Mar 292012

Photo from Flickr courtesy of the U.S. Army

World War II games are some of the most popular and best-selling regardless of format and venue. Simply look at the shelves of your nearest video game, computer game, and FLGS to see that this genre dominates video games, computer games and board games. Furthermore, Baby Boomers are the largest consumer group in the history of the world. They collectively represent more wealth and purchasing power than any other age group in existence. Most if not all of the Boomers lived through or were directly impacted by the war to end all wars.

These are facts and not hypothesis. With the veracity of these declarations beyond doubt we come to the issue of roleplaying games. For ages they have been dominated by fantasy settings as notably evidenced in Dungeons & Dragons. To a lesser extent other settings are commercially available with science fiction being popular. Star Wars, Scion, Legends of the Five Rings, White Wolf, and Dark Heresy are some of the many varied and popular venues.

Visibly absent is anything set during World War II. Why is that? The war canvassed the globe touching different environments and people. It is already equipped with conflict and equipment for adventurers to use on their quests. It is so large that DMs can write their own story lines without changing history…and if they changed the history who cares?

Are companies put off by the known outcome? Are they concerned that gamers would have to deal with Hitler’s genocidal programs? Or, are they worried that customers will dislike recreating historical engagements?

Yes, we all know how the war ended. We know the general facts of the war. We know the broad strokes. While Hitler is a rightly despised individual he can be used as a teaching tool. We can use the roleplaying game to put gamers in the shoes of those touched by the concentration camps, the forced breeding, and the paranoid secret police. If knowledge is power, then we can use the game to educate people and thus give them the power they need.

If companies are concerned about recreating history, then perhaps they need to have a glance at the innumerable reenactments and organizations that bring the history buffs together to replay past battles. Those individuals know who won, who lost, and how it happened but they gather year after year to recreate the events. Clearly, there is demand for this.

To all the game publishers I say that I don’t know why you are not releasing WW2 roleplaying games. But, I do know that you are missing out on a fiscally lucrative and interesting market for a game. You have me befuddled.

About Jonathan J. Reinhart

Jonathan J. Reinhart is an editor of Troll in the Corner where he writes about wargaming. Jonathan also is the owner of the Wargaming Recon podcast. He has been gaming with miniatures since 2000 and playing board games from a young age. He's played a myriad of games such as: Warhammer 40k, Warhammer Fantasy, Warmachine, Starship Troopers, Axis & Allies: War at Sea, Flames of War and Warlord Games' Black Powder rules. War at Sea and the Black Powder rules are his current go-to games. Jonathan enjoys casual, fast, fun, and group board games. Sitting Ducks Gallery, Zombie Dice, Guillotine, Pandemic, and Carcassonne rank high on his list. He is a retired local politician with a B.A. in Politics & History, which provides a useful background for historical gaming. A casual World of Warcraft player, he became a Kingslayer as Viktrious the Blood Elf on 4/23/11 and followed that up by slaying Deathwing on 5/9/12.

  4 Responses to “World War II: Where Are You?”

  1. Check out Pinnacle Entertainment’s Weird Wars: Weird Wars Two:

    Note: a lot of fantasy thrown in there.

  2. What a great post! I totally agree. One reason I loved Twilight 2000 back in the day is that it was the closest thing to a boots-on-the-ground gritty military (even though it was post-Cold War, it still had NATO/Warsaw pact forces with their WWII hangover) rpg that there was in existence. I agree publishers are missing a big opportunity by continuing to not explore this direction in gaming. I hope someone in a place to make game-crafting decisions reads this and is prompted to rethink their logic about this.

  3. There is a fun tabletop game called Battleground Weird War 2, which allows for an interesting mix of WW2 and sci-fi/pulp/horror to be included. The best thing it reminds me of is Captain America and Red Skull.

    I can definitely see the appeal of such a take on WW2 for a roleplaying game. It still surprises me that there is no historical RPG for WW2.

    One other contender for alternate universe take on WW2 would be Torg. Different worlds are based on different things (pulp, dinosaurs, etc) and I could easily see a WW2 world existing in the Torgiverse.

  4. As a kiddie I have a vague recollection of one or two WWII rpg’s being available. I never played them and can’t remember the names. Currently though, “Baptism of Fire” is available as a PDF. I have no familiarity with it so can’t comment as to quality.

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