computer wargame
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A computer wargame is a
wargame A wargame is a game that realistically simulates warfare, as opposed to abstract games such as chess Chess is a board game Board games are tabletop game Tabletop games are game with separate sliding drawer, from 1390–1353 BC ...
played on a digital device. Descended from board wargaming, it simulates military conflict at the
tactical Tactic(s) or Tactical may refer to: * Tactic (method), a conceptual action implemented as one or more specific tasks ** Military tactics, the disposition and maneuver of units on a particular sea or battlefield ** Chess tactics ** Political tacti ...
,
operational An operational definition specifies concrete, replicable procedures designed to represent a construct. In the words of American psychologist S.S. Stevens (1935), "An operation is the performance which we execute in order to make known a concept." ...
or
strategic Strategy (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxim ...
level. Computer wargames are both sold commercially for
recreational Recreation is an activity of leisure Leisure has often been defined as a quality of experience or as free time. Free time is time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparent ...
use and, in some cases, used for military purposes.


History

Computer wargames derived from tabletop
wargame A wargame is a game that realistically simulates warfare, as opposed to abstract games such as chess Chess is a board game Board games are tabletop game Tabletop games are game with separate sliding drawer, from 1390–1353 BC ...
s, which range from
military wargaming A wargame, generally, is a type of strategy game which realistically simulates warfare. A military wargame, specifically, is a wargame that is used by military organizations to train officers in tactical and strategic decision-making, to test new ...
to recreational wargaming. Wargames appeared on computers as early as ''
Empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries". Narrowly defined, an empire is a sovereign state called an empire and ...
'' in 1972. The wargaming community saw the possibilities of computer gaming early and made attempts to break into the market, notably
Avalon Hill Avalon Hill Games Inc. is a game company that publishes wargames ''WarGames'' is a 1983 American Cold War science-fiction film, science fiction techno-thriller film written by Lawrence Lasker and Walter Parkes, Walter F. Parkes and directed b ...
's Microcomputer Games line, which began in 1980 and covered a variety of topics, including adaptations of some of their wargames. In February 1980
Strategic Simulations, Inc. Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) was a video game developer A video game developer is a software developer specializing in video game development – the process and related disciplines of creating video games. A game developer can range from ...
(SSI) was the first to sell a serious, professionally packaged computer wargame, ''
Computer Bismarck ''Computer Bismarck'' is a Wargame (video games), computer wargame developed and published by Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) in 1980. The game is based on the last battle of the battleship Bismarck, in which British Armed Forces pursue the Germ ...
'', a
turn-based In Video game, video and other games, the passage of time must be handled in a way that players find fair and easy to understand. This is usually done in one of the two ways: real-time and turn-based. Real-time In real-time games, game time pro ...
game based on the last battle of the battleship ''Bismarck''. Wargame designer
Gary Grigsby Gary Grigsby is a game designer, designer and game programmer, programmer of computer wargames. In 1997, he was described as "one of the founding fathers of strategy war games for the PC." ''Computer Games Magazine'' later dubbed him "as much of ...
joined the industry in 1982 with ''
Guadalcanal Campaign The Guadalcanal campaign, also known as the Battle of Guadalcanal and Code name, codenamed Operation Watchtower by American forces, was a military campaign fought between 7 August 1942 and 9 February 1943 on and around the island of Guadalca ...
'', published by SSI. It is cited as the first
monster wargame A monster game is a game A game is a structured form of play Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), a work of drama Play may refer also to: Computers and technology * Google P ...
developed for computers. Grigsby became one of the most respected designers of computer wargames. In 1997, he was described as "one of the founding fathers of strategy war games for the PC." ''
Computer Games Magazine ''Computer Games Magazine'' was a monthly Video game, computer and console gaming print magazine, founded in October 1988 as the United Kingdom publication ''Games International''. During its history, it was known variously as ''Strategy Plus'' ...
'' later dubbed him "as much of an institution in his niche of computer gaming as
Sid Meier Sidney K. Meier ( ; born February 24, 1954) is a Canadian-American programmer A computer programmer, sometimes called a software developer, a programmer or more recently a coder (especially in more informal contexts), is a person who create ...

Sid Meier
, Will Wright, or
John Carmack John D. Carmack II (born August 20, 1970) is an American computer programmer and video game developer. He co-founded the video game company id Software and was the lead programmer of its 1990s games ''Commander Keen'', ''Wolfenstein 3D'', ''Doo ...

