1989: Monster Island – 50 Years of Text Games

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Great deep dive into the niche history of PBM text games from Aaron A. Reed on substack.

The genre of play by mail (PBM) games originated with postal chess, where opponents would mail moves back and forth over months of play. By the 1960s a tradition of PBM wargames had started, spurred largely by the release in 1959 of the board game Diplomacy. Requiring exactly seven dedicated players, and released at a time when board games were still frowned upon as a hobby for adults, the game was a natural fit for the asynchronous, private, and distributed mode of play offered by PBM, where players could think about each turn for as long as they liked and weren’t limited to their local area when searching for opponents. In a growing network of fanzines, Diplomacy fans in the 1960s listed their addresses and advertised upcoming games they wanted to run, or announced their availability for games run by others.

Read more.


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