As has been alluded to by my co-gamers, I’ve been absent from the gaming scene for a few weeks. My longsuffering girlfriend doesn’t always like being a gamer’s widow and does need attention from time to time. This doesn’t mean I’ve been totally out of the gamers circuit. I recently purchased my first Xbox and enjoyed having my rear end handed to me on a plate when I played Bad Company 2 online for the first time a few days ago.
I have also spent the past two days enjoying the company of some fellow gamers. Yesterday I went the hallowed halls of GW HQ in Nottingham and enjoy a good game with an old friend of mine. His Space Marines finally managed to beat my Tyranids and much fun was had by all. Today we went to the Leeds Royal Armouries, and at the risk of providing free advertising I would highly recommend a visit. I hadn’t been there since I was a teenager and it was just as good as I remember.
This is just one of the many wonderful exhibits on display. But enough waffle. What I really wanted to do was ask a very deep, thought-provoking question that may bring out the darker sides of yourselves.
What is it about war that we find so fascinating?
I was thinking about this last night in one of my frequent insomniac moments. I myself am a very peaceful person. I don’t particularly like violence; I don’t think I’ve ever been in a fight, even in school, and I often find the cost of war (especially the human cost) too high. And yet I find military history so fascinating. I love my war games, both table top and computer based. I enjoy going round museums and looking at the military exhibits rather than the more arty ones. In short I am fascinated by warfare.
There is a part of me that finds this disturbing, and yet I’m also perfectly ok with it. And I think it’s that ‘ok factor’ that probably worries me the most; am I ‘ok’ with warfare? I think it was the Greek poet Pindar who said that;
“War is sweet to those who have no experience of it, but the experienced man trembles exceedingly at heart on its approach.”
Perhaps this is it. I find war a fascinating subject, partly because of my love for history, but also I think because I have never experienced it. In my life time there have been many conflicts around the globe; from the Falklands War to Afghanistan, from the terrorism in Ireland to the Rwandan massacre, and I have thankfully never been directly affected by such conflicts. My attitude would no doubt be different if I had been and I think it is this detachment that allows me to get so absorbed in the history of warfare and in the various war games that we play. As a side thought to this, the war games we tend to play are either fantasy or sci-fi so this adds yet another layer of detachment.
The games are just that, games, no one gets hurt (though a few egos occasionally get bruised). But as for the historical stuff I find so engaging, from Kadesh to Kabul they’re real conflicts that cost thousands or even millions of lives and what do I do? I just read about them, and because of my detachment it doesn’t bother me all that much, and perhaps that’s the scary thought. Though I do feel sorry for all those people who have lost loved ones in war, and its doesn’t matter where they’re from; they were someone’s son or daughter and they will be missed.
This whole blog has been a chance to write down my thoughts, and I’m sorry if it is a bit too deep and dark for some people. It has provided me with a chance to collect my thoughts. I also would like to open that question up to you the readers. You don’t have to answer, but at least think about it.