Making the Connection

Registration is now open for the annual Connections interdisciplinary wargaming conference to be held July 23-26 at the Center for Applied Strategic Learning at National Defense University in Washington DC. Connections serves the professional community of practice around wargames, conflict simulation, and serious games. Let me reproduce the official invite from conference co-chairs Matt Caffrey Col USAF (ret) and NDU’s Timothy Wilkie before I take a moment to explain what this has to do with PtP.

This year’s conference promises to have the most international participants to date.  Of the previous 19 conferences, only little more than half had any international participation, with our two best years having participants from three nations.  This year, if all attend as planned, we will double that level with participants from Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, South Korea and Singapore.


Perhaps our success in attracting broader participation stems in part from an exceptionally strong agenda.  Our keynotes this year include Prof Phil Sabin of King’s College London, the pioneer of using wargame design and development as an aid to teaching history as well as Prof Robert Rubel  and Dr. William Lademan, leaders of, respectively, the US Navy’s and US Marine Corps’ wargaming efforts.  Our new tutorial this year on wargame design will be taught by the world’s most prolific wargame designer. We will include a panel of prominent wargame designers, which will be followed up with our first ever game design lab during the core of the conference.  Add to this strong speaker panels, including our first parallel track in years, more demos than 2011, and working groups addressing significant issues and you can see why many are making time for Connections 2012.


To learn more about Connections go to Connections-Wargaming.Com.  If you like what you see – please register today.

A while back I wrote a post here called “War, What is it Good For?” based on my experience at last year’s Connections. It provoked some interesting discussion and still gets links and traffic. As a long-time recreational wargamer (“grognard”), I wanted to get across a couple of points I thought important to PtP’s readership:

  • first, that among serious games, newsgames, art games, and other forms of critical and educational gaming, wargaming has a well documented design tradition that goes back (at least) two centuries and is therefore deserving of study (see also Philip Sabin’s just-published book Simulating War (Continuum 2012);
  • second, that the field of wargaming itself is moving well beyond purely martial simulations to explore issues related to policy, economics, cultural encounter, even the environment (Rex Brynen over at PAXsims does a great job covering this space);
  • and third, that wargaming is poised to enter into a potentially very fruitful conversation with practitioners in other game design disciplines.

To that last end in particular, I’ve organized two panels for this year’s Connections conference, featuring some names that will be familiar to folks here. Popular PtP contributor Jeremy Antly and ProfHacker Anastasia Salter will join the University of Maryland’s Elizabeth Bonsignore (team member from the AGOG ARG previously reported on here) to discuss wargaming in relation to historical validity, storytelling models in games, and alternate reality games. The second panel features Neil Randall, principal investigator of the huge just-funded Canadian games initiative IMMERSe, Henry Lowood discussing Stanford University Library’s various preservation projects around serious games and simulations, including work on the Preserving Virtual Worlds project, and myself (Matthew Kirschenbaum), discussing data curation in relation to Larry Bond’s long-running Harpoon series of tabletop and computer naval warfare simulations (also part of the PVW case set).

So if you have a professional or academic interest in wargaming, however broadly defined, please consider joining us for Connections. In addition to the panels, there will be games, gamers, and gaming in a truly interdisciplinary context.

 Image credit: Tiger Hunt by Edward Rodhouse,


1 Comment

  1. Thanks for organizing these panels, Matthew. I am looking forward to seeing you again and meeting Jeremy Antly.

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