Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Less is more? - US Army Wargames Big and Small

The print version of Training and Simulation Journal (TSJ) came packed with good reading.

There is a forum type discussion about an earlier feature about Jim Lunsford's Follow me, an easy-to-learn, low-budget tactical game that is being used in the U.S. Military Academy. In this issue of TSJ, Col. John Surdu explains that simple and cheap war games are useful, but complex and expensive war games (like Warsim and OneSAF) are not to be scorched because they are validated and verified. He writes: "do we understand where there might be negative learning because the combat effects [in simple war games] are incorrect?". James Sterrett (deputy lead of the simulations group at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, CGSC) responds: "[expensive and complex war games] can provide great execution-centric learning environments, but the overhead they require doesn't support the majority of the education executed at the CGSC". Jim Lunsford gets the final words of the discussion: "no matter how good the game may appear to be, the quality of training will always depend on the instructor's ability to shape learning".

Big budgets but big requirements. I wouldn't like to be in the shoes of the contractors who design these big US Army simulations. In a lighter note, Michael Peck wrote a review of Civilization V, a game that apparently has come back to its roots. From his review, quote of the day:
"It is the peculiar nature of popular video games and rock bands that they begin with one style, swell with excess until they are barely recognizable, and then return to their roots"
Food for thought.


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