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...
Information dissemination is never a problem. In fact, lack of hobby information is a major problem.
What's wrong? (and LnLP is as guilty as the next publisher...I'm not pointing fingers). Games that are designed as if their players were still 22, in college, with 7 hours a night to devote to the hobby. Nothing could be further from the truth,. Internet resellers that chop prices 40%, lowering everyone's pricing expectations. American printers who charge unreal prices so that they can drive Escalades and buy plasma screen TV's for their kids. (Hey, I'm retired Navy, I served our country, but I refuse to feed its gluttony.). Internet posters with more time than brains who delight in picking every single imagined fault till it's an open wound. Lack of a consolidated voice (read magazine) that reviews (with adult supervision) every game released by a major publisher, every month (We sent a box to Fire and Movement that was never reviewed.). That's some of the major issues.
By the way, Mark, your games are the only "traditional wargames" I've seen played in my high school game club in the past two years. When I ask the students why they purchased the games, they replied (1) they like the graphics (well, they said it looked like an "awesome game.") and (2) they liked the way the rules were explained.
That should make you feel pretty good.....
Thanks, Dave. That does mean a lot. We routinely hire high school kids to unload our trucks. More often than not, they like the looks of the games (as they would like many other publisher's as well), sit down, and I teach them how to play. They love it. Everything I said before is true, but if you needed to state one thing, just one thing, that is wrong with the hobby, it is lack of information. Many people who would be fascinated by the games we play simply don't know they exist.
I agree wholeheartedly Mark. I've just recently joined the hobby <8 months ago. I only stumbled onto wargaming by looking for boardgames. I was looking to buy some family boardgames to start a "family boardgame night". I ended up buying a bunch of family boardgames which we play often, and I eventually (after A LOT of research) purchased a stock of wargames including many ASL modules, a Panzer Grenadier module, an ATS starter, Conflict of Heroes, and LnL Band of Heroes v2 as well as Forgotten Heroes v2. The LnL series I'm waiting anxiously for ;)
But I agree with your statement that there really is NO advertisement out there for wargaming, or boardgaming as a whole for that matter. Most people immediately think "Monopoly". Who the hell wants to play that? I think if there was more advertisement, the market would grow. My son enjoys both playing video games AND playing wargames with dad AND playing boardgames with the family.
The lack of a magazine that publishes timely doesn't help the community. Nor one that you see on the newstand at Borders or Barnes and Nobles - or the PX / BX Exchange system. All of those would help. The tradational hobby shop is another outlet that is smaller and not used well.
I'm a little disappointed with Fire & Movement but I guess I'm glad I'm not the only one. I sent them a copy of a book I had written for review - actually, two copies, since that is what they requested - an out of pocket expense of over 100 dollars for me with shipping and all. The promised review did not appear, but I am still hopeful it will appear. The magazine itself seems like a fanzine more than a professional publication, and the production values don't seem up to the current industry standards. I can't understand why the photos, for example, are so poor.
I had originally subscribed to Armchair General, but after the first year I let my subscription lapse. It seemed like they only had pictures of either Rommel or Patton for the front cover, and they were interested in recycling stories of brave GIs, heroic Nazis and the occasional obscure ancient with absolutely no interest in anything else historical. It just seemed like a bunch of glitz and no substance.
So the two magazines are polar opposites, to me, and occupy both ends of the spectrum. There needs to be some middle ground somewhere.
Interesting. I don't think the effect is to make us "stupid", but it does have the effect of weeding out more of the dull and uninteresting writers. The onus is now on writers - more than ever - to engage readers, and if they want to hope to capture their attention for more than a paragraph or two, to be able to exhibit the skills to keep them in their palm over that long term. That includes all the tenets of good writing - spelling, grammar, and of course being innovative in finding new ways of getting messages across. But I recognize what the writer is talking about instantly; I shamefacedly admit to doing the same things he is talking about - putting aside articles because they are "too long", or just plain old not reading as much as I used to. But I will still read through an entire article if I find it especially well-written.
This is the gold age of gaming for RPGs and for Miniatures. There are several orders of magnitude more gamers today than all the past ones put together. It's board gaming's fault that they haven't done anything to attract new gamers rather than just catering to an aging customer base.
My PC gaming got me back into wargaming.... I did the eighties "Squad Leader" thing, drifted away from it after college and real life got in the way, and got into computer gaming.
Then the internet steered me towards my first boardgaming convention where I got to meet an organized ftf group (TABS!) who did a quarterly daytime meeting... it was a considerable drive, but I decided to attend one of their gaming sessions and it was great! I pretty much quit PC gaming completely to play via PBEM/ACTS and ramped up my boardgaming purchases as well.
I don't get to play many "meatier" titles anymore, I've gone back to longhaul trucking, so I don't play many "new" titles... no time to learn rules when I'd rather by playing, so I stick to POG/FTP when I get the chance... although I've just started playing the Combat Commander series with my missus, so there is some more diversity in the gaming diet when I get home time... :)
What happened to to AH advertizing `Grad in "Boy's Life" and being able to buy Bulge off the shelf at Skagg's Drugs. When I was young everybody's dad had been in the war. Life Magazine was still alive for the Civil War centenial was presented in full color in a weekly mag that came to your house. The same thing went for the 50 year aniversary of WWI and the 150th aniversary of Waterloo. They showed movies on T.V. Like "The Desert Fox" and "The Desert Rats." In school I studied American History in the fifth grade and Greece and Rome in the sixth. I have the copy of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich_ I got in the seventh grade after reading the Readers Digest abridged version over three months from a magazine that came to my house. You buy a magazine today to read about the rich and irrelevant.
Curiosity about the world and the past died. The companies that made wargames died. Today you preorder. Ever pre order a game about the Chaco war? Seen a treatment of Mukden recently. Citadel may have crummy graphics but the rules are immaginative and it is still the one treatment of Dien Bien Phu that doesn't require a love of SL. And who has heard of the CSS Tenessee or seen the likes of Ironclad.
Books for kids were different. I read a novel for children about the Hundred Years War in the 6th grade. There were series put out by American Herritage and Horizon Magazines. There
were Landmark books. When did you first read about the siege of Constantinople? I remember a kids novel about the Crusades. I remember a Landmark book about the Crusades. You see any children building models?
Think about how much our world has changed and the reason Wargames are a niche of a niche becomes obvious.
The point on models is apt; no one is good with their hands anymore. Girls today don't learn to sew or cook (that's not sexist, boys never did - and they should have.) I just moved into a new house and one of the moving guys noticed my sewing machine. He mentioned that when he grew up in Poland, sewing was on the curriculum in school for both sexes. Try and meet a young woman today who has a clue about household chores. It's the same with boys - many (most?) would not lift a finger to do anything creative except when it comes time to go to trade school. I wonder how many can really excel at what they do without getting a foundation in stuff. I just painted a mural on my living room wall - I have to believe it was aided by past years of experience with those little Revell kits, paint-by-numbers and other hobby stuff that everyone did growing up.