Monday, June 06, 2011

Computers, the Final Solution?

Wizardry Screenshot

My issue of "Wargames! Presenting all aspects of this exciting hobby" magazine (1985) is full of gems of articles and titles. For example, the final (unattributed) article is entitled, 'Computers, the final solution?'

The article doesn't really make clear what the problem is, but spends a good two pages covering the usage of computers in gamingland circa mid eighties (with competition between Atari and BBC at the upper end of the author's perception of the market). I assume Asquith wrote the piece, as he was the editor at the time. If so, it makes an interesting development on his ideas put forth in the opening piece, 'Computer Wargaming ... is easy?'

The author in 'Final solution' surveys the field of 'wargamers' as we then were; tabletop players, board gamers, role players*. In brief, the author doesn't think that tabletop wargamers will have much need for the computer and that it won't affect them much in what they do. For the boardgamer, the limited range of quality product at the time seems the main concern. So, jury still out on whether computers will solve all their gaming needs.

For roleplayers, the author first looks at the range of classic dungeon crawl games that were around. I personally remember two of these, Zork (text based) and Wizardry. For the record, I never got the chance to get any further than frustrated with either of these games. All a bit lonely, however, on one's own.

This is where the author makes their most interesting and final comment, announcing that Ultima III, which allowed for group play on networked computers, was the reason that computers indeed were the final solution for our ultimate gaming needs.

Which is kinda comforting to know.

*Note the absence of the dedicated 'computer gamer', one who's gaming existence is defined by the computer itself.

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