Playing games never goes out of fashion and even today, our whizz-bang computer games are only part of the story. Traditional games such as board, card & dice games are still popular and in fact the granddaddy of modern games, Scrabble, celebrated it’s sixtieth birthday this year!
I make a big deal about fandom being an outlet for creativity but being a fan is really all about having fun and that's the whole purpose behind gaming too. Oh, you can get very technical about it - the Wikipedia article is about as deep as I need to go - but having fun with friendly competition is about as close to a working definition as any.
Today we are going to start a survey of Star Trek fan-made gaming over 2008 but, since they are a reflection and embellishment of professional games, a certain amount of news about the licensed games will sneak through. For the most part Star Trek fan-made games have an enviable relationship with the game licensees. The licensees understand that fan produced modifications (Mods) of their games extend the longevity of their product, so that it continues to attract new players, long past its normal life span, by keeping their fanbase engaged for longer.
I might also take a slightly more relaxed outlook on inclusion of material from previous years so that the survey will be more comprehensive and show a little of the historical background behind their development. As with last year's Gaming Day this will be aimed at people with no experience of gaming as well as those who might be experienced but want to try something a little different.
I must admit to not being much of a gamer myself, although I'm the parent of two obsessed gamers. You could say I've got a Noob's outlook on it all since I'm still looking for the game that suits my style and temperament … and there is such a lot to choose from!
There are board games for young and old and, despite the demise of the Decipher Star Trek Customizable Card Game, there are still professional and fan-made card games available. Tabletop space battle simulations are also enjoying continuing support – and even expansion - from fans as are other types of Role playing Games.
For the computer/gamer historian there are still a few of the original text-based Computer Games online which paved the way for the computer-gaming industry - A historical curiosity which is still of interest to a small core of retro-gamers!
Next in complexity came the 2D Games, games that you played as if you were looking down from the top, "top-down", or from the side, a "side-scroller".
These were followed by 3D Games, characters and ships that existed as a three dimensional, "virtual model" that could be viewed from any direction.
The programs used to create and control these models, the “game engines”, are incredibly complex but in a shining example of how the entertainment industry can work with players, fans are allowed to modify (Mod) their games by creating new models and “maps”. This can be as simple as adding a new character or playing environment or building an almost entirely new game! The guys at SpaceStation K7 for example used Elite Force II, a Star Trek: Voyager based game, to build a complete Original Series Starbase!
Perhaps the biggest news in gaming this year has been the resurrection of the development of Star Trek: Online, a “Massive Multiplayer Online Game” or MMOG that will allow users to interact with each other in an immersive storyline within a graphics-rich gaming environment. Online interaction like this, whether it is in a browser-based game, a MUD, a MUSH or an MMOG adds a social aspect to gaming in clans and guilds that can go far beyond the game itself. My daughter is dating someone she met through her WoW guild. A Boomkin and a mage, it’s so cute!
This is only the briefest of summaries that cannot begin to give you an idea of the breadth of the options that are out there! This present will be released as a series of posts on the Acrux fanzine blogsite that, like the fan film and audio drama days, will grow into a twenty-page fanzine.