I haven’t updated the web since I started writing my book, Successful Professional Wargames; A Practitioner’s Handbook, in 2017. I will update it presently, but it is currently out of date.
Blending the necessary skills and experience
The delivery of successful wargames depends on combining a comprehensive knowledge of wargaming with a sound understanding of training and analytical methods. With this knowledge, the right team must then be created to draw together the various elements and processes that constitute a wargame, focusing all the time on the objectives to be achieved.
The right team
The team is critical to success. The following quote is from Peter Perla’s book The Art of Wargaming (see the Resources page for details). Written over 20 years ago, it still holds true today:
‘It is important to make one thing clear at the very start; designing a wargame is an art, not a science. Experienced military officers, practiced operations research analysts, and accomplished computer programmers are not necessarily capable of designing useful wargames. Although some or all of the knowledge and skills for such people are important tools for a wargame designer to possess, the nature of game design requires a unique blending of talents.’
Perla, P. The Art of Wargaming, Naval Institute Press, 1990, p.183
This quote is at the heart of delivering successful wargames. Perla identifies four categories of person, all of whom are required to work together as a team from the outset if a wargame is to be successfully designed, developed and executed:
Software engineers/technical experts
The Wargame Designer – art as much as science
The role of the Wargame Designer is fundamental to success. It is important to remember that ‘wargame design’ pertains to all 7 elements of a wargame, not just the supporting simulation(s). This is fully explained on the What is wargaming page, in the Blog and in articles on the Resources page. Too many military personnel think that a wargame is ‘just another exercise’. Too many software engineers think that the simulation is the wargame. The result can be a wargame that is driven forward by the military officer responsible with too little consideration of the wider wargame processes and dependencies, or a wargame in which the simulation becomes an all-consuming beast demanding to be fed.
The Wargame Designer has expertise spanning all of these functional areas and the 7 elements of a wargame. This gives him or her the ability to pull together the diverse strands and experts needed to create and deliver a successful wargame. He will have a sound understanding of training (for example the Systems Approach to Training) and analytical design to enable a systematic consideration of objectives. Add to the mix good Project Management and communication skills and you have a qualified Wargame Designer. But pay attention to Perla’s ‘art, not science’ comment; designing and executing a successful wargame also requires an indefinable ‘gut feel’ for what works and what does not akin to Rommel’s fingertipsgefughel.
Global best practice
The final ingredient to add to the mix is global best practice. There remains a requirement for the professional wargaming community to work collaboratively and more effectively. We fail to deliver really effective wargames too often, and we owe it to those we purport to support to provide the best possible games we can. See the Errors made in the Modelling and Simulation Industry article on the Resources page.
Other key lessons learned by LBS plus insights and observations can be found on the LBS Blog and Case Studies pages. These are gleaned from over 20 years experience of good and bad wargames. But please comment! Look at the suggestions now and add to the discussion; the intention of the site is to spread global best practice – and you can help.