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A wargame (also war game) is a strategy game that deals with military operations of various types, real or fictional. Wargaming is the hobby dedicated to the play of such games, which can also be called conflict simulations, or consims for short. When used professionally by the military to study warfare, “war game” may refer to a simple theoretical study or a full-scale military exercise. Hobby wargamers have traditionally used “wargame”, while the military has generally used “war game”; this is not a hard and fast rule. Although there may be disagreements as to whether a particular game qualifies as a wargame or not, a general consensus exists that all such games must explore and represent some feature or aspect of human behaviour directly bearing on the conduct of war, even if the game subject itself does not concern organized violent conflict or warfare. Business wargames exist as well, but in general, they are only role-playing games based on market situations.
Wargames are generally categorized as historical, hypothetical, fantasy, or science fiction. Historical games by far form the largest group. These games are based upon real events and attempt to represent a reasonable approximation of the actual forces, terrain, and other material factors faced by the actual participants. Hypothetical games are games grounded in historical fact but concern battles or conflicts that did not (or have yet to) actually happen. Fantasy and science fiction wargames either draw their inspiration from works of fiction or provide their own imaginary setting. Highly stylized conflict games such as chess are not generally considered wargames, although they are recognized as being related. Games involving conflict in other arenas than the battlefield, such as business, sports or natural environment are similarly usually excluded.
The modern wargaming hobby has its origins at the beginning of the 19th century, with von Reiswitz’s Kriegsspiel rules. Later, H.G. Wells’ book Little Wars ushered in the age of miniatures games in which two or more players simulated a battle as a pastime. During the 1950s the first large-scale, mass-produced board games depicting military conflicts were published. These games were at the height of their popularity during the 1970s, and became quite complex and technical in that time.
Wargaming has changed dramatically over the years, from its roots in miniatures and board wargaming, to contemporary computer and computer assisted wargames; however, both miniature and board wargames maintain a healthy, if small, hobby market with lighter games being popular with many ‘non-wargamers’.
Like all games, wargames exist in a range of different complexities. Some are fundamentally simple—often called “beer-and-pretzel” games—whereas others attempt to simulate a high level of historical realism. These latter games typically require extensive rulebooks that encompass a large variety of actions and details. These games often require a considerable study of the rules before they can be played. Wargames also feature a range of scales, from games that simulate individual soldiers, to ones that chart the course of an entire global or even galactic war.
Wargames are generally a representational art form. Usually, this is of a fairly concrete historical subject (such as the Battle of Gettysburg, one of several popular topics in the genre), but it can also be extended to non-historical ones as well. The Cold War provided fuel for many games that attempted to show what a non-nuclear (or, in a very few cases, nuclear) World War III would be like, moving from a re-creation to a predictive model in the process. Fantasy and science fiction subjects are sometimes not considered wargames because there is nothing in the real world to model, however, conflict in a self-consistent fictional world lends itself to exactly the same types of games and game designs as does military history.
Because of these attitudes, there are many games and types of games that may appear to be a wargame at first glance, but are not accepted as such by members of the hobby, and many that would be considered debatable. Risk could be considered a wargame; it uses an area map of the Earth and is unabashedly about sending out armies to conquer the world. However, it has no readily-discernible timeframe, and combat is extremely abstract, leading many to not consider it as an actual wargame, or only tangentially as one.
The highest percentage of war-themed games that are not wargames come from the video game industry. Most markedly real-time strategy games (such as StarCraft) deal with combat nearly exclusively, but the gameplay-enhancing conventions of the genre also destroy realism. For example, in actual combat, vehicle armor is generally a binary proposition. Either the round penetrates and the vehicle is knocked out, or it does not and the vehicle is unaffected. RTS games make a habit of giving a vehicle a “health bar” that generally allows it to survive even powerful single shots, but each hit reduces its health by some amount, allowing a high volume of rifle fire to knock out a well armored tank. Other notable genre conventions include the construction of buildings and vehicles within the timeframe of a battle (i.e., hours, if not less) and a lack of any command and control, supply, or morale systems.
A major determinant of the complexity and size of a wargame is how realistic it is intended to be. Some games constitute a serious study of the subject at hand, whereas others are intended to be light entertainment. In general, a more serious study will have longer, more detailed rules, more complexity, and more record keeping. More casual games may only bear a passing resemblance to the subject, although many still try to encourage the same types of decision making as the player’s historical counterparts, and thereby bring forth the “feel” of the conflict.
