Final Reflections of a Newbie

by Stephen Lepley

There are not many people my age (40) playing Internet Diplomacy. Probably because a lot of people my age don't like computers, never had to use them. Also, many my age are just plain busy with life. Kids, jobs, homes, vacations, etc. Diplomacy is (after all) a game and those deadlines tend to get in the way as the months go by. The press is worse. Trying to give everyone the press they deserve and want is time consuming. Email Diplomacy is press and those who can't put it out are in trouble.

This will be my last article to The Diplomatic Pouch. Several weeks ago I found a replacement for my position in club2's game and resigned from Diplomacy. After 1½ years of meeting deadlines, I was wavering. The press and the deadlines were becoming a burden on my life. I don't know how many times my wife and I were headed out the door when I had to tell her "I need a few more minutes to get in a move or send out some Diplomacy press". That 5 minute press always wound up taking 25 minutes instead. After making a few moves late (and not caring), I realized that it was time for me to move on.

I had spotted Diplomacy in a copy of "Internet World" magazine. It seemed like a great way to recapture some of the things I had left behind. Play a strategy game on a board with other people who do the same. I could also meet and talk with others from around the world. I had upgraded to a 28.8 modem, the Internet was transformed into a shiny new toy for me. Now I had the power to cruise those graphical web pages! I wanted to learn it all and do it all.

I had never played Diplomacy in my youth. We played those board games where you maneuver pieces to conquer the other guy. Games with names that sounded like World War II. The biggest thing we were into was miniatures. All of these activities started and ended in one evening. We drank soda, ate chips and pizza, and maneuvered our armies on the game table (converted ping pong table). This happened about every other week and if you didn't have didn't go to the game.

Email Diplomacy is quite different. Week after week those deadlines are there. Games run for months. When the wife and I went on weekend trips or work was crazy with overtime, I still had to get those moves and press in.

The Internet itself was losing that shiny newness for me. I haven't sent my pen pal in Japan a note in ages. So what if the person on the other end of the line is in England, Japan or Russia! More and more I only have time to use the Internet as a tool to accomplish a practical end. These days I check the weather, find information on a company that may buy us out, contact an old friend or some of my co-workers. In Massachusetts I can now register my vehicles over the net.

I don't surf much on the net these days, not like I did. Summertime is here. My wife and I have been attempting to do more of what we got married for...spending time with each other. We bought a Jet Ski (wave runner sit-down type) and head for the lakes and rivers whenever we can. Our favorite pass time now is to go to a bed and breakfast for a couple of nights and play with the Jet Ski on the lake.

To be fair...I have been visiting a mud (multi user dungeon game). But I quit when I feel like it and can come back two months later and pick up where I left deadlines, no one is depending on me to get a move in. There is no press to get out for it. With a program to complete for work, the finishing of the house, the need to finish off the resume and start looking around for advancement, time has become the limiting factor to my life.

My final view of Diplomacy is favorable. It is an interesting game and can be very exciting. The mechanics can take time to learn and the games can take a very long of time to play. It suffers from some of the same problems the net does. Some people tend to behave very rudely when they feel that they are invisible on the net. Sometimes the game crashes or your server is down just when you put off a move until the last minute. But overall, it is great game for those with the interest, time, and patience. Due to the cutthroat nature of the is not for everyone.

So I ride off into the waves and bid Diplomacy a fond farewell. We may meet again (some day) when the technology changes and my life slows down. Thanks to Manus for putting me in print. Thanks to Paul for being a good Diplomacy friend (and enemy). Also thanks to Larry (who nursed me along in Diplomacy and helped us start a club game on his judge). Good-bye all. Don't ever forget to stab!

Stephen Lepley

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