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...

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Computers. Console Games. Failure to "teach" in the schools for any purpose other than the passing of standardized tests. Reduction in the number of kids reading for entertainment.

All are IMHO factors as to why our hobby has declined.
I taught a class today for gifted high school students on the French and Indian War in Western Pennsylvania, and a couple of them asked some very intelligent questions about British leadership and French tactics. Some of the history teaching in that school, admittedly a pretty good Catholic high school among the smarter kids, seems to be hitting home. Still, I wish experiences like today's were more typical.
Brian,

I would agree, but it isn't the video game's fault it is OUR fault for not keeping pace with video games, for not publishing viscerally compelling and intellectually accessible games, and I'm as guilty as the next guy. LnL is NOT an accessible game to a 12-year old. I recently sent this comment to Smitty...

"Wargaming...yes, I think think this may well be a new age. I think the key is simplicity. No one...and I think that includes those of us with a few miles on the tires, and also the youngsters just learning to drive... wants to read rules for an hour, set up a game for another hour, make a move and then bury our nose in the rule book again. My dream is to design a wargame that my daughters want to play."

When I design the game my daughters play AND those reading this will play, then I have done something.
""Wargaming...yes, I think think this may well be a new age. I think the key is simplicity. No one...and I think that includes those of us with a few miles on the tires, and also the youngsters just learning to drive... wants to read rules for an hour, set up a game for another hour, make a move and then bury our nose in the rule book again. My dream is to design a wargame that my daughters want to play.""
Been there, done that!
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So many things that kids are into are copyrighted now, so it makes it harder for a kid to relate to a game, especially when most of our games are more like a history lesson than it is fun. I saw an idea the other day that was awesome. This guy had converted his star wars figures into a wings of war variant. It was so cool I know my son would love it. My problem is I dont really care for fantasy type games. I always find myself trying to find that middle ground like Battle Lore, or Battleline.
War isnt glorified in the movies any more, but I will say that there are a ton of games your kids would play if you are interested. You just gotta find what is fun for them and find middle ground.
For example, Formula De is a great car racing game anyone can play and its the same as Circus Maximus
Battlelore is the same as Memoir 44 with character development and magic
Batteline is the same as chess

I also think that xbox, and all the gaming systems had a huge effect on how games are played. I hope that the xbox conversion of some board games from Board Game to console game, will make them come back.. like Carcassone, Ticket to Ride, and in the near future wings of war and tide of iron.
I’m 48, so not fully an “old timer” just yet. In my younger years it was very difficult to find players for any FTF games. Later, when PC games began to emerge there was an even further reduction of FTF players, but not for long… Shortly after this low, there was a resurgence of FTF games and would guess it’s likely due to the internet which makes it so much easier to find players, organize groups and announce game events. I suspect that “old timers” have not fully embraced the internet to harvest players.
I don't understand why so many people are down on wargaming. Compare the games now to the games in the 70's, and today's games are higher quality, better designed, often more realistic, and more fun to play. Looking over my collection, which I stared in '75, and with the exception of ASL and Up Front, the best games are from the last 10 years or so. The internet has strengthened the hobby, as has the ease of producing high quality materials, and the ability to play via the internet. In the 70's we played Tobruk via snail mail, looking up die rolls on the stock market page. Today we play live opponents via Vassal while chatting over Skype. In the 'old days' Avalon Hill, and SPI dominated. Now we have GMT, MMP, Clash of Arms, and numerous smaller publishers. I think the hobby is stronger than ever.

As far as computer gaming hurting wargameing, I don't really think it’s as bad as many have stated. I am a long time avid computer gamer, and am continually disappointed by the strategy end if it. Sure, shooters are a blast - nothing beats the adrenaline rush of playing Team Fortress 2, or Left 4 dead, but that's apples and oranges. They scratch a different itch.
I still play wargames reguarly and I teach them to new games whenever I am able.
Many players over 25 have lost touch due to a busier lifesyle. Many younger players enjoy roleplaying games instead. They did not have any family or personal connection to WWII or Vietnam. Many younger players are not interested in military history. they did not grow up playing with toy soldiers or playing war with with friends.There are too many things competing with Wargames-work, video games, AIM cell phones. PBEM is not as satisfying as playing FtF and gamers now seem to live further apart.
Society today is focused on instant gratification. Most people are just not interested in this type of hobby anymore due to the time required. Back in the 70s and 80s the world was a much smaller place (socially); computers, cell phones and the internet changed that. Add into the fact that most people commute to work these days and work longer hours and you have a social setting that does not lend itself to games which can (some of them) take days to play. I have a few games left and I find it is a chore just to set them up. I could not even imagine setting up a monster game like Pacific War, World in Flames, Third Reich or any number of other titles, much less play them.
Everyone seems to be correct on "What happened to wargaming?" I've taught at the university and secondary level for 25 years, and I see how the reading habits of teens have changed considerably. Yes, internet, texting and blogging have all contributed to this problem (well described in Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf, a gifted neuroscientist at Tufts University).
What I don't understand is where are all of those soon-to-be-retired guys who played AH and SPI games with such relish in the 60s and 70s? How can we get them back?
I've taught at the university and secondary level for 25 years, and I see how the reading habits of teens have changed considerably. Yes, internet, texting and blogging have all contributed to this problem (well described in Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf, a gifted neuroscientist at Tufts University).

Why is it a "problem"? I'd have thought accessing and managing multiple inputs and data streams could be a benefit over the long term.

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