John Carmack
are in theirs." By 1996 he had released 23 wargames with SSI, including '' Steel Panthers'', a commercial hit. In 2001, he co-founded the studio 2 by 3 Games with SSI's Joel Billings and Keith Brors, where they continued to work together on wargames. SSI and Strategic Studies Group (SSG) were computer game companies that continued the genre by specializing in games that borrowed from board and miniature wargames. The companies enjoyed a certain popularity throughout much of the 1980s and into the 1990s. TalonSoft started in 1995 with a similar focus, until purchased and later closed down by Take-Two Interactive in 2002.


Game design

Computer wargames primarily focus on simulated battles. Because it is difficult to provide an intelligent way to delegate tasks to a subordinate, war games typically keep the number of units down to hundreds rather than hundreds of thousands. The amount of realism varies between games as game designers balance an accurate simulation with playability. Units are usually scaled to be disproportionately large compared to the landscape, in order to promote effective gameplay. These games usually use a much faster time line than reality, and thus wargames often do not model night time or sleep periods, though some games apply them, they can be time-consuming.


Comparison with board wargames

Wargaming, Tabletop wargames are usually categorized according to the scale of the confrontation (e.g., grand strategy wargame, strategic wargame, operational wargame, tactical wargame or man-to-man wargame). The qualifiers "real-time" and "turn-based" are not taken into account as all tabletop wargames are, by necessity, turn-based.


Notable computer wargames

*''
Computer Bismarck ''Computer Bismarck'' is a Wargame (video games), computer wargame developed and published by Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) in 1980. The game is based on the last battle of the battleship Bismarck, in which British Armed Forces pursue the Germ ...
'' - (Strategic Simulations, 1980 in video gaming, 1980) - generally credited as the first "serious" computer war-game. *''Eastern Front (1941)'' - (Atari Program Exchange, 1981 in video gaming, 1981) - Called "the first war game that competed with pencil-and-paper games" and one of the best selling programs on the Atari 8-bit family. Introduced scrolling maps, ''pondering'' AI, morale, supply considerations and many other advanced features that were common in later games. Chris Crawford (game designer), Chris Crawford's first major success. *''Gary Grigsby's Pacific War'' (1993) *''Panzer General'' - (Strategic Simulations, 1994 in video gaming, 1994) - recognizably a traditional wargame next to Close Combat. It spawned several sequels, some of which explored different subject matter. * Battleground (video game series), ''Battleground'' series (TalonSoft, 1995–1999) *''Steel Panthers'' - (Strategic Simulations, 1995 in video gaming, 1995) - a tactical wargame on the same scale as ''Squad Leader'', which led to two sequels, and then a series of titles by Camo Workshop/Shrapnel Games and Matrix Games, for free release. *''Close Combat (video game), Close Combat'' - (Microsoft, 1996 in video gaming, 1996) - not the first wargame to break out from hexes, and still presented in a 2-dimensional format, ''Close Combat'' addressed factors such as individual morale and reluctance to carry out orders. The original title led to five successful sequels for the general public, as well as being developed into a training tool for military use only. ''Close Combat'' stemmed from an early attempt to translate the ''Squad Leader'' boardgame to the computer. *''The Operational Art of War Vol. 1: 1939–1955'' - (TalonSoft, 1998) *''Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord'' - (Big Time Software, 2000 in video gaming, 2000) *''Decisive Battles of WWII: Korsun Pocket'' - (Strategic Studies Group, 2003) * ''TacOps'' – (Major I.L. Holdridge, 2003 for v4) – commercial version of “TacOpsCav 4”, an officially issued standard training device of the US Army. It is a simulation of contemporary and near-future tactical, ground, combat between the modern armed forces of the world. * ''Wargame: Red Dragon'' – (Eugen Systems, 2014) – a 3D regiment or brigade scale simulation set as a "Cold War Gone Hot" themed game in both multiplayer and singleplayer environments. Players construct customized armies through use of a deck system comprising land vehicles, infantry, and helicopters from several NATO and Warsaw Pact nations and manage logistics such as fuel and ammunition while on the battlefield. There is no cohesive campaign, the game instead taking place in several hypothetical conflicts. * ''Hegemony (video game series), Hegemony'' - (Longbow Games) - a series of historical wargames set in antiquity, with real-time strategy and real time battles on one seamless map, notable for its elegant supply system. * ''Ultimate General'' - a series of strategy wargames based on the American Civil War * ''Total War (video game series), Total War'' – a wargame set in different time periods, with a turn based map, and a real time battle component, featured on the television series ''Time Commanders'' *''Hearts of Iron'' – (Paradox Interactive) − a grand strategy wargame series that is focused on World War 2. Player may act as any reasonably sized nation at the time, influencing international politics, economic and military development, and can control battlefields on both strategic and operational levels using combined arms. Frequently used to entertain and simulate alternative history scenarios as well as recreate historical events.


See also

*Chronology of grand strategy video games


References

{{VideoGameGenre Video game genres Computer wargames, War video games,