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Episode #7 - Diplomacy

I am pleased to present the seventh episode of The Gameshelf, a product of over four months' work from both me and my totally stellar cast and crew. In this episode, we focus on a single board game: Diplomacy, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of its original publication this year. In usual Gameshelf fashion, we show you a game in play. But this is a very unusual game, so we took an unusual approach to filming it. I hope you enjoy it.

Watch it through the embedded player above, or download it as a high-quality Quicktime video file.

This was the most ambitious show we've ever made, and I am as proud of it as I am looking forward to returning to humbler (read: easier to edit) show styles.


Some show notes and links:


  • A Chicago Magazine profile of Diplomacy's designer, Allan B. Calhamer, from earlier this year. Describes the life of a trailblazing game designer in a time when the world wasn't quite ready to support his chosen passion, which is why he spent most of his life as a mail carrier. (He's now retired.)

  • The two websites I mention towards the end of the show:

    • The Diplomatic Pouch, a Diplomacy fansite with deep roots, collecting lots of resources related to the game. It includes an archive of a "Dip" fanzine nearly as old as the web, and links to print zine archives decades older.

    • WebDiplomacy.Net, an online implementation of Diplomacy with some pretty sweet graphics, and the ability to browse games in progress. This website was brought to my attention from Matt Sakai (Italy), who hadn't played Diplomacy at all before the weekend of filming, and then went on to play several games online.

  • Wizards of the Coast's Diplomacy page. As mentioned on the show, WotC is the game's current publisher, and kindly provided the copy we used to play.

  • This is the weddingest episode of The Gameshelf ever:

    • Kevin Jackson-Mead, who played Russia, flew off to real-life Russia the following weekend to get hitched. (He wrote a blog entry about his experiences there as a visiting gamer.)

    • Dave Heiman (Turkey) and Diana Mirabello (France) got married to each other earlier this month.

    I'm fairly certain that, in both cases, the weddings were planned well in advance of our game shoot. But who knows how existing passions may have been further enflamed by the desperate clash of anthropomorphized nation-states?

  • We set up a "confessional camera" (a MacBook with a webcam app loaded) in a closet. All the players (and some of the crew) made healthy use of it, but I ended up not using any of the footage so collected in the final show. I plan on releasing a "bonus episode" that will simply concatenate all the confessions into a single document of world domination.

  • This was the first episode of The Gameshelf filmed without any use of the Somerville Community Access TV studio, though I still made use of their camcorders, with gratitude. All filming took place in my home, including the greenscreen bits.

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