A Profile Of The Designer - avid .outts"...the special horror of the present world is that is that the whole damned thing is in one bag. There is nowhere to fly to." J.R.R Tolkien, author of the epic fantasy "The Lord Of The Rings," in a wartime letter to his son Christopher. (Carpenter, Letters Of J.R.R Tolkien).
"...the hearts of Man should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein." (Silmarillion:41)
I found these priceless quotes in "Tolkien - A Celebration" edited by Joseph Pearce.
My Gaming Pedigree
I was 6 when I first emigrated to Australia (Dad had left the RAF). I vividly remember playing Monopoly with adults in Melbourne, and beating them. All except my father, that is, whom I never beat. I stopped playing years ago (not because he won, it just became boring).
Aged nine and a half we went back to England. A six week cruise via the Panama Canal. The whole thing was just wonderful for a kid my age. And my brother taught me chess.
An early interest in toy soldiers soon developed. Around 15 my toy soldier games became quite sophisticated, reminiscent of H.G.Well's miniatures rules. And I played all the usual kid's games like Colditz, Cluedo, Ludo, Snake's & Ladders etc. One day I found myself designing a board wargame. It had 2 countries divided by a river and mountains, each side having so many cities etc. The air forces comprised tiny aircraft from a model aircraft carrier.
Around this time I joined a chess club. I was never that good, and can often be quoted as saying that I prefer less abstract games. I did design a chess variant once, for a competition - Battle Chess, I called it.
My sister's boyfriend, David Farquhar, had watched me develop my own game with interest, and one day he turned up with a copy of Avalon Hill's Blitzkrieg under his arm and lent it to me. I was hooked. I played for hours and hours, solo at first, then with David. My design, essentially the same idea as Blitzkrieg, was binned...
In time I found a games shop, Esdevium of Aldershot, advertising mail order. I bought Battle Of The Bulge, Panzerblitz, Squad Leader etc etc. I have around 300 wargames....
I played some miniatures, but it wasn't for me. Too much time spent painting, setting up, measuring (re-measuring), rolling too many dice too often. I always think it looks great though. I tried to interest these people in my board wargames, but it wasn't for them.
Another friend was an SPI fan, I have always preferred Avalon Hill for the quality of their production. Now, both companies are gone (although AH may re-surface to an extent under Hasbro).
A friend of the SPI fan, let's call him Captain Kirk, introduced me to Role-Playing. D&D. David Farquhar became my brother-in-law, and we played some Runequest & Cuthulu. I game-mastered AH's Lords Of Creation and others.
Many of my wargaming friends wouldn't touch FRP's, and visa versa. Some played both. There was a divide there for most.
I bought a computer, a ZX Spectrum (well, sort of a computer, in Europe anyway), and played arcade games (which rapidly became boring), adventure games (which I never seemed to complete), sports simulations (some friends and I, calling ourselves Sunday Software, even wrote a game based on Avalon Hill's Title Bout!) and wargames....
I played postal diplomacy, I played several PBM games including KJC's Capitol (space empires) which featured 12 teams of 12 players across Europe. My team was beaten by a fanatical Finnish guy who ended up playing all 12 positions in his team and kicking our arses.
I joined the Avalon Hill Intercontinental Kriegspiel Society (readers of The General will understand) and went to residential game weekends. I bought S&T, the Wargamer, The General. I playtested The Wargamer's "Hell Hath No Fury" on Bodicea's revolt against the Romans, and "O'Connor's Offensive", though I wasn't credited for the latter. And I playtested some Squad Leader scenarios for The Wargamer.
Wargaming sparked an intense interest in history, which I still have. I regard this as something very positive. Together with my love of Science-Fiction - I'm a member of the (The Melbourne Science-Fiction Club) - and with my wife's firm footing in the present, I figure I've got all bases covered (past, present, and future - see my poem Perspective On Time below).
This is reflected in my general preference for games with a science-fiction, fantasy, or historical theme. See my games club profile on the site.
At age 30 I got a contract back in Oz. I took a year off gaming altogether, and got a life... and a wife soon after - Tina Kalliakmanis.
Back in England, David Farquhar had begun writing for Sumo Magazine Game reviews of non-wargames. These days he sometimes writes for Counter, but mainly works with my favourite games designer Reiner Knizia on great games such as Lord Of The Rings.
As a result, I began to play what are sometimes called fluffy games (family games, parlour games, beer'n'pretzel games..). I have quite a collection of those, too. I played less and less wargames. Wargames took too long, are often 2-player, and ....they're about war! I'd tired of it. Occasionally now I still feel a need to play a wargame, a bit like a drug, for me. It's hard to kick the habit...
The German boardgame market is where it's at though, with America (Whitewind, Mayfair Games, AH/Hasbro, and now the excellent Rio Grande Games), Britain, France & Italy following in roughly that order. The German stuff is so original, and well produced. These were games that women would play - a rarity in wargaming circles! Some of these games were playable by children, and young adults. Family games, sociable games. Games playable in an hour! Or two....
Whilst in England, I even helped playtest Gibson Games' Formula Motor Racing with it's designer Reiner Knizia (one of Germany's finest games designers). I discovered The Games Cabinet, The Web Grognards, and many other such web sites.
Now I'm back in Oz (for good this time), and I play a mixture of wargames and non-wargames. I like a few Collectible Card Games, such as Netrunner and ICE's Middle-Earth. No miniatures, no FRPG's. I play PBEM games and PC games, but not too much (not very sociable).
