War, play and games have long and interconnected histories. War has shaped the games people play, and militaries have used games for recruitment, planning and training. War Games, the newest exhibition developed by the Canadian War Museum, explores the importance of gaming to military training and strategy, as well as the impact of conflict on games in popular culture.
Games have long been intertwined with war, said Dean F. Oliver, Interim Vice-President and Director General of the Canadian War Museum. This timely and relevant exhibition will have multigenerational appeal. We hope War Games broadens visitors' understanding of what war games are and helps them see wargaming as both a popular hobby and a professional activity with real-world impact.
In five chronological zones, War Games presents major trends in the evolution of war games. The first two zones cover a period extending from ancient times to the world wars. They are followed by an exploration of gaming in the Cold War era, and of the influence of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on gaming. The final zone highlights present-day wargaming challenges.
Objects range from a 2,500-year-old ceramic vessel featuring Greek heroes from the Trojan War to contemporary games and media. Rare games from countries around the world, such as the Dunn-Kempf tabletop war game developed for the U.S. Army, are on display alongside more familiar favourites like chess, Dungeons and Dragons, and Missile Command. The exhibition also includes current and topical games such as Settlers of Catan, This War of Mine (a simulation of civilians surviving in a war zone), and Bury Me, My Love (a mobile game that invites players to follow a refugee's journey from war-torn Syria to Europe).
Interactive experiences in War Games give visitors opportunities to play games. The exhibition also includes thought-provoking perspectives from veterans, gamers, artists, academics and military planners. They offer deeper insight into complex topics associated with wargaming and provide information on the wide-ranging types and applications of war games.
All visitors — from gamers to military buffs and beyond — will find fascinating objects to examine and interact with, perhaps even to play. War Games opens to the public tomorrow and runs until December 31, 2023. Visitors are welcome to reserve their tickets online, ahead of their visit. For more information, please visit warmuseum.ca/wargames.
The Canadian War Museum is Canada's national museum of military history. Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada's military history in its personal, national and international dimensions. The work of the Canadian War Museum is made possible in part through the financial support of the Government of Canada.