- Hardcover: 364 pages
- Publisher: Naval Inst Pr (March 1, 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0870210505
- ISBN-13: 978-0870210501
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #511,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Art of Wargaming: A Guide for Professionals and Hobbyists Hardcover – March 1, 1990
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This book is aimed at discussing how war games are designed, applied, and used. It discusses what can be learned from such exercises, and what cannot be learned in a simulation. If you are a game designer, you will learn from this book, but perhaps not as much as you would like. He does not discuss details, but rather concepts, and focus level: is this game designed for a tactical level, or strategic level? What do the designers hope to learn from this simulation?
While this book accomplishes its tasks well, if you are looking for a book on the hobby of war games, it may leave you unsatisfied. It is primarily aimed towards professionals, in my opinion, and those who wish to know the history of "professional" war games.
Perla divided his book into three different sections, which contribute to one's understanding of where wargaming originated (history), what wargames actually entail and finally what role wargames will have in the future. When Perla considers the beginning of wargaming, he not only considers the military's perspective, he also addresses the role hobbyist have had in wargaming. In looking at what wargames entail, Perla tries to clarify the differences in what a wargame is and what it is not, thereby showing the potential role it has with professionals. When considering the future, Perla ties the "historical perspective and the theoretical principles...to project into the future of wargaming." Basically, Perla seems to find a balance between playability and realism to achieve some means by what one can achieve in playing wargames.
Perla defines a wargame as "an exercise in human interaction, and the interplay of human decisions and the simulated outcomes of those decisions." He recognized that wargames, while short of the actual physical impacts of war, provide a means for learning the "dynamics of warfare." They provide a means by which "questions of strategy, human decision making, and war-fighting trends" can be analyzed. In comparison, James Dunnigan, author of The Complete Wargames Handbook, describes a wargame as "a combination of game, history and science."
Since every wargame has objectives, whether it is designed for a hobbyist or a professional, the more clearly the objectives are stated beforehand, the more likely a wargame will be successful. In hobby wargames, the designer usually determines the objectives of a wargame. Their ultimate goal is "intellectual entertainment." In a professional wargame, the objectives are usually determined by a sponsor (who sets up the goals of the wargame). The professional wargames are usually designed for educational or research reasons.
Perla distinguishes those games played by hobbyists and those played by professionals as those that are "played to meet educational or training objectives, or to conduct research about specific issues or concepts." Due to that, the design of each wargame is different. When designing wargames, Dunnigan believes that a wargame must accurately simulate a historical event (realism) while ensuring playability. According to Perla, those who help to create professional wargames have to ensure that the players will not only be able to learn something from playing a wargame, they have to ensure that they are also instructional tools. Both Dunnigan and Perla share fundamental principles though in designing games, as there are specific objectives, players, information tools and documents needed in both a hobby and professional wargame. In each case, the designers need to ensure that the wargamers (hobbyists and professionals) actually want to play the wargame.
Perla delves into the designing, development, playing, and analysis of wargames. Based upon his experience, he is able to provide a lot of information though it is done in a rather technical format. Perhaps, what is most evident when reading through this section is Perla's belief that wargaming has a significant, if not a very important role, in teaching, educating, and evaluating military leaders. While there may be some limitations in using wargames, the benefits of using wargames is significant.
Perla clearly is well versed on the subject of wargaming, however one must be able to read through all of his technical views/details of wargaming to learn about professional wargames. Perla appears to have targeted a different audience than Dunnigan, whose book has a lot more detail for the hobbyist. Perla's book seems to be written for the professional wargamer, especially those who may have an interest in the history of professional wargames, the design of wargames and the potential that wargames have to offer in our understanding of potential future conflicts. Based upon my review (as a hobbyist), I don't believe a hobbyist will enjoy reading this book as much as Dunnigan's book, unless they have an interest in understanding the difference between the two different types of wargamers.