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...
There is a very good article Called A Farewell to Hexes written by Greg Costikyan I am not sure of the publication that gives some interesting reason for collapse of War/Board games! I am including the article as I found it, enjoy
I have to concur with Rodger Pearce on those good old days but like Skip Franklin said we do seem to be in another Golden Age of wargaming. GMT is cranking out titles like SPI did a year and many new companies have sprung up. I could keep up with the game buying back then,I seem lately I can't. One great thing is the DTP products that we can download for free or a small price.Victory Point Games and their small format are wonderful introduction games or ones when wanting quick play or take on road trips. It seems so many gamers here love the so called Euro's and those games really do help with the hobby. many Euro gamers have come over to our side and we sure have the following on them-Heck I hated those games back in the 90's but have many of them now and I think they do help getting the recruits.
And the PC thing-I played for hours on end back in the 80's on my Apple IIe ,Did a lot with my first IBM type PC which was bought just to buy all those SSI and other games in that format(same with the Apple).I bought many computor games the past 9 years but they just sit and never get played-Now the board games are the main way I play. I have tried CB and hate it. I guess it's the darn scrolling you have to do so the board version on computer never get tried. I should get into it since it's the very best way of gaming with someone over a vast distance.
From a 1964 edition of AK, the cover art: Early in 1941, a gereral named Rommel, [graphic of Rommel in googles] commanding Panzer Regiment 5 [graphic of unit symbol] and other small units [ graphic of three unit simbols] rolled around the British [graphic of British unit symbol] at remote El Agheila [small grapic map of Cyrenica], swept the Western Desert under the German Cross [graphic of German Cross] and began the legend of the Afrika Korps . . . and after 2 years of seesaw war against the Eighth Army's [graphic of Eighth Army Symbol] New Zealanders [unit graphic] and Australiands [unit graphic] and Indians [unit graphic] and Britishers [unit graphic] and South Africans [unit graphic] and French [unit graphic] and Poles [unit graphic] and many others, finnaly broke his sword. [graphic of broken sword]
Contrary to some people's opinion this cover convinces me that Avalon Hill set out to sell games to the largest market in America at the time, people born from 1945 to 1956. They placed advertisements in the Scouting magaine "Boy's Life," they placed thier product in toy departments of major chain drug and department stores, and they carried out direct mail to anyone who sent them a card from their games and to anyone referenced on that card. They followed the sttrategy used by Aurora, Revell , and later Airfix.
The fact that wargaming and the model market collapsed around the same time is pretty indicative of a cultural shift that occured in the Eighties that emasculated publishing, news, broadcasting of all kinds, and impoverished the intellectual curiosity of children.
I'm a wargamer. In less than a month I'll be 59. I haven't seen a significantly younger player since 1979. So if GMT and COA want my money they better get those preorders I signed up for out the door.
Oh, I'd still be building models if the MD hadn't forbidden me to use "airplane" glue any longer upon threat of a sinus operation. And who gave it all up this year? Kevin Zucker. Might have heard of him? And who Went West that I don't know about? My CWB series opponet did.
Further to the point about hobby literature, the following quote says a lot, I think. I am trying to track down where I got it from - I believe it was from the anniversary issue of The General, where a former editor (Tom Shaw?) explains the purpose of the magazine:
A five-year-old child playing with his (or her) toy soldiers in the backyard sandbox is not the same as the 35-year old parent playing SQUAD LEADER on the kitchen table. But why? Most answers you could come up with would not satisfy the most ardent critic - cost, motivation, etc. The only legitimate explanation for wargaming not being a childish playing at toy soldiers is that wargaming has a “literature”. Intelligent (for the most part) participants in the hobby have written intelligent (for the most part) articles that have been published in a formal medium for others to read, ponder, disagree or agree with, and generally keep as reference material. That creates a common bond, a community of gamers, and that is what makes the hobby legitimate. Absence of such a literature would render even SQUAD LEADER as nothing more than mere play.
