Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming

I ordered my copy of ZONES OF CONTROL: PERSPECTIVES ON WARGAMING when its forthcoming publication was announced last year. Recently I had heard that its publication was imminent ... but the announcement did not include an actual publication date. It was therefore a pleasant surprise when my copy was delivered yesterday afternoon.


The book has been edited by Pat Harrigan and Matthew G. Kirschenbaum and published by MIT Press (ISBN 978 0 262 03399 2). It has 806 pages and is intended to provide 'a diverse set of perspectives on wargaming's past, present, and future.' It is divided into nine sections, each of which starts with what the editors term 'an anchoring chapter by an established authority.' These are then followed by 'a variety of shorter pieces both analytical and anecdotal'.

The contents are as follows:
  • Editors’ Introduction by Pat Harrigan and Matthew G. Kirschenbaum
  • Series Forword
  • Foreword: The Paper Time Machine Goes Electric by James F. Dunnigan
PART I: PAPER WARS
  • A Game Out of All Proportions: How a Hobby Miniaturized War by Jon Peterson
  • The History of Wargaming Project by John Curry
  • The Fundamental Gap between Tabletop Simulation Games and the “Truth” by Tetsuya Nakamura
  • Fleet Admiral: Tracing One Element in the Evolution of a Game Design by Jack Greene
  • The Wild Blue Yonder: Representing Air Warfare in Games by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
  • Historical Aesthetics in Mapmaking by Mark Mahaffey
  • The “I” in Team: War and Combat in Tabletop Role-Playing Games by A. Scott Glancy
PART II: WAR ENGINES
  • War Engines: Wargames as Systems from the Tabletop to the Computer by Henry Lowood
  • The Engine of Wargaming by Matthew B. Caffrey Jr.
  • Design for Effect: The “Common Language” of Advanced Squad Leader by J. R. Tracy
  • Combat Commander: Time to Throw Your Plan Away by John A. Foley
  • Empire of the Sun: The Next Evolution of the Card-Driven Game Engine by Mark Herman
  • The Paths of Glory Lead but to the Gaming Table by Ted S. Raicer
  • New Kind of History: The Culture of Wargame Scenario Design Communities by Troy Goodfellow
PART III: OPERATIONS
  • Operations Research, Systems Analysis, and Wargaming: Riding the Cycle of Research by Peter P. Perla
  • The Application of Statistical and Forensics Validation to Simulation Modeling in Wargames by Brien J. Miller
  • Goal-Driven Design and Napoleon’s Triumph by Rachel Simmons
  • Harpoon: An Original Serious Game by Don R. Gilman
  • The Development and Application of the Real-Time Air Power Wargame Simulation Modern Air Power by John Tiller and Catherine Cavagnaro
  • Red vs. Blue by Thomas C. Schelling
  • Hypergaming by Russell Vane
PART IV: THE BLEEDING EDGE
  • Wargaming Futures: Naturalizing the New American Way of War by Luke Caldwell and Tim Lenoir
  • Creating Persian Incursion by Larry Bond
  • Modeling the Second Battle of Fallujah by Laurent Closier
  • Playing with Toy Soldiers: Authenticity and Metagaming in World War I Video Games by Andrew Wackerfuss
  • America’s Army by Marcus Schulzke
  • We the Soldiers: Player Complicity and Ethical Gameplay in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare by Miguel Sicart
  • Upending Militarized Masculinity in Spec Ops: The Line by Soraya Murray
PART V: SYSTEMS AND SITUATIONS
  • Wargames as Writing Systems by Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi
  • Playing Defense: Gender, Just War, and Game Design by Elizabeth Losh
  • Debord’s Nostalgic Algorithm by Alexander R. Galloway
  • The Ludic Science Club Crosses the Berezina by Richard Barbrook
  • War Games by David Levinthal
  • Troubling the Magic Circle: Miniature War in Iraq by Brian Conley
PART VI: THE WAR ROOM
  • Wargames as an Academic Instrument by Philip Sabin
  • Lessons from the Hexagon: Wargames and the Military Historian by Robert M. Citino
  • Simulation Literacy: The Case for Wargames in the History Classroom by Rob MacDougall and Lisa Faden
  • The Amateur Designer: For Fun and Profit by Charles Vasey
  • Struggling with Deep Play: Utilizing Twilight Struggle for Historical Inquiry by Jeremy Antley
  • Model-Driven Military Wargame Design and Evaluation by Alexander H. Levis and Robert J. Elder
PART VII: IRREGULARITIES
  • Gaming the Nonkinetic by Rex Brynen
  • Inhabited Models and Irregular Warfare Games: An Approach to Educational and Analytical Gaming at the US Department of Defense by Elizabeth M. Bartels
  • Chess, Go, and Vietnam: Gaming Modern Insurgency by Brian Train and Volko Ruhnke
  • Irregular Warfare: The Kobayashi Maru of the Wargaming World by Yuna Huh Wong
  • A Mighty Fortress is Our God: When Military Action Meets Religious Strife by Ed Beach
  • Cultural Wargaming: Understanding Cross-Cultural Communications Using Wargames by Jim Wallman
PART VIII: OTHER THEATERS
  • Wargaming (as) Literature by Esther MacCallum-Stewart
  • Tristram Shandy: Toby and Trim’s Wargames and the Bowling Green by Bill McDonald
  • Third Reich and The Third Reich by John Prados
  • How Star Fleet Battles Happened by Stephen V. Cole
  • Total Global Domination: Games Workshop and Warhammer 40,000 by Ian Sturrock and James Wallis
  • When the Drums Begin to Roll by Larry Brom
  • War Re-created: Twentieth-Century War Reenactors and the Private Event by Jenny Thompson
PART IX: FIGHT THE FUTURE
  • War, Mathematics, and Simulation: Drones and (Losing) Control of Battlespace by Patrick Crogan
  • How to Sell Wargames to the Non-Wargamer by Michael Peck
  • Wargaming the Cyber Frontier by Joseph Miranda
  • The Unfulfilled Promise of Digital Wargames by Greg Costikyan
  • Civilian Casualties: Shifting Perspective in This War of Mine by Kacper Kwiatkowski
  • Practicing a New Wargame by Mary Flanagan
  • Acknowledgements and Permissions
  • References
  • Index
This is a massive tome, and it is not a book that one is able to read overnight. Neither is it a book that is one could describe as 'not put downable' ... in fact to someone who has become used to reading most books on a Kindle, it feels like it weights a ton! That said, I think that it has something for everyone who likes to think about wargames and wargaming, and from what I have read so far, I believe that it is going to become a book to which people will refer for many years to come.

16 comments:

  1. ZOC looks very interesting. Will we be treated with a review at some point!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jonathan Freitag,

      As it is a very long book, I suspect that a full review might be a long time coming! Nevertheless, I hope to write one at some point.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  2. Bob,
    This looks very interesting, although I suspect it may be a bit of a curate's egg.To buy or not to buy? That is the question....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arthur1815,

      Some of the article titles do sound rather esoteric, even by wargaming standards. Like you, I suspect that some sections will be better than others, but I won't know until I've read them. As to whether it is worth buying or not ... well it might be better to try to get a copy on a library loan before you do.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  3. It does look interesting, and possibly expensive?
    Lots of name recognition of games and authors.

    Since it appears to be a compilation, would reviews of specific chapters or sections be possible rather than trying to review such a disparate whole at once? I'm sure that i am not the only one who would appreciate such mini-reviews.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ross Mac,

      Its contents are interesting, and it is certainly not cheap. (I think that the price is approximately $50.) I know quite a few of the contributors, and it is worth noting that they are drawn from a wide spectrum within the professional and non-professional wargaming community.

      It might make a lot of sense to review a selection of the articles rather than all of them, and I may well do so as I work my way through it.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  4. That looks interesting, though I think one for the interlibrary loan. I'd be very interested to read the Larry Brom piece.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Conrad Kinch,

      I think that getting hold of a copy via the interlibrary loan scheme would be an excellent idea ... and I thoroughly recommend Larry Brom's article.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  5. Well, if you're worried about it weighing a ton you could have got the Kindle version, though at £32.68 it's a bit more than I expect to pay for an e-book, and not much cheaper than the £34.40 hardback.

    Would I be right in thinking that the number of tables and illustrations make this something better to get as a printed book, despite the wear and tear on one's wrists?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mike Hall,

      Knowing how some diagrams and/or illustrations are not as clear on the standard Kindle as they are in print, and bearing in mind the minor difference in cost, I would have still bought the printed rather than the electronic version of this book.

      I have found that when I look at Kindle books on my iPad or PC screen, any diagrams and/or illustrations are perfectly visible; it's just a bit of a nuisance having to revert from one device to another to be able to look at the visual content rather than just the text.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  6. An astonsihing range of topics and views presented, I have no doubt. Quite a few of the articles' title have me intrigued. The questions one might ask of, say, a reviewer are:
    How 'accessible' (readable, comprehensible) is it to an amateur like me?
    How varied are the topics?
    To what extent are the articles relevant to one who war games as a leisure activity?
    What is the target readership?

    Even at 806 pages, I think I'd rather have the book than an electronic reading device.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      Some interesting questions ... most of which I am not yet in a position to answer as I have only just begin to read it. That said, the articles I have read so far are quite academic in style and content. (Larry Brom's contribution is quite different in that respect, and I wish that it was available other than just in this collection.)

      The topics are quite varied, and cover a fairly wide spectrum ... but the majority seem to be aimed firmly at the serious/professional end of it.

      I am pleased that I bought the printed edition of the book rather the Kindle edition. It may be heavy, but that encourages the reader to pick the book up, read a contribution, and then put it down again ... giving them a chance to think about what they have read.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  7. If you find the book on Amazon uk you can use the 'Look inside' feature to read several of the articles.

    From my own personal perspective, the articles on computer and board games are of little interest, so I don't think I'll even bother with inter library loan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arthur1815,

      I suspect that you might be right to make that decision. Quite a few of the contributions seem to relate to hex-based board wargames ... or computer versions of them. There are a few that cover figure wargaming, but they are very much in the minority.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  8. Sounds like an interesting if niche tome Bob - I actually think I would enjoy this one!

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    Replies
    1. Paul O'G,

      I'm about to finish the first section, and have enjoyed what I have read so far. It has certainly given me pause for thought.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete