With the invasion of Georgia, the War in Iraq, the tensions with Iran, war and aggression is everywhere. Should we attack Russia? Iran? I don’t know, but Starcraft has taught me some things that we would do well to heed. Attacking is not the only way to be victorious.
Starcraft is not a diplomatic game. You can’t win through peace. It simulates war, no question. But even in this hostile simulation, there are multiple ways to defeat your opponent. You can attack, but you can also grow your economy to the point where the enemy can’t compete and you can develop technology that the enemy can’t respond to.
We see this in real life. The size of the American economy was the decisive factor in World War II against the Germans. The technology behind ships, bombers and the nuclear bomb beat the Japanese. Even in passive situations, these factors preserve the balance of powers and usually lead to a peaceful resolution without lose of life. The conflict between Iraq and Iran is marked more by technological development and economic growth over decades then outright attacks. Even now, analysts say Russia is far more concerned with protecting its oil-driven economy then advancing military positions in Georgia.
The populist instinct may be to attack, attack, attack. In Starcraft, however, attacking into a prepared position, even a significantly weaker enemy, will usually led to a significant defeat. It’s important to pressure your opponent, to know what your opponent is doing, and even sometimes to contain your opponent. But it is extremely important to not overextend. Instead, Starcraft ask you to grow your economy, develop new technologies, all the things that make any country great, in order to prevail any conflict.
All this from a little video game where the units don’t actually matter.