It may be obvious, but the Internet has certainly been a large factor in the current success (or continued existence) of the wargaming hobby. (It's been a big part in the resurgence of board-gaming as well, but that's not the point of this post.)

We are in a "Golden Age" of war-gaming. The Grognards among us look back at the late 70's when SPI was an active company as an important time in the hobby, but I suspect more war-games are being published today by more companies than we could have imagined back in the 70's.

But what prompted this post is how easy it is now to find games on new topics. I recently developed a curiosity about the Balkan Wars (1912-1913). I jumped on Consim World and asked for a book recommendation and if any games had been published on the topic. Within minutes I had a the name of what looks like a good book on the topic (downloaded into Kindle within 15 minutes of making my request) and learned that S&T (of course!) had published a game on the Balkan Wars in issue #164. I jumped over to Noble Knght games, found a un-punched copy of the game with the magazine available. I ordered the game and three days later I had it in my hands. I hope to give the game a try this weekend.

I take this sort of thing for granted now days, but when I sit back and think about it, this is really amazing. Within minutes of asking the question, I had a book in my hands (so to speak) and a game (published 12 years ago) on the topic being shipped to me. This is largely due to the Internet of course. The degree of inter-connectedness that it offers is truly amazing. Gamers from all walks of life, located across the globe can come together in a close knit community to share this hobby.

If this isn't the "Golden" age of war-gaming, I don't know what is.

What would the war-gaming hobby look like today, if the Internet (or equivalent) did not exist?

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Comment by Eric Walters on October 31, 2010 at 1:34pm
"The Golden Age of Wargaming is NOW!" This blog pretty much sums it up with it's discussions of COMMAND AND COLORS: ANCIENTS, MEMOIR '44, and--most glowingly--CONFLICT OF HEROES. Check it out here.
Comment by Eric Walters on October 27, 2010 at 4:22pm
Actually got my eighth grade nephew into a game of AXIS AND ALLIES: BATTLE OF THE BULGE, perhaps the best "transition" game to wargaming there is (there are supply units you move around and expend--shades of the Operational Combat Series(!)--and even HEXAGONS!). He was joking about how he could never get his friends to play it since they had such short attention spans. I'm hoping we get to play again and he showed interest in doing so....
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on October 27, 2010 at 1:50pm
One thing that I'm finding more and more is interest in wargaming among academics. My chairman at La Roche is a big booster, and if anything wants me to use them more. Carnegie Mellon is pushing video games, and I met a history professor from California University of Pennsylvania who's introducing games into his classrooms.

I noticed that the response among my own students is pretty much across the board. I gave out a lot of electronic copies of Rommel at Gazala, and many just didn't give a damn about any of it. Yet one young lady, the most unlikely gamer you might expect, printed it out and asked me to autograph her copy. She said that she never expected to have a professor who did anything "famous" like that.

In end, perhaps the classroom is fertile ground for finding new blood of all backgrounds.
Comment by Kimbo on October 27, 2010 at 10:21am
What is needed is some sort of litmus test. Show someone the board from D-Day at Omaha Beach and explain what all those colorful dots mean. If they say "Cool!", then we have identified a potential war-gamer. If they say the board looks ugly, then we know better than to waste our time. :)

One hurdle is that not all gamers are potential war-gamers. There has to be an interest in history and/or military history or we don't have a candidate. And then there is the rule length and time-to-play issues. All of these factors mitigate against new war-gamers.

Finally there is the exposure issue. War-games just aren't visible enough. At least at the Northern CA game conventions, war-games are under represented. The best opportunity to gain the interest of new players is at the conventions and in general, we are doing a bad job of showing off the hobby.

My comments above refer to board war-games, not miniature based games.
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on October 27, 2010 at 10:16am
And I'm inclined to agree with you Brian, as a parent of none and teacher to many. You just described too many of my students, though a fair number are smarter, more intellectually curious and diligent than the stereotype.
Comment by Brian Lazewski on October 27, 2010 at 6:50am
Some companies have far superior components than ever. MMP's ASL is better than old ASL in components. GMT is top notch with components. Conflict of Hero's is the best ever in a cardboard consim. Counter graphics are much better now than ever. The only downside is gameboards. Mounted vs unmounted. ASL has moved to cardboard stock maps which are decent and uniform mostly for a geoboardgame that's key.Other companies use paper maps. This is due to production and shipping cost no doubt. Not a bad thing as long as you have a collection of plexiglass.

OFBWD. (Old fat, bald white dudes) I think this is due in part to the time the hobby started By the mid to late 60 and into the 70's these games appealed to the suburbanite baby-boomer. We all had those healthy dose's of cheesy war movies, good books (our generation actually reads), and our gand-dads who were war heroes (even if in our eyes) By the time the civil rights movement got sorted and minorities started going suburbia the video game generation was born. So that sucked in the younger guys white/black/blue/red/green.

Being born in 68 I'm on the young side of the OFBWD and I have a grandchild. I think as I said earlier the reason the hobby is stronger now is due to the internet and us actually being adults and paying for our toys at will. How does a game that requires studytime a long attention span and relying on another with the same intrest, appeal to kids now? They hate to read. Hate to sit still. Hate to work. And are programmed into the brainwashtube of reality spew on the tube and when not watching that crap, they're parked infront of the Playstation even when summer is on us. Heck they don't even like to go outside and play sports like we once did. My observation being a parent of three!
Comment by brian s. b. on October 27, 2010 at 2:08am
i'm starting to come around on some new games. it's just that the components seem so much moreflimsy then the "old days"- but i feel the same way about cars,books,etc.
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on October 26, 2010 at 7:50pm
My point exactly, Eric. We haven't had enough new blood of any variety. We have about as many minority members as the NHL, and damned few women in the hobby too.
Comment by Eric Walters on October 26, 2010 at 7:35pm
Hey, some of us white guys are gray, but not (yet) balding or out of shape. Am working on that feverishly. Maybe we can find some new blood that are also out of shape. And let's not confine this to white guys, huh? We just need young 'uns. Of any flavor. Get them to carry the torch forward into the next generation of graying middle agers of any sex or race...
Comment by Jim Werbaneth on October 26, 2010 at 12:19pm
The one negative, and this was something that I noticed at my first trip to Origins, is that we all seem to be graying, balding, out of shape white guys. We still need a batch of new blood to turn into the next generation of graying, balding, out of shape white guys.

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