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Games People Play: Metafiction, Defense Strategy, and the Cultures of Simulation

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Abstract

This essay situates the American metafiction produced in the 1960s in relation to contemporary defense strategy and war-gaming. As critics have noted, metafiction about games and gaming is a particularly rich site for thinking about metafiction more generally, and I argue that these metafictional texts reveal a profound skepticism about the value and efficacy of simulation. This skepticism should be understood, I argue, in relation to the problems of defense strategy in the thermonuclear age.

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... 75 This insistence on a relation between bare but nonetheless essential narrativity and the narrow expertise of the defense intellectual is all the more pronounced given the general sense that real experience and history itself were of little value when it came to thinking about and planning for a nuclear war: ''It wasn't,'' writes Dan Grausam, ''simply that history would offer no guide to the future, but that thinking guided by experience, history, or the fact of having seen combat close-up could be downright dangerous, since it would imagine the bomb on a continuum with previous weapons.'' 76 As a result, and as both critics and proponents of the RAND style saw, modern military theory differed from the work of Thucydides, Carl von Clausewitz, B. H. Liddell Hart, or Hans Morgenthau because it denied the value of historical precedent. 77 ''Thus,'' argues Brodie, ''where the great strategic writers and teachers of the past . . . ...
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