MilSim is an abbreviation of military simulation, and refers to armed confrontation scenarios conducted by civilians for entertainment purposes. There are several forms of MilSim: airsoft games, paintball games, and video games simulating military scenarios and tactics.
In the past, due to the unrealistic nature of the performance of airsoft and paintball weapons, they were seldom used in real-world training environments. Instead, specialized non-lethal ammunition or blanks are used in conjunction with infrared targeting systems. More recently however, advances in airsoft replica authenticity and function have led numerous law enforcement and military units using them to train in CQB/CQC environments. Airsoft and paintball guns though previously not considered realistic by the US Department of Defense or major police departments for training purposes are becoming more so due to increases in realism and function, especially airsoft.
MilSim most often falls into two different categories: reenactment and simulation. Reenactments focus on a particular event in history and aim to provide the most accurate representation of the time period, events, and outcomes of the historical event. Simulation, however, may only focus on a particular time period and representation of which course a particular situation may have taken in history.
Airsoft is a sport in which individuals attempt to participate in the simulation of military combat also called MilSim or law enforcement-style combat.
Some airsoft teams specialize in MilSim and historical reenactment intended to get the participant "inside the head" of the characters from history. This gives participants a chance to pretend they are part of recent history. Occasionally airsoft groups have ex-military members seeking the camaraderie of their old units without the commitment. Airsoft guns are typically battery or gas-operated, holds dozens to hundreds of plastic BBs (depending on magazine-type), and are much quieter than a real firearm. They are typically only accurate for a hundred feet. Some newer gas-operated models feature realistic blowback action and bolt cycling and some even have shell ejection and recharge that emulate their real-world counterparts exactly. Players are commonly unable to engage opponents at realistic distances in outdoor fields. There are various weapons classes that are used in the sport, I.E. Assault Rifles, Support Weapons (Machine Guns), Sniper Rifles, etc., that dictate the role of the individual player. Indoors however, airsoft guns have virtually identical accuracy to their real steel counterparts. Players often lack real-world tactical training, and many in-game combat deaths and injuries come from simulated artillery and other explosives as well as small arms fire.
Airsoft has its roots in late-1980s East Asia, specifically Japan where firearms were difficult or impossible to obtain due to local laws, so people sought a legal alternative for enjoying their passion. Airsoft is still today most popular in several Asian regions, such as Japan, Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, and to a certain extent, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The vast majority of airsoft guns, accessories and after market upgrade parts are also manufactured in these countries.
There is also a growing interest in North America with several promoters throughout the nation. Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, Russia, Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, Portugal, Greece, Finland, Norway, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Chile, Argentina, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and South Africa, bolstered by an active and expanding Internet scene.
The United Kingdom's MilSim scene includes a number of airsoft event organizers who specialize in MilSim events run in conjunction with Live Action Role-Players (see LARP) at British Army training facilities such as Copehill Down and Catterick Garrison.
Paintball is a sport in which participants eliminate opponents from play by hitting them with paintballs, spherical gelatin capsules containing primarily polyethylene glycol, other non-toxic and water-soluble substances, and dye, shot from a compressed-gas-powered gun, commonly called a marker.
Paintball draws a wide array of players, and the Sporting Goods Manufacturer's Association estimates that over 30 million people play annually in the United States alone. Insurance statistics show that paintball is one of the safest sports in existence, even more so than tennis.
Games can be played either indoors or outdoors and take various forms, of which some of the most popular are woodsball, scenario and speedball, also sometimes known as tourneyball under various circumstances. Rules for playing paintball vary widely, with most designed to ensure that participants enjoy the sport in a safe environment. The sport requires a significant amount of equipment and has even developed its own slang.
A game of paintball usually involves two opposing teams seeking to eliminate all of the other team's players or to complete an objective, such as retrieving a flag, eliminating a specific player, or other paintball variations. An average, non-professional game of paintball usually lasts around five minutes to half an hour. Since its inception, paintball has drawn a crowd of both casual and serious players.
Mil-sim is also used in video games, such as ArmA, Red Orchestra, and others. Despite common belief, with all forms of MilSims, militia units may exist and are present in few-many games. Generally speaking, These games differentiate themselves from most military and shooter games in a few ways:
- Firearms operate closer to as they would in real life. reloading a firearm without using all the ammunition in that magazine results in either losing that ammo altogether, or that magazine is a set item with that much ammo.
- The games' systems account for various needs. Vehicles may have limited cargo space, and characters can have near permanent fatigue. Things like hunger and thirst may also become issues.
- Bullets are often treated as an object acted on by physics, requiring the player to account for wind and gravity.
- Bullet damage, while not always fatal, is almost guaranteed to severely injure someone.