Retro War Games in Canadian War Museum Exhibition

Retro War Games in Canadian War Museum Exhibition

Last Updated on June 14, 2023

The intertwined histories of war, play, and games have shaped each other over time. Military training and recruitment have incorporated games, and the influence of conflict on popular culture has impacted games as well.

The Canadian War Museum’s latest exhibit, War Games, delves into these connections, exploring the significance of gaming in military strategy and training, as well as the impact of war on popular games.

Through five chronological zones, the exhibition highlights the evolution of such games. The first two zones cover ancient times through the world wars, followed by a section exploring gaming during the Cold War era and the influence of Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The final zone covers present-day wargaming challenges.

“Games have long been intertwined with war. This timely and relevant exhibition will have multigenerational appeal. We hope War Games broadens visitors’ understanding of what war games are and helps them see wargaming as both a popular hobby and a professional activity with real-world impact.”

Dean F. Oliver, Interim Vice-President and Director General of the Canadian War Museum.

War gaming objects and applications

On display are objects ranging from a Greek hero ceramic vessel dating back 2,500 years to contemporary games and media. Rare games from around the world, such as the Dunn-Kempf tabletop war game utilized by the U.S. Army, are displayed alongside more familiar games, such as chess, Dungeons and Dragons, and Missile Command. The exhibit also showcases current topical games, including Settlers of Catan, This War of Mine, and Bury Me, My Love.

Home gaming experienced a boom in the 1970s and early 1980s, driven by the popular Atari television gaming console. The war-themed Atari games Missile Command and Battlezone first appeared in arcades in 1979 and 1980 and were later released for the Atari home system. Atari 2600 Game Console Canadian Museum of History 2009.71.2264.2

Visitors can interact with the exhibit through interactive experiences and view perspectives from veterans, gamers, artists, academics, and military planners. You’ll gain deeper insight into complex topics associated with wargaming and information on the applications of these types of games.

Regardless of their interests, all visitors will find objects and experiences that fascinate them. War Games is open now and runs until December 31, 2023. Tickets can be reserved online ahead of time, and more information is available at

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