Tuesday, September 28, 2021

WEG Memoirs: Hosting Uncommon Visitors

Some odd coincidences recently reminded me of a few, rare visitors we hosted at West End Games’ headquarters in the remote wilderness north of Honesdale, PA. (And it seemed appropriate after my recent post about behind-the-scenes revelations of game companies.) A friend sent me a photo when he discovered a pack of bratwurst from the Alpine Wurst & Meat House in his local grocery store. My son and I watched A Bridge Too Far to commemorate Operation Market-Garden Sept. 17-25, 1944. Both incidents – however odd and seemingly unrelated – stirred my foggy memories of three rare yet notable occasions I entertained illustrious visitors at West End’s offices.

Some gamers might aspire to visit their favorite game company’s headquarters, but it’s quite disappointing to discover it’s primarily a business – offices, warehouses, shipping facilities – with only minimalist trappings that betray the game product’s inspiration. They’re usually little more than offices and warehouses with a few geeky mementos on desks and perhaps a display with some distinctive product or awards. (Though I fondly recall a Phil and Dixie comic strip in Dragon Magazine that pictured TSR’s headquarters as a giant six-sided die....)

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Behind the Publishing Curtain

 I hate and love. And why, perhaps you’ll ask. I don’t know: but I feel, and I’m tormented.”


History of gaming scholar Jon Peterson’s latest book releases in October. Game Wizards: The Epic Battle for Dungeons & Dragons, from The MIT Press, promises to turn Peterson’s meticulous research onto the early years of TSR, up to Gary Gygax’s forced departure from the company in 1985. I’ve read several books claiming to document the history of the game industry and the evolution of games, including Peterson’s groundbreaking Playing at the World: A History of Simulating Wars, People and Fantastic Adventures, from Chess to Role-Playing Games. I enjoy reading behind-the-scenes accounts of my favorite game companies – having worked professionally full-time and freelance in the hobby – but I also loathe them for their constant, often explosive struggles between creative personalities and ruthless business motives.