Thursday, June 30, 2011

The history of modern mini games and/or Games Workshop

"Games Workshop is like the McDonalds of wargaming, because it’s a reproducible, franchiseable concept" Henry Hyde, Interview with Rick Priestley.

I happened upon a good interview from 2009 with Rick Priestley and John Stallard (old time UK GW people who really have helped shape the entire gaming world via their projects at GW over the years).  I found this thanks to a great blog The Fighting Fantasist. Its really cool because they are basically talking about the old school gaming revolution ... without really doing so.  It also makes me wonder when mini games is going to really and truly get its own OSR.  Ya ya I know historicals has basically never left the 1970s but I'm talking  fantasy and sci-fi based games.  I see lots of mom and pop companies out there but nowhere near the level of community that the OSR RPG community has.  I think perhaps 15 MM sci-fi has potential to maybe be the first big OSR breakout with mini gaming.  Who knows though.  Thoughts?

Beyond that though this article had alot about gaming in general and game design in terms of rules appeal based on ones generation.  I never really thought about how age really can give one a preference for specific rules complexity.  These complex rulesets appealed to teenage boys alot (in the 1960s-early 90s anyway) because it gave them certainty in the games they were playing and allowed them not to have to worry about making judgments.   Today its probably not true as everyone's attention span has been reduced by 80% thanks to the internet and all our wonderful (and destructive) internet gadgets.  We all have popcorn brain now ... hehe. I'm beginning to see it applies to all facets of mini gaming beyond just RPGs.  I'm waiting to see it happen with board games (though one could argue it kinda already has).   Its really nostalgic in the beginning with alot of talk about the infancy of the miniature gaming industry (which incidentally spawned the RPG industry ... don't forget that Gygax and Arneson were historical gamers before they created D&D and D&D itself comes from Chainmail which was more a fantasy minis game than a RPG). Its long and if you don't know who these guys are you might not find much interest in it but I really enjoyed it!!

Really this hits at the heart of game design and how we gamers of different generations have different levels of appreciation for different types of games.  My patience level for rules complexity is not what it once was.  In my early 20s I was a fount of rules minutia and I memorized tables and charts and could ramble them back to you at will  ... now that just pisses me off.  I care about concepts, about what it is people are trying to do ... not some specific rule about "oh you get a D4 there not a D6."  But in my teens and early 20s that is all I could focus on ... because then I didn't have the capacity for judgments and generalities that I do now as an old guy.   I really like how Rick goes over how this plays into game design, etc. 

I love the quote from Mr. Hyde regarding D&D its a classic (one that most gamers can relate to). 
"I remember my first D&D game seemed a really bizarre to me because it was without
miniatures, just the Dungeon Master sitting in the corner, making it clear that you had to imagine
what was going on, it was all inside your head, and I came away feeling like I’d smoked something
particularly strong –it was just mind expanding. And it was actually quite a long time before I saw a
game using miniatures."  Henry Hyde 

When asked about Warhammer being a "six move" game he replied ..

"Yes, the premise there was that you have to be able to play a wargame that starts when you get
home from work, which can be played in its entirety, and then allow you to get to the pub in time
for last orders with time for you to discuss it! Now, because we’ve changed the licensing laws in
this country, this has undermined an entire generation of wargames developers! It’s a serious
problem! But that was indeed the basis on which we developed our games, because that’s how we
did it."  Rick Priestley

All in all  a very good but really detailed  interview... (so if you have ADD skip it. I loved it though.). 

1 comment:

Henry Hyde said...

Wow! I just stumbled upon this post by accident, and was delighted to discover that you had referenced the interview I did with Rick Priestley and John Stallard.

I wanted to let you know that the original link to the piece no longer works, so please let your readers know that they should now go to

Great site, by the way!

Henry Hyde
Editor, Miniature Wargames with Battlegames