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Issue #4 of Suspense & Decision magazine, a publication focusing on play-by-mail and turn-based gaming.

Active PBM Games

Play By Mail
(PBM via Postal Service)
Ancestral Descendants
(Electronic/Digital PBM)

Definition of PBM

Galactic Prisoners was a computer-moderated, open-ended, futuristic game that featured an alien race, the Nibor, destroyed all humans, except for a very few who were placed on a planet to be studied by Nibor observers. The player played the role of a human captain of an All Terrain vehicle (ATV), who was given a crew of 100 human prisoners by the Nibor. As the captain, it was the responsibility of the player to provide his or her crew with survival.

So, what - exactly - is PBM?

PBM is an acronym, one that stands for Play By Mail. It is a reference to a genre of gaming that was - and still is - played through the postal system, which, in the United States of America, is the United States Postal Service.

Whether one says PBM, PBM games, PBM gaming, play by mail, play-by-mail, postal games, postal gaming, play by post, correspondence games, or correspondence gaming, they are all variations on the exact, same thing.

Later (as in newer or more recent) variations on the core genre that is postal gaming have manifested themselves as PBeM (play by e-mail), PBM (play by web - as in the World Wide Web), PBI (play by Internet), TBG (turn based gaming), and even BBG (browser based games).

During its course of existence, play by mail gaming has been covered by a wide variety of sources, and this genre of gaming (which many view to be classic gaming at its very finest, providing a form of quality gaming entertainment still unrivaled in terms of the overall gaming experience that the player has), is still alive and popular with many gaming enthusiasts and gaming adherents, whose interests in gaming entertainment run the gamut from RPGs (role playing games) to wargaming.

Included within this broad range of coverage of the PBM hobby and of the commercial PBM industry were numerous magazines dedicated specifically or largely to coverage of play by mail gaming. Published titles such Nuts & Bolts, Paper Mayhem, PBM Universal, Gaming Universal, Flagship, American Flagship, Campaigner's Newsletter, American Gamer, The PBM Report, Simulacrum, PBM Worm, and 1st Class covered every aspect of PBM gaming, delivering a cornucopia of PBM news to a gaming public thirsting for details of an ever-changing PBM scene.

Within the genre, postal games covered an exceptionally broad portion of the entire gaming spectrum. Space conquest games, fantasy role playing games, and hardcore wargames that would make any grognard proud are but a few of the many popular categories of games that fell under - and to this day are still encompassed by - PBM gaming.

Play by mail gaming shares many similarities with board gaming, as well, the turn based aspect a signature feature of many PBM games. Unlike many modern-day massively multiplayer online games of various types, postal games tended - and still tend - to deliver a more personalized gaming experience, one that did not leave the player lost in a tsunami of player pools that number in the millions, for some of the more heavily populated massively multiplayer online games, particularly where MMORPGs of note are concerned.

Hyborian War wall map showing land provinces, coastal provinces, and sea zones.

Combining a beer & pretzels sort of appeal with a community of both commercial and non-commercial game moderators, PBM left an indelible mark upon the history of gaming. Rich gaming experiences that were unique to postal gaming helped elevate the hobby and the industry to such a place in the public eye that good old correspondence gaming soon carved out a place for itself in the pantheon of gaming genres.

As with many different sectors of the gaming industry at large, PBM has endured its share of periods where the industry would consolidate. Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, though, play by mail gaming continues to thrive heading into the second decade of the Twenty-First Century. Numerous groups of hardcore PBM gamers can be easily located on the Internet, today, with new industry champions joining PBM's venerated Old Guard in celebrating play by mail gaming in the modern era.

Both nostalgia and a desire to return to the roots of what a true, honest-to-God multi-player gaming experience should be like, are helping to create a Renaissance of the core postal gaming experience for new generations of gaming enthusiasts, even as more and more PBM old timers find themselves returning to the play by mail fold. The resulting diversity can only benefit PBM gaming, as the PBM hobby and the PBM industry chart a new path into the future.

Whether a player's turn results are delivered to him or to her in a paper envelope, or in one of a variety of different electronic equivalents, the PBM experience continues to act as a catalyst for positive change within the gaming industry at large. In this way, PBM continues to push the gaming envelope, after all these many years.

Other definitions of PBM

PBM Magazines

Flagship issue 1.
  1. 1st Class
  2. American Flagship
  3. American Gamer
  4. Campaigner's Newsletter
  5. Flagship
  6. Gaming Universal
  7. Nuts & Bolts
  8. Paper Mayhem
  9. PBM Monthly
  10. PBM Universal
  11. PBM Worm
  12. Simulacrum
  13. Suspense & Decision
  14. The PBM Report

PBM Associations

PBM companies

This is a list of Play-By-Mail companies and individuals that have run PBM games, over the years. Some of these companies and their games are still up and running, today. Many of them, unfortunately, have fallen defunct with the passage of time.