Wargames tend to have a few fundamental problems. Notably, both player knowledge, and player action are much less limited than what would be available to the player’s real-life counterparts. Some games have rules for command and control and fog of war, using various methods. While results vary, many of these mechanisms can be cumbersome and onerous in traditional games. The “edge of world problem” raises the issue of what to do at the artificial boundary of the physical edge of a board game, in contrast to real life where there is no “edge” and units off-board can have a tangible effect on a scenario. Computer wargames can more easily incorporate these features because the computer can conceal information from players and act as an impartial judge (even while playing one side). However, due to interface issues, these can still be found to be as frustrating to the player as traditional methods.
World Wide Web and introduction of browsers
Main articles: World Wide Web, Web browser, and History of the web browser
The World Wide Web (sometimes abbreviated “www” or “W3”) is an information space where documents and other web resources are identified by URIs, interlinked by hypertext links, and can be accessed via the Internet using a web browser and (more recently) web-based applications. It has become known simply as “the Web”. As of the 2010s, the World Wide Web is the primary tool billions use to interact on the Internet, and it has changed people’s lives immeasurably.
Precursors to the web browser emerged in the form of hyperlinked applications during the mid and late 1980s (the bare concept of hyperlinking had by then existed for some decades). Following these, Tim Berners-Lee is credited with inventing the World Wide Web in 1989 and developing in 1990 both the first web server, and the first web browser, called WorldWideWeb (no spaces) and later renamed Nexus. Many others were soon developed, with Marc Andreessen’s 1993 Mosaic (later Netscape), being particularly easy to use and install, and often credited with sparking the internet boom of the 1990s. Today, the major web browsers are Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Opera and Safari.
A boost in web users was triggered in September 1993 by NCSA Mosaic, a graphical browser which eventually ran on several popular office and home computers. This was the first web browser aiming to bring multimedia content to non-technical users, and therefore included images and text on the same page, unlike previous browser designs; its founder, Marc Andreessen, also established the company that in 1994, released Netscape Navigator, which resulted in one of the early browser wars, when it ended up in a competition for dominance (which it lost) with Microsoft Windows’ Internet Explorer. Commercial use restrictions were lifted in 1995. The online service America Online (AOL) offered their users a connection to the Internet via their own internal browser.
Use in wider society 1990s to early 2000s (Web 1.0)
The Internet was widely used for mailing lists, emails, e-commerce and early popular online shopping (Amazon and eBay for example), online forums and bulletin boards, and personal websites and blogs, and use was growing rapidly, but by more modern standards the systems used were static and lacked widespread social engagement. It awaited a number of events in the early 2000s to change from a communications technology to gradually develop into a key part of global society’s infrastructure.
Typical design elements of these “Web 1.0” era websites included: Static pages instead of dynamic HTML; content served from filesystems instead of relational databases; pages built using Server Side Includes or CGI instead of a web application written in a dynamic programming language; HTML 3.2-era structures such as frames and tables to create page layouts; online guestbooks; overuse of GIF buttons and similar small graphics promoting particular items; and HTML forms sent via email. (Support for server side scripting was rare on shared servers so the usual feedback mechanism was via email, using mailto forms and their email program.
During the period 1997 to 2001, the first speculative investment bubble related to the Internet took place, in which “dot-com” companies (referring to the “.com” top level domain used by businesses) were propelled to exceedingly high valuations as investors rapidly stoked stock values, followed by a market crash; the first dot-com bubble. However this only temporarily slowed enthusiasm and growth, which quickly recovered and continued to grow.
The changes that would propel the Internet into its place as a social system took place during a relatively short period of no more than five years, starting from around 2004. They included:
The call to “Web 2.0” in 2004 (first suggested in 1999),
Accelerating adoption and commoditization among households of, and familiarity with, the necessary hardware (such as computers).
Accelerating storage technology and data access speeds – hard drives emerged, took over from far smaller, slower floppy discs, and grew from megabytes to gigabytes (and by around 2010, terabytes), RAM from hundreds of kilobytes to gigabytes as typical amounts on a system, and Ethernet, the enabling technology for TCP/IP, moved from common speeds of kilobits to tens of megabits per second, to gigabits per second.
High speed Internet and wider coverage of data connections, at lower prices, allowing larger traffic rates, more reliable simpler traffic, and traffic from more locations,
The gradually accelerating perception of the ability of computers to create new means and approaches to communication, the emergence of social media and websites such as Twitter and Facebook to their later prominence, and global collaborations such as Wikipedia (which existed before but gained prominence as a result),
and shortly after (approximately 2007–2008 onward):
The mobile revolution, which provided access to the Internet to much of human society of all ages, in their daily lives, and allowed them to share, discuss, and continually update, inquire, and respond.
