28 October 2011

The Growing Ball of Frustration

Soooo... Michael Peck writes an excellent article about wargaming irregular warfare for the new issue of Training & Simulation Journal. Being as it's about, y'know, wargaming, and is pretty topical based on current events, it seems like it would be a big deal.

Now, we covered it here at GN for all those reasons. And, let's face it - I'm in the article talking about a project I worked on.
But outside the obvious interest here at GN, there are plenty of other online communities that might find this to be an interesting topic worthy of discussion, no? So let's do a quick run-through, eh?

Small Wars Council, the discussion boards of the Small Wars Journal - thread started by me, zero replies.

Wargamer.com - thread started by me, one reply, discussing nothing at all.

Not one, but four separate, distinct, individual places at ConSimWorld, and the only reply is me, to Peck.
The only reply at Social.ConsimWorld? Not any sort of useful comment, just a link pointing people to a group on the site that has had 1 post in 2 years.

Did anyone pick it up at Armchair General? Nope. Gamesquad? You know better. Matrix Games? Squat. Even Dunnigan's milgames mailing list on Yahoo had 1 mention (from Peck) and 1 reply (from me).

So tell me, dear readers - if the central communities of wargaming respond to such an important article with a collective yawn, is there much point in continuing any of these discussions? If the rest of the wargaming world gives a solidly-consolidated non-shit about this, why bother continuing to engender discussions about these topics?

In other words - if no one gives a flying crap in the middle of the internet wargaming speakeasies, why bother continuing to bang the drum around here at GrogNews, the tiny little outpost that everyone just ignores anyway?

By: Brant


Anonymous said...

As someone who is about to get more involved in the IW/FID world (hooray remissioning). I am appreciative of your posts as they have opened my eyes up to what is out there. Heck I even downloaded the Army Urbansim game (failed horribly the one time I tried it..manuals are for sucks).
So please keep up the good work of bringing topics like this to light.
I think the reason the MSWG (main stream wargamers) don't care about the topic is that it is not sexy, immediate and is very difficult to model much less discuss. If COIN had more JDAM's and Direct Action events per gaming session it would be more popular.

Michael Peck said...

I understand your frustrations, Brant. I've been pushing at this for years. Don't give up. Sometimes it's just a matter of acclimating people.

I also think that because it involves the real military, it's both a little exotic and a little intimidating to the average gamer. The trick is to make it accessible and relevant. With your background in the Army, wargaming and defense simulations, you are very well qualified to do this.

Here's a zany idea. How about creating some kind of COIN scenario, post it on the forums, and then challenge readers to solve it? Maybe give kudos for the best answer?


brtrain said...

Not sure what to say Brant. I designed my first COIN games for the civilian market 17 years ago, and I'm still flailing away at it. There are many reasons why civilian gamers don't want to go near this topic, and they're well known to both of us - which explains the muted reaction on civilian forums - and the professional military is I think still generally ill-disposed towards games (until such time as they've played a well-designed, well-managed one, then they're all for it). Also, the bloom may be coming off the COIN rose in the near future as the military starts serious cutting. (captcha for this comment = "paring".)

And I did see your notice, in all the places you posted it except SmallWarsCouncil where I go only once a month or two, but replied to it only here on GorgNews - which by the way, I read every day and encourage you to continue!

Anonymous said...

I always considered myself a "serious" wargamer...until I met the likes of you who do it professionally.
To wit: Wargaming for me is a recreational pursuit that provides a) enjoyable social interaction; b) intellectual stimulation in problem solving; c) occasionally, an education in history and d) insight into the strategic, tactical or human elements of conflict.
For the likes of you and those who engage in professional military training and simulation, wargaming is a means to develop, model, test and evaluate methodologies for the improvement of real-world outcomes. We may stand on what appears to be common-ground (wargaming), but the distance between using wargaming for entertainment versus training is very great indeed.

You want to talk about map design for a "hunt the Taliban" game or prefered outcome determiners (dice versus cards)? I'm there. But if you want to discuss valid data points, analysis and adoption or adoption of modelling the action / reaction phases of the N. Afghani Pathans into an algorithim that includes external socio-economic influences? I got no freakin' clue...

Having said that...
I love the work that you are doing on this site, especially the professional insights, comments and observations. It is far too easy to look upon military theory and practice through a political lens (rarely objective); a technical lens (often the practice of current-or ex-military); or a hypothetical lens (academics). These viewpoints (readily available elsewhere) can make for interesting discussion, but seldom are they edifying or illuminating. I visit grognews (more and more frequently, I might add) because I feel that I am getting an intellectual assessment on military matters. If I am mostly silent, it is often because I have little to add to conversations that are sometimes (often?) beyond my ken.

The concept tabled by Mr. Peck is quite intriguing. Creating a virtual BOGSAT to discuss aspects of COIN (or other) operations that reflect real-world challenges may indeed be compelling. The challenge there will be to keep it accessible. I really liked your "designing out loud" section, but you left me behind when you started getting technical. To paraphrase Rene Zellwinger..."You lost me at "frago".

Keep calm and carry on...

Jack Nastyface

Anonymous said...

Sorry I didn't clarify my comments to you better, what I meant to say was that the mathematics involved in the modeling sounded intriguing and remind me of engineering work I've done.

I looked up JNEM and found the paper by Henry and Chamberlain from the Winter Conference of 2008 as well as the powerpoint from JPL, but those don't seem to discuss the mathematics behind it (I'm going to check into Spectrum and RAM, which were both mentioned in the paper as older models).

Is there anywhere that does deal with the mathematics behind M&S? I understand that current models are probably secret or better, but older case studies or such would be as interesting to read (for me).

I also agree with Jack, a more broad and open-ended approach to presenting the usefulness of M&S would help (particularly for non-mil types like myself).

Thanks for the youtube VBS link, by the way, very interesting.



besilarius said...

Brant, I cannot speak for anyone else, but Grognews is visited by me at least three times a week.
Your irreverent take is much appreciated.
Your information, anddiscovery of little gems hidden in the coal is always a lot of fun.
Due to the amount of email messaging at work, unless there is something that is really informative, or fun, I don't try and post to just fill up space.
I'll try to be more superfluous in the future.
COIN is a subject that is really easy to get wrong. My attention span means that by the time my brain processes something to say, other things have been thrust into consideration, so the post gets put off and forgotten.
That's just me. However, just because I don't post, doesn't mean that your work isn't appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I like reading the site, and wish I had more time to dig through the archives. I wish there was more original content and less excerpting from elsewhere. Still, it's a great read even if I don't comment on everything

Mike P