Category Archives: Battle Lab

Battle Lab: Games and Sims for Training and Learning

This might be one of my favorite topics (as evidenced by the bibliography on the GrogNews site as well) and was the subject of much of my academic work, as well.

This article was originally published in Battles magazine #3 and GrogNews, and was cited in Dr Sabin’s book Simulating War.

Dr James Sterrett (of the US Army CGSC) has previously offered his thoughts on the topic, as well.

Games and Sims for Training and Learning

This is a favorite topic of mine, and the Origins War College has hosted several panels over the last few years devoted specifically to the basic topic of “What is a game and what is a sim, and what can we do with them?”

In the world of military training, games and simulations have developed over the years from map exercises to elaborate digital virtual reality exercises. In many cases, the tools developed for training have come from commercial products, or were later converted into commercial products, and thus the wargaming community has the opportunity to poke, prod, and play with comparable tools to those used to train soldiers and sailors around the globe. As the world has gone digital, many of these tools and toys have moved away from tabletops and into computer monitors, but the underlying heart – the game engine – is still of great interest to gamers.

Mapping the conceptual terrain bounded by games-simulations-exercises is more than just an intellectual exercise, as it allows us all to establish a common conceptual framework and vocabulary for the future discussion of the utility of these games and sims. It also allows to discuss with more specificity our exact likes and dislikes, and level of comfort with the features and processes, and the underlying mechanisms that make them go.

When describing the use of games for training and learning purposes, there are several concepts that must first be understood, and their meanings agreed upon, before the best use of games and simulations can determined.