The Wargaming Society
WGSoc creates a platform for students, and others in the community, to engage with the world of wargaming in a fun and inclusive environment. We develop and run several wargames in-house, to practice our skills in design and analysis, but we experiment with games devised by other groups as well. While our main area of focus is New Zealand’s foreign policy and strategy, we also discuss strategic studies, history, and game design more broadly.
Our main goal is to introduce more people to wargaming as a tool for teaching, learning, and enriching discussions on world affairs. We encourage people from all walks of life to participate, and we offer advice, guidance, and professional development opportunities for those interested in exploring Strategic Studies in their careers.
What is a wargame?
“Wargame” is a strategic term-of-art, used broadly to describe activities where participants can interact with a particular scenario using a game-like format, to gain insights about past, current, or future events. They can be played with pieces on a board, on computers, or simply with a group of people around a table having a discussion.
Wargames put the “Science” into “Political Science”. The aim is usually to assess the decisions taken by actors within the game scenario. It is a useful method for finding out about how people make decisions, and how key trends and drivers are likely to affect the world around them. This can be extremely useful for many different stakeholders. Some examples might include technology firms scanning horizons for the impact of future technologies, emergency services preparing for unique or complex situations, and non-profit organisations assessing how to maximise the impact of their work, while accounting for risk.
Another point to note is that wargames do not predict the future. Their use lies in their ability to holistically explore a range of possibilities, and observe how strategies can interact with each other.
Most importantly, however: Wargames are extremely fun. Players are put in the driver’s seat of their actor, and allowed to explore the strategic environment for themselves. They are a unique, interactive, and practical way to promote and enrich discussions about almost anything.
How are wargames different to Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, or similar games?
In short, the most significant difference is that afterwards, you get to write a report.
As mentioned above, wargames come in all shapes and sizes, and many of these look very close to more recreational games. Broadly, they share world-building and narrative-creation elements, and often use similar mechanics for measuring players’ effects on the game world. For example, military-focused tabletop wargames often employ combat tables similar to those used in Warhammer to determine combat results. Likewise, constructing immersive scenarios is important for engaging players, whether in a game simulating a city blackout, or a weekly DnD session.
Where they differ is in their respective aims. While wargames are fun, this is not their primary purpose. They are more analytically focused, with the aim of deriving lessons from whatever is being tested. The scenario design often tends to be more rigorous, with games based around future-casting needing strong grounding in evidence in order to be useful.
Do I have to take Strategic Studies to join?
The Wargaming Society welcomes everyone. You do not need to have a background in International Relations, Political Science, or Strategic Studies to join. While possessing some interest in these subjects will always be beneficial, it is not a requirement.
Having other interests, or knowledge of other skills, subjects, cultures, languages, and industries, can actually be a massive advantage. Greater diversity of experience within the club helps enrich our analysis by incorporating more perspectives, and strengthening our collective ability to check biases and blind-spots.
Likewise, we believe in making wargaming accessible because it can be useful to anyone. Whatever you study, and wherever you plan to go, the skills and thinking involved can help make you effective at considering and communicating strategy.
Meet the Exec
Co-President, Founding Member
James has a Master’s of Strategic Studies, and a Bachelor’s in Chinese and International Relations. Currently preparing for PhD study, he is keen to explore wargaming as a methodology for approaching complex discussions in security. His favorite place at Victoria is level five of the Kelburn library, where the Dewey decimal system wraps around in a way that causes Military History and Cooking to meet on the same shelf.
Co-President, Founding Member
Helen is a graduate of Victoria University, having studied International Relations and Political Science in undergraduate, and recently finishing a Master’s of Strategic Studies. She is currently working for MBIE.
Treasurer, Founding Member
Michael has completed his Honours in International Relations, with First-Class, at Victoria University of Wellington. He is currently in Singapore, taking a Master’s in Strategic Studies at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. His professional interests predominantly include wargaming, strategy-making, and Indo-Pacific geopolitics. He is an avid fan of blues and rock music, strategy-based video games, and sports.
Secretary, Founding Member
Ryan completed his Master’s degree in International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington in 2021. He is interested in the vast domain of strategy, but particularly enjoys exploring historical perspectives to find lessons for the present. Outside of strategy, Ryan has a healthy preoccupation with tea, and is always happy to share a cup while listening to some Jazz.
Social Media Officer, Founding Member
Catrina has recently completed a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and International Relations. Her primary areas of interest are minority and indigenous rights, environmental politics, and New Zealand foreign policy. She will soon be starting postgraduate study. In her spare time, Catrina likes drawing native birds she spots around Wellington.
Code of Conduct