Online Gaming Magazines

Wargaming has always had a lively amateur press dating from the 1960s when hobbyists generated barely legible zines (short for fanzines) on ditto masters acquired under circumstances best not mentioned. Most of these zines were short-lived and characterized by illegible graphics and quasiliterate writing. On the other hand, the only real alternative to them was the General, a house organ devoted to printing allegedly perfect plans and denying any faults in Avalon Hill games. The amateurs kept AH honest and occasionally even hit the big time. For example, AHís Don Greenwood got his start by producing Panzerfaust on ditto sheets lifted by sympathetic teachers. Other editors went to carve niches for themselves in the wargaming world.

The computer age revolutionized the publishing process along with the rest of society. Zine editors have mostly discarded their mimeograph machines for the personal computer, although a few still use the old process for the sake of being weird. The advent of desk top publishing brought an explosion in these things. Factsheet 5 routinely reviews over 1000 zines in each issue, and thatís only a fraction of the ones out there.

The Internet explosion created a second electronic wave. Now one could do a magazine using HTML, post it on the Web, deliver it via FTP or e-mail, and stop worrying about such annoyances as postage, printing, and storage. The editor could even improve the zineís technical quality by using the computerís grammar and spelling tools, Usenet posters being the major exception to this. So, why not do it? The massive eZine Database shows that few can resist the call of the Web. This development did not go unnoticed by the wargame community.

Mitchell Grossís Gaming Intelligence is RPG-heavy, but covers most aspects of adventure gaming. Every week, GI brings lots of news about board, card, miniature, and computer gaming, new product listings, reviews, columns, and other useful information. GI is delivered via e-mail and subscriptions are free.

Games & Education is also on RPGnet. The latter was constructed by RPG Web Services as a showcase for their web consulting and ISP businesses. RPGnet is the definitive role-playing game site and has a comprehensive list of zines on that topic. RPGWS also donates space for Games & Education as a service to the hobby. It is published by GAMA as a newsletter for instructors who use games as a teaching method. It includes articles, game reviews, addresses, and news. G&E is published in hard copy 2-4 times a year and is free to anyone who requests it (write to David Millians, Paideia School, 1509 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30307). Millians eventually puts the issues on the web.

Games Games Games is a British magazine which offers comprehensive game reviews. This is another zine published first on paper and later on the Internet. It covers a variety of games and comes out ten times per year. Another general publication is Peter Sarrettís The Game Report Online. Like G3, this quarterly reviews many types of games, but not RPGs or traditional wargames. The web issue is posted about six months after publication of the paper version. Similar in concept is the Gamer, a monthly e-zine. People interested in nonwargames will find all three of these useful.

John Kranz, keeper of ConsimWorld also publishes SPI Revival. Each issue does an in-depth study of one SPI game. The first issue examines PanzerGruppe Guderian and features a review, replay, article index and counter reproductions. In short, this is the definitive study of that simulation. The magazine is free, but you must use the Adobe Acrobat Reader, obtainable at no charge at www.adobe.com. The second issue will be devoted to Winter War, but publication has been postponed indefinitely.

Alan Poulter publishes The Web Wargamer, also on hiatus. TWW is basically an electronic Strategy & Tactics, complete with a game in each issue. The February 1997 issue (the only one so far) has Mike Joslynís American Legions: The Battle of Cowpens. The American Legions system is a set of American Revolution tactical rules. The issue includes specific Cowpens scenario instructions, as well as an historical article and links to web sites on the battle and the war. Poulter has three more AL system games, plus four other ones available for TWW, but time constraints are at work here. Besides TWW, the Web-Grognards site also has back issues of The Phoenix (1976-78. strategy articles and reviews), Gauntlet: Magazine of the South Australian Simulation Association (1991-94. reviews and variants), and Simulations Online (1991. reviews and historical articles).

More specialized are Relative Range, an electronic reprint of the Up Front newsletter, and DogFight which covers military aviation history and games. This also requires the Adobe Reader and is written in French. Finally, The Journal of Electronic Publishing discusses technical, financial and legal issues for web publishers. Despite the name, it is not as boring as most academic journals and could be useful if your e-zine is something more than a means of self-expression.

Peter L. de Rosa

Note: This is a revised version of an essay which appeared in Strategist 28 (July 1998):9-10. The Strategist is the newletter of the Strategy Gaming Society.


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