“The public supports war until the body bags come home” was a persistent thought meandering through my mind as I was writing these articles. I wanted to evaluate each race’s capacity for killing, and something in the back of my mind made that topic feel… uneasy. When I continued to hesitate putting it into words, I eventually recognised that my struggle existed because of the nature of what war games reflect. It also occurred to me that the trend of “winning games by making friends” surfaced, in part, because many of us were conflicted about aggression in competition.
As I dug deeper into my own ambivalence, I found that historical studies showed that we, as human beings, require physical and psychological training to carry out the act of killing, and in most cases we do not want to take life (Grossman, 1996). As demonstrated during the U.S.-driven war in Iraq, this society only supported war when they saw no diplomatic way out or were not presented with other options (Hoffman et al., 2015). In today’s Planets matches, it is often much the same.
Not every player has equal amounts of the killer instinct, and the diplomatic approach is often the first road taken. This passiveness births long periods of non-combat while players build up their forces. Sadly, this plays into the hands of the carrier races, and the torpedo races (and the weaker players) are left with little option but to pander to the whims of a more powerful force if they want to survive. Since so many players choose the passive route, the delays inevitably lead to players backed into corners and the nasty aftertaste of betrayal.
The overarching goal of this article series is to give players the knowledge, and therefore the confidence, to choose the path of action.
This multi-part series will be an evaluation of each race’s potential for offensive combat. It will be a type of intellectual training on how to kill in VGA Planets. The best killer empires command fleets which are at once agile, deadly, and multifarious. The upcoming volumes will explore each of these topics.
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Thanks for reading. – TS
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- Grossman. (1996). On killing: the psychological cost of learning to kill in war and society. Little, Brown.
- Hoffman, Agnew, VanderDrift, & Kulzick. (2015). Norms, diplomatic alternatives, and the social psychology of war support. The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 59(1), 3–3.
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