The Pantagraph from Bloomington, Illinois on December 23, 1984 · Page 25
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The Pantagraph from Bloomington, Illinois · Page 25

Bloomington, Illinois
Issue Date:
Sunday, December 23, 1984
Page 25
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Qje Sutibay Pantograph, DEC. 23, 1984 SECTION Former ISU gamers' in big business BILLFLICK 3 " J T "XT- It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. The two soon organized the ISU Strategic Games Club, and about 30 people showed up for the first meeting, one of whom was Marc Miller, also a veteran, and an unclassified graduate student. The next two years, the three men worked together on developing educational games for classrooms, through ISU's Learning Resource Center, of which Chadwick had been made director. By the summer of 1973, Banner and Chadwick were ready to publish their World War II game, "Drang Nach Os-ten," in partnership with Miller. Each man kicked in $500 and they borrowed $500, for an initial investment of $2,000. Loren Wiseman was junior partner. The game was a success, and GDW was in business. That initial game has retained its followers, and an enlarged version, re-named "Fire in the East," was published this year. The first three years, GDW operated out of Miller and Chadwick's apartment, after which they moved into the Normal offices. Eleven years and many more games later, GDW is still in business, now with 12 full-time employees and a warehouse in Bloomington out of which several hundred thousand items a year are shipped. Distributors handle GDW sales to hobby and game stores around the world, and games are sold from a catalog as well. The adventure game industry has a high attrition rate, and the peak of the role-playing game fad is past, but Banner, Chadwick and Miller all feel their business will be around for a long time. By ELAINE GRAYBIU. Pantograph staff Game Designers' Workshop in downtown Normal is not a flashy place. It's up a steep flight of stairs, on the second floor of an old building. The black and white sign out front is showing signs of age, and the telephone number is not in the book. But GDW is a shrine for a select group of people scattered around the world. One or two a week stop by, taking a detour on their family vacations perhaps, just to see what the place looks like. Those occasional pilgrims to the modest office complex in downtown Normal are "gamers," serious players of role-playing, adventure and military simulation games. GDW is the second-or third-largest publisher of such games in the world. Its "Traveller" science fiction role-playing game series, whose sales recently hit the million mark, is second in magnitude to the famous "Dungeons and Dragons." GDW's offices are just slightly more than a stone's throw from Illinois State University, where the business's three founders met in early 1972 while playing games, of course. Rich Banner, an Army veteran and history major planning on a career making musical instruments, was sitting in the student union one day, with a strategic military game set up on the table in front of him, hoping to draw the attention of prospective partners.; Frank Chadwick, a communications graduate student planning to be a teacherdebate coach, took the bait,; and stopped to comment on the game. Both men, it turned out, had been independently designing a game about the German invasion of Russia in World War II, something a lot of gamers were working on in those days. m MM Paragraph photoSMARC FEATHERLY From left, Frank Chadwick, Marc Miller and Rich Banner, who met as ISU students interested in games, founded what is now one of the largest adventure game publishers in the world, with headquarters in Normal. Pleas ( GAMES and a related story, next page These are a few favorite things At T-minus two days and counting, let us forget for a moment the rush, the last-minute crush, the long lines at the department store and the ungracious parking-lot creeps who whack, dent and send paint chips flying when their car door kisses yours. Let us forget the headaches, the hassles a.nd the depression that can crop up this time of year. There are a lot of nice' things about Christmas, even if we occasionally have problems remembering what they are. We can admire the lessons taught by Christmas: Sharing, caring, love, warmth, friendship, good will, and that all toys use two "D" batteries. It also can be the birth for memories that never die. My fondest memory of childhood at Christmas, for example, was 1961. Awoke at 4 a.m. Ran into the living room to find Santa had left a bicycle. Nice one, too. Red. Shiny. Sleek. Wanted to show Mom and surprise her. Rode the thing, full-tilt, down the hallway toward the bedrooms, picked up speed Just east of the "Why do Earth creatures carry things away from retail centers preceding Dec. 25 and then hustle them all back again?" bathroom, veered left, cruised on, smiled largely, let out a whoop of glee and screamed loudly, "Look what I got!" It was wonderful. v Then, I crashed into a solid oak dresser. Sustained cuts, bruises, knocked some teeth loose. Left scars even. It was awful. From that day forward, I can honestly say I never strongly resembled Tom Selleck again, even if I didn't before either. Christmas. It .brings on a lot of other thoughts, too, and these are a few of my favorite things. In other words, a special Flak edition for Christmas, hot off the mind and intq the ink: Christmas on Tuesday is wonderful for people In the work force. It means Monday is a wasted day at the office, so in essence, it's a three-day work week. Ditto New Year's. ... While most other days of the year we rise, shower and primp in the bathroom, on Christmas morn, everyone Just sits around as real people without the everyday masks in pajamas, robes, nightgowns and underwear. No mascara. No aftershave. Hair that was slept on wrong still looks that way. Christmas morning is wonderful, but a terrible time to see an old girlfriend. I hate to advise a realignment of the calendar. But if we switched the extra day of leap year to the middle of December instead of the end of February, we'd appreciate the extra day much more. December has 24 days before the Big One, but that's never enough. Christmas Facts: Lunch is never on schedule and it doesn't matter. There's usually nothing to do in the afternoon, except nap or take a walk. Bicycles are impossible to wrap. Someone always seems to forget that there's one present In a drawer upstairs and someone else worries that when the wrapping paper mess was cleaned up, a gift inadvertently might have been thrown away. One of the great