What kind of people stage make-believe wars with Space Marines? Real Marines, of course — and members of the other services:
Games Workshop’s U.S.-based outreach manager estimates that 20 to 25 percent of Games Workshop’s American customers are active members of the military. If you include veterans, she says, that number jumps to about 40 percent.
40K may not be a true simulation of armed conflict, but it’s part of a centuries-long tradition of war games. After World War II, U.S. Navy Adm. Chester W. Nimitz credited gaming for helping the Allies prepare. “The war with Japan had been re-enacted in the game rooms here by so many people and in so many different ways,” he said, “that nothing that happened during the war was a surprise—absolutely nothing except the kamikaze tactics towards the end of the war; we had not visualized those.”
Elements of gaming are still present in modern warfare. In Iraq and Afghanistan, Carey served as an operations officer (an S3, to be exact) for an infantry battalion. His responsibilities included developing battle plans from the tactical operations center. “In the movies when you see the room/tent with all the maps, projection screens, and radios with guys moving icons around on a map board — that’s the TOC,” he said in an email. “In a way, running a TOC is as close to hobby war gaming as it gets in the military.”
Who’s hauling all their miniatures overseas?