Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Computers and Wargames

Just a tidbit I thought about today.

Why it is that various board/miniature game manufacturers don't seem to really embrace technology?

Take these games for example:
Star Fleet Battles
Heavy Gear

All of these are some of the longest living games I know of.  All of these games have all had computer versions.  While I don't remember how well the old megatraveller game did (it did have a sequel, so surely not that bad) I know that the MechWarrior, Starfleet Command, Heavy Gear, and Dawn of War series of games all did VERY well, all of which had at least one sequel, if not many more.

So why is it that none of these companies seem to really embrace technology in their daily operations, or various methods that technology can help them get a larger audience, increase sales, etc, especially when their ventures into computer have been so successful?

Now I understand there is a different in a computer adaptation of the game and using computers more internally to help them with products, but no matter how much technology may scare you, to see success come from it I would really think would increase comfort levels in adopting such technology.

Take BattleTech for example.  There are thousands, if not tens of thousands of written pages on the universe.  Each product that comes tries to not change anything that was printed.  With so much data, this becomes an *extremely* difficult and time consuming task.  In a company, time = money, computers reduce time, thus computers increase money.  If every one of those words was in an easy to search format, indexed and such, that would make doing new products far easier, and far less error prone.  It does require time up front, but its an investment, just like any other.  Every one of these games has plenty of people that would give their time freely to help them endure.

I can only think of 3 possible reasons for the lack of these companies to adopt technology more:

#1.  They are truly fearful of new technology.  Some people just have a paranoia about technology, they don't understand it, and believe it is never worth the trouble.  While I don't want to say that is really a bad thing, there were people around when cars were invented that still thought horses were better.  At some point, they have to adopt, or go extinct, its just the nature of things.

#2.  They just can't stand change, in any form, in any way.  They do things the way they always have, and that is that.  Introducing anything new, in any manner, interrupts their "balance" and they hate that.  This is why our congress has a 15% approval rate, and 85% re-election rate.  It is one of the worst attributes man can have, and is always detrimental to the greater good. 

#3.  They don't have the knowledge, the expertise, nor the time to introduce technology.  They may want it, know it could help them, but it seems so daunting of a task that it is easier to just not think about.

I don't know which, but it saddens me to see these game companies stay stagnant instead of embracing all the new technologies.  Sorry, but facebook and twitter accounts don't count (but a facebook interfacing game might).  Kickstarter is a big improvement, Steve Jackson recently did a VERY successful Ogre one, and it looks like there will be an Ogre computer game.  Traveller5 had a good kickstarter as well, though not really technology related.

Oh well, who knows, perhaps a mix of all 3.

On a related note, I'm an IT professional, and have long been able to put every single person I've dealt with into one of 3 categories:
#1.  Knows nothing about technology, knows and advertises that.  This is your mom.
#2.  Knows something about technology, thinks they know it all, and advertises that.  This is somebody who works at Geek Squad, the Apple store, or anybody who says they are a "hacker" or "leet".
#3.  Knows a HUGE amount about technology, probably gets paid $30+ a hour (or much more) doing it.  Advertises they "know enough", but always acknowledges they could know lots more.

Stay away from the #2's, they break things.  Perhaps #2s burned all these companies :)


  1. Eric, you're a card. What category would you place *me* in? I don't fit any of those descriptions! I know a bit about technology (my soldering iron is a good friend) but don't advertise it, don't think I know it all and make about $15 an hour doing something unrelated to IT.

  2. Guess I should rephrase #1 to be "Knows very little about technology". I also mean more along the lines of software skills, not hardware, plenty of people out there who can solder a circuit board, but have a hard time installing windows.

    My point was mostly that those mid people, the ones who think they know everything, are the bane of IT. They are the ones workers hate calling to fix their workstation, they are the ones who try to "fix" people's computers and end up doing more harm than good, they are the ones complaining about games not working because they don't understand drivers, and so forth, those folks :)

    Most are, lets say on a scale of 0-10 for IT type skills, between 0 and 3, the professionals are between 6-10, its the 4-5's that are harmful :) You are probably a 3, a grandmother a 0, good IT support techs a 6, I am probably an 8-9 and have never met somebody i'd call a 10.

    That is all a big generalization though, hardly scientific, and I can't bring myself to defend it with much effort ;)