sights of Christmas is the mess created by a family, after opening the presents. Wrapping paper everywhere. And ribbons. And boxes. And bags. House cats and dogs love it, too. We should all be thankful that Santa Clans Is not a product of the '80s. Otherwise: Due to production cutbacks and layoffs, Blitzen would be pink-slipped after Tuesday. The elves would threaten a labor strike. Gloria Steinem and Betty Frledan would protest and Ellen Goodman would rip off a nasty column, citing the fact there are no women reindeer. Then, Donahue would do a show about it Iranians would blow up the North Pole Embassy in Lebanon. Santa would lose 80 pounds on Nutri-System, then do a diet book and an exercise video. A made-for-TV movie would follow, starring Ed Asner as Santa, Victoria Principal as Ms. Claus, Joan Collins as his mistress and Alan Sender as Tattoo, yelling: "Boss. The sleigh, the sleigh ..." Eventually, the shocking truth would be revealed on the cover of National Enquirer. Santa is dating Liz Taylor. And, before leading any more sleigh rides, Rudolph would be holding out on a new multi-million dollar contract or switch to the USFL. While shopping for toys, it is easy to believe the rumor that Santa Claus has moved from the North Pole to either Hong Kong or Taiwan. Every Christmas, I think about the extraterrestrial aliens who some people claim are watching us from outer space. Then, I don't worry any more. I would assume alien observers are looking for intelligent life and, at Christmas, they must ask themselves: Why do Earth creatures carry things away from their retail centers in the weeks preceding Dec. 25 and then hustle them all back again the following week? At Christmas, I miss snow and Ronco commercials. - Although Christmas is for smiles, happiness and twinkling eyes in little kids, it also brings on frustration and mild depression. Thus, anyone spotted in December with a permanent smile in place is either a Moonie or a guide at Disney World. Three more things: Merry Christmas. I I j gJJJJ Role games let players escape reality Advanced Dungeons and Dragons is not the only activity at the Friday night Fantasy Role-Playing Association meeting. A subgroup is playing with military miniatures, staging battles with the tiny models in a tabletop German countryside, i Dungeons and Dragons, which gamers caU "D&D" or "AD&D" if it is the advanced version is the granddaddy of role-playing games, which have proliferated since the early 1970s. (See accompanying story.) In a role-playing game, a player assumes the identity of one or more characters. At this meeting, for exam ple, Julia Martin, a senior ISU English major, plays two characters: "Ayliana," who is a woman warrior, and a female cleric, who is devoted to healing. Each player develops his or her fictitious characters in detail on a sheet listing characteristics, possessions and advantages and disadvantages acquired in previous game episodes. Ms. Martin has five such characters, whose lives change and develop. Sometimes characters die, then are brought back to life. The fate of the characters is partly determined by the dungeonmaster who in a sense plays god, and partly By ELAINE GRAYBIU Pantograph staff Corwin has called them together. It is a dark, windy Friday night. They assemble behind closed doors, in a dormitory lounge at Illinois State University. They have convened from the far reaches of the Twin Cities, bearing their bags of dice, their miniature dragons and wizards, and their rule books. The group includes ISU students, an office worker, a restaurant ployee and a church custodian. But when they enter this room, they assume different identities, and Corwin is their master. Corwin wants his subjects to join together to procure a certain artifact "by any means possible." He loans one of his subjects a "ring of invisibility" and sells to another a "wall of fire" to help them in their mission. The mission could take until the early morning hours, at which point the "gamers," as they call themselves, will pack up their dice and their Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books and re-enter the real world. What is taking place is a meeting of the Bloomlngton-Normal Fantasy Role-Playing Association. The members are adults who like to pretend together, using games such as Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, which is what they are playing on this particular Friday night. This game-playing organization is only one of at least three formal groups in the Twin Cities. An ISU club, Dungeon Masters Association, meets Sunday afternoons, and a Normal Community High School club, Der Krlegspielers, sets up games at its members' convenience. determined by dice rolls. The popularity of role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons strikes a sour note with some fundamentalist Christians. Mark Bartlett, youth pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Normal, objects to such games for several reasons. First, sorcery and spells are basic to the game of Dungeons and Dragons, and the concept of the deity is blasphemous at times, he says. "Although Dungeons and Dragons is not a religion, per se, it is teaching religious principles and familiarizing its millions of devotees with terms and rituals of a cult form of religion," Bartlett says. But it's only a game, some would object. Yes, Bartlett says, but in its most objectionable form it is an extended game, in which the players take on characters for long periods of time, incorporating them into their real lives. He says the roles become so real that young people are "traumatized" when their characters die. He cites Proverbs 23:7: "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he." He adds, "Tell me what you're thinking today, and I'll tell you what you'll be doing tomorrow," relating it to the changes taking on fantasy roles might cause in young people. "As we believe, there are traditional roles that God has set up," he says, and escaping reality by creating a more pleasing role for oneself is a character flaw. . The games are not an issue for the young people at Calvary Baptist, he says. As he sees it, "most kids very Innocently start .playing the game and then get caught up in it" 'ft KN- ' 1 Scott Kuntzelman, left, is "Dungeon Master" at a Friday night session of the Bloomington-Normal Fantasy Role-Playing Association. The others are his "subjects" in the role-playing game, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Above is an enlarged photo of one of Kunrzelman's miniature dragons. ' Have a wonderful day. You can always take it back.

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