It is instructive to compare the 1982 collapse of SPI, which sent a psychic shock through the wargaming community, with the takeover of TSR by the Wizards of the Coast. The wreck of SPI scarred historical boardgamers for life, even though lots of companies are still carrying on, and several dozen historical boardgames appear annually. Interestingly enough, the RPG types do not seem to have reacted as much to the TSR crash, and so far few speak of the WOTC in the same uncivilized manner that wargamers did, and still do, of TSR. This is probably because (1) no one really liked TSR anyway, and (2) production of RPG materials continues strongly.
One sign of a relatively lively role-playing industry is The Game Publishers Association, an industry trade group which sponsors The GPA Ring. This webring has 24 members, mainly RPG publishers, although the GPA’s actual membership is about five times that. The group produces a joint catalog occasionally and offers a variety of services for the small RPG company. The GPA Ring also includes Gaming Intelligence and RPGnet, both discussed last issue. Particularly worth visiting is the Grey Ghost Press site which offers FUDGE (The Freeform, Universal, Do-It-Yourself Gaming Engine), their flagship product, as a free download. There is also a FUDGE ring with 22 members.
Adventure gaming in all its forms has never been especially widespread, and there does not seem to be room for more than two relatively large companies. First there was Avalon Hill and SPI, then AH and TSR, and now just the WOTC. Any other efforts are going to fall in the small company category, and organizations like the GPA can help them a lot. Wargamers should do the same.
Peter L. de Rosa
Note: The original version of this review appeared in Strategist 29 (August 1998):1, 3-4. The Strategist is the newletter of the Strategy Gaming Society.
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WORLD WAR II GAMES FOR EDUCATORS by Peter L. de Rosa
Second World War Scenarios for STRATAGEM
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