Earlier this week the Providence Journal printed a story about a board game
by Multi-Man Publishing based on King Phillip's War, which has angered some
Native Americans in Rhode Island.
Unfortunately the criticism of the game appears to spring forth from a basic
misunderstanding of the word "game." Games are for kids, games are for
entertainment, games are for fun; and there's nothing fun about killing
Indians. Of course, this is a rather narrow view on what games are used
for, and the purpose of gaming within the education and research community.
The game's designer, John Poniske, teaches social studies at a Maryland
middle school, states that he created the game after reading an article
about King Philip in the magazine Military History. "I immediately saw the
gaming potential in the historical situation," says Poniske, who has
designed games based on the Vietnam War, the Civil War and the teachings of
This is a common problem for teachers trying to using games in the
classroom, which can be a powerful teaching tool. Games are just for fun,
games don't belong in the classroom. If the answer to the question, "What
did you do in school today?" is "We played games," an irate email to a
principal follows. And yet those teachers who have incorporated board games
and historic simulations into their curriculum find that their students
become fully engaged in a subject which might otherwise be another dreary
chapter in a history book. And a conflict relatively unknown outside of New
England would be accessible to a broader number of students. Our generally
poor understanding of our past and how it has shaped our present is what we
should be angry about.
Welcome to the War Gaming Department’s faculty blog. In the future you can expect to find our ranting and ravings about gaming here.
The faculty’s gaming perspectives vary widely; many of us are retired or active duty military who have come to gaming via different paths – long time war game hobbyists who have played tabletop hex-based games manufactured by companies like Avalon Hill and SPI; casual gamers who play the occasional game of Risk or Axis and Allies; computer gamers who are active in massive multi-player online games; even folks whose sole gaming experience prior to joining the department was tic-tac-toe. Others are published authors and academics with advanced degrees who approach gaming from applied, theoretical and mathematical perspectives. Some have connections to the commercial gaming world and have designed and published their own games.
Likewise, because of the multi-disciplinary nature of professional war gaming, the department is populated by personnel with a wide variety of expertise – we have analysts, designers, audio and video engineers, computer programmers, modeling and simulation experts and event coordinators. We have aviators, submariners, surface warfare officers, intelligence and operations specialists – all with diverse military experience and sub-specializations.
So unlike a blog where you’ll get the viewpoint of a single author, you’ll hear different, sometimes even conflicting voices here. Which is a good thing. No one has the secret of the one best way to game, and the art and science of war gaming benefits from spirited debate.