Crossing Generations

Most of the games we play in real life are big for a while on release, and then that’s it.  They die down sooner or later.  There are a lot of reason a game fails to make it long term.  Maybe the people who played the games turn to others.  Perhaps the game never sold copies to make money.  Sometimes the company goes out of business despite that product being good.  Other games replace them in the mind’s eye.  For whatever reason, we’ve seen lots of games come and go.  Many of my favorite games, like HeroScape or Middle Earth: Collectible Card Game (ME:CCG) are done for – I’ve given up playing any more, which is real sad as they were quality games.  But the company mismanaged it, or the game went out of style, and I’m now looking back and wondering what could have been.

Luckily BattleTech is still trucking along!


A few games have endured the test of time.  But you never know which is going to hit lightning.  Take Dungeons and Dragons as a good example.  No one knew how big that was going to end being.  The same is true of Magic:  The Gathering or Warhammer.  They are here for the future, and aren’t going anywhere.  Recently we saw World Champions in Magic who are younger than the game they are playing!

One major secret to these games’ longevity is that they crossed generations.  I was playing Magic back in 1994 when it was new on the scene.  And I’m still playing today.  Most of the people who played back then have left the game, but that’s fine.  Many others have joined.  And when I walk into a tournament, I’m often one of the oldest people in the room.  Magic crossed into the younger generation, and it will last.   On the other hand, I picked up Dungeons and Dragons in the late 1980s – 1988 to be precise.  Almost 12 years after it had been introduced.  I was one of the newer generations of players who was brought to it by older players.  And now there are players 20 years older than me and 20 years younger than me and its spread across one generation to another.  It crossed generations.  Shoot, I know four students at my small 1250 strong college down here in Mobile Alabama who play Warhammer: 40000 on the weekend.  Generation crossed.

So where is BattleTech?

Has it crossed generations enough to sustain itself in perpetuity? Or is it continuing with the people who came to it in its heydays back in the later 1980s and early to mid-1990s (like me, who came to it in late 1992) when it was at its peak?

I don’t know. I haven’t played a lot of real life BattleTech in a while – since I was in Philadelphia for a year back in 2012.  Mostly it’s online for me with MegaMekNet and other variants of the MekWars client online.  I know the folks there tend to my own levels of experience and age.  But that could easily be a self-selecting subsection of the overall community.

I love BattleTech.  And I don’t want it to end.  I don’t want it to be my next ME:CCG, lost to the mists of time.  Hopefully, the new video game will help to put it on the map of more people, much like the MMO MechWarrior: Online hopefully has.  And I would love to see a BattleTech real life movie that could really push this thing.  There’s a lot of appreciate with it.  Could you imagine if this became as big as Marvel right now?  Wow!

For now though, I wonder if we are in a good place moving forward.  Any idea from what you see?   Your games?  The people who you interact with?

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About Abe Sargent

When his first attack roll with an LRM15 from that Crusader destroyed a Ryoken deep in the jungle, Abe grew hooked on the game that brought heavy metal to a smart sci-fi universe that realistically portrays humanity in the future with all of the foibles of today.

16 thoughts on “Crossing Generations

  1. Nic

    BattleTech has been a part of me for a very long time, and I’m glad that it continues to evolve. I started with the Virtual Pods, moved to the board game, played the early MechWarrior/MechCommander PC/console games, tried the CCG, and now am excited for the latest generation of video games and Alpha Strike. I play the board game less than I’d like, but a few times a year I get the chance to sit down and roll some dice.

    BattleTech will live within me for a long time, and I hope it continues to evolve with me into my old age!

    1. Abe Sargent Post author

      Evolution is great! And as times shift, it’s important to shift with them as well. We did have a lot of video game reach for a while with Mch Assault and Mech Commander and MechWarrior. Hopefully we can push that out to the next level as things progress!

      Here’s to Battle Tech, long may it reign!

  2. Brian Pengelly

    While on the balance the average Battletech player tends to heading towards middle age in my experience, one of the things I love as a Demo Agent is seeing how many young players are excited about the game. At every Con I have ever volunteered at we have quite a few teenage or younger fans who come out year after year to play in the Grinder event. We have had kids as young as 8 with a good grasp of the system and fully enjoying the game. Many of these youth are the children of older generation Battletech fans who were taught by a parent, but I can think of many examples where young people just decided to give the demo a try after wandering past and then spend half the Con playing while parents sit by watching or wander off to explore the Con alone happy knowing their child is engrossed in the game.

