3b. WWII Pacific Wargames 


A WWII poster about Pearl Harbor

The Wargames
Before Pearl Harbor, both the American and Japanese Navies played wargames simulating a Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and an ensuing naval war in the Pacific theatre.  Despite being aware of the dangerous threat that a Japanese surprise attack posed, the American military seemed to disregard the attack in their strategic plans as too unlikely.  The Japanese wargames, on the other hand, apparently altered or disregarded the rules of their wargames to ensure Japanese victory.  An often recounted wargaming story describes a Japanese wargame of the battle of Midway, where two sunken carriers were remarkably restored when the umpire of the game declared their destruction "unrealistic".

Role
Historically, naval wargames attempted to some degree to simulate role conditions, though these attempts were often minimal.  As a result, players usually possessed far more perfect information than would be available in reality. 

Subjective Evaluation by Purposes 
(on a to scale)

Prediction:  
Model Exploration:  
Strategic Skill Development:   
Simulation Immersion:  
Policy Formation:  
Fun:   ???

Analysis
Though the WWII Pacific wargames were generally accurate predictors of the shape of subsequent battles, they did fail to anticipate some of the strategic innovations developed during the war.  Notably, the destructive power of kamikazes and the importance of carrier-based aircraft were completely absent in pre-war Pacific wargames.  Yet it is clear that the true failure of the wargames was the fact that both the Japanese and American military failed to integrate fully the results of the games.  Both governments ignored wargame predictions and suffered the consequences.


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