This does not directly involve computer games, but I have just found out that Hogshead Publishing, a pen and paper role-playing game publisher in the UK, is closing down.
Hogshead was responsible for a number of innovative products, including Nobilis and the New Style line, which consists of small, innovative role-playing games by top designers such as Robin D. Laws, John Tynes, and Greg Costikyan. (On reading the news, I immediately ordered all five New Style products. They only cost about 8 Euros each.)
Hogshead Publishing also published a sophisticated magazine on pen and paper role-playing games called Interactive Fantasy. Sadly, back issues are hard to get, although they are worth the effort.
Their website contains the following explanation:
“Please note that the company is not going bankrupt. It is refreshingly solvent. However we are bored, creatively frustrated, and increasingly despondent about the future of the specialist games industry. After our successes in 2002, particularly the mould-breaking and critically acclaimed games Nobilis and De Profundis, we think we’ve gone as far as we can, and this seems a suitable high-point on which to call it a day.”
I found this especially thought-provoking after a year seemingly filled with bankruptcies and financial trouble in the entertainment software industry in Germany and France, and one high-profile development company, Presto Studios, closing itself in the US. There are many possible interpretations for this year’s troubles, but here we are seeing innovative and creative people quitting because they no longer see a long-term future for what they want to do. The pen and paper role-playing game industry may be different from the entertainment software industry (for one, it is a lot smaller), but it has some strong similarites as well, and I would not be greatly surprised if parts of our industry will suffer the same fate. If, in fact, that hasn’t happened already.
The Hogshead Publishing website.
Their New Style line.
An online shop selling the New Style games.
Some commentary from Kenneth Hite, another gifted game designer. (This link will probably become obsolete.)