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Issue #1 of Suspense & Decision magazine, a publication focusing on play-by-mail and turn-based gaming.

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

External links

Suspense & Decision issue 1.

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