WARGAMES

Directed by
Jessica Bishopp

Obsession, camaraderie and a Wargames Society that asks: what does it take to go into battle?

Wargames takes place in a village hall and features the Tunbridge Wells Wargames Society. The ominous and academic voice over interview from Professor Edgar Jones (Professor in the History of Medicine and Psychiatry, King’s College London, King’s Centre of Military Health Research (KCMHR)) acts as narration. With this film Director Jessica Bishopp demonstrates several psychological intrigues; including conflict, warfare, mental health, military psychology, obsession, model-making, craft, friendship and community.

Bishopp describes how she was "particularly curious about their motivations for playing battle-led games, why not monopoly or scrabble?" She wanted to "delve into why they had an affinity for conflict and warfare games; did any of the gamers reflect personally on the connections between the game and real life war?" A meta dialogue ensues between the act of the game itself, individual monologues from the gamers on their passion towards Wargames and psychologist Prof. Edgar Jones' analysis of real life war.

The game becomes a sounding board for the gamers psychology in other aspects of their lives. One gamer heart-warmingly stating, " At the moment whilst I'm caring for me Mum after her hip and knee operations, I could paint over her house but I'm actually building a workshop at the top of my garden. that means I'll have a proper purpose built facility rather than commandeering the first table available.. so if I end up sharing my life with some young lady she doesn't end up having to share her dinner table with a pile of figures."

The film continues to make us aware of the gamers keen interest to share, when the occasional resonating remark from the psychologist, who despite talking in context with real-life war makes parallels with the soldier/ gamer psychology, 'soldiers on the battlefield don't fight generally for patriotic beliefs, they fight because they don't want to let their mates down.'

The confusion between where soldier/model/gamer begins and ends is added to by Bishopp's intended plan to merge scales between model and gamer. Overall Wargames plays with our perceptions of who we are listening to: model, gamer or psychologist and to what severity do we judge the art of the mind's separation between real life battles and boardgames. "I intended the big battle and hand-painted models to have an epic dramatised feel, so that as an audience you are in the middle of the battle."

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