If I say to someone that I play games they usually have no idea. Monopoly? Trivial Pursuit? Scrabble? Chess? Pictionary? Yeah, great. Bye. If I say I play board games they say "Oh, you mean like computer games." OK, sure. If I were to say that I play sport, then people would understand. But people don't know about boardgames. I'm a boardgaming evangelist - I sell the idea when I can.
I guess either you're a games player or your not. Some people love 'em, some hate 'em.
I remember reading Nicky Palmer's books on wargaming ('The Comprehensive Guide To Wargaming' and 'The Best Of Board Wargaming'), in one of which he complained about there being so few hours in a day. I know that feeling. And so few years in a life, too.
It's impossible to play all forms of games all at one time in your life. I guess that's my point (sorry it took so long). But over the course of a life there is time to give each type of gaming a chance, if you feel the need. Not everyone does. I did.
Many people regard games as a waste of time (and then veg out in front of the TV). Many people say it's anti-social, but they read books (how anti-social is that?). Most people view games as something only for children, and then become hooked when they find out what's available.
I'm hooked (had you noticed?), and I think they're great (though some are more equal than others...).
For a while I had my own games company, Board Not Bored Games Pty Ltd, to sell the German style games to Australians. And now, at last, I've designed a boardgame, "6 Billion". I helped start Billabong Boardgamers.
11th July, 2000. Lately, my interest in wargames has resurfaced thanks to the various wonderful email interfaces that are available on the internet. My favourites are Cyberboard (for games like Paths Of Glory) and Above The Fields (for games like The Russian Campaign). These are long 2-player games, and very absorbing. I also enjoy games such as Stars!, written for play by email. The great thing about email games is the sheer convenience of playing such boardgames at a time of your own choosing, with the saved files meaning you can instantly load your last position. Of course, they still take up time. I need more than 24 hours in a day!
2004. Sadly, David Farquhar passed away this year. Here is my tribute to him on Boardgamegeek:
6th May, 2005. My interest is wargames has continued its resurgence. These days I'd say I play wargames slightly more than I do Eurogames. I've also helped found a new Eurogames club - Gamers@Dockers.
I was born in a Royal Air Force (motto: Per Ardua Ad Astra) hospital on 26/12/59 in Akrotiri, Cyprus. Father Scottish , Mother English, two brothers, two sisters. I lived the first 2 years of my life in Cyprus, and the next 3 in RAF Stanmore in Middlesex. I don't remember much from that time. Then we emigrated to Melbourne (1965), but returned to England (Chippenham in Wiltshire) in late 1968. I went to Ivy Lane Primary School, and had my secondary school education at Chippenham High School For Boys from 1972 to 1976. In 1976 the school started to turn comprehensive (admitting girls for the first time), and was renamed Sheldon School. I was one of six pupils to be the first to study for 'A' Levels at the school in 1977 and 1978.
I worked in the Royal Naval Supply And Transport Service in the Ministry Of Defence (Navy) in England for just under seven years (Feb 1979 to Dec 1985), dealing with electronic stores, motor transport and naval armaments. In early 1984 I passed my computer aptitude test and I have been in computing ever since. For a long time a mainframe programmer, now I specialise in testing software in a managerial / consulting capacity. I have been working as a contractor (as opposed to a permanent employee) since 1988.
I lived for about 8 years in Bath, Avon before emigrating to Melbourne (for the second time).
Sporting interests have included squash, table tennis, badminton and soccer.
Soccer is still my favourite spectator sport - I've been a Leeds United fan since 1968. I love the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament, and support England, Australia and Scotland (in that order).
I was a member of the British Humanist Association before leaving England for Australia. I am now a member of the Humanist Society of Victoria, and a member of the Atheist Foundation of Australia. I have a keen interest in history (which obviously relates to the past) and science (often relating to the future). In the present, along with reading, I'm a bit of an Epicurean (see Epicurean Philosophy Online) and also enjoy travel, movies and a wide variety of music.
I try my best to balance my life between these perspectives on time, and have tried to capture this aspect of my personal philosophy in the following succinct poem:
A PERSPECTIVE ON TIME
Upon the past I stand,
The present holds my heart,
The future trembles in my mind,
Forever at its start.
Nationality and Family
I married Tina on 14th May, 1994 and moved to Australia in October, 1994.
On 1st April, 1998 I became an Australian citizen (whilst retaining my British citizenship).
Tina and I had a daughter on 6th December,1999 (See Antonia's web page). Check out this Photographs page for an early look at the bump that became our little Couttsie.
My own immediate family all live in England, which is a very long way away from Melbourne. We visit them every few years, and stay in close contact by telephone and email.
Tina's parents, Australian citizens since the 1950s, were both born in Greece so Antonia is already learning both Greek and English.
Melbourne has the 3rd largest Greek community of any city anywhere in the world (after Athens and Thessalonica). It's a good place to live, with peoples from all over the world living here. Roughly 1 in 4 Australians were born overseas (see my Demographic History Of Australia) .
I maintain my Exponentialist website relating to population dynamics and evolutionary theory. I also write articles relating to topics such as Humanism, or IT. Here's a link to an article I wrote called "The Test Case As A Scientific Experiment" for Stickyminds:
I'm also (still) trying to write a science-fiction novel.
Thanks for taking the time to read my profile,
I've started a page of Favourites (so far, a bibliography on Popular Science), if you're interested. For a list of articles by me, see the Articles page.
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