with Philippa Irving

Philippa Irving


TO MY GREAT RELIEF things have picked up again this month; which is just as well, for I was beginning to fear for the future of wargaming on the Spectrum. And for my job!

The wargame world concentrates heavily on World War II scenarios. I don’t have statistics to hand, but it seems that in the last year most of the games which have relied on traditional troop-moving have concerned the years 1939–1945. Many of the public prefer games based on familiar battles (especially those in the last war) because they are still very recent history: film critic Barry Norman has commented that Nazis make perfect cinematic villains. The imagination is excited by the kind of baddie whose image is still part of everyday life, but who is no longer a threat.

Practical considerations are also an important factor: designers can take advantage of the many diaries and memoirs of the last war which have been published, and photographs are abundant.

However, there are many people, myself included, who would like to see wars from the much more distant past, and imaginary wars, treated in the same way. If reliable historical information is lacking, then surely a resourceful designer could make it up. Games based on events many centuries ago could be just as realistic as those of World War II.

What about a game, with a series of scenarios and a campaign, about some of the wars fought by the Israelites in the Old Testament? Or Hannibal’s invasion of Italy? Another possibility is Boadicea’s uprising. I’m not a programmer and I’m not a military historian, but I can think of half a dozen ideas off the top of my head.

The Spectrum’s memory does have limitations. which do affect the way strategies are devised. However, a bit of imagination and innovation would revitalise things.