Friday, 23 January 2015

Model railways as a game

Welcome to Armchair Modeller Down Under in 2015.

Last year was a rather quiet year with my time taken up with a number of other activities. I hope this year will allow me some spare time to publish regular posts here and in sister blog, DME Down Under.

One of the themes I want to cover this year is gamification.  Briefly, gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems and increase users' self contributions. In the context of model railways where we seek to draw inspiration from the prototype, I want to investigate some of the thinking around gamification and how other hobbies, such as wargamers, combine elements of gamification with historical or contemporary real life practices. Gamification is also important in other fields such as education and technology development.

In model railways, many of us want to simulate prototype railway operation on our layouts to increase our enjoyment of the hobby and to give a sense of purpose. At the same time, we cannot always exactly replicate the prototype (although there are modellers who aim for such perfection) and therefore compromise prototype operational authenticity to increase modelling potential and other operational practicalities. Gamification is something I am interested in furthering my knowledge about to see if there are elements I can use to increase the enjoyment of my model railway.

And this is one reason why I will be attending Cancon this Australia Day long weekend in Canberra. I will be interested in the different forms of wargaming, in particular the rules and concepts, which underlie the actual playing of the game. As people know, wargaming is often based on an extensive knowledge of historical conflicts with as much enthusiasm and detail as many in the hobby of model railways. There is definitely a connection to history and research that both hobbies share.

In addition, the range of paints and ancillary items for sale at Cancon are of use in both hobbies and are an added bonus. I especially enjoy talking with people about the painting techniques of wargame miniatures which is indeed a very special skill.

So, with this rather offbeat introduction to the year, I hope that you will find this and future blog posts on Armchair Modeller Down Under of continued interest.


  1. I learnt some very practical skills also in painting and weathering models from a war gaming mate. Greg from Sydney

  2. Brad,

    As the previous comment indicates, there are quite a few areas common to both hobbies particularly in the way we create individual models or scenes. However, I suspect that it is the area of operation or the actual engagement that you may find the most intriguing. Operationally, we tend to focus on schedules and the movement of particular loads from A to B. Uncertainty or chance is an element but often as a means of creating demand for services. Perhaps the reliability of our models also creates a degree of uncertainty - certainly it does on Philip's Creek. The wargamer will test his/her skills against another individual using tactics and techniques from their chosen time period. Chance together with other factors will influence the outcome of a particular engagement. I suspect that we also probably measure our success differently.

    I will be interested to hear the outcome of your visit.

    cheers Phil