Requiem for a journal

By Rob Morgan

It is with great sadness …

Actually, I do from time to time write obituaries, but this one is for a much-loved magazine. A letter which arrived recently, addressed to Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers Member 516, tells me that after 95 issues, each one a valuable 50-page contribution to the  world of wargaming, on land, sea and air, The Journal has ceased publication. It would be foolish to say that with only one out of the last five or six issues published at all, it was unexpected.

But, with the two world wars and a thousand other complex conflicts during the 20th century, covering the entire face of the globe, this must be one of the most astonishing wargame closures of recent times. I’m not just saying that because I had a regular column and SOTCW published me for the best of 20 years, but because this really is a loss! I’ve recorded others, of groups which could never, ever, pretend to be anything more than a fringe interest. Magazines like Frontovik of the Eastern Front 1914-21 Society, and Abanderado! and News from the Front representing the Spanish Civil War — all three gone. Yet, for the entire century, arguably the biggest of all the wargames periods from the point  of view of gamers, historians and manufacturers, to slip into an abyss in wargames terms is something far worse, and must surely bode ill.

The Solo Wargamers Association may well pick up a few more members with SOTCW’s virtual disappearance. The Journal had some fine writers and carried decent articles on war at sea, but that’s just my narrow view. It’s a demise worth all of us reflecting upon.

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3 Responses to Requiem for a journal

  1. I’d like to clarify a few points, if I may.

    “with only one out of the last five or six issues published at all” is simply not true. The last subscription was Sub 15, which would normally have included issues 89 to 94. We took the decision to add at least one extra (issue 95) at no further cost to the subscribers. Everyone got more than they paid for.

    We have stopped producing a Journal because we can’t get the content for it. We will still publish articles and reviews, but they will now be published on our website, free for anyone. The first article went live this morning, and there are currently 21 reviews. There is the option to get email notifications when new articles & reviews are posted. It is our sincere hope that the society will continue, albeit in a different form.

    Russ Phillips
    SOTCW Treasurer and Webmaster

  2. Richard Barbuto says:

    I can commiserate with Rob and Russ; the loss of the Journal of the SOTCW is a loss for the entire wargaming community. As Rob points out, that with 100 years of non-stop conflict, certainly there is much of value to wargamers that can still be mined and published. Yet, Russ comments that it is the lack of articles (and thus authors) that have brought the renowned Journal to its untimely and unfortunate end. This was Kenn Hart’s lament when I started the North American edition of Lone Warrior in 1995. Kenn was editor of Lone Warrior at the time and was always scrambling for material. There were sufficient numbers of subscribers, just not enough persons willing to put fingers to keyboards to produce a steady stream of content.

    This is a phenomenon widely extant over the past 3 decades; fewer and fewer people are formal joiners and participants. You see it in drops in memberships in service organizations, churches, social groups, even bowling teams. People want to participate on their own terms, informally, and with no obligations to a group. Solo gamers are happy to read Lone Warrior, but generally not inclined to contribute even as much as a letter to the editor or a post to our Blog. I am reluctant to accept this downward spiral and will continue to encourage gamers to be writers. They have so much to give. Lone Warrior could not exist without a hard core of contributors who are stalwarts in creativity and authentic expression. They want to share with their fellow solo gamers. However, there may come a day when these numbers of gifted and giving contributors dwindle and Lone Warrior follows the SOTCW Journal to a quiet grave. So, editors of amateur wargaming magazines need to ponder this ugly dynamic and take the steps they can to reverse it. I hope that readers take that first step to contribute to the journals that they clearly enjoy reading. I write this with complete and deep appreciation for the Lone Warrior/SWA contributors who keep our journal and Blog alive and vibrant!

  3. Mark Wheeler says:

    Rob Morgan has just pointed me to this post. Hopefully some good news – I along with others are going to try and reinvigorate the SOTCW more along the lines it used to be, but with more than a nod to what I think people now want.

    If you would like to be kept in the loop maybe with a view to joining and helping us re-launch, please email me at sotcwmarkw@hotmail.com

    Mark Wheeler

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