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Let’s Talk Novice Recruitment

by David Hood

from Diplomacy World #70




The big news item in the Diplomacy press lately has been the perceived lack of hobby growth over the past few months and years. Zine editors lament games on offer that do not fill, prospective readers lament the dearth of new zines to sub­scribe to, and the latest Everything, which reports on postal game openings and finishes, reports a large drop in the number of new games began in 1992 versus the numbers from previous years.


Is the hobby in a slump, or even serious decline? I don't think so. Opportunities exist to bring new people into the fold, if hobbyists would be willing to stop blasting everyone in sight and agree to do some work instead. The first priority should be to bring the EMail players into the main­stream of the hobby. Diplomacy over the networks is likely to be the growth area of the 1990's, as many letter writers have been saying now for years. The problem has been how to keep in touch with these people, and how to get them interested in all the things the greater hobby has to offer, like tournaments, ratings, publications, how-to articles, letter columns, etc.


Jim Burgess has been working on this issue now for some time in his zine The Abyssinian Prince . This zine, which is sent by "snail mail" to people like me as well as over the network to PBEM players, includes a letter column that discusses, among other things, happenings on the PBEM front. Of particular interest has been the discussion over house rules and general setup of games, with the PBEM community revisiting some of the same issues the postal folks began to explore twenty or more years ago.


More needs to be done with respect to PBEM. Somehow those with access to the Dippers on Compuserve, Internet, Genie, Prodigy, etc. need to get the word out about hobby services that exist in the PBM world. In addition, there are zines in the postal world that include material of interest to PBEM players that would not be available by recourse only to Email, such as the articles in Diplomacy World. Perhaps most importantly, those playing isolated games of Dip over the networks need to be told that they do not exist in a vacuum; that other Diplomacy aficionados are out there waiting to welcome new members into the fold. This needs to be the responsibility of anyone and everyone who can contact the PBEM players.


Other sources of new players that must be explored are the various Diplomacy tournaments already in existence out there. With the advent of the new novice intake system through the five regional contacts on the Avalon Hill flyer, we need to make that flyer available to be picked up at all Dip events. Avalon Hill has graciously agreed to send color copies of the flyer to interested Can hosts, so please contact them. Also, the DIP packet currently being given to new players by the five regional contacts needs to be jazzed up a little so it can be distributed directly at cons as well.


Of course, as has been said in these pages several times, another growth impetus should come from the establishment of more Diplomacy events around the country. Having cons closer to home makes it easier for current hobbyists to bring their friends to a Can, particularly those who know about Dip but cannot play much on a regular basis because of lack of people. Once we get these folks hooked on the sheer fun of the game at a Con, we may be able to get them into postal and PBEM Diplomacy.


Buz Eddy's article in this issue points to another growth area: clubs. Efforts should be made to establish local clubs to increase face-to-face play apart from cons, with the hope that more opportunities for play on a regular basis would bring in more new players has well. This takes a great deal of work for present hobbyists, but there is no real way around this if this hobby is to grow and expand. Particular attention needs to be paid to current gaming groups on university campuses ­those people need to be turned on to Dip as soon as possible.


Some have asked why the hobby needs new players. What is so good about a growing hobby? Well, it makes everything more fun, I believe, to constantly have new players added to the mix of both postal and tournament players. Also, we have a great game here in Diplomacy -it should be shared with as many people as possible.