Thursday, June 15, 2017

The first game masters & an opportunity for scholarly rant

Who are the first game masters ? 

  • Agonothetes were referees and organizers of Greek sacred games [Wikipédia]. More specifically, Hellanodikai were ancient Olympics games judges from Elis in charge of rules, standards and traditions [Wikipédia]
  • Aediles were elected romans officials. Plebeian aediles were probably in charge of the Plebeian games (Ludi plebeii). Curulian aediles (nobles) were in charge of the Roman games (Ludi Romani) [360, Lex Furia de aedilibus].
  • ...
  • von Reisswitz (father) introduced a wargame referee for the first time. Known as Vertrauter (ie. confidant) he was helped by assistants. He displayed informations to players and made decisions based on complex rules [1811, Anleitung zu einer mechanischen Vorrichtung um taktische Manoevers sinnlich darzustellen].
  • von Reisswitz (son) improved his father designs and also made the referees as meaningful scenario designers [1824, Anleitung zur Darstellung militaerischer Manoever mit dem Apparat des Kriegs-spiels]. 
  • von Meckel introduced personal judgement instead of static rules for deciding the outcomes of actions taken by the players [1876, Freie Kriegsspiel].
  • Michael F. Korns designed a one-person wargame with game master [1966, Modern War in Miniature]. 
  • Major David Wesely designed a one-person wargame adjudicated by himself [1967, Braunstein].
  • Dave Arneson, a Braunstein player, designed the first role-playing game as we know it today [1970, Blackmoor]. In 1972, he presented it to Gary Gygax who edited and marketed it as Dungeons & Dragons in 1974.
To investigate: the official use of umpires/ referees in sport contests reappeared around 1830-1840. Were there examples before 1811?

Comparing two types of sources

This paragraph is taken from the book War Gaming, written by reporter Andrew Wilson in 1968 for Pelican Book. The quality of writing is extremely poor: no source, short-cuts in the discourse, abusive generalizations and mistakes. I saw other unsourced informations displayed in this book that reused elsewhere as solid facts. Grr!

This paragraph is taken from the article "German War Gaming", written by Milan Vego in 2012 in the Naval War College Review, a peer-reviewed journal (anonymous experts are carefully evaluating the content). The intensive use of citations allows the reader to go check out the informations by themselves. It has also more facts based informations, less short-cuts and the claims are more cautious.

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