The Look 2020

Veterans, gamers, history buffs and gun enthusiasts are shelling out to take part in military simulations.

Credit…Christopher Lee for The New York Times

In February, a group of several hundred military enthusiasts gathered to play-fight in Clovis, Calif., at the foot of the Sierra Nevada.

They had come for an event called the Road to Kharkiv, a simulation of a fictional NATO mission into Eastern Ukraine, hosted by a company called MilSim West. Roughly half of the participants played NATO troops; the other half, Russian forces. Visually, they were almost indistinguishable from a real-life military unit.

In MilSim — a portmanteau for “military simulation” —

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