I’ve always liked to play different sorts of games. While most of my career has been spent working on roleplaying games, I also love miniatures games, war games, card games, and board games, and I even spent some time in the TCG trenches. I see hobby gaming as a unified whole and oftentimes this seems like a minority view. Many gamers are quick to pick their category (“I’m a roleplayer,” or “I’m a miniatures gamer.”) and pooh-pooh other types of games. Hell, even within the same category gamers are often at each other’s throats (“I’m an old school roleplayer and you can take my polyhedral dice out of my cold dead hands!” or “I’m a story gamer and games designed by the Man cause brain damage!”). I guess it’s easier to find things to fight about than realize what we all have in common.
I was pondering what might be done to build bridges between these different groups within our hobby when it hit me: a Gaming Pentathlon. I envision this as an event that might run at major conventions. Participants would play five different games from different categories over the course of a day. While I suppose you could do some sort of scoring system and crown a winner, really the point would be to finish all five events and experience the full breadth of what the hobby has to offer. I think it’d also be possible to tie all five games together thematically and even to use the different mediums to tell a story throughout the day. A Gaming Pentathlon might end up looking something like this:
The Story of Rome
Round 1, Miniatures Game: DBA (Wargames Research Group) battles are used to illustrate Rome’s rise to power.
Round 2, War Game: Command & Colors Ancients (GMT) highlights Rome’s long but ultimate victorious fight against Carthage.
Round 3, Card Game: Caesar & Cleopatra (Kosmos/Rio Grande) is used to show the instability that brought the republic to an end
Round 4, Roleplaying Game: True20 Adventure Roleplay (Green Ronin) puts the players into the “bread and circuses” era with a scenario about the dangers and intrigues of the Coliseum.
Round 5, Board Game: Catan Histories: Struggle for Rome (Mayfair) is used to show how barbarians buffeted the Roman state in its end days.
Now this could be a crazy idea. It would require a fair amount of effort to organize and it’s hard to say how many players would find this idea exciting. If it worked, it’d provide conventions with another event which is unlike anything you are likely to do at home. It’d also show that game fans of all types can sit down and enjoy playing games together.