    1. Abe Sargent Post author

      That’s good to hear! Thanks Brian for your thoughts and experiences as a Demo Agent!

  3. Sean

    I’ve been summoned back by the siren’s song of BT. I came into it with MechWarrior 2, got into the board game and had a blast. I drifted away during Jihad and MechAssault, but this year I found a ton of old sourcebooks I’d never added to my collection at a used bookstore and picked them up for cheap. One thing led to another, and I bought the latest boxed set, some more metal minis to supplement the plastics, and have been painting like a fool for the better part of the last week. Finished a Wasp, a desert-camo Vedette, and a Mad Dog today, in fact. Need to get the courage to strip the godawful paint job a much younger me applied to my original Warhammer and do it up right.

    My wife has gotten into it in a big way thanks to this, and some of my old friends have been gravitating back now that they’ve seen some of my paint work, so I may yet get another regular game going. My nephew went goggle-eyed when he saw my minis, so it looks like he wants to learn, too.

    I do want to say how great has been over the years. Even when I wasn’t playing, I was drifting over here immersing myself in the thoroughly well-done articles, reminiscing, and finding out the broad strokes of how arcs that were just getting started when real life pulled me away. This has been one of my favorite sites for a very long time. I’m so grateful to have this place.

  4. Abe Sargent Post author

    Thant’s a great story, thanks for sharing! I hope that your family enjoys your time together and playing BattleTech as well!

    Good luck with the Warhammer, by the by!

  5. CF

    I’ve been playing since the basic set included the _Shadow Hawk_ (my baby… :) ).

    One salient virtue of _BT_: If you went to a gaming con in 1986, teleported a player from that con to a con in 2016, and plunked him down in front of a _BT_ table, he’d be playing in 30 seconds — maybe the background stuff would confuse him, but the basics of the game remain the same (the only major rules change was shifting Gunnery from “4 – Gunnery Skill” to “Gunnery as base”).

    1. Abe

      That’s true!

      A similar conversation to this one began two days ago over on the MgkaMekNet forums where MekWars servers have gone from 1000 games or more weekly across all of the servers to around 200. The people who play have more things in their lives now such as families. And we haven;t had a new wave of blood of younger players coming in underneath, just (mostly) the same group of players or players who are coming back to MekWars after heading away for a bit. It’s interesting to me that this is a current conversation in some other places as well.

  6. Chris Rice

    Hey first time commenting. I can into the hobby way later. My first game of Battletech was in 2007. I played Mecchwarrior 3&4 and mech commander as well, but I always saw them as computer games.

    Warhammer 40k got me into table top in 2006 (which I regret spending money on games workshop now) but I liked up other games along the way. Battletech was one of them.

    I am in my mid twenties, but I do a ton of wargaming, and Battletech is one of my favorites. It is always the one I want to teach (and alpha strike if they don’t want sim style games) I love the universe and think it can translate into a very powerful modern setting. I am doing a campaign of it to people who are buying spare mechs I have from me to start their own collection. It is growing and can still make the gap. I am proof of that.

    1. Abe Sargent Post author


      That sounds great Chris, thanks for responding. I hope your playgroup expands and builds!

  7. Chris Brown

    I would like to see the Classic BattleTech novels continued after Endgame ( I could never stand Dark Age). It seemed to me that the universe only came alive and became interesting when I read my first BT novel, Lethal Heritage.

    Until that point I just saw BT as just another war-game. Killer robots blasting each other is great, but it has become a SIFI cliche. In my mind BT was nothing more than the uninteresting seed that spawned real games, the MechWarrior & MechCommander PC games.

    I am always hoping BattleCorps will pick up where Endgame left off. Sadly, it has yet to happen.

    1. Abe

      Thanks for posting!

      It would be interesting to see what would happen if we went back in time and novel-ed the Jihad. Normally, novels came out and were showing the latest information on the timeline in the universe. The Clan Invasion. Operation Guerrero. Twilight of the Clans. Civil War. You get the idea. Even on a small level, here’s a new merc unit of an update on the Grey Death Legion or what have you. Would a series that goes back in time and picks back up post-Civil War be salacious enough to sell? Would there be enough interest to push forward? I don;t know! But that’s an interesting concept, certainly.

      1. Alex Ward

        I wish that Harebrained schemes would give us a new series of novels of the glory days of the Star League and its fall. I’d love to read about Royal regiments battling pirates and uppity House troops. The Gunslingers dueling with Kurita mechwarriors. Kerensky’s efforts in subduing the Periphery and then battling his way towards Terra. Or the adventures of Nicolas forming the Clans and their subsequent conquering of the Pentagon Worlds. There’s 500 years worth of stories yet to tell in the BT universe!