Starweb is a play by mail game run by Flying Buffalo, Inc..
  1. 4 Sight
  2. 7th Dimension Gaming
  3. Acheron Simulations
  4. Advanced Gaming Enterprises
  5. Advent Games
  6. Adventure Simulation Games
  7. Adventures By Mail
  8. Adventures Design Group, Inc.
  9. AGEgames
  10. Agema
  11. Agents of Gaming
  12. Aggressive Addiction Games
  13. Aleator Games
  14. Allen Kimball
  15. Allsorts PBM Games
  16. Alternate Realms
  17. AMM Enterprises
  18. Anarchy By Mail
  19. Andon Games
  20. Apocalypse
  21. Archmage Games
  22. Arden Enterprises
  23. Ares Games
  24. Argus Adventure Simulations
  25. Ark Royal Games
  26. Armageddon Games
  27. Athena's Avatar
  28. Australian Wizard PBM
  29. Balrog Adventures
  30. Bard Interactive Games, Inc.
  31. Baron's Regime
  32. Battle-Magic Gaming
  33. Bill Paspaliaris
  34. Bill Wood
  35. Bizarre Play By Mail
  36. Blue Panther Enterprises
  37. Bob Stribula
  38. Bronze Star Games
  39. C2 Simulations
  40. C-T Simulations
  41. Capitol Consulting/VRL, Inc.
  42. Central Texas Computing
  43. Centurion Game Company
  44. Chain Mail Games
  45. Chameleon Games
  46. Charles Bennett
  47. Circle Games
  48. ChoZen FroZen Games
  49. Classified Information
  50. Clemens & Associates
  51. Cobra Games
  52. Coconut Council, Inc.
  53. Colleen Matteson
  54. Compu-Caper Gaming
  55. Computer Campaigns
  56. Combat Enterprises
  57. Conflict Interaction Assoc.
  58. Conquest Games
  59. Constantine Xanthos
  60. Cosmos Creations
  61. Crasiworld
  62. Create A World, Inc.
  63. Creative Games
  64. Creative Management Services
  65. Creative Simulations
  66. Cutting Edge Games
  67. Cyborg Games
  68. Cyclops Gaming
  69. Damien Games
  70. DareDevil Games
  71. Dark Magus Productions
  72. Daurada Games
  73. Delta Games PBM
  74. Deltax Gaming
  75. Desert P.B.M.
  76. DFS Productions
  77. DPI
  78. Dragon Games
  79. Dragon Byte
  80. DVS Productions
  81. Dymar Enterprises
  82. Dynamic Games
  83. E-Mail Games
  84. Earnshaw Enterprises
  85. Ebonrock Enterprises
  86. Eckert Gaming Group
  87. Eclipse Consulting, Inc.
  88. Eclipse Entertainment, Inc.
  89. Ed Bailey
  90. Empire Games, Inc.
  91. Emprise Game Systems
  92. Enchanted Horizons
  93. Entertainment Concepts, Inc.
  94. Entertainment Plus More, Inc.
  95. Eros Games
  96. Essentially Racing
  97. Ethereal Edge Enterprises
  98. Fantastic Simulations
  99. Fantasy & Futuristic Simulations
  100. Fantasy Workshop
  101. Fields of Nephlim
  102. Final Frontiers
  103. Flying Buffalo, Inc.
  104. Flying Dutchman Games
  105. Fractal Dimensions
  106. Frank Pompillio
  107. Frazier Games
  108. Freelance Games
  109. Friendly Fire Games
  110. Frontier Games
  111. Full Moon Gaming
  112. Furypost Games
  113. GAD Games
  114. Galactic Empires
  115. Galactic Simulations
  116. Galactic Society Four
  117. Game Anvil
  118. Game Systems, Inc.
  119. Gamemasters Publishers Assoc.
  120. Gamer's Den
  121. Gamers Guild
  122. Games By Mail
  123. Games Heaven
  124. Games Without Frontiers
  125. Gator Concepts
  126. Gem Games
  127. Gemini Games
  128. Gemini Systems, Inc.
  129. Genesis Games Design
  130. Global Simulations
  131. Graaf Simulations
  132. Grandel, Inc.
  133. Grenade Games
  134. Half Time PBM Football
  135. Harlequin Games
  136. Harold Kercher
  137. HCS Games
  138. Head Games
  139. Henry Roepke
  140. HFR Games
  141. High Point Games
  142. Horizon Games
  143. Hunky Monkey Games
  144. Huscarl Hobbies
  145. ICBM
  146. Imagery
  147. ImagiCom, Inc.
  148. Imaginary Sports Competition
  149. Imagination Unlimited
  150. Imperial Games
  151. Incubus Designs
  152. Inferno Games
  153. Infinite Odysseys
  154. Inner Dimension Games
  155. Interesting Times
  156. Intergalactic Games
  157. International Research Associates
  158. International Software
  159. Irondragon Enterprises
  160. Jason Oates Games
  161. Jeff Perkins
  162. JFH Games
  163. John Justin
  164. John Morris
  165. Jolly Goblin Games
  166. Kage Interactive
  167. Kalei Enterprises
  168. Karl Zeimetz
