Home Forums General Game Design What is a narrative wargame? Reply To: What is a narrative wargame?


I’ve seen this “narrative” word often used recently, but I had the impression it was not about wargame rules in themselves, but about what the players want to do with their game. Some players like to build a narrative around what’s happening on the table, others don’t.


That is certainly the view taken by a number of people.  I know I like to have the backstory to a game, from characters to campaigns, the ‘context’ which is part of that narrative.  Others like the story-telling venue of a game master and role-playing.  The stories, both in content and delivery can come in all sorts of ways with wargames.  I can’t say I dislike any of them. There are gamers who hoop and howler throughout the game and others who are far more demure. They can still like the same types of games.

I read different genre’s of fiction, and within that genre, whether historical or Sci-Fi, I enjoy the serious books and the comedy, the dramatic melee and hyper-detailed world building too.  What I would object to is when my reading preferences lead someone to describe my ‘personality’ by what I read, labeling me as this or that ‘kind’ of reader.  It doesn’t help with either understanding why I read, what I read and especially how to write books.  I object to it just as much for the same reasons when the same divisive stereotypes are laid on wargamers.

I just had a gaming friend say this just today, which I thought was well put:

It’s not about detail, ground scale, frontages, drill books, its about saying “Screw it! I’m committing the Guard!” Its about soul, guys!  
Yes,  history underpins all of it but there has to be passion too, the grand sweep of history, as well as the pace rate used in 1808! 
 All the details are needed to make the story work, but it is still about the story, the passion, fun and soul of the game. I can’t imagine anyone disagreeing with that premise unless you are a person who insists that the game room is to be divided by the mathematical, passionless detail-counters on one side labeled ‘process-oriented’ and all the passionate, drama-loving gamers with soul on the other, called ‘narrative’ gamers.
  • This reply was modified 6 years, 8 months ago by McLaddie.
  • This reply was modified 6 years, 8 months ago by McLaddie.