Often wargames ignite a passion in me to explore a certain historical period further with books. The reverse is true too. The original computer wargame Highway to the Reich led to many books on the topic of Market-Garden. And for me, the best “book” on the topic was not a book at all. It was a download written by some guy associated with Highway to the Reich game and was available on the Battlefront website. IMHO, that short Osprey sized article was better than any of the books I had read.
Which of course leads to the next question………. Are wargames capable of being used to supplement or even replace historical books? What is the value of a wargame to a person that wants to find out about the history of a battle or campaign? Is it more or less value than reading a book?
You know, the Airborne Assaults games are truly one-of-a-kind games. Not only because of mechanics and gameplay which brings you closer than you'll ever get to leading real WWII troops, but because the amount of the research necessary to produce one iteration. Not a lot of books have as much details as these games and none present it in a more inclusive and intelligible manner. Force structure is seen here in unprecedented details and maps are based on historical topographical maps of the area that are usually not easily accessible. All this in one package. You can see that the production of such titles has required an exhaustive, academical review of the litterature and in some places a knowledge of archival documents too. As such, a project such as these games could very well be presented as a Masters thesis, if it wasn't for a game after all...
Actually, you'll see that for the first eastern front game, the level of research will by FAR exceed anything you've ever seen on the subject in any books, whether in German, Russian or English.