Tag Archives: Academics

Developer Interview with Muzzy Lane Software

Craig Handler has a chat with the Muzzy Lane crew about their upcoming release in the Making History series, The Great War.


muzzyLANEWe recently had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Parsons, the Product Manager at Muzzy Lane Software, to talk about their upcoming grand strategy game, Making History: The Great War.  As Muzzy Lane’s first departure from the battlefields of the Second Word War, this new title in the Making History series spans from 1910 through 1922, and will focus on the horrific trench warfare of World War I.  Making History: The Great War promises to permit players to experiment with revolutionary new armaments, technologies and strategies in an effort to rewrite history by leading one of the great powers during one of the most turbulent and pivotal times in modern world history.

With Making History: The Great War, Muzzy Lane hopes to appeal to serious historians and hardcore gamers, alike, by combining historical authenticity with a design system geared towards fostering education through strategic gaming.


GH: Thanks for agreeing to sit down with us to talk about Making History: The Great War. As you can see from our forums, there is a lot of excitement in the air over this upcoming early access release. Our readers, who consist of old fans of the Making History series, as well as new comers, are interested in learning about Muzzy Lane, the Making History series and importantly, Making History: The Great War.

Muzzy Lane games seem to be more focused toward education and the classroom, rather than the traditional commercial gaming market. What are the backgrounds of the individuals behind Muzzy Lane and is there professional experience as educators, teachers, professors, etc.?  If so, does any of this professional experience focus on either of the World Wars?

ML: At its core, Muzzy Lane is a technology company that focuses on game-based learning.  In addition to education, we also make games for business training and for healthcare, and of course, for strategy gamers!  Our underlying technology allows us to customize the learning for specific subjects and curriculums, and share the actions taken in the game with everyone involved.  This same engine drives our Making History games as well.  The founders include educators and engineers, and from the start we’ve always worked with subject matter experts.  For example, we worked closely with economic historian Niall Ferguson on Making History II, and the name of that game: “The War of the World” is taken from his book of the same name.  

Academic Analyses of Hobby Games Players

by Brant Guillory, from his time as a student at the University-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named, back in 2006

A presentation that combined 2 different survey-based studies of hobby games players.  The first focused on informal learning and academic achievement, the second was the fresh-off-the-presses factor analyses of the big GAMA gamer motivation study in 2006.  I combined the two into one presentation because, well, frankly because a bunch of the Comm School faculty (yes, you Chip, and Dan, and Andrew) didn’t think I had any actual research I was doing because I wasn’t following their wagging tails down the “political communication” primrose path.  Instead, I stuffed their faces with 2 different surveys that partnered with audiences well beyond the typical “bunch undergrads borrowed from a giant auditorium course” and though the methodology I used needed some refinement, the point was that I was already thinking well beyond their paradigms, and that just added to their dislike of me.

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The GrogHeads Call for Research

GrogHeads Staff, 26 August 2013

Hobby games and gamers – especially in the strategy gaming and wargaming world – have rarely been the subjects of much serious published research inquiry.  And yet, some of us know from personal experience that such research is, in fact, being conducted in graduate schools and academic institutions all over.  Distinct from marketing analyses in that they are not focused on improving commercial performance, these studies are frequently conceptualized and executed by members of the broader gaming community who are seeking to fuse their love for the hobby with an academic persuit in the social sciences or humanities.

Although there are a few academic outlets for such research – the journal Simulation & Gaming springs to mind – not every paper was written with the intention of journal or conference submission.  Nevertheless, the research is still interesting and useful, and for GrogHeads everywhere it is certainly relevant.  Papers shared may inspire better research by later investigators, and the ideas discussed may help designers and developers craft better games.

Entrepreneurship in the Hobby Games Segment of the Publishing Industry

by Brant Guillory, originally written while a student at the University-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named, back in 2007

Note: This paper was written in 2007, and minimally-revised since then.  Although the numbers are not current, the analysis of hobby games as a niche within overall publishing, and the analyses of volatility and entrepreneurship are still of interest in examining the market.  Anyone with a burning desire to revisit this paper and update with current market numbers is welcome to do so, and to contact us about publication.

Additionally, the target audience is one that is not familiar with hobby gaming, and thus the very, very, very (did we mention “very”) brief section on the history of hobby gaming will appear laughably incomplete to pretty much anyone inclined to read this article on a strategy-gaming website.  Given that whole books have been written on this subject, just go with it – focus on the data analysis instead.

Analyses of the overall media market tend to treat media segments at a very large level.  For example, internet companies tend to be lumped together, regardless of whether they are search engines (Google, Yahoo), networking sites (MySpace) or extensions of off-line media (MSNBC, CNN).  Similarly, the “publishing” industry tends to focus primarily on periodicals (newspapers, magazines) or mass-market books.

There are, of course, niches in every media segment that occupy a relatively small space in the market, but whose performance in the market may run contrary to the overall market segment performance.  While these niches may not wield sufficient influence in the overall market segment to sway the numbers of that segment, they are nonetheless interesting cases worthy of analysis.  An example of such a niche is the world of tabletop and hobby gaming, a subset of the publishing industry.

While the mass market of the publishing world is dominated by bestselling hardcover authors like Michael Crichton and Anne Rice, smaller publishers have churned out remarkable numbers of hardcovers books as rules for a variety of games, from tabletop miniatures to fantasy and science-fiction roleplaying.  Wizards of the Coast has over 150 books currently in print for Dungeons & Dragons, merely for rules, options, and settings for games.  Including novels based on settings in Dungeons & Dragons games, that number doubles.  White Wolf, a smaller game company, has over 100 books of their own currently in print.

As described by Hoag and Seo (2006), entrepreneurship in the media industries exists to varying degrees, depending on market segment.  Although Hoag and Seo noted that publishing was marked by relatively lower rates of entrepreneurship than other media industries, this is not necessarily true of the games publishing niche of the overall publishing marketplace.