  8. Alex Ward

    I got introduced to Battletech in 1992 when I read Natural Selection in AIT in the US Army. I didn’t really get into it until 1993 when my cousin got me to read the Saga of the Grey Death Legion trilogy. So I guess I got into it in reverse. Started with the fiction then moved on to the table top. I’d say BT is in a fair position. It’s really at a disadvantage as it seemed like the Dark Ages storyline wasn’t very popular and the Clix version of the game simply didn’t work very well for it. Its collectible nature didn’t help in that regard. Old school Battletech gamers doubtless wondered why we should drop 10 bucks and have no idea what mini we would get when we could order a mini from Ral Partha and pose it and give it an awesome paint job. That was of course a good chunk of the fun. Newer gamers wondered why they should purchase these bigger expensive miniatures rather than get more DC or Marvel Heroclix for the same price. I think that Battletech has suffered in that regard since it doesn’t really lend itself to an “open and play” system. Or at least one I’ve seen anyway. I have not seen anything other than a starter box set in either FLGS in my town. No minis in blister packs anymore. No sourcebooks. While Battletech is alive and well among us players who have been at it for years, I doubt its getting many new players. I’m afraid that I’d ultimately have to say that the video games will continue to survive and even thrive, the table top version is probably going to fade away as its original fanbase continues to age.

  9. Kdogprime

    I think the BT franchise has a lot of untapped potential in terms of cinema, but unfortunately, it has a stigma to overcome.

    American movie-goers in general do not like the idea of humans piloting giant robots, no matter what form they might take. They like robots like Transformers, the Terminator, and Robocop, but when it comes to a person inside a robot controlling it, that’s a no-go for some reason. Even a blockbuster movie like Pacific Rim, which did well worldwide, underperformed in America.

    I really struggle to understand this. I guess it’s a cultural thing that’s more popular in the east than it is in the west, but everytime I ask someone why they don’t like the idea of people piloting giant robots, they can never give a clear reason for it. They just “don’t like it”. One person told me it’s “immature”, but couldn’t articulate a significant difference in maturity between piloting a tank that rolls and a tank that walks (she loved the movie “Fury”). Also, people love Star Wars and its walking war machines. What’s the difference between an AT-ST and a Flea, for example?

    Until western audiences can overcome this weird resistance to the idea of people controlling walking war machines in movies, I don’t see a Battletech movie ever being made.

  10. Adrian Hinton

    @Kdogprime: So you’re not the only one who notes the resemblance between the AT-ST and the Flea?! I notice also that the Flea is not considered Unseen, even though it was around for BattleDroids in the mid-’80s… [George Lucas famously sent a cease-and-desist letter to Jordan Weisman, claiming that Lucas had copyrighted the term “droids”.]

    I think that a live-action BattleTech movie would need the same elements that made Star Wars successful: More character-driven (as opposed to plot-driven) movies where they delve into the background of the 3025 leaders. More epic music with professional symphonic composers and a few ’80s metal legends recruited to play instrumental music; Whitesnake should be one of them. And as many Unseen ‘Mechs as they can legally put into a movie, if and when Tobey Macguire (sp?) legally makes a live-action Robotech movie first.

    The only fundamental difference between BattleTech and Star Wars is that BattleTech is considered “hard science fiction” without paranormal or mystical elements such as the Force and the Jedi/Sith conflict. And of course, there are no aliens, except animals and plants that originated on other worlds, but which are not smart or dangerous enough to threaten or invade humanity. But our directors could make an exception for entities like the Swamp People from the first ’80s novel (cf. Sand People in Star Wars) and/or the Takooma primates in the ’80s Davion sourcebook (cf. Ewoks?)

    To make the long story short, we need a live-action movie that follows on the Robotech live-action movie (just as Star Wars prompted “droids” in movies and BattleTech was renamed after Robotech, including the Unseens of the ’80s)… We need some musical geniuses to help us with our epic movie soundtrack, and we must find someone to play a convincing Hanse Davion, who is equal parts Van Damme, JFK, and Kirk from Star Trek. We cannot make a movie that is worse than PG-13 for violence and other elements.

    And Ral Partha Enterprises in my hometown must have the rights to make Unseen miniatures again, because we will need successful merchandising to make the BattleTech franchise as big as Star Wars! :))


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