HomeAll postsPlay it again: What do Dragon, White Dwarf and The General have in common?

Play it again: What do Dragon, White Dwarf and The General have in common?

This entry is part 1 of 10 in the series Play It Again

None of them were just about computer games

But Run5 was…

Run5 from Play It Again

Run5 article updated: Play It Again has moved to a new website. They’re currently migrating their website but they are also still publishing new articles. Find the Play It Again Run5 article here.

Do you remember “Dragon” magazine and “White Dwarf”? Maybe you were hardcore enough to have read Avalon Hill’s “The General”!

Do you remember SSG’s magazine Run5

In the 1980s to get more out their games, to learn strategies to take their gaming to the next level or play new scenarios, gamers relied on old fashioned print.

SSG launched “Run5” in January 1986.

Ian Trout realized print was the cheapest and most effective way to share new scenarios with the audiences. In the first edition’s editorial, Trout explains print was much cheaper than creating disks, which would “cost around $15 a pop”.

Trout was the son of a newspaper publishers and a bookshop proprietor himself. He had a fondness for print publication. Thus he was interested in what SSG could achieve with its own magazine.

First issue

The first issue of Run5 featured new scenarios by Trout for Europe Ablaze on the London Blitz. A Carriers of War scenario by Trout and Jack Greene Jr. revisits the Japanese amphibious assault on Wake Island 1941, just after Pearl Harbor and how it could have been different…

In this issue Trout also provided several pages documenting the actual technical data of the warship classes for Japanese (1939-45) and US (1939-42) in service. This data was designed to help gamers design their own scenarios for Carriers of War.

The feature article was by Roger Keating on programming in machine language for game design.

Run5 let SSG talk directly to their player community, helping them to get more value out of their games. This conversation also extended the life cycle of SSG’s games.

Run5 made game creators real to the players. Readers got to know the members of SSG who not only penned articles and scenarios. They also teased each other in print about their “in-house” victories and losses, and their personal quirks as wargamers.

Community involvement

The community were also invited to provide feedback to SSG. Issue one offered a design competition for scenarios for both Carriers of War and Europe Ablaze.

Issue two devoted several pages to question and answers with wargamers. Q&A was an ongoing feature. As was the publication of scenarios created by the community. The community also let Trout know that some of them were actually willing to pay for scenario disks rather than typing in those endless numbers…

Run5 enabled SSG to communicate with their audience. And their audience responded. Through subscriptions to Run5, SSG learnt more about their core audience.

Who was their audience?

Roger Keating recalls that the Italian Ambassador to Leningrad was one of the people who bought all their games in the early 1980s.

Do you remember Run5?

Did you type in the endless numbers to play new scenarios?

Dark Matter Zine celebrated the launch of Play It Again, the Popular Memory Archive with this article.

Series NavigationLaunch of the Play it Again Popular Memory Archive >>
Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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