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...
I was away from wargaming for 15 years .I returned in Jan. of this year.The hobby is still alive and well!I have bought some excellent new games.The companies have changed but I have been having a great time exploring what I missed!
I can only speak for Singapore. From my observation, roleplaying games essentially killed wargaming here. There was no new blood to speak of despite the a local army reservist group running annual tournaments of Panzer Leader in schools for about fifteen years.
Then, came computer games. And finally collectible card games.
Today, the youngest player here that I know of here is thirty years old and there is only one of him.
Miniatures gaming - everything from Clix games to traditional military simulation - is doing incredibly well. This is the best of all possible times for miniatures gamers.
And non-historical boardgames are doing well too.
The problem with military simulation boardgaming is that the market is aging and shrinking. If you don't reach out for newer, younger audiences, it will die out. So go after those RPG, Clix, Magic, and constructable card game players. They are the future. But you have to have introductory games that will appeal to them. Unfortunately, history is a dead subject for most people. The best way to get people introduced to boardgames is through fantasy and science fiction.
Believe it or not but I think today, this recent period is the new golden age of war gaming. Just to mention a few but MMP, GMT, Lock 'n Load and tons of other publishers have given us many great and exciting mechanics in game play. The days and publishers you mentioned (I was playing then too) were mostly designing IGOUGO hex and counter games and just beginning to explore area games. The variety of simulation systems available to designers is fantastically diverse now and expanding each year. Ask on here what period you like to play in and I'm sure you could find 3-4 different systems published.
While the numbers of players are down from the so-called "golden age of wargaming," I'd say we've got the best games ever. Even the old games make a comeback if they're any good. I just got SOLOMONS CAMPAIGN in the second issue of WORLD AT WAR magazine--a great job at face-lifting a good but very old title. Wow. Decision Games has been bringing back older SPI titles that simply needed a little fixing up...and we've seen recent re-releases of older games such as HANNIBAL, etc. With ATS and ASL STARTER KIT, I no longer miss the old SQUAD LEADER games I played incessantly. PANZERBLITZ? Heck no--PANZER GRENADIER!
And we've got games on periods, wars, campaigns, and battles that never saw the light of day way back when. WARRIORS OF GOD, anyone?
Sadly, I got into gaming in the late 60's (Yup, I'm old!). Though I have board games, computer games, CDG's, and RPG's, I have always preferred miniatures wargames. There are social, visual, and tactile elements that you just can't get from the other gaming avenues. Alas, time to play games is like water in the Sahara, a scarce commodity. Ah, for my college days when I gamed every week and went to 4 or 5 games conventions a year, the old IFW!!!
JOHN! Long time no hear. I understand what you mean by the Sahara. I now have the means and space, as opposed to the IFW days, but now time is an issue. IFW came back to my mind when Gary passed a few months ago. Scott Duncan and both live in Georgia but on opposite sides (you can't get there efficiently from here).
Check out the attached. Gary gave me the painting in 1968; the others are of the program from our first con. Somewhere I have pictures of that as well (Polaroid, of course!)
OMG! This IS a blast from the past! I still wargame with Bob Mijonovich when work and wife allow him. I see Bill Hoyer at the Lake Geneva Games Convention in June (we're 'honored guests" which just means we're so old we were among the first members of the Castle and Crusade Society). Ernie Gygax was there two years ago, but not last year. Obviously, Gary, may he rest in peace, was not in attendance physically, but certainly in spirit.
Actually, I was judging the game at the Madison, WI games convention (1970 or 71?) and he was playing in my game, an HO armor battle. Gary was humorous, good tempered, and a gracious player who made it easy for a young and relatively inexperienced judge to run a game. He was, in many ways, my mentor. I had teamed up with him on several pbm Diplomacy variants he designed, including one which was based on US Indian tribes. If we differed, it was in rule writing. I went for simplicity and ease of play, his rules grew and grew (D+D and its variants). Of course, every new title meant income. And here I put 39 rules sets in just one book! Still, Gary was a great guy and the hobby is poorer for his passing.