There’s Not a Single Realistic War Game Made Yet

Sure, there’s lots of war games that have some of the following features:

  • Nice graphics.
  • Personalized units with skills and motivation system.
  • Realistic combat.
  • Lots of units.
  • Strategic formations.
  • Good A.I.

And you name it.

But these games concentrate on combat. That’s only half of the battle. One essential element these games fail to simulate is what happens after war? Constructing destroyed buildings and humanitarian aid are missing from these games.

What else is missing? Besides constructing the destroyed buildings and aiding civilians, there are many things that could be used. Here are some of ideas:

  • There are no “good side” and “bad side” in real wars. There are only “bad guys” and “worse guys”. Of course if you look at the war from one side – the other side is the “attacker” and you are only “defensing your country/god/democracy/you-name-it”, but that’s most likely propaganda talking. How about making a war game where you both sides are filled with bad guys?
  • There’s also no “victory” or “winners” in war – there are only losers. And usually both sides pay a heavy price.
  • Then, what about the first victim in wars: truth. It would be interesting to see battle over “public opinion”.
  • Recruiting people would also be nice see in real light: it’s quite amazing that there are young boys and criminals who can get to play with guns.
  • Then of course there are many, many other things you can consider – ranging from innocent prisoners to war veterans with mental problems.

I suppose giving a realistic picture of war would be simply too cruel. We wait and see if there’s ever going to be a realistic simulation of war. So far there’s not a single war game that would give a realistic picture about wars.

I have some doubts that we ever going to see one that would.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. I have written just the kind of war game that addresses all of the issues that you wrote about. Its called INVASION. I am looking for a manufacturer. Any idears?
    Best wishes,
    Allan Tyson

  2. I almost forgot, there is one more realistic war game. I can tell it’s the most realistic war game out there – Defcon. It certainly not suck ;D

  3. Well there is a game that contains some of the elements you mentioned.
    Its a humeristic addactive little game called nuclear war.
    It has propaganda, the attacks cause casualties in civillions and everyone are bad guys in this game.

  4. no, actually id like to see some which really put the mud and grime back in. Start your team of noobs shitting their pants at a car backfiring, unto the time a year later when half of them are dead, half of the last half are shellshocked headcases and so forth… fun? who needs it, this is war.
    No Saving allowed. No replaying when your favorite grunt gets whacked.
    Civilians are soldiers Pay. Murder, Rape and Looting minigames. mmm, what else is missing…

  5. Don’t we already have too many war related games?

  6. Yes they are not 100% realistic and they don’t have to be. They are “games” so they meant to entertain us.They don’t have the responsibility to show us how bad is a war. Realistic games suck, only EA works on realism on their games and EA sucks too.


  7. Of all games that involve war, I think Civilization was the most accurate. In that game, war involves a lot more than bombing your enemy and then occupying his cities. After cities are conquered, there will always be major unrest, and if you are unable to contain it, you will lose control of the city. Also, if a war drags on for too long, protests and riots will break out in your own cities, sometimes even leading to the collapse of your government and anarchy! Depending on the type of governement you have, it may even be almost impossible to start a war without being attacked yourself first.

  8. Actually there’s a good idea for a multi-level MMORPG. You can play at Civ level (controlling the country), at city level (like SimCity) or at individual level (like most MMORPG’s right now). You could even implement government types by restricting what choices are available at the individual and city level (and who chooses who controls the city and nation level).

    The tech probably isn’t up to it just yet, and if you could implement it why would it be any different from ‘real life’ (expect you could run it faster – a revolution every week or so would be possible).

  9. I always enjoyed the way Civilization (Civ 3 at least) implemented it. If you were a Republic or a Democracy any war resulted in ‘War Weariness’ in your home cities. This built up over time (and built up faster if you were the aggressor rather than the defender) – so if you were going to get involved in a war (by choice or not) you had to get it done with quickly or you would have to deal with riots, destruction of local property and general unhappiness in your own cities.

    When you captured enemy cities you would find that 1/ Most of the enhancements were gone and 2/ You would generally have a number of resistors remaining. The resistors could be pacified by placing a number of military units in the city but the enhancements had to be built and replaced over time.

    Although the battle details suffered in the Civ games (your units could represent Mechanical Infantry and you could still be defeated by Archers) the political and sociological aspects of war were represented (even if it was in a biased way).

    One thing that would be interesting to add would be a forced revolution – even if you are a Monarchy, do too many things that make the population unhappy and they force a revolution which makes you choose any government other than Monarchy.

    I do agree though, there are no games available which cover all the nuances of war – deceptive targets, the influence of popular opinion, the use of propaganda to influence popular opinion, the rise of resistance movements in conquered land and most important of all (especially these days) the use of terrorism (both government sponsored and ad-hoc) as a military tactic.

  10. I disagree about “bad guys” and “worse guys”. At the end of the day, the folks in the army are just working class people earning money to feed their family. In WWII, the British and the German soldiers would play football together, before being ordered to get back to warfare.

    I think it’s the politicians that declare war that are the bad guys. But, when war games become realistic and deep, they’re too unhappy to play.

    Perhaps true-to-life realism doesn’t make good games. Perhaps that is why some games are entertaining – because they’re so different to real life.

    P.S. “There’s also no “victory” or “winners” in war – there are only losers.”
    The arms manufactures are usually pretty happy though :-P

  11. Some of your ideas are implemented in Conflict Zone, but it’s RTS.

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