The Economist and the Bard

On July 7th, 2022, the prestigious periodical The Economist published an interesting and original article on The Hajj Trail, an educational interactive game recreating the experience of following the Hajj trail in the early modern period.

The simulation, inspired by the celebrated Oregon Trail series, allows the player to choose the role and occupation of their character (e.g.: an Ottoman merchant or a Ghulshani Sufi), to travel through key locations and cities along the route, and to experience events and challenges that a pilgrim would encounter.

The subtitle of the article on The Economist is:

A role-play game allows everyone to imagine one of the world’s great journeys.

As anyone who played the old Oregon Trail games would know, Byron is aware that this game would not accurately be characterized as a role-playing game; more likely, it would be categorized as a simulation or as interactive storytelling.

Thus the Bard felt the need to write to The Economist to clarify this important point. Byron decided to poke the editor, and, behold, his missive was published among the letters of others readers in the July 28th 2022 correspondance:

Speaking as an experienced dungeon master, I can say with some confidence that as excellent as the “Oregon Trail” and “Haj Trail” computer games may be, they do not belong to the category of “role play”.

Thanks to the Economist for publishing Byron's sparring remark, and to fellow role-players for recognizing the bravery of the bard! :)

Notice that, following the rules, Byron had to sign his missive and specify where he was writing from. Needless to say that the county was added by the editor! :)

P.S.: Byron has also tried out the Hajj Trail game, and he would warmly reccommend it to fans of the old Oregon Trail and to anyone interested in the historical period and the pilgrimage experience!