Thursday, December 4, 2014

Micro Games

My actual copy.
The inimitable John O’Neill over at Black Gate Magazine is doing a series of articles about the old MicroGames that Steve Jackson created in the 70’s. He’s talked a lot about OGRE, which was a fan-favorite by all accounts, though it’s one that I never got to play. However, I do own a copy of Melee from The Fantasy Trip (it’s sitting right here on my desk as I type this), and I’m once more fascinated by the idea.

For those who may not know (and where the hell have you been???), these products were basically simple, pocket-sized board games, meant to be pulled out, set up quickly, and played for a short period, usually for a specific goal. Coming out in the mid-70’s, they are usually viewed as related to the RPG phenomenon that was just getting underway with the 1974 release of Dungeons & Dragons. There’s some validity to that comparison, but these games also stood on their own merits.

Anyways, I will leave the reviewing and in-depth discussion about these games to John, as he probably has more and better things to say. For my part, I will ask one question:

Is there maybe a niche market today for these kinds of games?

I love fiddling with game mechanics. I have invented many systems. Some from scratch, others as modifications of existing games, and still others being a bit of both. I like the idea of boiling down complex ideas into simple mechanics. I don’t go too much for realism, but I do like to balance the mechanics in a realistic way, if you know what I mean.

So, I’m thinking about putting together a few of my own “micro games.” Probably publish them as PWYW PDF’s (or maybe charge $1). I could even try to figure out a way to make printed versions available.

Anyone else think this is a neat idea? Or, better yet, does anyone else know if someone else is already doing this? Because I’m always fearful of just retreading well-travelled roads.