Gaming Universal was a magazine dedicated to play-by-mail games, first published in November 1983 by Imagascape Industries, and edited by Bob McLain. By 1987, a new version of Gaming Universal was in publication by Aftershock Publishing, with McLain remaining as the editor. This second edition of the magazine ceased publication the following year in 1988.
Cover of August/September 1987 Issue
|Editor-in-Chief||Bob Mclain, John Kelly|
|First issue||November 1983|
The magazine was first published in November 1983 by Imagascape Industries. Rick Loomis, of Flying Buffalo, Inc., noted that this was because Bob McLain had identified the lack of a professional independent PBM magazine. The publication began with heavy advertising, known writers, and extensive PBM game analysis. According to Loomis, the first three issues were published, albeit all late, before McLain realized that a PBM magazine wouldn't be profitable due to the small gaming base and lack of advertising budgets in PBM companies.
By 1987, a new edition of Gaming Universal was in publication by Aftershock Publishing, with McLain remaining as the editor. The new edition continued to run bi-monthly—or six times per year—but on an off-month schedule (Dec/Jan versus Nov/Dec and Jan/Feb) to provide seamless coverage with the other PBM magazines: Paper Mayhem and the UK-based Flagship. By the March/April 1987 issue of Paper Mayhem, the new Gaming Universal had one interim issue and two regular issues averaging 20–32 pages. David Webber, Paper Mayhem's editor in chief, noted that the initial issues were light on content (articles and reviews) because the publisher wanted to ensure publication timeliness, which was a noted issue with the prior version. Webber also observed that some of the authors for the new Gaming Universal also wrote for Paper Mayhem and Flagship. Webber recommended his readers pick up Issue #2 of Gaming Universal, the December/Jan 1986/1987 issue, which was the best to date as it contained a listing called The PBM Primer which was a listing of all known US PBM companies and games.
In 1988, this edition of the magazine also ended. David Webber announced that Gaming Universal was ending publication. He announced that Advent Games Inc "had a few of their partners buyout the others", decide to end publication, and try to sell the magazine. Their unsuccessful efforts officially finished the second publication run of Gaming Universal. Paper Mayhem took over Gaming Universal subscriptions for those not requesting a refund.
Michael Gray reviewed Gaming Universal in Space Gamer No. 70. Gray commented that "Gaming Universal is indispensable to anyone seriously interested in PBM. Non-PBM gamers may even be motivated to get involved after seeing just what is available and how interesting PBM can be. If you read 'PBM Update' in [Space Gamer], you should subscribe to GU. I recommend it highly."
- Webber, David (1987). "Flagship". Paper Mayhem: The Informative Play By Mail Magazine. March/April 1987 (#23): 36.
- Gray, Michael (July–August 1984). "Capsule Reviews". Space Gamer. Steve Jackson Games (70): 50–51.
- Loomis, Rick (July–August 1985). "Rick Loomis on Play-By-Mail". Space Gamer: The Magazine of Adventure Gaming. No. 75. p. 36.
- Webber, David (March–April 1987). "Flagship". Paper Mayhem. No. 23. p. 36.
- Webber, David (March–April 1988). "Where We're Headed". Paper Mayhem. No. 29. p. 2.