Though I wonder what he has against "mere play"; seems like he is also defending his own job...
Back in the eighteenth century just before Nelson the sea sick sailor who had trouble navigating fought Trafalgar and got himself a column, ther was a merchant who was interested in in naval affairs. This Amateur carved himself little ships that he could slip into the pockets of his coat and invented a naval game that he played in his liesure time. Disturbed at English failures to defeat French fleets in battles like the Chesapeake where the results were critical, he concentrated on finding a way a fleet with inferior numbers could break up an enemies line of battle.
After years of playing with his toy ships, he believed that he had hit on something. So with some of his own money and some contibutions of friends he published a little book on his theories. He sent a copy to the Admiralty who promptly filed it in the circular file cabinet. But Nelson who yet to become a Lord, was approached by a captain who read books (!) and who appears to have even talked to the land lubber merchant.
You see the merchant with his toy boats and set of rules had suggested that the way to attack ships of the line in a line of battle was to break into it and destoy it piecemeal.
Very strange, isn't it? Something that only comes around once in a while. In that case naval warfare hadn't changed from Graves' time to Nelson's.
But the conditions that made the 20th Century wargamming industry possible are sliding away.
And by the way I never ridiculed a singal younger player. I tried to teach them what made the simulation work.
I've never ridiculed a younger player either, and that includes the route taken to board wargaming. I don't care if they started by playing miniatures skirmish rules, and using their sisters' dolls as figures. I don't care if they got interested in ancient Greece by watching 300 over 300 times.
For those who keep thinking wargaming has died I invite them to look at things like WBC and also the demographics of the player base for a lot of the newer wargames.
For example, I am the GM for Combat Commander at WBC. It drew 56 players this year, most of them under the age of 50. The average age was in the mid thirties. Other examples include Here I Stand, where the players are likewise younger and also gender diverse. New players are finding wargaming and getting interested.
First off...Hi Joel...nice meeting you at WBC. Briefly...there is llittle doubt in my mind that war gaming is larger now than anytime since the 70's. It's not going anywhere soon. We had 20 for a first time tourney on World War 3 (World at War: Eisenbach Gap), and I think that is great. Stuff we all could do better...forget that Germany invaded the Soviet Union, ignore small vocal minorities that scream for more complexity and larger games (realism has absolutely NOTHING to do with complexity), concentrate on better quality games that focus on topics with broad appeal.
I do not think anyone is denying that, but it might be helpful to consider the current subscription numbers for S&T compared to the same back in the late '70s or early '80s. I strongly suspect things have in fact changed a lot.
I'm in my 40's and was first introduced to wargames when I was 9 years old by a fellow classmate who was 8. his Dad had a bunch of wargames and while I enjoyed Richtoffen's War I preferred to play Risk. I next got into wargaming at age 11 and a year later was introduced to roleplaying games. For me, RPG's comlimented my wargaming hobby, they didn't detract from it. I said goodbye to RPG's at University and focused on my wargames. Sadly, it was very hard to find like minded gamers and to satisfy my need to game I began playing games like Car Wars and War Hammer 40k with my friends. I came back from University and managed to find a group of guys to game with but like most here I noticed a change in the hobby. Gone were the various stores that carried the kinds of games I played. As a kid I remember the local Toys R Us carried wargames, and there was Good Stuff Games. Now it's almost impossible to find a hobby store in Vancouver and I admit that I've turned to the internet to ge the most for my wargaming dollar. On the plus side, I do agree that there is a resurgence in our hobby. Here in the Pacific Northwest there are now 3 gaming conventions that include a significant wargame presence, and there are 2 miniature based cons. that also feature wargames. So I remain hopeful for our hobby.
I think the hobby is growing again, and that while we did have a peiod of contraction it bottomed out a few years ago and now we are on an upward plane. The younger age of wargame players at conventions is one evidence, as is the growth of wargaming at venues it was not previously well represented at (like BGG).