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Exploring the "Burden of Command" via gaming?



RPG turned Wargame turned Leadership simulation?

I just looked it up: the first time I wrote about “Burden of Command”, the leadership simulation/ crossover of RPG and tactical military combat simulation of WWII, was on November 27, 2018.

The game still is not publicly available, which - at first glance - sounds, well, not that promising. But, as always, in reality, it is not that bad. I was an early play tester during the autumn of 2023, and I am very convinced, we will finally see the game on virtual shelves in 2024!


What is “Burden”?

Surely, it is a historical simulation. You step into the role of a company Captain in the historical Cottonbalers regiment of the US 3rd Infantry Division in World War Two and follow him during a historically very accurately modeled campaign from the Operation Torch landings in Marocco by October 1942 via Sicily, Italy, and Southern France to the endgame of WWII in Southern Germany.

It is a role-playing exercise as well, as you have to make all kinds of decisions in between fighting the scenarios.

In 2018, I wrote: “The release of the computer game “Burden of Command”, expected in 2019, represents a milestone not only for wargames. For the first time, the aim is not only to model combat (which is what a huge number of FPS or strategy games do) but, above all, psychological aspects of stress, leadership, and morally relevant decision-making issues. This would make the game something like the “white elephant” of the gaming industry, and you could think of BoC as the “This War of Mine” or “Frostpunk” of strategy games, which also incorporate psychological and moral twists into the plot.”

More recently, have a look at Charles Games and what they do with historical gaming and gaming-based education.


Finally, a Leadership Simulation?

Yes, after having fought my way from Red Beach in Marocco to the Berghof, I conclude that this is a fascinating blend of leadership simulation, historical reflection, and a “kind of war game” but unlike any other. Take a look at the design philosophy and objectives behind “Burden” and listen to the lead designer here.


Why should you look out for “Burden of Command”?

It is engaging, it is immersive, it is true to history, and it still successfully connects with a much more diverse current reality. Not an easy feat to come up with.

Finally, it makes you reflect. What would you do?

“Burden of Command” does not substitute your reflection but is a great catalyst!


References

Murray, L. (2019). War Games. The Psychology of Combat. Mumbai, India: Jaico.

Roberts, M.L. (2021). Sheer Misery. Soldiers in Battle in WWII. London, UK: The University of Chicago Press.

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