China Military Online, an official website of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), in late November ran an article relating a Beijing college war game [sic] competition held that month. One of the game directors told the paper that, “through war game competition, college students experienced the simulated information and traditional warfare, and gained a deeper understanding on the complexity, cruelty and uncertainty of war.” The Chief Director of the competition told the paper, “Warfare is cruel, and there is no winner in war. To eliminate war, we need to study the war first. And the war game provides a good way for college students to cultivate a scientific outlook on warfare and methodology.” (Note to self: Don’t ever, ever ask a PRC wargamer to define, ‘What’s a wargame?'”)
What I found a bit interesting was the “war game” played. The article states, “This year’s game was held online in a mode of 2v2 Reds-vs-Blues matches…” The accompanying graphic seemingly shows a hex & counter-like tactical-level battle with individual (?) tanks and other vehicles. The article goes on to read, “…players manipulated the keyboard and mouse to command tanks, infantry vehicles, artillery, and infantry in cooperative operations.” This map and set up wouldn’t look out of place in a modern version of the wargame MBT from GMT Games played on something like Vassal.
This is not the first time I’ve talked about wargames in the PRC. The earlier report including talking about wargaming in Chinese universities, and this article states that a war game course is a very popular elective at Tsinghua University. I’m pretty sure that “war games” are also popular in U.S. universities, but the titles are probably more like Call of Duty or World of Tanks.
There are also wargame programs in U.S. universities, the most notable to me being the Georgetown University Wargames Society (GUWS). There are also efforts to build wargame education in the Department of Defense; look no further than the work of Sebastian Bae and his Littoral Commander game (coming soon for hobby wargamers from Dietz Foundation). I also strongly recommend reading the book he edited titled Forging Wargamers: A Framework for Professional Military Education that you can get FOR FREE from Marine Corps University Press.
Feature image courtesy China Military Online