Chris Baylis: Games & Gaming & Games Gazette
I was born in 1950 on December 24th, just 30 minutes away from Christmas Day, in Queen Charlotte's Hospital Hammersmith. My parents had a house in Windsor Road, Palmer's Green where they lived with my older (by 8 years) brother Anthony (who now lives in Virginia USA). Mum and Dad (and us darned kids) moved to Basildon when it was a New Town in 1954. My brother moved to Canada in 1964 and lived there before moving to the USA. Mum and Dad are sadly no longer with us.
Despite what some may think I was educated, at Whitmore Way Primary and then Infants school and then I followed my, 8 years older than me, brother's earlier course to Fryerns Grammar & Technical School instead of joining the majority of my friends at the newly opened Barstable Grammar School. I messed around playing games and sports (mostly football) and with girls and motor-bikes and collecting records (LPs mainly) instead of concentrating on my schoolwork. This was partially due to something inside of me not wanting to learn algebra (couldn't see the point) and literally (yes literally) hating English because Mr Roberts the Head of English at Fryerns only believed in Shakespeare; so I am not a fan of the Bard. Weekends were for music and motorbikes.
I did a few odd jobs after leaving school before joining the Merchant Navy and seeing the world - well maybe not all of it but a lot more than I ever expected to see otherwise. I ended up doing a manual job as a delivery/salesman for Mother's Pride Bakery, after two years as a Milkman for Unigate. I met Fran (now the Lady Frances of Loch Borralan according to the Title and Land I bought her as a gift a couple of years ago) in 1972 and we married in 1973 (May 19th) and she has put up with me ever since. We have three children, Grant, Jodie and Greg and thirteen Grandchildren. I am a games enthusiast, Fran is a games enthusiast, two of my children and many of my grandchildren are games enthusiasts, my other child is sensible.
I can remember playing boardgames from an early age, though back in the days of playing Monopoly, Careers, Cluedo and Bulls & Bears (all Waddington's games) on the front porch of our Basildon House after school, I never thought what an influence they would have on my life. On a holiday to Canada in the 70's Tony (my brother - who I may have mentioned is 8 years older than me) introduced us to Dungeons & Dragons and on arriving back in the UK Fran and I set about learning more on role-playing and starting our own games club. From that came the start of my scenario writing, then the club magazine South Essex Wargames And Roleplaying Society (S.E.W.A.R.S.) which evolved into Games Gazette a few years later when I started reviewing board games as well as RPGs. After 32 years of writing, editing and publishing it as a paper magazine - yes the first issue was in October 1980 - it evolved again into the website where you found this page.
Over the years Fran and I have organised eight GamesCon (Basildon) one day games events, planned the gaming and trade hall at the majority of UK GenCons, organised and run the Bring N Buy at all GenCons in UK, organised the special Star Wars Guests for GenCons in the UK and Benelux (including Barcelona), and we are responsible for talking UKGE into having a Bring n Buy at their UKGames Expo, which we ran for the first 6 years until it outgrew us exponentially.
I was the first Wizz Kidz Mage Knight demonstrator in the UK and introduced the game to Triples Wargames event as well as to many UK games stores. Fran and I were also amongst the first Dragon Dice and Spellfire demonstrators in the UK. I was almost certainly one of the first players of Magic the Gathering in the UK when Michael Hodge of TM Games brought 2 decks back from GAMA and gave them to me to assess whether it was worth importing - thankfully I said yes - which led to me phoning WotC in Seattle for TSR UK and inviting them to the first GenConUK - so you can blame the MtG revolution on me if you want. Speaking of TSR UK, I was offered the job of GenCon and RPGA coordinator and turned it down twice - well I didn't say I was bright did I ?
I spent many years as a Senior Volunteer for GenCon in Wisconsin, Southern California and Indianapolis and have visited Spiel in Essen Germany for over 20 years for Games Gazette and then for Games Gazette Online.
With Fran as a sounding board (which she says is better than an ironing board or plain being just bored) I have had a number of my game designs published (or come close to being published).
- Dark Blades - Standard Games
- Dark Blades Expansion - Standard Games
- EuroHit - FCB & Associates
- Assassin - Avalon Hill (biggest cock-up there ever was)
- Rockets - Klee Spiel (Kosmos)
- Wie Hund und Katz - Goldsieber
- Space Shuffle - Playroom Entertainment
- Station Master - Mayfair Games
- Purple Ronnie Card Game - Hobbygames Ltd *
Eggheads Card and Box Game - Hobbygames Ltd *
* These were for Hobbygames but they went into liquidation before these games were published. (not because of these games I hasten to add).
The Games Gazette Bring n Buy's have raised 1000's of pounds for Children's Charities over the years and Fran and I are very proud to have been able to help Children's Charities such as E.C.H.O. The Ronald McDonald House. and Birmingham Children's Hospital to name just a few.