I owned a copy of Diplomacy for three years. I never once played it. Apparently, games by e-mail are the way to go now. But, this article on Grantland stirred my interest in it again.
World War I has a problem. That problem is not enough Americans. Because America’s part in the war was minor, Hollywood doesn’t care about it. Because Hollywood doesn’t care about it, this creates the impression that there is no demand for entertainment — even edutainment — based on it.
This applies to video games as well. You can probably name a dozen World War II games without even thinking. World War I? … Well, there’s Diplomacy! One of the rare misfires by Paradox was turning Diplomacy into a PC game. The AI was stupid, there were glitches… it was bad. Darkest Hour, another PDS game, has a WWI scenario that’s well regarded, but it’s fairly inflexible and Darkest Hour is pretty old at this point. (WWI always happens, and at least the original parties don’t change sides).
For board games, the news is a bit better. Paths of Glory is, while a bit complex (certainly more so than Diplomacy), very well regarded. It’s a Eurogame, like Twilight Struggle or Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, which is primarily card driven, as opposed to dice.
Still, there’s room for more. In video games, in particular. Verdun gives the impression, to pick a battle, that everything was a hard fought slog that lasted for months. The Eastern Front wasn’t that way. Even the Western Front, at times, was more dynamic. You have the whole Lawrence of Arabia idea in the Middle and Near East. Even Japan got involved.
It’s an untapped market, even a gaping void, that could use a quality game or thirty to fill it.