Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Summer Star Wars Games

During the summer I spend a lot of effort keeping my son busy (i.e., off his tablet in Roblox land), much to the detriment of my own writing and game design projects. Amid our usual goals and diversions – more frequent walks in the park, a short vacation, the admonitions to read actual books, weekly day trips – we’ve been attempting to game more often. Not as much as I’d like, of course, but I’ll take one or two after-lunch gaming sessions a week if I can get them. He’s getting to the age where he can comprehend the rules without me having to streamline them into a kid-friendly format; but his interest in various historical periods or media properties primarily drive his engagement in related games. This influenced our choice of games. It also encouraged me to take a brief respite from designing my current roleplaying game project (The Mage-Blight Hills) to revisit some basic skirmish rules I set aside a while ago.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

The Ephemeral Nature of Games

 Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

All things must pass...and so too with games. Despite the wonders of the internet helping to produce, disseminate, and preserve PDF games and a host of websites helping gamers to obtain those hard-to-find treasures, many games still pass into the dread territory of “out of print,” becoming difficult if not impossible to find. Consider the ages of different aspects of the hobby: miniatures wargames 110 years (by far the oldest, based on H.G. Wells’ Little Wars); board wargames 71 (based on Charles S. Roberts’ Tactics); roleplaying games 49; collectible card games 30; Euro-style board games 28. All relatively recent as history goes, and most within our lifetimes (okay, my long, increasingly weary lifetime). Some live, legally or otherwise, in PDF on the internet; but many fade into memory, tossed into the trash or sold at flea markets, their mark on our gaming culture out of reach of future generations. Few, if any, archives actively seek to preserve a record of adventure gaming hobby materials, most notably the Strong National Museum of Play; regrettably our nation’s venerable Library of Congress does not (a subject I’ve wanted to blog on for years now but just can’t given our volatile political climate). Each of us enters the adventure gaming hobby at different points in its history and our own lives. Our interests can wander or change across genres and forms. So when we discover something “new to us” that engages our interest, finding it can prove challenging in our increasingly disposable, capitalist society which cultivates a “fear of missing out” (or FOMO) on the “new hotness” of the moment.