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Issue #3 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. 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. Ed Bailey
  89. Empire Games, Inc.
  90. Emprise Game Systems
  91. Enchanted Horizons
  92. Entertainment Concepts, Inc.
  93. Entertainment Plus More, Inc.
  94. Eros Games
  95. Essentially Racing
  96. Ethereal Edge Enterprises
  97. Fantastic Simulations
  98. Fantasy & Futuristic Simulations
  99. Fantasy Workshop
  100. Fields of Nephlim
  101. Final Frontiers
  102. Flying Buffalo, Inc.
  103. Flying Dutchman Games
  104. Fractal Dimensions
  105. Frank Pompillio
  106. Frazier Games
  107. Freelance Games
  108. Friendly Fire Games
  109. Frontier Games
  110. Full Moon Gaming
  111. Furypost Games
  112. GAD Games
  113. Galactic Empires
  114. Galactic Simulations
  115. Galactic Society Four
  116. Game Anvil
  117. Game Systems, Inc.
  118. Gamemasters Publishers Assoc.
  119. Gamer's Den
  120. Gamers Guild
  121. Games By Mail
  122. Games Heaven
  123. Games Without Frontiers
  124. Gator Concepts
  125. Gem Games
  126. Gemini Games
  127. Gemini Systems, Inc.
  128. Genesis Games Design
  129. Global Simulations
  130. Graaf Simulations
  131. Grandel, Inc.
  132. Grenade Games
  133. Half Time PBM Football
  134. Harlequin Games
  135. Harold Kercher
  136. HCS Games
  137. Head Games
  138. Henry Roepke
  139. HFR Games
  140. High Point Games
  141. Horizon Games
  142. Hunky Monkey Games
  143. Huscarl Hobbies
  144. ICBM
  145. Imagery
  146. ImagiCom, Inc.
  147. Imaginary Sports Competition
  148. Imagination Unlimited
  149. Imperial Games
  150. Incubus Designs
  151. Inferno Games
  152. Infinite Odysseys
  153. Inner Dimension Games
  154. Interesting Times
  155. Intergalactic Games
  156. International Research Associates
  157. International Software
  158. Irondragon Enterprises
  159. Jason Oates Games
  160. Jeff Perkins
  161. JFH Games
  162. John Justin
  163. John Morris
  164. Jolly Goblin Games
  165. Kage Interactive
  166. Kalei Enterprises
  167. Karl Zeimetz
  168. Keith Langley
  169. Kelem Games
  170. Kelstar Enterprises
  171. Keys of Bled
  172. Kimball Simulations
  173. Kingdoms of Telgard
  174. Kings
  175. Kings Guild, Inc.
  176. KJC Games
  177. KSK Concepts
  178. L & L Activities
  179. L A N Company
  180. LAMA
  181. Lanke
  182. Leisure Time Unlimited
  183. Lightning Games
  184. Lombot Publishing
  185. Lucky Llama Games
  186. Madhouse UK
  187. Madhouse Australia
  188. Maelstrom Games
  189. Mailed Gauntlets
  190. Marguerite Dias
  191. Marguerite Hoang
  192. Matteson
  193. Megalith Games
  194. Mercury Games
  195. Mialdian Press
  196. Micro Software Design
  197. Midgard USA, Inc.
  198. Midnight Games
  199. Midnight Sun Games
  200. Mindgate
  201. Mindless Games
  202. MindShift Design LLC
  203. Mitregames
  204. Monastic Software
  205. Nebula Star Productions
  206. New Dawn
  207. Nevanis Games, Inc.
  208. Nevaris Games, Inc.
  209. NoGate Consulting
  210. Norman Conquest Games
  211. Northwest Simulations
  212. Nostromo Games
  213. Nova Games
  214. Octagon
  215. On-Paper Baseball
  216. Opcon Games
  217. Oplon Games
  218. Orpheus Publishing Corp.
  219. Outerquest Simulations
  220. Outlander Software
  221. Outremer Games
  222. Pagoda Games
  223. Palace Simulations
  224. Paper Tigers
  225. Paspa Games
  226. Patrick Price
  227. PBM Adventures
  228. PBM Enterprises
  229. PBM Express
  230. Pegasus Productions
  231. Pent Alpha
  232. Perseus Arm Enterprises
  233. Peter Mackay
  234. Pfodd Enterprises
  235. Piranha Games
  236. Phildee Enterprises
  237. Play By Electron Games
  238. Play By Mail Sports
  239. Post-It Games
  240. Post Age Games
  241. Prime Time Programming
  242. Prime Time Simulations
  243. Psi-Decay Games
  244. Quail Canyon Systems
  245. Quest Games, Inc.
  246. R3 Games
  247. Rampage Games
  248. Randy Gillette
  249. Reality Simulations, Inc.
  250. Rebel Enterprises
  251. Rebel Games
  252. Red Talon Gaming
  253. Rolling Thunder Games
  254. Roma Games
  255. Round Table
  256. Roy C. Rae
  257. Sandgroper PBM
  258. Sandlot Sports
  259. Sar-A-Kan Games
  260. Sardarthion Press
  261. Saul Betesh
  262. Sceptre Roleplaying
  263. Schubel & Son, Inc.
  264. Scoresheet Sports
  265. Scott Bowyer
  266. SE Technologies
  267. Sevenstar Games
  268. Shadow Island Games
  269. Shrewd Expanse
  270. Silvius & Berchtold
  271. Simcoarum Systems
  272. Sinbad's Games
  273. Sloth Enterprises
  274. Slow Motion Games, Inc.
  275. Smokey Mountain Strategies
  276. Soccer By Mail
  277. Soccer Star
  278. South Bay Games
  279. Spellbinder Games
  280. Spyder Games
  281. Starlord
  282. Starry Knight
  283. Stat-Sports
  284. State of Mind Games
  285. Stephen Phillips
  286. Steve M. White
  287. Strategic Fantasy Games of Australia
  288. Sudden Asylum
  289. Superior Simulations
  290. Supernova Games
  291. Synchronicity, Inc.
  292. Tempus Fugit PBM Productions
  293. Terry Crook
  294. The Barons Australian Midgard
  295. The Baron's Regime
  296. The Dukes of Hell
  297. The Game Anvil
  298. The PBM Locomotive Srl
  299. Third Foundation
  300. Throne Enterprises LLC
  301. TimePatterns PBM Games
  302. Time Space Simulations
  303. Timewyrm
  304. Titan PBM
  305. Total Simulations, Inc.
  306. Treesahran Industries
  307. Triad Simulations
  308. TribeNet
  309. Tudor Games
  310. Twin Engine Gaming
  311. Undying King Games
  312. Union West
  313. Vengeance Games
  314. Vigard Simulations
  315. Village Computer Games
  316. Viking Games
  317. Vorpal Games
  318. Vortex Simulations
  319. Wanderer Games
  320. War College Simulations PBM, Inc.
  321. Warlord Strategic Gaming
  322. Warrior Games
  323. Waveney Games
  324. Whitegold Games
  325. White Lion Enterprises
  326. World Games
  327. WoW Games
  328. Wraith PBM
  329. Yellowseed Games of Canada
  330. Zan Erskine
  331. Zen Games
  332. Zephyr Enterprises, Inc.
  333. Zorph Enterprises

External links

Suspense & Decision issue 1.

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