Lord of the Rings, and Middle-Earth in general has spawned hundreds, if not thousands, of games. Not only adaptations, but whole genres of gaming owe their existence to the wonderful work of J.R.R. Tolkien. To name a few, Dungeons and Dragons, Ultima, Warhammer, Warcraft, and The Elder Scrolls, all owe the workings of their lore in some way or another, to a creation of Tolkien’s. For example, the whole modern concept of an orc (with that specific spelling) was invented by Tolkien, equating Goblins, which had hitherto been unrelated, the word Goblin being descended, through the German kobold, to the original Greek word κόβαλος (kobalos, meaning rogue or knave), with the then-unused Old English word orke descending from the latin orcus which meant a spectre of some sort. Apart from the mini-language lesson (which is relevant only because of Tolkien’s own love of philology) this goes to show how the inventions of Tolkien had such an impact on fantasy in western culture as a whole, and therefore his impact on fantasy gaming.
What I aim to do in this series of reviews I’m calling Impish Adventures in Middle-Earth (for posterity) is to eventually cover any and all games released that are directly related to Tolkien; that is, any licensed computer or video games based on his books, video game adaptations of the movies, bootleg or amateur games released to capitalize on the release of said movies, and hopefully board, card and tabletop roleplaying games based on the franchise. Tolkien’s legendarium is a mythos of its own, and while I do respect the opinion of those purists who see anything beyond the written word as being a cash-in on the stories, I believe that the depiction of events, locations and characters from any written work, through film or game or other medium, if done well, is in no way disrespectful to the memory of Tolkien himself, and are just like any film or game based on classical myths and legends.