For many years I have read TMP each day, particularly the Napoleonic Discussion forum. I like to think that it helps me to keep in touch with mainline wargame developments, although I sometimes feel that it is dominated by some not very nice people. I am always careful to keep any contribution I make non-controversial, as I really do not want to get involved in one of the heated discussions which seem a feature of the forum.
Last week I found a discussion about Famous Wargamer Feuds. It mentioned one between Don Featherstone and Jack Scruby. It gave the link below and recommended reading 1962
I started wargaming in 1969 and Don Featherstone had a large influence on my hobby through his Wargamers Newsletter and the many wargaming books he wrote. I also met him in the 1980s when I lived in Salisbury and used to visit his monthly Wessex Military Society meetings in Southampton. He was a great help when I started planning my Napoleonic battlefield holidays in the 1990s,
In 1969 I was vaguely aware that there had been some disagreement between him and Jack Scruby. I also recall that there was some bad feeling between the Southampton and London based wargame groups. However I did not know any details about the Jack Scruby business until I read the link above.
I was aware that Don considered wargame as very much a game, bearing very little resemblance to actual warfare. I believe he was greatly influenced by his own military experience during WW2. And as a serviceman myself I completely agreed with him. In fact I suspect most wargamers with military experience would do so.
So I was not surprised to find that in 1962 Don was a “fun” wargamer, and Jack a “serious” wargamer. But I was surprised to find that Don did not feel that any articles should be allowed in their joint magazine War Game Digest which did not agree with his conception of what a wargame should be.
It make me wonder how he, and many other wargame “greats”, would have fared had they been expressing their comments on a forum such as TMP.
Back then one tended to accept written views without comment. This may well have been because in order to comment you had to take the trouble to write a letter and post it to the writer. It was then entirely up to him whether it was published or not. Even if he did it might take months before it appeared in print.
How different now when anyone with a computer can claim be an expert and instantly degrade any comments they do not agree with. And if they do so in a bullying way then there is a good chance that even if they have no support no one will be brave enough to defend the original comment.
I have no idea how Don would have responded, or indeed whether he would not have been one of the current “silent majority” who disagree but remain silent. I like to think he would have put his case and defended his opinions, but in a polite manner like the gentleman he was.
It is sad to see how wargame debate has sunk so low in recent years, directly due to the internet.
Surely no one has gained.