  169. Keith Langley
  170. Kelem Games
  171. Kelstar Enterprises
  172. Keys of Bled
  173. Kimball Simulations
  174. Kingdoms of Telgard
  175. Kings
  176. Kings Guild, Inc.
  177. KJC Games
  178. KSK Concepts
  179. L & L Activities
  180. L A N Company
  181. LAMA
  182. Lanke
  183. Leisure Time Unlimited
  184. Lightning Games
  185. Lombot Publishing
  186. Lucky Llama Games
  187. Madhouse UK
  188. Madhouse Australia
  189. Maelstrom Games
  190. Mailed Gauntlets
  191. Marguerite Dias
  192. Marguerite Hoang
  193. Matteson
  194. Megalith Games
  195. Mercury Games
  196. Mialdian Press
  197. Micro Software Design
  198. Midgard USA, Inc.
  199. Midnight Games
  200. Midnight Sun Games
  201. Mindgate
  202. Mindless Games
  203. MindShift Design LLC
  204. Mitregames
  205. Monastic Software
  206. Nebula Star Productions
  207. New Dawn
  208. Nevanis Games, Inc.
  209. Nevaris Games, Inc.
  210. NoGate Consulting
  211. Norman Conquest Games
  212. Northwest Simulations
  213. Nostromo Games
  214. Nova Games
  215. Octagon
  216. On-Paper Baseball
  217. Opcon Games
  218. Oplon Games
  219. Orion Games
  220. Orpheus Publishing Corp.
  221. Outerquest Simulations
  222. Outlander Software
  223. Outremer Games
  224. Pagoda Games
  225. Palace Simulations
  226. Paper Tigers
  227. Paspa Games
  228. Patrick Price
  229. PBM Adventures
  230. PBM Enterprises
  231. PBM Express
  232. Pegasus Productions
  233. Pent Alpha
  234. Perseus Arm Enterprises
  235. Peter Mackay
  236. Pfodd Enterprises
  237. Piranha Games
  238. Phildee Enterprises
  239. Play By Electron Games
  240. Play By Mail Sports
  241. Post-It Games
  242. Post Age Games
  243. Prime Time Programming
  244. Prime Time Simulations
  245. Psi-Decay Games
  246. Quail Canyon Systems
  247. Quest Games, Inc.
  248. R3 Games
  249. Rampage Games
  250. Randy Gillette
  251. Reality Simulations, Inc.
  252. Rebel Enterprises
  253. Rebel Games
  254. Red Talon Gaming
  255. Rolling Thunder Games
  256. Roma Games
  257. Round Table
  258. Roy C. Rae
  259. Sandgroper PBM
  260. Sandlot Sports
  261. Sar-A-Kan Games
  262. Sardarthion Press
  263. Saul Betesh
  264. Sceptre Roleplaying
  265. Schubel & Son, Inc.
  266. Scoresheet Sports
  267. Scott Bowyer
  268. SE Technologies
  269. Sevenstar Games
  270. Shadow Island Games
  271. Shrewd Expanse
  272. Silvius & Berchtold
  273. Simcoarum Systems
  274. Sinbad's Games
  275. Sloth Enterprises
  276. Slow Motion Games, Inc.
  277. Smokey Mountain Strategies
  278. Soccer By Mail
  279. Soccer Star
  280. South Bay Games
  281. Spellbinder Games
  282. Spyder Games
  283. Starlord
  284. Starry Knight
  285. Stat-Sports
  286. State of Mind Games
  287. Stephen Phillips
  288. Steve M. White
  289. Strategic Fantasy Games of Australia
  290. Sudden Asylum
  291. Superior Simulations
  292. Supernova Games
  293. Synchronicity, Inc.
  294. Tempus Fugit PBM Productions
  295. Terry Crook
  296. The Barons Australian Midgard
  297. The Baron's Regime
  298. The Dukes of Hell
  299. The Game Anvil
  300. The PBM Locomotive Srl
  301. Third Foundation
  302. Throne Enterprises LLC
  303. TimePatterns PBM Games
  304. Time Space Simulations
  305. Timewyrm
  306. Titan PBM
  307. Total Simulations, Inc.
  308. Treesahran Industries
  309. Triad Simulations
  310. TribeNet
  311. Tudor Games
  312. Twin Engine Gaming
  313. Undying King Games
  314. Union West
  315. Vengeance Games
  316. Vigard Simulations
  317. Village Computer Games
  318. Viking Games
  319. Vorpal Games
  320. Vortex Simulations
  321. Wanderer Games
  322. War College Simulations PBM, Inc.
  323. Warlord Strategic Gaming
  324. Warrior Games
  325. Waveney Games
  326. Whitegold Games
  327. White Lion Enterprises
  328. World Games
  329. WoW Games
  330. Wraith PBM
  331. Yellowseed Games of Canada
  332. Zan Erskine
  333. Zen Games
  334. Zephyr Enterprises, Inc.
  335. Zorph Enterprises

External links

Suspense & Decision issue 1.

Galactic Prisoners fan site
PBM Gamer
OlyWiki (Wiki for Olympia)
The Hyborian Tome