Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My Life as a Gamer: Remembering "Autoduel Quarterly"

This post by the official Castalia House Twitter account got me thinking about Car Wars again.

(And yes, that post shows the folks being Good People by helping someone trying to help someone else out.)

For me, the thing about Car Wars back then was the magazine, Autoduel Quarterly. This was the '80s, when regular gaming support had to come from publishers because the Internet wasn't a thing yet, and the way to do that was to run a magazine. TSR had Dragon and later Dungeon, GDW put out Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society, and Steve Jackson Games did ADQ.

What made it great for a gamer kid coming into adolescence was that this magazine (like Dragon) wasn't just new gear and official car designs to use in your home games. They had tournament reports (always at conventions I couldn't attend no matter how much I wanted to), other real-world news, game-world events to use as prompts for your own use, game variants (inevitably the trial run; anything sufficiently popular got build out into a full supplement), and the letters column (always the best part). I even got a letter into the column once late in the run.

This magazine will never work now, not as it was, and neither do others like it. All of them that made it past 2000 shuttered for a reason: the Internet changed everything. Today, this is what you do with a blog that has multiple authors permitted to post to it that's tied to a wiki where you make the best-performing posts into larger articles complete with all necessary A/V media and links to downloadables required for use.

If there is anything I truly miss now from ADQ, it was the occasional short fiction; this is what kept me loyal when I wasn't actively playing, and would eventually contribute to writing my own fiction later on in life. The setting of Car Wars was a great mix of auto-centric dystopias and post-collapse fiction, but with an upward trajectory of recovery and restoration of Civilization. I wouldn't call it Superversive, but I sure as hell call it Pulp- and that's why I wish SJ Games would stop sperging about Munchkin long enough to put out some licensed Car Wars stories. Otherwise, some enterprising small publisher will see the opening and hit it with the fist of an angry god- just look Fury Road as indication of an unserved audience.

If ADQ were to return now, as a blog+wiki, it would be stupid NOT to have sanctioned fiction again- the best of which sold as ebooks directly to customers (preferably) or via Amazon (easier to set up). C'mon, SJ Games, don't leave money on the table; you successfully Kickstarted a new product line. Make that revival happen.

1 comment:

  1. Um, you mean like GMT's Apocalypse Road? Currently in P500.