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Wargaming "Guilt"


AttorneyAtWar

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When I was young (I am 20 now) playing the early Call of Duty's as an American/Russian ETC, soldier in World War 2 I had fun killing the Germans who would throw themselves at me. Now this wasn't a sadistic I love killing people fun, but rather it had good gun play and involved a subject I was rapidly finding myself fascinated with. Traveling across France and the USSR in a narrative spanning the greatest war in history began to fascinate me more than I could imagine at that time (Keep in mind I was about 12 or so when my interest really started). I played Arma 2 as well with a good group of friends I still talk with, the group was of a "mil sim" variety, where we called each other by ranks and obeyed commands of our superiors in games. I am for the most part a quiet kid, I guess socially awkward if I was to go that far, I am not in college and I only have a single group of friends who I see occasionally when they come back from it themselves. I do want to go, but financially that is difficult and as I will mention in the rest of the post I have tried to join the military and will probably try again.

I have been playing Wargames for most of my life now and in that I am an unusual person in comparison to the people around me, I love setting up a desperate defense in Red Thunder or watching my GI's fight through the bocage. World War 2 history is probably one of my favorite things to learn and engage myself in. However, as I get older I begin to feel I guess what you would call "guilt", what makes me think I should enjoy playing something where millions died and enjoy it? I am not even a soldier, never lived the life although I have tried (And I probably will try again), I find myself justifying this with "Well I do respect those who fell on all sides, I recognize the brutality of war". If this is true should I really enjoy war-gaming as much as I do? Does anyone else ever feel this way, and before someone says it, yes of course it is a video game, but what it represents is something entirely different. Will I find myself not playing Combat Mission anymore?, no I won't, however it is a very interesting feeling to have now that I am older. I really just finding myself asking why I feel this way and if I really should, its fascinating to me.

This is the Rock Paper Shotgun article that really made me think deeper about this guilt I have been feeling lately (He does mention BF as well). I would really like to hear what you all think about it. With Black Sea right around the corner I feel this is also an interesting topic to discuss further, since that unfortunately involves something going on right now.

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/11/16/wargaming-guilt/

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One of the best things about wargames is that they give people who never experienced/don't know about/etc the chance to see that war is really hell and people are maimed and/or die.

We have wars because every generation or two the population of people that don't realize the horror of it go to war and relearn the eternal lesson.

What you have to do as a gamer is respect those that have been there and perhaps sacrificed but separate that from the game experience and give yourself permission to enjoy simulating war and trying your best to be victorious against your opponent.

Football (and some other sports) are like war. They represent the battle to push the opponent back and take ground, but we don't think of it in those terms because we've given ourselves the okay to just enjoy it.

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Years ago a (then) prolific poster on this forum would often refer to Combat Mission as "Chess with tanks". That is simplistic but essentially correct in my view. While CM and similar wargames are less abstracted than Chess, like Chess they are not about death and suffering. They are about strategy and tactics. Nobody gets hurt, and I have never felt any more guilt when playing CM that I have playing Chess.

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Years ago a (then) prolific poster on this forum would often refer to Combat Mission as "Chess with tanks". That is simplistic but essentially correct in my view. While CM and similar wargames are less abstracted than Chess, like Chess they are not about death and suffering. They are about strategy and tactics. Nobody gets hurt, and I have never felt any more guilt when playing CM that I have playing Chess.

I think this is the correct answer. Conclusion: it's a game (entertainment) and no one gets hurt.

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Look at it like a History lesson. That is what I do. I have been going to the school of BFU for the past couple years. Enrolled since the CMX1 days. Learned more about the wars from scenarios, campaigns, and listening to the old ass dudes here than I did or would have in any actual classroom.

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Years ago a (then) prolific poster on this forum would often refer to Combat Mission as "Chess with tanks". That is simplistic but essentially correct in my view. While CM and similar wargames are less abstracted than Chess, like Chess they are not about death and suffering. They are about strategy and tactics. Nobody gets hurt, and I have never felt any more guilt when playing CM that I have playing Chess.

Yes that is a great way to put it in CM terms at least, I really should look at that way. I wish I knew what brought it on so suddenly, but I know its a game and it hasn't consumed me or anything, I just found it rather interesting that I began to feel it in even a small way.

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The fact that your pixeltruppen look and sound somewhat real can elicit an emotional response, despite knowing they aren't real. I think different people have different thresholds. If any of you have ever played Call of Duty you may remember the infamous part in CoD: Modern Warfare 2 where you are supposed to help a group of terrorists massacre civilians in an airport. Normally I can play a first person shooter all day, blowing away other players by the hundreds without batting an eye. But I shot over their heads. It just didn't feel right to me, even though I knew it made no real difference.

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You're not the only one. It simply shows that you are a reflective person with a well developed sense of empathy, so that's good.

I've thought about this from time to time, and from a relatively young age too, but it really hit a boiling point in university while taking a course on the Holocaust. I had a bit of a breakdown and flunked the course because I failed to hand in my term paper - I just despaired of having anything really meaningful to say about it. But I took it again the following year and passed. It was a turning point for me - up to that point I had focused on the purely military history of war, while afterwards I found it impossible to divorce that history from its social context. War is hell and we mustn't forget that.

For me, wargaming is entertaining, but it's not exactly lighthearted entertainment. It's only a game, so one can't take it too seriously, but it can also enhance one's understanding of wars and warfare if taken with an appropriate grain of salt, so in that sense I take my hobby very seriously at times as an educational aid.

That's why I enjoy Combat Mission, for its realism. Playing it is a humbling experience, because I am not a tactical genius, and I hate watching my men die - with nary a drop of blood and gore, it can evoke some of the most gut-wrenching feelings of helplessness and despair a game has ever given me. It's painful to watch them curl up in the fetal position under bombardment, or gun down an enemy when he was just about to surrender. But I guess guilt is actually one of the most compelling aspects of the game for me - it's a curious combination of boyish delight at all the toys that go boom, interspersed with moments of sober reflection on the horrors of their real life parallels.

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it's a game. We played war with guns outside as kids. THey sold the A-team AK-47 and M-16 plastic guns back then which looked very realistic and which would be dangerous to use today unless you want the neighbors to call the police and get shot. This is a psycological release of our inherent competitivity and agression as men. I think when you are more intellectual you choose a game like Combat Mission instead of a first person shooter. I think it makes you less likely to be agressive since it funnels that agressivity in a game. Yes, millions were killed and I saw some of those graves in Normandy. The whole thing overwhelmed me and I wept. Doesnt mean I feel guilty for replaying the battles in which they died.

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Honestly, I don't have any guilt. A lot of us here are in the military with varying degrees of experience both in garrison and combat. A lot of my friends/classmates (look at my location) are veterans and combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. A dude in my math class was in the 75th Ranger Regiment with two deployments to Afghanistan before he became a cadet. Hell, I guess you can say that whatever happens in Eastern Europe affects a lot of us here on the forums based on the fact that we may be confronted with Russia or some sort of deployment that area of the world as a deterrent.

None of that affects my judgement or opinion on war games though. The military uses simulations and software like this for a reason. You can set up defensive positions, implement battle drills, practice core concepts, etc. all for the price of the game download code. It's amazing actually if you think about it.

OP, I'm a year older than you and I say just enjoy yourself on these games. It broadens your understanding of the military to a minimal extent, provides critical thinking, and it's fun. Yea, it's ****ty that there are people dying daily in Eastern Ukraine and we will be playing over the same terrain that the current combatants are fighting over, but that's life.

People love war. Really. People love the idea of war because it brings out so much. I'm sure we used to "play war" as children, fight with our toys in grim fight to the last man fantasies, etc. etc. This is just an adult continuation of that same principle.

