Tuesday, February 28, 2017

DIY Licensed Games

Last week I talked about professional publishers releasing licensed roleplaying games based on popular media properties, particularly in the context of West End Games’ often ambitious licensing designs in the mid-1990s. But in a hobby often infused with a do-it-yourself spirit nothing prevents individual gamers from running their own adventures in their favorite film, television, novel, and comic book settings. The roleplaying game hobby has always cultivated an informal tradition of gamers doing their own thing, taking established games or settings and developing them for their local player groups. Reading Jon Peterson’s Playing at the World one realizes how the entire adventure gaming hobby evolved from people taking someone else’s ideas and modifying them to varying degrees into something different. In the same vein fans sometimes unofficially channel their enthusiasm for a media property into their roleplaying games, often in a more timely manner than professionally published licensed games delayed by the production and approval process.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

WEG Memoirs: Licensed Games

West End Games offices, 1993.
I’ve wanted to talk about games based on licensed media properties for a while, both from the angle of professional publishing companies and hobby enthusiasts. During its final few years (1993-1998) West End Games focused a great deal of its energy on acquiring licenses and publishing games based on them, to the point some considered it the leader in licensed games. My experience working for West End sheds some light on issues facing professional publishers in producing game product based on popular media franchises. Like many aspects of West End, this endeavor involved a lot of scrambling behind the scenes and a great deal of risk.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Gaming Artifacts: Homemade Fantasy World Maps

How I miss those lazy afternoons when I got home from school and had an hour or two before dinner to indulge my gaming hobby. Sometimes neighborhood kids would gather for a hapless D&D scenario or a board game of my own dubious design. Other times I’d relax with a good fantasy or science fiction novel. I’d draft maps for future dungeon delves or wilderness expeditions. I’d type out articles for my extremely amateur gaming fanzine. And then there were the wars waged by metal miniatures across map-kingdoms of my own creation.