«Principal Editor Professor Brian Fitzgerald Head of School of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Australia With the assistance of Jessica ...»
We have often debated at Auran whether we could continue with our Trainz product if we did not have the assistance of the third party community, and the answer is probably “no”. We have had a huge amount of assistance from them, and they generally make assets for us that we can include in our product and they do so for free. There could well be an argument as to whether we should be taking free product and including it in our product. We make sure that in every single case when we do these kinds of things that we offer an agreement with the people that supply this product, to provide what they deem to be an equal-value proposition for them.
In many cases it might be advertising on the box, putting their name in the credits, allowing them to say they are a payware creator and actually selling their content. They might want to put one of their objects into the program, and use it as a sales tool so that people can see the quality of their product and hopefully come to their website. We are very open to all the suggestions that the third-party creators offer, so we say to them, “what are the arrangements under which you would like to distribute this”? We get an enormous number of individuals that readily offer up their content and without that we would not be able to continue the project. I know there are a lot of smaller companies, like Auran, that really need that input. Without that we would have to abandon some projects.
The size of the asset data base is getting to be enormous. ‘World of Warcraft’ has 300,000 individual objects in the game, and that is an enormous number. Just imagine the asset management task of that alone and the cost associated with keeping it. I believe they are spending about $5 million a month just on maintaining and building new assets. It is an enormous cost, and of course, there are not many large companies in the world. You can probably count the number of them on one hand. Who can afford to pay those kind of prices? The vast majority of developers are Auran size – 80 staff or less – and certainly, in our case, the product would not exist without the input of third-party people, and we happily let them know that.
We regularly post on our own forums that without their input there would not be a product and I think they have a definite sense of ownership of the product. If we go and change something without consulting them, they often get very annoyed with us and tell us how they think the product should be. We generally listen and we take their input on board. A lot of features of the product are a result of user input. In fact, often is it the case that we will have an idea as to what we should put into the program, but if someone suggests it on our forums, we will let them get the credit for that, even though we might already have thought of it and it might already be in the design document. We will often say, “great idea, we will include that”.
When we finally ship the product there is quite often hundreds of features in there that people did suggest. More often than not they are features that we already had, but I think it really creates this sense that they own the product and that has been enormously important to the success of Trainz and to the other products that we are working on. That gives you an overview of where we are coming from and the industry size and where it is moving.
A Brief History of Games and Gaming WITH KEITH DONE Competition has always been a key trait of the Human race. Essentially linked to the sex drive and the need to compete for a mate, competition has evolved, as we have evolved, changing from being able to beat the living daylights out of the rival Neanderthal, to being able to beat your friend with the roll of a dice or the rapid tap on a keyboard.
Once, our ancestors spent every living moment hunting and gathering food and avoiding getting eaten in the process but, as we evolved and got good at doing what Humans do – namely, organising others to do our work for us – we had sufficient time to devote to procreation and other pursuits. From the day that the first caveman played ‘flint, deerskin, rock’ we have enjoyed games as a diversion for the mind and entertainment to fill in our more empty days.
Ancient paintings and relics show that competitive sports such as archery, rowing and hunting evolved as early as the late Neolithic Age in 5000 BC.
These were to continue to develop into many more-organized activities;
events typical of the ancient Olympics, that were both individual and teambased in nature. However, this document is devoted to the evolution of tabletop gaming and I will focus on that specific area of games.
Just as games relying on physical prowess evolved as civilisation took hold, so did games requiring a combination of luck and grey matter.
Archaeological diggings in Africa and the Middle East have uncovered what is considered the oldest board games, made between 7000-5000BC.
Known as Mancala, the games have been found to be essentially similar in design, the concept being to move stones into specific depressions or spaces on a stone slab, according to a set of defined rules. Games that later evolved from this basic concept include the Royal game of Ur and the Egyptian game of Senet. These were all mathematical games and it is suggested that they may have been invented by early accountants or merchants, who originally used similar boards to tally numbers, count stock etc. However, tomb paintings clearly show these boards and pieces as being used for recreational purposes.
The next real ‘leap’ in the evolution of gaming comes between 400 – 800 AD with the appearance of
wargames appearing in Asia and the Middle East. These included such games as Checkers, Go and Chess.
Although all of these games had earlier histories, it is the current versions that are still played today that evolved during this period. This introduced new strategies and dimensions to gaming, especially Chess, which invested the pieces with distinct moves, rather than the board dictating the strategies.
As the world moved into the medieval age, more variants on these strategic games evolved throughout Europe, each being a spin on moving pieces on a grid or checkerboard in order to seize the opponent’s pieces. These games included favourites such as Fox and Geese, Alquerque and Fierges.
The establishment of Guilds from the 1300s to 1500s AD changed the economic focus of Europe from the land to the towns; requiring the provision of manufactured goods for sale. Improved technologies in the area of printing and paper manufacture resulted in the next great innovation in tabletop games – the playing card, particularly the standard 52-card deck which we use to play a diverse range of games. The 52-card deck originated in the Middle-East and was probably introduced to Europe as a result of the Crusades. Its success was primarily due to its potential as a new form of gambling instead of dice, which had been around since ancient times. The popularity of card games continued on throughout the next few centuries as the main tabletop distraction, filling in the idle hours for commoner and noble alike.
With the 1800s came the true era of industrialisation and mass-production.
Up until then, most board games were made by the hands of the person who intended to play them or by craftspeople, who sold them to the wealthy; the means of production providing for a small output and the games being highly priced. Only cards and dice were games that were available to the mainstream market. Chess and other such board games were more expensive to make and stayed in the realm of the gentry.
However, as the middle-class grew during the 1700s to 1800s, many people, with increased time on their hands, invented a new and diverse range of games mainly as a form of family amusement and acceptable social interaction outside of families. These were activities that had few (or no) pieces or board; games like Charades, Blindman’s Bluff and Pass the Slipper. These are typical examples of games of the era that became known as ‘parlour games’, usually played in the living room, or parlour.
Recognising the popularity of these social forms of entertainment, entrepreneurs saw ways to cash in by making inexpensive saleable products. Soon, people in Victorian Britain and the USA were handmaking the first generation of – what would become the first real massproduced board games of the modern era. These were mainly chase or race games, using dice to move along a track and set dice rolls to overcome obstacles on the board.
The first truly mass-produced example was the ‘Mansion of Happiness’ published in 1843 by the W and SB Ives Company. It was a moralistic game that rewarded children for doing good tasks. The success of this inspired many other companies to reflect aspects of day-to-day life in their games, culminating in the release of ‘The Checkered Game of Life’ in 1860 by Milton Bradley. The game is still a popular product, made by Hasbro today, and simply known as ‘The Game of Life’.
Travel Games, such as ‘Around the World’ became popular during the early 1900s as commuting about the globe became easier. However, the biggest hit of all-time was yet to come.
Lizzie Magee designed a game in 1904 that was used as a political tool to illustrate unfair capitalist activities amongst US landlords. It was published as the ‘Landlord’s Game’ in 1910 and although it was never a best seller, it remained popular within the Quaker community throughout the 1920s.
Charles Darrow, an out-of work salesman was familiar with the game, having played it when staying in a few boarding houses run by Quakers. He added a few things, changed the focus of the game to bankrupting your neighbour as being its winning objective and presented it as his own design to Parker Brothers. In 1935 the world’s best-selling game ‘Monopoly’ was born.
The next big hit was ‘Scrabble’, designed by an architect and lover of crosswords, Alfred Butts. The game was an ‘underground’ cult classic during the 1940’s with games being hand made and distributed to crossword fans across the USA. In 1950, the president of the Macy chain of stores came across a copy while on vacation and ordered stock for his retail outlets – Scrabble soon became a board game icon across the world.
The 1950s brought the mass media into our lives via the medium of television and all kinds of products associated with marketing TV shows and motion pictures began to appear. Along with owning a cup or lunchbox displaying your allegiance to your favourite TV show, you could also buy games inspired by the very same shows. Titles such as ‘Video Village’ and ‘Concentration’ were popular for Milton Bradley in the 60’s and all manner of children’s cartoons had their own associated game. The trend continues today, with TV and major motion pictures influencing the market. Go into any large retailer and you can buy titles such as ‘CSI’, ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Star Wars’.
The majority of the games I have described so far are abstract board games.
These usually have pieces and a playing board and often incorporate dice and cards as an additional or core components. However, there was another form of tabletop game that had been evolving in concert with traditional board games, also tracing its roots back to ancient times. The difference was that this genre of game was confined to the military for many centuries and only became popularised and available to ‘amateurs’ in the early 1900s.
For countless ages, military commanders employed miniature figures and scaled down terrain to illustrate tactics and battle plans to their subordinates. The use of these miniatures gradually began to take on the form of ‘simulation games’ and, during the early part of 19th century, the use of miniatures by the military became more sophisticated, with officers taking command of Lilliputian armies and fighting simulated battles, all according to sets of detailed rules; rules governing such things as the movement rate of troops, distances and range of weapons – all scaled down for the size of the figures. ‘Kriegspiel’, a game employed by the Prussian army, was considered the most accurate in recreating warfare on a tabletop.
Soon the armies of other nations were adapting Kriegspiel to their officer training regimes and war-gaming (or simulation gaming) was born.
Still, this type of gaming, much more complex and detailed than your average strategy game, remained out of reach of the mainstream. It was the famous British author HG Wells who introduced war-gaming to the general public. Fascinated by this military pastime, he wrote and published his own set of miniatures rules, called ‘Little-Wars’. However, the game did not become an instant hit. Most publishers of mass-produced games were geared up for paper-based production, with games being largely composed of cardboard, paper and wooden tokens. War-gaming required metal-cast miniatures and detailed terrain and lacked commercial support to become an overnight success story. However, the hobby continued on with a strong cult, kept alive still by the military and talented individuals capable of casting their own metal figures. It would be a number of synchronistic factors that would combine to bring war-games more into the mainstream and, at the same time, create the next leap forward– Role–Playing Games (RPGs).
The first of the contributing factors to the advent of RPGs was the release of ‘Lord of the Rings’ (LOTR) by British author J.R.R. Tolkien. Arguably, this tale of Hobbits and heroic quests set against a quasi-medieval world caused a renewed interest in fantasy fiction across the UK, and in particular middle-class America of the 1960’s. The second factor was the chance union of two particular Tolkien enthusiasts, based in Wisconsin, USA.
Gary Gygax and David Arneson were also avid medieval war-gamers and it wasn’t long before they began to use war-gaming rules to recreate battles from LOTR, instead of simulations from historical sources, such as the Battle of Agincourt or Hastings.