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I think we can all agree that war sucks. War games in general provides us with a window into military history and a chance to engage in the strategy and tactics of the time. If you are playing a human, it adds a psychological aspect as well, similar to chess.

When I saw the game about the Ukraine however, it gave me pause. I have stayed away from other games that encompass current areas of conflict. I think the operative word above is "history". Playing a game about something I read in today's news is not something that brings me enjoyment.

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Honestly, I don't have any guilt. A lot of us here are in the military with varying degrees of experience both in garrison and combat. A lot of my friends/classmates (look at my location) are veterans and combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. A dude in my math class was in the 75th Ranger Regiment with two deployments to Afghanistan before he became a cadet. Hell, I guess you can say that whatever happens in Eastern Europe affects a lot of us here on the forums based on the fact that we may be confronted with Russia or some sort of deployment that area of the world as a deterrent.

None of that affects my judgement or opinion on war games though. The military uses simulations and software like this for a reason. You can set up defensive positions, implement battle drills, practice core concepts, etc. all for the price of the game download code. It's amazing actually if you think about it.

OP, I'm a year older than you and I say just enjoy yourself on these games. It broadens your understanding of the military to a minimal extent, provides critical thinking, and it's fun. Yea, it's ****ty that there are people dying daily in Eastern Ukraine and we will be playing over the same terrain that the current combatants are fighting over, but that's life.

People love war. Really. People love the idea of war because it brings out so much. I'm sure we used to "play war" as children, fight with our toys in grim fight to the last man fantasies, etc. etc. This is just an adult continuation of that same principle.

Well said Tackled, I should probably edit the OP to say that this hasn't consumed me or anything, rather its something that I have been thinking about. They will always be games to me first (Or in Combat Missions case a simulation), emotionally it doesn't wreck me, and I understand war is part of the human condition, one at its very core.

This feeling I have isn't on any extreme end of the spectrum, I will continue to play tactical and strategy games like CM, if anything it continues to broaden my thoughts on war as a whole and understanding it. The posts so far in this thread certainly enhance this point as well!

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the idea of war. That's it. We want to be heros and we make it into a romantic affair. When you grow older, you put a distance between you and that romantic ideal and you know its gross and brutal, horrible. You still play games depicting it because you long for those innocent days where you could play war in a romantic way

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Not to get too political but we are living in a day and age where we are expected to feel guilty about everything; from where we were born to the air we breath, and it gets old. Do I feel guilty about playing wargames? Nope, not a bit. I save my guilt for tangible things that I have personally done, that I might not be proud of.

If I weren't able to air-condition Canadians with some MG42s, or hammer a Syrian tank with a Jav, I'd be shooting a laser up some tentacled alien's wahoo to scratch that tactical itch (shut up, Emrys). I like war and fighting on an intellectual level, it's that basic. The history and all that includes is a big part of the attraction. However, Modern is just as interesting because it is happening now, in my own time, with weapons and vehicles that aren't relegated to some museum a thousand miles away—the history is playing out before my eyes and the tactics have evolved to fit a more lethal battlefield.

Wargaming isn't a slight on those that died, or fought for real, or are fighting now. It's an interest, a hobby, a compulsion, just like my love for the horror genre. Some times things just turn you on. But, I guess you could even argue that by re-fighting some of these battles you are honoring those that were actually there. And if that sounds too pretentious just stick with the fact I dig blowing **** up on my computer.

Mord.

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... When I saw the game about the Ukraine however, it gave me pause. I have stayed away from other games that encompass current areas of conflict. I think the operative word above is "history". Playing a game about something I read in today's news is not something that brings me enjoyment.

I know what you mean - I stayed away from Shock Force for a long time because it was a bit too close to current events, and I have similar feelings about Black Sea. But CMA whet my appetite for modern combat, and when I found out the Princess Pats were in the NATO module's Canadian campaign, dangit, I had to get it. The setting and subject matter still make me a little uncomfortable at times, though.

