If nothing else, Mark L. Bakke is energetic. As of this writing, his Night Owl Mk. II has some 607 nicely formatted pages. Bakke, a staff sergeant and computer instructor in the U.S. Army, offers both wargame information and scads of personal commentary.
For military gamers, the most useful feature is his Wargamers’ Home Page listing. This is a comprehensive compilation of the major sites offered by the more prominent hobby figures. Each entry consists of the proprietor’s name, the site’s name, and highly useful site descriptions. In short, accessing the list is a quick way to find game information. (His exclusion of Academic Gaming Review only demonstrates his good taste.)
In addition, Bakke hosts Boulder Games’ web site. This section offers Boulder’s current newsletter and Internet catalog. Also of interest is his satirical prototype for Grognard--The Collectable Card Game (GCCG). Quite simply, this is a card game about wargamers advancing from humble gamer to the coveted status of grognard. One seeks this exalted position by choosing the Player, Collector, or Designer path. Bakke should actually consider publishing this game. Eventually, someday, some way, someone will actually make money off wargaming. Why not do it by exploiting wargamers themselves? Rounding out this section of the site are some reviews reprinted from Berg’s Review of Games, information on PBEM and Squares, a WCW Nitro Trading Card Game site, Murphy’s Laws of Combat Operations, Origins and CSR winners, and links.
Like many web denizens, Bakke devotes part of his site to personal matters. Besides some biographical data, some reprints from the Skeptical Inquirer Electronic Digest, a Spyro Gyra discography, a link to the U.S. Naval Observatory Clock, and an overly long section on bowling, he has revived his Night Owl bulletin board, now labeled Philosophy of Life Essays. He posts a short, reasonably-argued article, solicits responses, and then puts up the replies, and his own responses to these. So far, there are twenty-nine essays covering topics ranging from abortion (Bakke’s prochoice), to smoking, drinking, drugs, and chewing gum (he’s against all four) to teaching creationism in the schools (against), to the designated hitter rule (he’s pro, unforgivably). Personal expression on the Internet tends to produce dreadful pages. Bakke’s enterprise is an exception.
Peter L. de Rosa
Note: The original version of this review appeared in Strategist 30 (October 1999):3, as "Mark L. Bakke's Night Owl MK.II." The Strategist is the newsletter of the Strategy Gaming Society.
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