by Gideon Marcus
When we think of the word "invention," the big-ticket items come to mind: rockets, nuclear reactors, jet planes, penicillin, nylon. But innovation happens in all fields. Take entertainment, for example. A hundred years ago, music could only be heard live. Now we have phonographs, wire recordings, tape cassettes. A century past, and plays were strictly a live event. In the present, we can enjoy television and films, too.
Board games have evolved tremendously in the last century. From the old standards of chess, checkers and backgammon, the rise of the boxed game has provided a profusion of diversions. You've probably played some of the more famous ones like Scrabble, Monopoly, or Cluedo. These are abstract games, fairly divorced from reality (though Monopoly's property names are taken from real streets in Atlantic City).
Now, imagine there was a type of game that immersed you right in the action, putting you in the role of a general or a President. There is a new class of games that simulate historical conflict (which I covered a couple of years ago) called "wargames." They put you in the seat of a battle leader, pitting your strategic wits against an adversary. Unlike Chess (which is the spiritual granddaddy of the field), the units at your disposal represent actual divisions and brigades.
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