History Of War Games
History of war games takes us back to China, where the first of the war games: Wei-Hai("encirclement"), a Chinese game also called Go was played. Later times saw an Indian game- Chaturanga, the system from which chess in its various forms came about. Chess is known to give birth to at least one game which more formally depicted armed combat - the King's Game, laying emphasis on the strategic level of war.
The first game to set apart from chess, however, was invented by Helwig, in 1780. Including 1666 squares, this game coded for a different rate of movement depending on the terrain the square represented. Around 1811, Prussian officers were trained with one of the first war game “Kriegspiel”, which gained popularity with many officers in the Prussian army. War games history shows that these first war games were played with a dice. The rules of these war games were published under the patronage of Prussian Prince Wilhem.
Other countries around the world became interested in war gaming as a result of the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War. Many believe that war games in part were used to successfully balance for Prussia's reliance on an army of Reserven und Landwehren. Studies of the origin of war games depict how all countries began to developing their own systems of war gaming. In 1882, in US, Army Major William R. Livermore introduced his The American Kriegsspiel, a complex game similar to Reisswitz' system, but did attempt to cut down on the paperwork involved. Several training aid type devices were introduced.
History of war games reveals how through the First World War, the semi-rigid wargame became the standard for most military conflict simulations around the world. The games proved quite successful. The years that followed between the world wars were noted for the lack of military war gaming activity, especially in Britain and the US. However in US, the Naval War College, continued and expanded its war gaming efforts.
The first particular non-military war game club started in Oxford, England, in the 19th century. H.G. Wells' books Floor Games (1911) and Little Wars (1913) publications were seen as attempts to codify rules for fighting battles with toy soldiers in the war gaming history. The war games at this stage were very simple games.1940 saw Fletcher Pratt's Naval War Game was published, which followed a more arbitrary system, involving dozens of tiny wooden ships. Their maneuvers and the results of their battles were calculated via a complex mathematical formula. It was only in 1952 that Charles S. Roberts designed and published the first modern mass-market wargame “Tactics”, based on cardboard counters and maps. Roberts was so encouraged by the game's success that he started his own company dedicated to publishing historical board war games. He is also called "The father of board war gaming"
History of war games abounds, how coupled with an aggressive advertising campaign, there was a tremendous rise in the popularity of war gaming in the early 1970s. The seventies can be considered the 'Golden Age of Wargaming'. A large number of new companies were starting up, with two of these lasting for some years: Game Designers' Workshop (GDW), and Tactical Studies Rules (TSR).
However, the boom of war gaming soon came to an end. Followed with the acquisition of SPI by TSR in 1982, there was the usual bust in the early 1980s. The market for war games was dominated by role playing games. With the rapid advances in computer technology, gamers could simply "sit down and play" without learning the complex rules, and finding and coordinating schedules with opponents. With the gaming market became even more competitive, the hobby never truly recovered.
Today there are still about 10,000 active papers and counter war gamers active in North America. Trends indicate a growing decline in board and historical war gaming, with many stalwart companies such as Games Designers Workshop (GDW) simply going out of business.
Although today war gaming is much smaller than what it was during the seventies, the low-tech toy soldiers still retain their popularity. And the reasons are not hard to determine. There are professional publishing concerns devoted to the hobby. In many ways the miniature hobby has more of a kinship with model railroading than it does the paper map or the computer. Miniature games tend to be more social, group events than do other forms of commercial war games which are often played solitaire. Finally, neither board nor computer can match the spectacle of an accurately depicted miniature battle.