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Not to get too political but we are living in a day and age where we are expected to feel guilty about everything; from where we were born to the air we breath, and it gets old. Do I feel guilty about playing wargames? Nope, not a bit. I save my guilt for tangible things that I have personally done, that I might not be proud of.

If I weren't able to air-condition Canadians with some MG42s, or hammer a Syrian tank with a Jav, I'd be shooting a laser up some tentacled alien's wahoo to scratch that tactical itch (shut up, Emrys). I like war and fighting on an intellectual level, it's that basic. The history and all that includes is a big part of the attraction. However, Modern is just as interesting because it is happening now, in my own time, with weapons and vehicles that aren't relegated to some museum a thousand miles away—the history is playing out before my eyes and the tactics have evolved to fit a more lethal battlefield.

Wargaming isn't a slight on those that died, or fought for real, or are fighting now. It's an interest, a hobby, a compulsion, just like my love for the horror genre. Some times things just turn you on. But, I guess you could even argue that by re-fighting some of these battles you are honoring those that were actually there. And if that sounds too pretentious just stick with the fact I dig blowing **** up on my computer.

Mord.

I agree with pretty much everything there Mord, like I said I don't let it consume me, and I won't stop wargaming for a lot of the reasons you stated as well. Ill be grabbing CM: Black Sea and I will most certainly enjoy myself, its just an interesting thought I have had and many others have as well.

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I had mentioned on another thread that the (real world) Ukraine conflict has put BFC into a bit of a bind. I was referring specifically to 'wargaming guilt', how its all not quite the academic exercise that it was meant to be. I'm just grateful the war isn't any 'hotter' than it is. If there were running tank battles in downtown Kiev that would really be trouble for BFC. I remember recent events in Syria. When place names like Homs and Aleppo and Tripoli popped up in the news I felt a small twinge of retroactive guilt, myself. I had done battle maps of Homs, Aleppo and Tripoli.

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It's a video game, so no, I don't feel any guilt whatsoever when playing these titles. Never have, never will. I would frankly feel quite ridiculous if I ever did feel guilt, seeing as I know what it's like to see the dead and severely maimed in a war zone and feel real pangs of grief and sorrow over those who really did die or were severely wounded.

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I have been playing Wargames for most of my life now and in that I am an unusual person in comparison to the people around me

War is a game, usually inflicted on poor people by politians, understand this and your empathy will find pity not guilt.

PS: Black Sea will be just like Red Thunder, Russians killing Nazis ;)

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When I was a kid I loved playing war games in the woods, using toy soldiers, board games like Squad Leader, Tobrok or Panzer Leader. I loved scale miniature models and was always watching war movies on the TV. Currently I enjoy Combat Mission, Hearts of Iron 3, ARMA and Command Ops and to a lesser degree some of the Total War games.

In real life I am non-violent and almost all of the physical confrontations in my life I met with a strong resistance to strike back, choosing instead to grapple and softly talk my way clear of using force. And the only time my desire to hurt someone has been aroused was when my life was immediately and seriously threatened.

Despite being a very gentle, caring and compassionate person I have a deep interest in history and military strategy. History related to warfare is fascinating. The combat gaming that I enjoy are the ones constructed so real life tactics must be used to be successful in game. I would stop short of claiming that I enjoy realistic war games because I have no desire to witness most of the battlefield. I would not enjoy the smells of rotten waste, burnt flesh and chemicals , nor the sounds of creatures (especially children and animals in agony). Are not most of the casualties of war civilians? In the games I use on the computer there is no bravery or sacrifice and I am grateful because I don’t want to watch the futility of war and endure the heartbreak and emotional trauma that must surely accompany decisions made when so much is risked.

The wargame is just that, a game. An intricate chess match of immersive historical strategy. The best of the games are not realistic and I am glad. If the game was truly and fully realistic I would indeed feel guilty if I still enjoyed it.

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