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Issue #3 - PBM Editorial - Charles Mosteller
Contrary to what you might be tempted to think, trying to track down and to keep up with all manner of things PBM in nature has gotten harder, not easier, as time has trekked onward. Yet another form of chaos manifesting itself in and across the play by mail gaming realm!

In an act that can only be considered blatant defiance, PBM gaming refuses to die. It’s just a fact. The digital star killed PBM gaming, my ass! Didn’t Bob McLain also say, “Now almost everyone owns a PC equipped with plenty of memory and plenty of speed.” Plenty of memory and plenty of speed, eh? Then why do we always crave more of both, where our computers and computerized phones are concerned?

What we do have plenty of is chaos! Boy, we have it in spades, huh? And then some.

Pure PBM, I guess, is what old school play-only-via-paper-format-and-the-postal-service PBM gaming is.  Is it on life support? Maybe. Is it growing? Maybe. Talk about a PBM paradox.

Nonetheless, as near as I can tell, it’s the truth.

People are always tinkering with stuff. That’s how we got a great many of our play by mail games, way back in the old days, back when a postage stamp would kick your ass. Not all of you are old enough to remember that.

It was rough back then. Now, life is so much easier. Or is it? Gotta be real careful, whenever people try to sell you a bill of goods. That’s equally true, where PBM games are concerned.

Are there a lot? Are there hardly any? Well, part of the answer lies in how you choose to look at things. What do you count as a PBM game? Is it just and only a game played in paper format with turn orders and turn results sent back and forth via the postal service? Or does it include games where you can send turn orders in via e-mail, but still receive turn results back in paper format via the postal service? These days, all kinds of games seem to get categorized and classified as PBM games. But are they? Are they, really?

Way back when it was theorized by Bob McLain that digital killed the PBM star, could it possibly be that his prediction could fail to have taken into account that PBM just might choose to reinvent itself, along with so many other things in life?

Actually, he did predict it - in his own way, of course. He clearly said, “Play-by-mail, play-by-modem; it's all  the same - so PBM doesn't have to die. Maybe it can change its spots to avoid the new predators. Dare we say it: play-by-mail is dead, but PBM lives on.”

Part of the problem is, I think, that we want to see progress happen in play by mail gaming very quickly, almost overnight. Yet, PBM gaming has been going through a transition that doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye. Consider, if you will, the chaos that has torn through other sectors of the entertainment industry. Beta. VHS. Heck, let’s just toss the whole Blockbuster cow onto the fire, while we’re at it. HOW the public chooses to receive its entertainment, along with advances in technology, allows entertainment and the gaming sector of entertainment to reinvent itself, continuously. PBM gaming doesn’t in a void separate and apart from technological advances.

Why should PBM be any different?

Advances in technology bring chaos with them. Changes in mediums of delivery for entertainment also visits chaos right on top of our heads. If it weren’t for technological advances, you wouldn’t be reading this, today. All advances in technology don’t always strike us as “progress,” though.

If you’re working on a new PBM game, or just trying to rework an old one, be sure to send me an e-mail about it, and tell me how your are progressing (or not). Even if I have heard from you before, write to me, again, so that I might provide an update to our readers.

Until next time, try to not let the chaos of everyday life get to you!

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