Second Sight: Comments from the Editor

This article originally appeared in Pyramid #16

Second Sight

commments from
Scott Haring


I've got three different anniversaries to talk about, so I'll get right to it:

About eight years ago, while working for some other game company, we had staff meetings where we discussed strategy for taking advantage of the upcoming 50th anniversaries of the various events of World War II, from Hitler's invasion of Poland to Pearl Harbor to D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge, Midway and all the rest. We saw it as a chance to do definitive wargames on the subject and to take advantage of all the hoopla surrounding the various anniversaries to actually sell enough copies to make the enterprise worthwhile.

Well, the last of those anniversaries, that of Japan's unconditional surrender, has come and gone. The company that made all those plans eight years ago never did put out any wargames. Only Avalon Hill, with their Smithsonian series of games, made any attempt to capitalize on these historical milestones at all. And I wonder why.

Is wargaming that much of a minor player in our card- and roleplaying-dominated hobby? Doesn't anyone have a sense of history anymore? World War II was an amazing chapter in the life of this country (and the entire world), irrevocably changing everything that came after. Not to mention that it's an amazing story, with more drama and heroism than any of the hundreds of fictional fantasy and sci-fi epics cluttering up the bookstores. Doesn't anybody care?

Ten years ago, the game designers and decision-makers in the industry came from wargaming, and, deep down, still loved it. So it was easy to make plans for wargaming's big comeback we all wanted it. But as the industry matured, designers and other decision-makers started coming up the ranks who hadn't started in wargaming, who hadn't ever played a wargame in their lives, and it has affected the choices those companies have made about what sorts of games to put out. And wargaming's influence continues to decline.

Anniversary #2 is a personal one it was 20 years ago this fall that I began playing these games. I don't think I've told this story in this particular magazine before, so I'll inflict it upon you here: I always loved games, but in junior high and high school, it was mostly Risk, Stratego, Monopoly, Spades, Hearts, that sort of thing.

But it wasn't until I got to college (Texas A&M) in the fall of 1975 that I learned there was more. I still remember the night that my freshman roommate returned from a night in the dorm recreation area with a story about this weird game people were playing where you pretended to be a knight or a wizard and ran off and killed pretend monsters for pretend gold. I also still remember my exact words to my roommate after he finished his description: "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of."

It wasn't too many nights later that I wandered by a table in that rec area where a spirited Dungeons & Dragons game was going on, and I was talked into giving it a try. The rest, as they say, is history. In short order, I learned about all sorts of wonderful games Kingmaker, Stellar Conquest, Wooden Ships & Iron Men, Empire of the Petal Throne, Boot Hill, Traveller, En Garde! (a wonderful musketeer-era RPG by GDW that never enjoyed the success it deserved) and more, even a little game by somebody named Jackson called The Fantasy Trip. I've been playing them ever since, and I think it's safe to say I'll never stop.

And the last anniversary is one we can celebrate together - two years as editor of Pyramid magazine. We've seen a lot of changes in those two years - more pages, more color, special binding with a spine, tons more ads, lots more readers. I want to take this space to thank a few people - first and foremost, the readers for their support; the other companies in the industry that have enough faith in us to put their advertising dollars where their mouth is; all the writers and artists who have contributed wonderful pieces over the last two years, especially Richard Meaden, who has contributed so much design and layout talent the past few issues. And two special thank-yous: to Derek Pearcy, who got Pyramid off to a rocking start, still defines the outstanding graphic look of each issue, and never fails to support the magazine and myself 100%; and to Steve Jackson, who has given me everything I've needed to make Pyramid the great magazine I humbly think it is - staff, time, money, promotion, whatever it has taken, he's come through with. Thank you all, and here's to even better years to come.
- Scott Haring

Article publication date: December 1, 1995

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