Non-volatile RAM rapidly grew in size and reliability, and decreased in price, becoming a commodity capable of enabling high levels of computing activity on these small handheld devices as well as solid-state drives (SSD).
An emphasis on power efficient processor and device design, rather than purely high processing power; one of the beneficiaries of this was ARM, a British company which had focused since the 1980s on powerful but low cost simple microprocessors. ARM rapidly gained dominance in the market for mobile and embedded devices.
With the call to Web 2.0, the period up to around 2004–2005 was retrospectively named and described by some as Web 1.0.
Main articles: Web 2.0 and Responsive web design
The term “Web 2.0” describes websites that emphasize user-generated content (including user-to-user interaction), usability, and interoperability. It first appeared in a January 1999 article called “Fragmented Future” written by Darcy DiNucci, a consultant on electronic information design, where she wrote:
“The Web we know now, which loads into a browser window in essentially static screenfuls, is only an embryo of the Web to come. The first glimmerings of Web 2.0 are beginning to appear, and we are just starting to see how that embryo might develop. The Web will be understood not as screenfuls of text and graphics but as a transport mechanism, the ether through which interactivity happens. It will […] appear on your computer screen, […] on your TV set […] your car dashboard […] your cell phone […] hand-held game machines […] maybe even your microwave oven.”
The term resurfaced during 2002 – 2004, and gained prominence in late 2004 following presentations by Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty at the first Web 2.0 Conference. In their opening remarks, John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly outlined their definition of the “Web as Platform”, where software applications are built upon the Web as opposed to upon the desktop. The unique aspect of this migration, they argued, is that “customers are building your business for you”. They argued that the activities of users generating content (in the form of ideas, text, videos, or pictures) could be “harnessed” to create value.
Web 2.0 does not refer to an update to any technical specification, but rather to cumulative changes in the way Web pages are made and used. Web 2.0 describes an approach, in which sites focus substantially upon allowing users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to Web sites where people are limited to the passive viewing of content. Examples of Web 2.0 include social networking sites, blogs, wikis, folksonomies, video sharing sites, hosted services, Web applications, and mashups. Terry Flew, in his 3rd Edition of New Media described what he believed to characterize the differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0:
“[The] move from personal websites to blogs and blog site aggregation, from publishing to participation, from web content as the outcome of large up-front investment to an ongoing and interactive process, and from content management systems to links based on tagging (folksonomy)”.
This era saw several household names gain prominence through their community-oriented operation – YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Wikipedia being some examples.
The mobile revolution
Main articles: History of mobile phones and Mobile Web
The process of change generally described as “Web 2.0” was itself greatly accelerated and transformed only a short time later by the increasing growth in mobile devices. This mobile revolution meant that computers in the form of smartphones became something many people used, took with them everywhere, communicated with, used for photographs and videos they instantly shared or to shop or seek information “on the move” – and used socially, as opposed to items on a desk at home or just used for work.
Location-based services, services using location and other sensor information, and crowdsourcing (frequently but not always location based), became common, with posts tagged by location, or websites and services becoming location aware. Mobile-targeted websites (such as “m.website.com”) became common, designed especially for the new devices used. Netbooks, ultrabooks, widespread 4G and Wi-Fi, and mobile chips capable or running at nearly the power of desktops from not many years before on far lower power usage, became enablers of this stage of Internet development, and the term “App” emerged (short for “Application program” or “Program”) as did the “App store”.
Networking in outer space
Main article: Interplanetary Internet
The first Internet link into low earth orbit was established on January 22, 2010 when astronaut T. J. Creamer posted the first unassisted update to his Twitter account from the International Space Station, marking the extension of the Internet into space. (Astronauts at the ISS had used email and Twitter before, but these messages had been relayed to the ground through a NASA data link before being posted by a human proxy.) This personal Web access, which NASA calls the Crew Support LAN, uses the space station’s high-speed Ku band microwave link. To surf the Web, astronauts can use a station laptop computer to control a desktop computer on Earth, and they can talk to their families and friends on Earth using Voice over IP equipment.
Communication with spacecraft beyond earth orbit has traditionally been over point-to-point links through the Deep Space Network. Each such data link must be manually scheduled and configured. In the late 1990s NASA and Google began working on a new network protocol, Delay-tolerant networking (DTN) which automates this process, allows networking of spaceborne transmission nodes, and takes the fact into account that spacecraft can temporarily lose contact because they move behind the Moon or planets, or because space weather disrupts the connection. Under such conditions, DTN retransmits data packages instead of dropping them, as the standard TCP/IP Internet Protocol does. NASA conducted the first field test of what it calls the “deep space internet” in November 2008. Testing of DTN-based communications between the International Space Station and Earth (now termed Disruption-Tolerant Networking) has been ongoing since March 2009, and is scheduled to continue until March 2014.
This network technology is supposed to ultimately enable missions that involve multiple spacecraft where reliable inter-vessel communication might take precedence over vessel-to-earth downlinks. According to a February 2011 statement by Google’s Vint Cerf, the so-called “Bundle protocols” have been uploaded to NASA’s EPOXI mission spacecraft (which is in orbit around the Sun) and communication with Earth has been tested at a distance of approximately 80 light seconds.
Main article: Internet governance
As a globally distributed network of voluntarily interconnected autonomous networks, the Internet operates without a central governing body. It has no centralized governance for either technology or policies, and each constituent network chooses what technologies and protocols it will deploy from the voluntary technical standards that are developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). However, throughout its entire history, the Internet system has had an “Internet Assigned Numbers Authority” (IANA) for the allocation and assignment of various technical identifiers needed for the operation of the Internet. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) provides oversight and coordination for two principal name spaces in the Internet, the Internet Protocol address space and the Domain Name System.
NIC, InterNIC, IANA and ICANN
Main articles: InterNIC, Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, and ICANN
The IANA function was originally performed by USC Information Sciences Institute, and it delegated portions of this responsibility with respect to numeric network and autonomous system identifiers to the Network Information Center (NIC) at Stanford Research Institute (SRI International) in Menlo Park, California. In addition to his role as the RFC Editor, Jon Postel worked as the manager of IANA until his death in 1998.
As the early ARPANET grew, hosts were referred to by names, and a HOSTS.TXT file would be distributed from SRI International to each host on the network. As the network grew, this became cumbersome. A technical solution came in the form of the Domain Name System, created by Paul Mockapetris. The Defense Data Network—Network Information Center (DDN-NIC) at SRI handled all registration services, including the top-level domains (TLDs) of .mil, .gov, .edu, .org, .net, .com and .us, root nameserver administration and Internet number assignments under a United States Department of Defense contract. In 1991, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) awarded the administration and maintenance of DDN-NIC (managed by SRI up until this point) to Government Systems, Inc., who subcontracted it to the small private-sector Network Solutions, Inc.
The increasing cultural diversity of the Internet also posed administrative challenges for centralized management of the IP addresses. In October 1992, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) published RFC 1366, which described the “growth of the Internet and its increasing globalization” and set out the basis for an evolution of the IP registry process, based on a regionally distributed registry model. This document stressed the need for a single Internet number registry to exist in each geographical region of the world (which would be of “continental dimensions”). Registries would be “unbiased and widely recognized by network providers and subscribers” within their region. The RIPE Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC) was established as the first RIR in May 1992. The second RIR, the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), was established in Tokyo in 1993, as a pilot project of the Asia Pacific Networking Group.
Since at this point in history most of the growth on the Internet was coming from non-military sources, it was decided that the Department of Defense would no longer fund registration services outside of the .mil TLD. In 1993 the U.S. National Science Foundation, after a competitive bidding process in 1992, created the InterNIC to manage the allocations of addresses and management of the address databases, and awarded the contract to three organizations. Registration Services would be provided by Network Solutions; Directory and Database Services would be provided by AT&T; and Information Services would be provided by General Atomics.
Over time, after consultation with the IANA, the IETF, RIPE NCC, APNIC, and the Federal Networking Council (FNC), the decision was made to separate the management of domain names from the management of IP numbers. Following the examples of RIPE NCC and APNIC, it was recommended that management of IP address space then administered by the InterNIC should be under the control of those that use it, specifically the ISPs, end-user organizations, corporate entities, universities, and individuals. As a result, the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) was established as in December 1997, as an independent, not-for-profit corporation by direction of the National Science Foundation and became the third Regional Internet Registry.
In 1998, both the IANA and remaining DNS-related InterNIC functions were reorganized under the control of ICANN, a California non-profit corporation contracted by the United States Department of Commerce to manage a number of Internet-related tasks. As these tasks involved technical coordination for two principal Internet name spaces (DNS names and IP addresses) created by the IETF, ICANN also signed a memorandum of understanding with the IAB to define the technical work to be carried out by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. The management of Internet address space remained with the regional Internet registries, which collectively were defined as a supporting organization within the ICANN structure. ICANN provides central coordination for the DNS system, including policy coordination for the split registry / registrar system, with competition among registry service providers to serve each top-level-domain and multiple competing registrars offering DNS services to end-users.
