Most people today associate the Internet with the World Wide Web, but actually the Internet began with its nonvisual elements. Today, there are many people who still prefer the interaction of e-mail, bulletin boards, Usenet, and chat to the graphics-ridden, often gaudy web sites which seemingly everyone has, and which everyone promotes relentlessly. Everybody likes to speak their minds on occasion, and the Internet offers countless opportunities to do so. Wargamers are no exception to this behavioral pattern, and the hobby has seen a steady growth in forums for them. ConsimWorld is easily the best of these sites, although some may prefer the always lively and more general rec.games.board on Usenet.
John Kranz has operated the ConsimWorld site through a series of incarnations. Until 1998, his contribution to gaming consisted of the e-mail newsletter Consim Connections, the Virtual Wargamer Headquarters Discussion Board, and the webzine SPI Revival. ConsimWorld now consolidates his efforts under one URL, although his critically acclaimed first issue of SPI Revival has been sent over to Web-Grognards.
ConsimWorld is a combination news center and discussion forum. The site carries virtually all breaking hobby news, including company press releases, new game announcements, advance reviews, industry developments, and Internet events. They are archived and indexed in a user-friendly format. Information is normally posted quickly, often beating consim-l and rec.games.board in timeliness. This is a result of most of the major companies cooperating with the site, and also from the various desktop publishers correctly perceiving ConsimWorld as an invaluable resource for promoting their games. There are also useful company, club, and organization directories on site, as well as a wargaming calendar and a links page.
There is a reason why ConsimWorld has attracted widespread company and designer interest. It is the 8500 registered members who use its bulletin boards. (Registration is required to create a board or to post messages.) There are separate areas for board, computer, card and miniatures players, as well as a wargaming magazine area. Also present are the literary section (discussions on books, movies, current events, military affairs, and historical topics), and the Consim Cafe. The latter offers a variety of subjects including conventions, clubs, and anything else that catches a wargamer’s fancy. In short, if you have something to say, ConsimWorld offers you a place to speak.
The kind of people who visit this site to vent about something are the same gamers who buy lots of simulations. This in turn attracts substantial company interest and support. Realistically, wargamers are too few and too spread out to be reached by more traditional forms of advertising. Sites like Web-Grognards and ConsimWorld provide an inexpensive way for the major companies and DTP entrepreneurs to reach their primary audience. It is popular in wargaming circles to attribute the decline of board games to the rise of computer simulations. However, the computer also brought us the Internet, and places like ConsimWorld. It may end up saving the hobby after all. Ironic.
Peter L. de Rosa
Note: The original version of this review appeared in Strategist 29 (June 1999):1, 5 as "ConsimWorld." The Strategist is the newsletter of the Strategy Gaming Society. Thanks to Brian Train, there is an SGS board in ConsimWorld.
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