The next issue of Suspense and Decision will be Issue # 14 Anticipated Publication Date: September 2016



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Why PBM?

12:56 PM

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Why do people play PBM games?

Because, they are fun, that's why!

They challenge you to think, both outside and inside the box. They challenge you tactically, strategically, and every which way in between.

Play by mail games are turn-based games, to be certain - but, they didn't invent the turn-based genre of gaming. What PBM did do, however, was to take the concept of playing a game by way of taking turns, and magnified that core concept through a medium of delivery that emphasized certain things.

One of these things was anticipation.

When issuing turn orders, you try to anticipate what your opponents will be doing, both in the next turn and further on down the road.

When you are waiting for your turn results to arrive in the mail (or these days, by e-mail, more often than not, or via some web browser or other online mechanism for viewing your turn results), anticipation builds. It grows! It just keeps on getting bigger and bigger, until that turn arrives.

This is part and parcel of what makes each turn generate a climax of excitement.

With turn-based gaming, your enthusiasm grows incrementally. It helps, of course, if you are fired up, when you start a new PBM game, but whether you are or not, each turn plays itself out on your own personal internal excitement meter.

Computers are programmed. Human beings think. That's the primary difference. Computer programs have limitations. Human opponents do, also. But, human opponents feel your impact in a game, whereas computer opponents do not.

Human opponents help to make a game more memorable. Indeed, they will often share a mutual sense of accomplishment with you, regardless of whether you win or lose.

Human beings are well-versed in the art of making mistakes. Their mistakes are your opportunities. Minimizing mistakes becomes a contest unto itself, and this, too, factors into the anticipation equation.

Turn-based fun with a punch. That's what it is.

Because turn-based games require the passage of time, before the outcome of a game can be known, they allow you to pace yourself. Pacing enhances the prospects for growing the anticipation factor higher and higher.

Surprises that inevitably transpire simply pile the anticipation on, taking it to new levels, as the game progresses.

Rather than asking yourself why other people play PBM games, perhaps you should start asking yourself why you aren't playing them, already?

If you are, then you know what I'm talking about.

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