When I was in high school in the late 80's the gaming industry seemed to be in great shape, there was SPI, GDW, AH and others. I went to college and found beer and girls, and then the working world and just didn't keep playing. In the past couple of years I've been trying to get back into it and I see that much has changed.
So what happened - was it the end of the Cold War, was it computers? (Iv'e never understood some of the antipathy to computers and computer gaming, seems very complimentary to me)
Anyways since I really didn't see it happen, I'm just curious...
The usual suspects: roleplaying games and computer games drew people away. RPGs appeal to the personal adventure aspects of wargaming in a less rigid and more self-aggrandizing way. Computer games are easier to get started with, since you don't have to read the rules or set out the counters--and you don't have to leave the game on a table for multisession play. And, of course, computer games have monsters, explosions and pulse-pounding action (whatever that is). I also suspect that some of the decline is due to kids not spending their free time playing "army" in the backyard. Their fathers and neighbors are not World War II veterans. Indeed, parents are suspected of child abuse if they let their charges have toy guns.
I too have fond memories of gaming in the 70s and 80s - all the old classics. But it was a tiny niche even then, and I would argue that we are now experiencing a true "golden age" in terms of both quantity and quality of designs available, on every conceivable subject. And I agree - computers and boardgames can be extremely complementary, to whit this discussion - not to mention Vassal, Aide de Camp, Cyberboard ...
I think that we have hit the new "Golden Age" as the quality of games have recently been good (there will always be exceptions), the graphics have definately improved and the game run from simple to complex, half-map to multi-map and game conventions just for wargames.
I am quite young, had my first encounter with MBT in 1999, then quickly switched to computer gaming - mostly MMORPGs - which got boring so fast, so i returned to boardgames in 2002. Since then my interest for boardgames and wargames has increased dramatically, while computer gaming decreased. Today i still use computers on their planned operational area: being a utility (VASSAL,etc.)
The brain stuff is handled by myself again (*phew*) - no more flashy action-graphics , as a result of a growing boardgaming industry and maybe getting older...
In my overview things in gaming have changed - the better way.
Well my wife is glad I quit girls and beer! OK lame :)
Anyways, here is what I've seen. The pro's of this day and age.
1. Quality - the quality of almost all gaming components has increased. I bought GDW's Asault last year and comparing it to the quality of Lock 'N Load's Eisenbach Gap - no comparison.
2. Rules - it seems like people are willing to think about playability and the quality if writing and thought in the rules are much better.
3. Archiving - Nothing is lost anymore , between scanning and other computer tools make sure nothing is lost.
1. No one to play with! I live in Boston, and let me be blunt - it's not a hotbed of hobbying of any type, much less war gaming.
2. This has nothing to do wth wargaming - but I work and while I can afford just about all of the wargames I need, I travel and work ALOT.... Oh dear. So even if I can find people and places to game, it's very had to get time....
Andy, it seems to me that Vassal or Cyberboard could address your opponent and time issues. Between the two of them, there are hundreds of boardgame ports - if a game has a decent following, chances are there's a module to play it online. And you don't necessarily have to play head-to-head; turns can be swapped via email, handy when playing opponents in different time zones. You can even play while travelling if you have a laptop.
I am using CyberBoard for three games in progress and am not against using ADC2 either. I'm a fumble-bumb in VASSAL and have fiddled around with at couple other applications. While not as satisfying as FTF play it helps to get the occasional game played regardless. I did notice that some games play better with a PBEM aide. Luftwaffe is one of them.
Andy, if you need to travel a lot, if you ever get in, let's say Montreal, two guys in this page will ofer you to play a game ;-). I'm with skip on the internet gaming, i need to develop skills to play online. I regularly use Brucve Widgor's system, but there is a limited number of games to be played. And unless I can find an opponent who's a t my average skill, it's not such a fun time to play PoG or BtB. Still there is a possibility right there.
Andy, have you tried the Strategic Games Society at MIT? I used to go every now and then when I lived in Boston. They meet every Friday night, if I recall. Just search for them on Yahoo Groups, you'll find them.
Yeah I might - I pinged them and they said they were more into eurogames but he did say they wouldn't nmind if I brought wargames. Part of my biggest issue is I travel a lot for work... So I'm gonna keep trying.
I missed it too. Left when the big three were chugging along - came back to all new players, some of which were going past 10 years already. Was overjoyed to find S&T still in prod, and even more overjoyed to discover Command via it's old website, which someone was keeping up as a memento even though the mag was dead for years by then. Bad joke - I had my credit card in hand ready to subscribe.
Computer games? Feh. I work on a PC all day long, and use it to communicate (obviously) but games for me have to be tactile.
>I live in Boston, and let me be blunt - it's not a hotbed of hobbying of any type, much less war gaming.
Boston has Hobby Bunker - someone has to be keeping that store in business!
I too, was one of the wargamers that drifted off in the 1990's. I still played Wargames; I have a large collection -I never even thought about getting rid of all my games- but as far as subscriptions or getting to Origins, or keeping up with the new games, No, I had too much to do and not enough time or effort to spare. I think that between 1991 and 1999, I may have bought a total of 5 games. And those were just a couple of Startegy & Tactics and two old (pre 1985 ) games.
I remember seeing Web grognards for the first time and reading some comments about Avalanche Press....mostly unfavorable. Any games I did manage to play Face-To-Face were all old games and with other wargamers that also had not 'kept up with the hobby'.
I did alot of travel in the 1990's, which also had my gaming time limited. Not only not having the time, I also couldnt really bring any real games along with me. It just wasnt going to happen.
I was highly impressed, though, when I DID get back into the hobby....all due to John Kranz and ConSimWorld. And I did time it quite right. I did NOT subscribe to "Against the Odds" magzine until 2005. Had I subscribed with the first couple of issues I would have dropped the subscription since the first couple of games were nothing to brag about and had way too many problems.
One thing I do see that I missed out on was the "Strategy & Tactics" run from issues 150 to 225. If nothing else, I now wish I had just simply subscribed....even if I only put the games into storage! The price back then is a huge bargain today. And in the past three years I have slowly been buying alot of back issues from 150 to 225 and Enjoying them. The games are quite diverse and alot are truly unique -for example, "The Balkan Wars" and "'On to Moscow".
There are a few things that I may have missed out on, but for the most part, I can catch up fairly easily with the hobby. I have DOVE Into The Gamers' Operational Combat System and on the other hand have not been interested in the Tactical Combat System at all. The Avalon Hill Game Company's passing did not affect me at all. I am watching the Card-Driven-Game efforts as we sit here.
NOW is a great time to be in the hobby; the 90's I dont htink I miised too much.