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Metagaming Concepts
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mb Metagaming fan

Summary of Accomplishments

  • Metagaming Concepts launched the first line of microgames, and coined the term itself, when they released Ogre, MicroGame #1 in 1977.
  • The first MicroGames were approximately 4x7" and came in a plastic bag. Many of the later games came in notoriously flimsy small cardboard boxes.
  • Metagaming released twenty-two games in their MicroGame line.
  • Metagaming released five MicroHistory wargames.
  • There were also eight MicroQuest adventures for The Fantasy Trip, the first microgame based role-playing system.
  • The last of the MicroGames were released in 1982 and Metagaming ceased operations in April of 1983.
  • After former Metagaming designer Steve Jackson (I) started his own line of small-format games, Metagaming released the satirical A Fistful of Turkeys which mimicked and mocked the format used by the initial Steve Jackson Games releases.
  • Metagaming released five MetaGames in 1981, three of which were MetaHistory wargames. The MetaGames were folio-sized games in cardboard boxes with flaps on the right and left sides.

"Metagaming Concepts was a publisher of board games from 1975 to 1983 owned by Howard Thompson. Metagaming created and popularized the microgame format. It specialized in science fiction wargames; titles included Ogre, G.E.V., Godsfire, Stellar Conquest and WarpWar. The company also published the role-playing system The Fantasy Trip and the The Space Gamer magazine. In its later years, Metagaming introduced more fantasy titles into its lineup, and also began to publish games with historical themes, including Hitler's War.

Game designer Steve Jackson (I) got his start at Metagaming and retained the rights to Ogre, G.E.V., and The Space Gamer when he founded Steve Jackson Games. Among the other Metagaming designers were Lynn Willis and Keith Gross. Ben Ostrander, who was later the publisher of Mojo Press, served as the art director for most of the company's titles.

Metagaming published two magazines: The Space Gamer and Interplay. The former was started in 1975 dedicated to science fiction gaming and later expanded is scope to include fantasy gaming. It was sold to Steve Jackson in 1980. The latter magazine, Interplay, was a house organ, intended to be published six times a year. It ran for eight issues before the end of the company. The first issue of Interplay was dated May/June 1981, and the eighth was dated September/October 1982.

Games Research Group, Inc., which was initially part of Metagaming, was created as a separate entity on 1-Jan-1982 by Howard Thompson. The Games Research Group, Inc. copyright appears on several Metagaming-released products, such as the map and counters of Dragons of Underearth, the map and counters of Helltank Destroyer, the map and rulebook of Fire When Ready, and the map of Starleader: Assault!.

After going out of business, Howard Thompson disappeared from the gaming business, leaving most of Metagaming's intellectual property in limbo."

A source close to Thompson was asked why Metagaming was shut down and if it was possible to contact Thompson for comment. The source responded that Thompson permanently left the gaming industry for personal reasons not related to Metagaming, and further stated that the request for comment was communicated to Thompson, but that Thompson declined. This source also said that he was unaware of any financial difficulty at Metagaming but could not rule it out. The source appeared to be under the impression that Metagaming's inventory and intellectual property was sold for profit, at least some of which (Such as Hitler's War) was purchased by The Avalon Hill Game Co (now owned by Hasbro ).

More information about Metagaming Concepts, Inc., The Fantasy Trip, and The Legend of the Unicorn's Gold are available at:

Source for the quoted portion of the 'History' Section of this article: Wikipedia, "Metagaming_Concepts", available under the CC-BY-SA License.

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