Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Pacific War Gamer

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Pacific War Gamer

"And if I might for a moment trumpet!
How much better is this amiable miniature than the real thing! Here is a homeopathic remedy for the imaginative strategist. Here is the premeditation, the thrill, the strain of accumulating victory or disaster -- and no smashed nor sanguinary bodies, no shattered fine buildings nor devastated country sides, no petty cruelties, none of that awful universal boredom and embitterment, that tiresome delay or stoppage or embarrassment of every gracious, bold, sweet, and charming thing, that we who are old enough to remember a real modern war know to be the reality of belligerence.

This world is for ample living; we want security and freedom; all of us in every country, except a few dull-witted, energetic bores, want to see the manhood of the world at something better than apeing the little lead toys our children buy in boxes. We want fine things made for mankind -- splendid cities, open ways, more knowledge and power, and more and more and more, -- and so I offer my game, for a particular as well as a general end; and let us put this prancing monarch and that silly scaremonger and these excitable 'patriots,' and those adventurers, and all the practitioners of Welt Politik, into one vast Temple Of War with cork carpets everywhere, and plenty of little trees and little houses to knock down, and cities and fortresses, and unlimited soldiers -- tons, cellars-full, -- and let them lead their own lives there away from us.

Great War is at present, I am convinced, not only the most expensive game in the universe, but it is a game out of all proportion. Not only are the masses of men and material and suffering and inconvenience too monstrously big for reason, but -- the available heads for it, are too small. That, I think, is the most pacific realisation conceivable, and Little War brings you to it as nothing else but Great War can do."

H.G. Wells from his book of war game rules: Little Wars published in 1913.

H.G. Wells is well known as a writer of science fiction (War Of The Worlds, The Time Machine) and, to a lesser extent, as an ardent socialist and pacifist. However, he is also considered the father of miniature wargaming. His books Floor Games (1911) and Little Wars (1913) and considered the first rules published for recreational wargames. It is reported that Wells converted his attic into a miniature wargame battlefield complete with terrain, buildings and toy soldiers. He often invited dinner guests to play opposing generals and they would spend hours on their hands and knees maneuvering their armies in games that lasted long into the night.

Now, the obvious question is why a steadfast pacifist would devote so much time and energy, and take such delight and pleasure in playing war games. The answer, of course, is just as obvious -- Wells understood the difference between games and reality and could separate the two. This is a concept that some people, both supporters and critics of games in general and war games in particular, seem unable to grasp.

Thanks to:
The Imaginative Strategist web site at which the above quotation was first seen.
Wikipedia for their article on H.G.Wells
Also of note...
The H.G.Wells Society