Internet Engineering Task Force
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is the largest and most visible of several loosely related ad-hoc groups that provide technical direction for the Internet, including the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF).
The IETF is a loosely self-organized group of international volunteers who contribute to the engineering and evolution of Internet technologies. It is the principal body engaged in the development of new Internet standard specifications. Much of the work of the IETF is organized into Working Groups. Standardization efforts of the Working Groups are often adopted by the Internet community, but the IETF does not control or patrol the Internet.
The IETF grew out of quarterly meeting of U.S. government-funded researchers, starting in January 1986. Non-government representatives were invited by the fourth IETF meeting in October 1986. The concept of Working Groups was introduced at the fifth meeting in February 1987. The seventh meeting in July 1987 was the first meeting with more than one hundred attendees. In 1992, the Internet Society, a professional membership society, was formed and IETF began to operate under it as an independent international standards body. The first IETF meeting outside of the United States was held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in July 1993. Today, the IETF meets three times per year and attendance has been as high as ca. 2,000 participants. Typically one in three IETF meetings are held in Europe or Asia. The number of non-US attendees is typically ca. 50%, even at meetings held in the United States.
The IETF is not a legal entity, has no governing board, no members, and no dues. The closest status resembling membership is being on an IETF or Working Group mailing list. IETF volunteers come from all over the world and from many different parts of the Internet community. The IETF works closely with and under the supervision of the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB). The Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) and the Internet Research Steering Group (IRSG), peer activities to the IETF and IESG under the general supervision of the IAB, focus on longer term research issues.
Request for Comments
Request for Comments (RFCs) are the main documentation for the work of the IAB, IESG, IETF, and IRTF. RFC 1, “Host Software”, was written by Steve Crocker at UCLA in April 1969, well before the IETF was created. Originally they were technical memos documenting aspects of ARPANET development and were edited by Jon Postel, the first RFC Editor.
RFCs cover a wide range of information from proposed standards, draft standards, full standards, best practices, experimental protocols, history, and other informational topics. RFCs can be written by individuals or informal groups of individuals, but many are the product of a more formal Working Group. Drafts are submitted to the IESG either by individuals or by the Working Group Chair. An RFC Editor, appointed by the IAB, separate from IANA, and working in conjunction with the IESG, receives drafts from the IESG and edits, formats, and publishes them. Once an RFC is published, it is never revised. If the standard it describes changes or its information becomes obsolete, the revised standard or updated information will be re-published as a new RFC that “obsoletes” the original.
The Internet Society
The Internet Society (ISOC) is an international, nonprofit organization founded during 1992 “to assure the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world”. With offices near Washington, DC, USA, and in Geneva, Switzerland, ISOC has a membership base comprising more than 80 organizational and more than 50,000 individual members. Members also form “chapters” based on either common geographical location or special interests. There are currently more than 90 chapters around the world.
ISOC provides financial and organizational support to and promotes the work of the standards settings bodies for which it is the organizational home: the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF). ISOC also promotes understanding and appreciation of the Internet model of open, transparent processes and consensus-based decision-making.
Globalization and Internet governance in the 21st century
Since the 1990s, the Internet’s governance and organization has been of global importance to governments, commerce, civil society, and individuals. The organizations which held control of certain technical aspects of the Internet were the successors of the old ARPANET oversight and the current decision-makers in the day-to-day technical aspects of the network. While recognized as the administrators of certain aspects of the Internet, their roles and their decision-making authority are limited and subject to increasing international scrutiny and increasing objections. These objections have led to the ICANN removing themselves from relationships with first the University of Southern California in 2000, and finally in September 2009, gaining autonomy from the US government by the ending of its longstanding agreements, although some contractual obligations with the U.S. Department of Commerce continued.
The IETF, with financial and organizational support from the Internet Society, continues to serve as the Internet’s ad-hoc standards body and issues Request for Comments.
In November 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society, held in Tunis, called for an Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to be convened by United Nations Secretary General. The IGF opened an ongoing, non-binding conversation among stakeholders representing governments, the private sector, civil society, and the technical and academic communities about the future of Internet governance. The first IGF meeting was held in October/November 2006 with follow up meetings annually thereafter. Since WSIS, the term “Internet governance” has been broadened beyond narrow technical concerns to include a wider range of Internet-related policy issues