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Subject: Can war games spark an interest in history among young people? rss

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Tanks Alot
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An evening around a board game is a great way to spend time with family and friends because unlike a movie it offers the chance to talk and share a fun and exciting experience with each other.

There are currently many history-themed games on the market that offer a chance to discuss historical events in new and exciting ways. Several World War II games present the conflict not as the stuff merely of history books, but rather as an active history in which lessons about leaders, ideologies, weapons, geography, and the possibilities of 'what if' can excite the imagination and prompt important discussions with children.

Can war games spark an interest in history among young people?

Link Posted from
http://www.facebook.com/HistoricalBoardGames

Full article here
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705389364/World-War-II-bo...

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Enrico Viglino
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I don't think any kid would be too willing to play
a serious wargame, without already having that interest
in history, to some extent.

The article has it right though - starting with the
lighter things probably will help reinforce some
interest. I know I had tried the MB American Heritage
games (and Origins of WWII) before I got a taste of
real wargames.
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Pete McNamara
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The right war game could possibly do it, just like Harry Potter sparked a strong interest in reading for young people.
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Enrico Viglino
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pjmcnamara wrote:
The right war game could possibly do it, just like Harry Potter sparked a strong interest in reading for young people.


How many of those 'readers' went on to serious literary studies?

That would be the analog, I think.
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Hunga Dunga
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charlescab wrote:
Can war games spark an interest in history among young people?

Mmmmm, maybe!
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Depends entirely on which young person you're talking about, and whether the game they happen to try scratches an itch for them. There is no magic formula.
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Roger Hobden
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Actually, I believe it would work the opposite way.

A (small) interest in history might then be enhanced by interacting with a wargame, which would then lead to more interest about the in's and out's of the historical context, creating more interest towards history etc.

So, the "wargame as a trigger of a pre-existing latent interest in history".

For that, you have to be interested in questions like : "why is society like it is presently ?"

Why would you be interested in questioning the past , if you are not even interested in understanding the present ?
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John Welch
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I use a couple of wargames in my history courses at a high school in California. I would like to think my 'exciting' teaching sparks an interest in history but the games seem to bring out "discovery learning" by my students - they experience things in a game that prompt questions - one of my favorites, "why do the Parisians always seem to riot?" after a game of Levee en Masse.
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Its funny that as a child I was never exposed to any sort of historical boardgaming that I can remember. A few games of Battleship and Stratego, and at 44 I was introduced to memoir 44 that had me reading and exploring books and movies. Next thing you know I am where I am today. I cant get enough.
I am often wishful that I had studied more history in school, traveled more, and done more. Sparks some in all sorts of passions from music, to cooking, to dreaming of having the powers of Harry Potter.
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charlescab wrote:
...at 44 I was introduced to memoir 44 that had me reading and exploring books and movies.


Just think - 30 years earlier you coulda been introduced
to The Great War 1914-1918
 
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They did for me, so "Yes."

But of course it all depends on the game and the person and the serendipity of the situation.
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Steve Arthur
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The interest in history came first for me...
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calandale wrote:
pjmcnamara wrote:
The right war game could possibly do it, just like Harry Potter sparked a strong interest in reading for young people.


How many of those 'readers' went on to serious literary studies?

That would be the analog, I think.


My daughter started reading Harry Potter when she was in the 2nd grade. She's 18 now and has many "classics" in her library which includes hundreds of titles now. She's a 4.0 student and was valedictorian of her graduating high school class. Did Harry Potter do that? No. But it gave her a launching pad to discover things on her own in the world of reading.
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russ wrote:
They did for me, so "Yes."

But of course it all depends on the game and the person and the serendipity of the situation.


Same here. I mean, I grew up in the sixties, watching war movies and TV shows such as "Combat", but science fiction was my greatest interest.

But wargames drew me into history as an active pursuit, which I think unlikely to have ever happened without them. I never read a history book of my accord, until after I had been taken in by wargames.
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I'm kind of a young-un for the wargamer crowd at 23, but I know in my personal experience, wargames got me into history. My dad gave me his old copy of Afrika Korps when I was around 12, and I played that game solitaire all the time.

After few months of playing it on my floor, I started asking my dad questions about what happened in Africa that was so important they made a game about it. That led me to ask more questions about World War II, and then I was hooked. So if we are going by allegorical evidence, damn right they can. I still have a soft spot for Rommel and the German Army in WWII because of that game.
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Sort of a chicken and the egg question. I think the kernel of history interest would have to be there to begin with. For myself I remember enjoying history in elementary school. When I discovered wargames I think that simply ignited my interest and turned it from an interest in school to a full blown passion.

