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



Saturday, April 19, 2014

Playing By Mail: Where Simplicity and Convenience meet Unlimited Imagination

3:37 PM

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Playing games by mail may strike the unacquainted as a rather dry and boring way to approach gaming. Who ever heard of such a thing? Can you imagine how boring that it must be, to stoop to trying to play a game via envelopes and stamps?

The truth of the matter, however, is that the fun derived from such games, known as PBM games to those well versed in the hobby, originates in the imagination - not in the stamps nor the envelopes.

Far from boredom immediately setting in, quite the opposite normally proves to be the case. It is for the very reason that one has to wait on turn results arrive that interest in the game increases. The wait between turns generates anticipation. It gives you time to think - to think about what is going to happen. The human mind has a way of sorting through possibilities, and the more that you find yourself thinking about what might happen during the processing of your turn orders, the more that the mind tends to open itself up to all sorts of possibilities.

Human beings tend to be prone to committing errors of all sorts. Because this is the case, the mistakes of various players add a layer of depth to PBM games that invariably ends up being a plus for such games. Sure, it sucks when you are the one making the mistakes, but when the shoe is on the other foot, and it's one of your PBM opponents that is committing the errors, it is often quite exhilarating to one's gaming senses.

Because many play by mail games are anything but predictable, a certain amount of suspense is always in the air, where PBM games are concerned. And because play by mail games also tend to be multiplayer games, you often enjoy suspense emanating from a multitude of different sources, on any given turn.

Because human beings are social creatures, a desire to communicate with other players quickly follows, upon entering a PBM game. Whether to coordinate and cooperate, or whether to brag about exploits or to threaten their opponent, play by mail gaming offers an over-flowing abundance of opportunities for your social nature to flourish.

Being able to issue turn orders by filling out a turn sheet and sticking it in a  stamped envelope to mail in for turn processing by a PBM company is an exercise in simplicity, itself. It's easy to get started - although the learning curve to master any given PBM game can vary significantly from game to game. Like with any genre of gaming, some PBM games are easier to learn or quicker to master than others.

And because opening the envelope that contains one's turn results is something that one can do in the quiet and comfort of solitude, turn results tend to take on a personal appeal all their own. It's your position. It's your turn. It becomes more about YOU, and less about your opponents, as you open that envelope.

Once you start poring over your turn results, however, the other guy (or gal) quickly comes back into focus. These other players that you don't know from Adam, whom you have never met and likely never will meet, while you've been plotting against them, they've been plotting against you.

The reality of your gaming situation sets in, anew. A lot can happen in one turn a lot that generates new interest. The turn cycle tends to perpetuate interest in the PBM game that you are playing in - especially, if you have been playing a bit without encountering another player in-game, and all of a sudden, you happen across someone else. At that point, PBM games tend to take you somewhere that you haven't been before. Anticipation becomes thicker. Interest grows. The fun factor of the game begins to grow exponentially.

It becomes addicting.

It's not the stamps nor the envelopes that addict you, however. Rather, it's the stuff inside. Inside the envelope is where simplicity and convenience meet unlimited imagination.

Think that your imagination has limits? Then, you clearly haven't played a PBM game, before.

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