Dicing with death? The Geographies of Miniature Wargaming

Authors: Richard Yarwood*, University of Plymouth
Topics: Cultural Geography, Military Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: Games, military geographies, miniaturisation
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 35
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


'The miniature world is a world of arrested time; its stillness emphasizes the activity that is
outside its borders. And this effect is reciprocal; for once we attend to the miniature world,
the world outside stops and is lost to us' (Stewart, 1993: 76)

This paper focuses on the playing of games with miniature figures, specifically historical wargames. In her seminal book ‘On Longing’, Susan Stewart (1993) describes how three-dimensional models or toys have an ability to draw the viewer into scaled-down worlds that seem to exist independently from reality. Observers of models are, as these opening quotations suggest, drawn into the space of the model yet, at the same time, exist ‘outside the possibility of a lived reality of the miniature’ (Stewart 1993: 76). This dilemma is only resolved through play and, in this case the imaginative and performative use of miniatures in wargames. It is the everyday practices of playing that exceed representation and offer the momentary ‘possibility of configuring alternative ways of being-in-the-world’ (Woodyer 2012: 320). Play animates a miniature and ‘initiates another world, the world of the daydream’ (Stewart 1993: 57). As Shaw (2010: 793) reminds us ‘much of the fun found in play is the blurring of these lines into a mixture of objects and sensations that are not quite ‘self’ or ‘world’’.

I examine how rules and modelling conventions are used to re-create landscapes and practices of war.I examine how military geographies are represented through wargaming and question the ethics of playing at war.

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