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Good night, sweet prince

Charles S. Roberts, train line expert, dies at 80 - baltimoresun.com:
During the 1950s, Mr. Roberts launched his career in advertising, working at VanSant Dugdale & Co. and Emery Advertising Corp.

In 1958, he founded Avalon Hill Co., a Baltimore game publishing company that specialized in war and other mental combat games such as "D-Day," "Stalingrad," "Battle of the Bulge," "Gettysburg" and "Victory in the Pacific."

He later expanded the line of board games to include such rail-related board games "Rail Baron," "Dispatcher," and "B&O/C&O."

He was the right man at the right time. I never cared much for most of Avalon Hill's games, but there's no question that they got the ball rolling. God rest ye, Charles Roberts.



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 31st, 2010 11:31 pm (UTC)
Battle of the Bulge was my first wargame - received as a Christmas gift when I was 12.

I still have my issues from my subscription to the Avalon Hill General (just a couple of years worth), a copy of STARSHIP TROOPERS, RAIL BARON (the beer and pretzels railroad game - not nearly as much work as the more modern games, but still a lot of fun to play), and of course my copy of the Avalon Hill publication of TITAN - which incidentally awaits a serious re-write of the rules, because Avalon Hill's re-write wasn't done with the same care as they usually expended on their own games.

That, of course, was after electrical power, but before Simulations Publications Inc.
Sep. 1st, 2010 06:49 pm (UTC)
One also has to give AH props for Victory Games, which turned out some great games that were way outside the traditional AH envelope.
Sep. 2nd, 2010 08:08 am (UTC)
Now I see how I've wasted the last 10 years - I should have been working on a scholarly-but-not-too-dry history of the growth of the modern gaming industry, and published it and lived off of the sales.

Chapter 1: Classic games

Games handed down literally through centuries, some essentially unchanged during that time.

Chapter 2: Gaming before WWII.

Lots to comment on here. Many modern classic games - various children's games, assorted card games, and assorted board games - came into being in relatively modern times.

Chapter 3: Classic miniatures

It would be impossible to understand the growth of wargaming as a leisure-time activity without some knowledge of miniatures gaming, and of course this subset of gaming activity is still pertinent today - and the modern forms are only different from the classic ones due to the rise of fantasy and science fiction tropes in game development.

Chapter 4: Paper wargaming

Paper wargaming represents an important outgrowth from traditional miniatures gaming. First, it makes wargaming more accessible to those who don't have a budget for large numbers of small leaden figures, and who do not have large spaces in which to set up armies of miniatures. Second, it introduces a rules-based approach to mimesis of real warfare which eventually gives rise to some insanely complex systems and games which are worth remembering for the sheer effort required to create or play them.

Just listing and discussing the merits of the various publishers will make this a lengthy chapter.

Chapter 5: Worship Satan and Smoke Crack!

Parents, hide your children and animals, those Satanic Role Playing Games arrive to alter the face of gaming. A few small publishers give birth to subset of the gaming industry that thrives to this day, with some of the original games in their 4th to 8th editions (each edition representing either gradual or drastic changes in how the rules systems for each game work, without much changing the non-crunchy parts of the games. Oh, and let's educationally mention that the earliest (and latest, in some cases) versions of these games are the red-headed stepchildren of miniatures games.

Chapter 7: Love the Computer

From the 60's until modern day, computers have been used to allow gaming experiences which could not be had previously. Within the electronic gaming industry we have already seen the rise and fall of the arcade game - not extinct but also not really relevant any more - and the growth of several types of computer games which continue in somewhat evolved form today.

Chapter 8: Collectible Card Mania

Magic: The Gathering. Et cetera.

Chapter 9: State of the Art

The last decade (give or take a few years) has seen the emergence of new game creators - many European - and new board games and card games (not the collectible kind) which fill the shelves of avid gamers.

Memo to Self from Future Self:

Read outline for book.
Get cracking.
Sep. 2nd, 2010 12:35 pm (UTC)
AFAIK, nobody has written a history of wargaming since the late 1970s when Dunnigan produced his tome. There's been a lot of changes since then, and somebody ought to be writing about it. Why not you?
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )