30 November 2010

Tuesday Interview: Jim Zabek

You thought we forgot this week, eh? Ha! Just 'cuz I'm off at IITSEC doesn't mean there isn't time to get an interview in :)

If my plaque was to go in the Wargaming Hall of Fame next week, the 2-sentence bio on it would say this about me:
They let a game critic in here?  There goes the neighborhood!

You would know me from my work in this corner of the wargaming world:
Formerly the Editor-in-Chief of Wargamer.com, now the Senior Gaming editor at ArmchairGeneral.com.

I'm currently working on:
Increasing the focus on gaming over at ArmchairGeneral.com.

How many folks have you converted to wargaming over the years?
I have no idea.  For the last decade I've been focused on writing about wargames and games in general.  The numbers of unique visitors that potentially could have read some of my thoughts is staggering if I stopped to think about it.  In most cases I'm preaching to the choir, so to speak, but I'd say it's fair to say that at least a few had to have been folks that never heard of the hobby before.  Therefore, I'd say it's safe to say that I've converted at least three people. 
Aim high, there Jay-Z!

What is one historical outcome you'd change to make a compelling alt-history game/scenario?
Sheesh, that's a tough one.  My initial reaction would be to change history so September 11th never happened.
You've been watching Fringe, haven't you?
I'm not sure how compelling that would be as a game, though. 
You're probably right, but it makes a helluva TV series!
Reaching back further in time, I remember reading John Keegan's book on the role of intelligence in war.  He had an interesting discussion about how the British tried to capture Napoleon in the Mediterranean.  I took a related alternatve history scenario to my forums and I asked them how the world might have looked.  The answer stunned me.  Almost unanimously the entire group's brain melted down.  “I can't imagine how things would look” is pretty much the universal answer – and no one elaborated.  I'm not a student of Napoleonic history, but that single scenario apparently would rearrange history significantly for the next 300 years.  If we could somehow model the dynamics of macro-history in a way that could allow it to unfold without Napoleon's influence, then we might have a completely different map on which to game, different cultures to come into conflict, and different wars with which to game.  I'm not sure how that world would look, but I suspect that there would be a plethora of compelling games to emerge from that single outcome.

What are your three favorite types/genres of wargames?
World War II games are my favorite, without a doubt. That conflict has everything: clear cut good versus bad, rapid evolution of technology, equipment, and tactics.  Global scale – the fate or the world really did hang in the balance.  It covered land, air and sea, and the climate reached from the freezing cold of Finland and Stalingrad to a heat so hot that the Tommys could cook eggs on their tanks in North Africa.  And I'll toss in that I prefer my WWII wargames on the PC, though I've enjoyed boardgames and miniatures, too. 

Have you ever visited a battlefield for a wargame you've played?
Yes, and I've found them almost universally melancholy. 

What current events are you following closely? Which ones are you just vaguely aware of?
I tend to follow events in the US, Europe, and Asia fairly closely, but not on a professional level.  That means I'm generally well-informed, but may miss certain areas of significance because of a lack of formal education or simple happenstance that I missed a news article on a random day. What am I vaguely aware of? Why Hugo Chavez is still in power.  Where's the Old School CIA ready to knock off a banana republic when you need them?

Ginger or Mary Ann?  Or, if you prefer 35, Madonna or Lady Gaga?
Since we're speaking hypothetically I'd say All of the Above.
I wonder what Mrs Z would have to say about that one! ;)

What's the last good book you read? 
I'm in the middle of Best Little Short Stories of Winston Churchill by C. Brian Kelly.  It's inconsistently written – almost as if each paragraph or chapter was intended to be discreet.  As a result it tends to repeat small facts with annoying repetitiveness.  However, it's an easy read about a man who may actually be larger than life.

By: Brant

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I like the feeds you can get now on current developments.