Why I Fight: Play, Creativity… Art?

Most wargames do not have an especially creative element, beyond the tactics the players employ (and I’m not sure that playing an innovative game of chess, for example, is creative as much as it is clever).

My intention is not just to host a bunch of tabletop wargames. We will create a story (a fictional history) based on the outcome of those games. Most fiction writers know ahead of time what story they’re going to tell. They have themes or characters to develop, and the actual plot tends to be a delivery system to explore those themes or characters.

But what if we took, say, Animal Farm, and subjected it to arbitration-by-gaming? In the big battle scene where the animals evict the farmer, what if Orwell had decided the outcome of that battle by actually playing it as a game? Different characters may have been killed or wounded. The humans could even have won, changing the whole direction of the story.

In this project, I don’t have any predetermined outcome in mind. I’m just intensely curious about how it might turn out. I don’t consider myself to be any kind of novelist or fiction writer in this endeavor. A fiction will be created, but it will create itself. My role is in setting up the initial scenario, and then letting it work itself out.

Some authors describe their writing in a very passive way, describing the creative process as one in which the story tells itself. But in those cases, however little they feel their conscious mind is involved, the author is still in total control, even if only at the unconscious level. In this story, the players are in control. And the players’ actions will be limited by the rules of the game itself, and by the resources the scenario puts at their disposal.

I’m not sure what to call that. It’s creative. Maybe it’s storytelling. But, if it is storytelling at all, it’s a weird kind of storytelling. I don’t think I’d call it art. Though I would not necessarily argue the point if someone chose to call it art.

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