War Games: A Fun Way to Learn History

Wars are a strangely fascinating part of human life. If you asked a group of people, most of them would most likely not condone them. However, they have always been part of the human experience resulting in great hardship for many generations of people and in horrible misery for countless men and women. The great paradox of wars must be the reason why many people are so fascinated with them. While warfare brings out the worst in humanity, it has also resulted in incredible technological advances, fast-paced societal development into modern times, and also in the establishment of civil rights for many oppressed minorities. It is this fascination of the very concept of war that has resulted in its conquering (no pun intended) of the gaming industry. War games are one of the most popular types of games. They also cover a great variety of genres.

Battling It Out in Video Games

How have war games become such a big thing? Considering that video games are mostly there to entertain us and make us happy and wars are pretty much located at the other end of the emotional spectrum, it seems like an odd match. However, putting the cruel aspects of war aside (bear with us) and deconstructing warfare to its tactical core, battle games make a lot more sense all of a sudden. Our world would truly be a better place if everyone simply took to war games instead of actual wars to satisfy their need to strategize and compete against others. In that light, army games are the safer alternative to actual warfare allowing players to focus on its brain-sy and competitive nature.

Earliest war games originated when gaming technology was still in its beginning stages. These games isolated the strategic aspect of battles to create digital board games in which every decision mattered for the outcome of each match. More recent combat RTS such as StarCraft have taken this concept to a more complex stage, resulting in war games online. This had the advantage that players could actually compete against each other (and not computers) to prove that they were the most accomplished leaders of their troops.

That was not the only direction for this genre as technology advanced. With the establishment of first person shooters, war games quickly became a subjective experience in which each player slipped into the role of a soldier. A good example for this would be Warface in which intense battles on the streets of war-stricken cities await players. However, truer to the origin of the genre are some other recent free war games such as World of Tanks or World of Warships in which the personal experience is part of the bigger strategic picture of each battle.

The Essence of War Games

War does not determine who is right - only who is left. (Bertrand Russell)

The famous quote by Bertrand Russell gives a nice summary of the essence of war games. It is not so much about having an ideology and proving that it is right. It is about testing your skills and proving your strategic superiority. These are other popular features of titles in which you fight against others in battles:

  • war-like situations
  • commanding troops or following commands as a soldier
  • strategizing in order to win battles
  • leveling up and improving weapons, armor, and vehicles
  • rather tactical or action-oriented
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