WATCH THE GAP
I live on Long Island in the great state of New York, just east of the magnificent metropolis that is New York City. Now traffic can be brutal when you drive into the heart of the city so, very often, I hop on the Long Island Railroad which takes me straight to the center of town. One of the “mantras” of travelling this way is the warning for passengers “Watch the Gap”, to mind the space between the train and the platform. Those spaces can be dangerous and no one wants anyone slipping and falling between platform and train. But that gap I’m watching is ht one widening in our schools and our society.
In today’s schools, the emphasis is on reading and math. These are extremely important subjects without doubt. But because these scores are the ones that get published in the newspapers, school systems and the administrators that run them feel forced to stress these subjects to the near exclusion of other, also vitally important, areas of education. The arts take a major hit here, for example, and that concerns me. But what worries me even more is the widening gap between the time, energy and effort spent on reading and math and the lessening of attention to history.
You don’t know where you are going unless you know where you have been. Still, I’ve heard people say “history is boring!” and some might feel people just don’t care about it – but there’s plenty of evidence to refute that. You could fill this page with hundreds of films that have had history as a central theme. Television has used history for inspiration time and time again. Broadway is certainly not immune to history; all you need do is check out Hamilton with its sky high ticket prices and sold out performances. So the interest IS there but, with what our schools are doing (or rather, what they are NOT doing), this gap between wanting to know and knowing needs to be filled elsewhere – and games are helping fill that gap.
Wargames have always played with history and wargamers have known the thrill (and agony) of winning (and losing) battles and changing history. But history’s impact has spread beyond that genre. Take, for example, some of the non-wargames of the last few years that have used history well.
Freedom: The Underground Railroad (featured in the Spring 2014 Gamers Alliance Report) brings the struggles to end slavery from the history book to the gaming table. What about The Grizzled (Spring 2016 GA Report) which brings the hardships and dangers of World War I alive for today’s players? How about Black Orchestra (featured last issue) which envelops gamers into the danger and deadly consequences faced by conspirators who sought to overthrow the Nazi regime during World War II? And there are more!
Humans are a curious species. We like to know things; we like to learn. It’s one thing to watch those gaps widen. It’s a whole lot better to watch and join in and learn from the part that games play in closing them.
In this issue of Gamers Alliance Report, we discover that art is a hard way to make a living. build huts and make offerings, add a little fantasy to fantasy baseball, hang out with the Holmes boys and more! Also in this issue Bruce Whitehill finds himself a bit “unbalanced”, Greg J. Schloesser gets the key to the city, Andrea “Liga” Ligabue is all pumped up with adrenaline, Chantal Noordeloos gets a bit “gloomy” and Joe Huber drives. Meanwhile, Pevans explores and we welcome first time contributor Angus McCallum who opts to colonize. And, of course, much more.
Until next time,
Herb Levy, President
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Other Spring 2017 GA Report Articles