Mail Me a Game: The Blast from the PBM Past
Whoa, slow down there! We’re about to dive into the world of gaming by mail – a concept that might leave some of our younger readers scratching their heads. Buckle up because we’re taking you back to the 70s, 80s, and 90s, when playing games through snail mail was a thing.
Let’s explore this unique gaming niche and the tight-knit community it brought together.
Gaming Through the Post
Imagine this: instead of grabbing your gaming console or tapping your phone screen, you sit down, write your moves on paper, and send them by post. Sounds wildly time-consuming, right? But, my friends, that’s exactly what thousands of gaming enthusiasts did in the pre-internet era. Some popular games played this way included It’s A Crime, Dungeons and Dragons, Conan, and even chess.
Let’s take a quick glance at different games and experiences people had with postal gaming:
The game of strategy and negotiation was uniquely suited to mail-based play due to its turn-based mechanics, simultaneous moves, and need for extensive player communication. Users used to send postcards with their moves and negotiate by phone or letter.
A complex game inspired by the Conan universe that has been played by mail since the 80s. The game is still going today, having transitioned to email.
Surprisingly, chess by mail was hugely popular, with mail-based championships taking place around the globe.
While not the same as modern digital communication, one can draw a parallel between playing Werewolves through mail and apps like WhatsApp.
The Joys of Waiting
For gamers, receiving their next game update in the mail was akin to waiting for Christmas. The anticipation built as negotiations and strategy planning unfolded through letters and phone calls. This slow, deliberate process meant that friendships and rivalries often spanned months or even years.
Fun fact: Chess enthusiasts could play in World Championships via mail.
The Transition to Digital
As the internet became more accessible, postal gaming migrated online, with email, chats, and websites taking the place of physical mail. Some play-by-mail (PBM) games adapted digital support, while others like Middle-earth PBM are now entirely played through email.
Some digital gaming platforms have even tried to recapture the charm of PBM, offering turn-based systems that allow for plenty of communication and scheming between players.
Revisiting PBM – A Cool Nostalgia Trip
Reading through the experiences of PBM players, one cannot help but feel a sense of nostalgia. There is something whimsical about it, bringing to mind a time when the world was not so fast-paced and your moves did not have to be made on the spot.
So, could postal gaming make a comeback? Chances are slim, given our need for instant gratification. However, it’s crucial to recognize and appreciate the innovative spirit that led these gamers to find a unique way to connect and compete with others, despite physical distance. For many, PBM gaming had a profound impact and left memories they still cherish today.
Who knows? They might show up here and share those experiences with you, our dear reader. You just never know.