I have/had(?) a friend who used to run gladiatorial contest games for all-comers, but for school kids in particular to introduce them to some concepts of classical history. He is a really nice, charming bloke who has a genuine passion for classical education but I always wondered about this way of encouraging interest - for reasons which will become apparent.
Nick NorthStar is peddling a new set of Gladiator Rules today on TMP http://theminiaturespage.com/news/?id=1492881706
and the genre seems to be a hardy perennial of 'skirmish' gaming.
Most 'games' in Roman arenas weren't 'noble' warriors (the pitch presumably in the intro to kids) in a brutal but heroic version of UFC matches. They were ritualised, barbaric, judicial murders for the entertainment of the mob and to let people know what to expect if they, the plebs, challenged the patricians.
Sadistic snuff theatre with actual rape and dismemberment, animal slaughter and casual human butchery was the order of the day rather than noble warrior bollocks.
How would we feel about having our kids gaming captured barbarians being raped to death by trained animals? I can imagine a few difficult discussions with the board of Governors at best.
Why is this worse than gaming warfare? I don't know, but it is.
Would we feel comfortable making a game of organising executions in 18th century England? Or if you prefer a bit of Hanging Drawing and Quartering or Burning at the Stake, 16th century England?
Concentration or death camps? - now funnily enough I have seen a very subtle and immensely clever and quite sensitive game based on that subject under 'disguised scenario' conditions - brilliant and insightful with genuine shivery Hannah Arendt type moments.
But 'Roll up! Roll up! Come and watch the brave Iceni! See the beautiful maidens get it! Can a Celt beat a bear?! All the fun of the Games!'...no ta.