Sunday, July 15, 2018

Reflecting on Post Apocalyptic Gaming

I've long had fascination with gaming in a post apocalyptic setting,  with the original "Planet of the Apes" probably inspiring my first thoughts of toys in a post apocalypse.  Despite buying my first figures for my own post-apoc gaming in 1987, it has only been during the last year or so, that I have actually brought this to the table as a full blown gaming project.  Oh, there were a few one-off games over the years, but I just didn't have much to bring to the table until recently.

Though 'The Road Warrior" (1981) seems to have most directly defined the image of the genre, it wasn't until after The Terminator (1984), that I started to see the occasional post-apoc game at conventions.  A little later, I started to see the more sci-fi heavy dystopian games, but rarely what I would truly call games of the post apocalypse.

My experience has been that a significant portion of gamers have interest in, and/or opinion about,  post-apoc environments, stories, and gaming, disproportionate to the frequency of actually gaming the genre.  I find this to be a curious thing, given the number of gamers that enthusiastically embrace a variety of post-apoc movies and books.  It may simply be that the right form of post-apoc game did not, or has not yet, come along at the right time to bring about the "flowering" of the genre.

About ten years ago, I discovered The Post Apoc Wargames Forum, an online discussion forum dedicated to the genre.  Over the years, I've come to appreciate it as an amazing place on the internet.  The membership is exceedingly well behaved, sharing a variety of ideas and photos of some of the most amazing artistry in the hobby.

The work and ideas presented on this forum have greatly inspire me to develop my own post-apoc ideas and interests, and exposed me to a seemingly disproportionately large range of products available to the post-apocalyptic gamer. 

This last thought, about the multitude of products aimed at, or compatible with, post-apoc gaming probably fascinates me more than anything.  For a genre that has such a small presence in my decades of gaming experiences, why are there so many products in the form of games systems and miniature lines. 

I realize that some of these products target "other genres", and simply have utility in what I qualify as post apocalyptic, but in many cases, those genres are still niches that are apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic in nature, and similarly appeal to under-represented segments of the hobby, given the scope of products and the expense to make those products available.

Somebody is buying this stuff, but who is gaming it?  And where are they gaming it?  Though I can find evidence of it on the internet, first person encounters have been rare.  

Maybe most post-apoc gamers are similar to me in that they have had great intensions, but have just never been able to bring the game to the table.  In my own case, I am hoping to start going to conventions again in the near future, and intend to present some post-apoc events, and see what sort of response they get.  Maybe I can stop being my own self-perceived "problem".

In any event, I hope that if you have an interest in post-apocalypse movies and books, that you might consider the gaming possibilities, and that if you are already a post apocalyptic gamer, that you might consider sharing your exploits on the forum linked above, and otherwise within the gaming community. 


  1. Like you, Planet of the Apes, Mad Max, and Terminator are touchstone stories.

    The question is, would you count Car Wars and GWs version Post Apocalyptic games?

    1. I think that Car Wars is part of a sub-genre within post-apoc, but that GW games are really a different creature.