Friday, April 2, 2010

Gaming the Modern Period

I have always been a black powder type of gamer who's interests have stretched at times into World War II and Vietnam.  Some in the gaming community have an issue with table top recreations of modern actions.  Admittedly, it is a bit disconcerting to game a period where we are portraying actions of those who still walk amongst us or who have died serving in the armed forces.  I have not had any concerns with gaming World War II as most veterans of that war have no idea about our little hobby and therefore it would be very rare that I might rub elbows with such a person.  But with Vietnam and more recently the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan we certainly have some of those veterans enjoying miniature wargaming, including in some cases the very conflicts they served in.  If they can do it, why can't I?  Or have they earned the right to portray the very combat they were engaged in, and I have not? 

Maybe I need to consider why I game in the first place.  Changing the outcome of a battle, the "what-if" factor is certainly a compelling reason.  Of course getting together with "the guys", sharing a few beers and good natured taunts is also a key ingredient.  And then of course there is the childlike fascination with "toy soldiers".  And there is the research aspect of course, which can make a gamer salivate uncontrollably.  But none of these reasons can be used to justify gaming the modern period over any other, can it?  Modern weaponry and tactics are interesting, the uniforms with their various camo patterns can be colorful and challenging to paint, but so can a Prussian fusilier from the Seven Years War.

Maybe in a small way (15mm to be exact) I am gaming these periods because I live in the here and now, not 200 years ago, and while I rather enjoy the American Revolution and the American Civil War (and my book collection proves that statement), the conflicts of today I am finding more and more compelling. Perhaps I can "blame" this new interest on such productions as Generation Kill, Green Zone, Hurt Locker, and the disturbingly painful Combat Diary (Lima Company - 4th Marines). I am slowly collecting books as well, my faves being Generation Kill, One Bullet Away, and House to House.  I doubt if I will ever get away from my primary interest (the ACW), so this is just a sidebar interest, to a point.  I will keep looking for first person accounts on Iraq (and perhaps to a lesser extent Afghanistan) and watch any movies made on the war, and I am sure I will keep adding to my Ambush Alley project as time goes by.  Maybe because I was too young for Vietnam, and Operations Urgent Fury and Just Cause (along with the First Iraq War) were over and done so quickly that there just isn't that much out there on those conflicts, so in a way, while I am too old to serve, the "War on Terror" is still "my war" and these are my countrymen going off to serve this nation I call home.  A bit too patriotic perhaps, but also true.

1 comment:

  1. Had a discussion of this over on my blog a couple of months ago. I would have been quite leery of contemporary wargaming myself until relatively recently.
    What changed my mind was the attitude of the guys over on the Ambush Alley forum, who show a huge amount of respect for those in service. and the fact that a large proportion of the active forum members are current/reserve/ex servicemen adds weight to this
    I guess it's going to be a personal decision at the end of the day, and how close someone is to the conflict and those fighting it the more difficult it's going to be, whether it's the WWII or Vietnam or anything going on now.


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