So I think wargames can indeed spark an interest but a spark still needs fuel to burn. Keeping with that analogy think of wargames as an accelerant.
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James Lowry
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Quote:
Can war games spark an interest in history among young people?

From personal experience, yes.
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Charles F.
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I always had an interest in history.

I'd have played wargames as a pre-teen had I known about them. But since I did not, I had to make do with Risk, Stratego, Xerxes, Buccaneers and other wargamey Euros. Plus then at some point Samurai Swords - which is already a notch further up on the "wargamey" scale

I was 12 or 13 when I found real wargames in a shop. Britannia and World in Flames were my first purchases.

And yes, I was sufficiently motivated to learn WIF back then. All wargame concepts were new to me, so reading those rules was interesting. Nowadays, I don't find rule-reading nearly as interesting, since I'm familiar with many of those conventions.
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Charles F.
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charlescab wrote:

Can war games spark an interest in history among young people?


Of course. This is not the question.

The question is whether it's more an interest in history that draws em into the hobby or more an interest in what wargames have to offer as games.

And the answer to that question is also straightforward: It depends on each individual.

I know plenty of wargamers who won't pick up a book or such to read up on a game's subject. These are the folks who tend to be primarily interested in the gameplay.

But most of us are of the history-buff variety.

Don't think this fundamental dynamic changes from generation to generation.

The difference nowadays is that unlike in the 70s, there are a whole lot more gaming options for people to get into. Board Wargames are just one option amongst many, whereas in the 70s they had a bigger share of the total "adult gaming" pie.

Still, our hobby is prospering. I'm not worried about its health.
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Bill Herbst
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Absolutely they CAN spark an interest in history among young people but it is not a guarantee that they WILL spark an interest in any particular young person. As has been noted repeatedly in this thread, it all depends on the particular person and the game. I think an exposure to historical content in any given medium (whether books, movies, wargames, computer wargames, personal stories, works of art, museums, battlefield/historical site vists) has the potential to spark an interest in someone who had not been exposed to historical content in that medium before. I have had my interest in certain historical periods/conflicts sparked by specific games. I have also purchased games because of interest in certain periods of history.

As one response suggested, lighting a "spark" of this sort is dependent on a kind of serendipity. The game must be "right" in terms of depth, length, etc. "Right" is this context means pitched at the level that the person playing for the first time unconsciously wants it to be pitched at. The person must have some (possibly latent) interest to be "sparked." Even actual sparks don't give off heat, they need tinder of some sort. The timing/setting of the event must also be "right." It is something that can't be forced but certainly could happen under the right set of circumstances.
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I started taking an interest in board games when I was 17, that was two years ago. But I was already a history nerd before I got into wargames. Wargames simply amplified said interest.

To answer the OP's question, I think it can. Memoir '44 got me talking about WWII to people who have no interest in history whatsoever. And before the whining commences, yes, Memoir '44.
 
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usrlocal wrote:
Atraxrobustus wrote:
The interest in history came first for me...


+1


+2
 
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Henning Elfwering
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Initially I like the question, but would like to rephrase it to "Can war games spark an interest in history among people?". Age provides opportunities for learning, not knowledge.

As latindog said, it will not help with sparks if it is not burnable. If the person is not receptive, then all attempts are in vain. It may well be possible that the person becomes receptive at another time, however.

And of course it depends on which game you put in front of the person.
Different eras attract different people. I as an example, has always had a weakness for antiquity, focusing on the Roman Republic.
It is also important to not put up a game that is too daunting for that person. I find it hard to believe that too many people manage to go directly from the Settlers of Catan to La Grande Guerre for example.

So the conclusion are: Yes, under the right conditions.

I also believe wargames is a great way to discover new events in the history for people who already are interested! Like myself.

(Please overlook the grammar and spelling)
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I think it tends to work the other way round.

When I was a kid, I was interested in WWII. I read lots of books about WWII, went to museums, watched war movies on TV, asked my grandfathers about the war, etc. That is what got me interested in WWII games that were available at toy and hobby stores.

When I was a little older, I was more interested in the contemporary military situation. Same drill. And that got me interested in WWIII games. (It was the mid-80s, so that was a major part of the market).

So maybe somebody is playing Memoir '44 and then deciding to read a book about WWII--but I think it's more likely to be the other way around.
 
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AtomicReaction wrote:
I'm kind of a young-un for the wargamer crowd at 23, but I know in my personal experience, wargames got me into history. My dad gave me his old copy of Afrika Korps when I was around 12, and I played that game solitaire all the time.


That's interesting and I wonder if it will be that way for my son.

My main contact with WWII was through my parents (both quite interested in various aspects of the war) and my grandfathers (who won it), plus lots of illustrated books sitting around everybody's houses and thepublic libraries.

My son's main contact with WWII is probably through me and my games.
 
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