such as computer wargames, map or chart wargames, or terrain or table wargames.  Most defense and commercially available wargames are constructive
  • Live
    • Individuals or units maneuver in ways similar to actual warfare.  These wargames range from training exercises executed by military forces to commercially available games such as laser tag
  • Virtual
    • Participants play against one another in a simulated space, such as a flight or battle simulator.  This is the newest form of wargame, originating from a DARPA project in the 1980’s
  • Multi-Type
    • Some wargames are a hybrid of the types listed above, often because they are simply to big to fit into one category.  For example, the Army National Training Center trains entire brigades at one time, through a combination of live exercises and virtual simulations

Finally, most wargames serve one of three applications:

  • Decision Support
    • These games help leaders determine the best course of action, assisting in military contingency planning
  • Education and Training
    • Educational games work to both increase the effectiveness of decisions, and to improve the thought processes of the decision-maker by broadening the scope that they work within
  • Recreation
    • These games depict warfare on the strategic level and are a significant part of the computer game industry today

Interested in learning more?  Click here to read some more about uses of and applications for wargames!