|Communication isn't always straight forward|
This Sunday Sermon is actually brought to you courtesy of a wonderfully cohesive rant from James S over at the Warp Signal Blog. I think the reason I like that rant so much is because it is cohesive. You see, rambling rants are normally the product of a momentary spike in anger or annoyance. Meanwhile cohesive rants are the byproduct of time, lots of time. They are normally a slow build up of lots of little niggles that form and crystallise deep in somebodies psyche into a diamond hard crystal nugget of pure unadulterated rage or hatred. Call me a sick puppy if you will, but I'm fascinated and drawn to such powerful expressions of opinion. Mainly because they're contagious and seem to infect those that stand too close to them with part of that particular malady. I like the inspiration such things can often breed in others and indeed myself, as long as it doesn't become adversarial.
So James got me to thinking about communication in our hobby. In comments section of his article though you'll see a comment by me about convincing some poor schmuck a couple of years ago that 'donkey-flop las-spam' was an actual thing. There were other 'made up' names, but that was the most ridiculous one I could actually remember that actually worked. He didn't sadly, however, buy into the premise that the only way to make Eldar work was to take the 'Burger King List' with plenty of 'Flame Grilled whoppers'. Perhaps I pushed it a bit too far, but I actually thought the idea of Fire Dragons in wave serpents being called 'Flame Grilled Whoppers' and therefore a spam list of them being called the 'Burger King List', was actually far more plausible than some of the crap I did come out with. It does though touch on part of what James was getting at in his article over at Warp Signal. That as a hobby we are moving into some pretty cringe worthy territory with the language we use. But it also has different and more worrying implication.
|Sorry. I can't understand you, could you please make sense?|
All hobbies, no matter what they are, develop their own 'language', 'secret code' or jargon. It's almost an inevitability it seems. We will try to reduce complex yet standard concepts, which would take an age to explain using 'standard' language, into a far simpler collection of words. To name things I suppose. The assumption being that these things are such standard or common ideas within a field or hobby, that if they were named people would grasp their meaning instantly. It's not just hobbies either, science does it, as does law and pretty much any specialist field you care to mention. But here's the crux of the problem as I see it. Language is meant to communicate ideas to others. Its very essence should be to include others within its reach and range. It should certainly not be used as a tool for ostracising others, or for total exclusion. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for using the right word, I'm just not sure there's a need to invent new ones, as we have plenty. But, we have to accept that in any specialist area that naming or concept simplification is important to the broader aims of furthering understanding by rapid communication of ideas. Yes it still presents a barrier to the uninitiated, but the rewards for those within the given field are greater than the exclusion of others it often brings.
|What does it mean!!!|
|Ever feel like some rulebooks need this?|
I wrote last weeks Sundays Sermon on the topic of ownership of the rules. I guess like all things in this hobby though it's all intertwined into one huge topic of never ending massiveness. But, ownership of the rules and their communication is vitally important, whoever it is that owns them. None of us ever really like to stop mid game and work out just what the hell is going on in 'that' situation and what happens next. Now sometimes this is down to us not knowing the rules. However, all too often it is down to poor communication of the concept in the rules. Sometimes these concept aren't just badly worded or communicated, they just seem counter-intuitive to the function of the rest of the game. Or we just don't agree with it. For instance I have had long discussions with various people about the cover rules in Infinity. And how they don't make 'sense' in the broader aspects of the hobby and what most games will do. I've had similar discussions around various rules in HoMachine (it's what I call Warmachine and Hordes), MoFaux (it's what I call Malifaux), Flames of War and many others. These aren't issues with the rules, these are issues with how we think rules should work, which is entirely different to badly worded rules. In the case of rules you don't like, well whether it's a deal breaker for that game, or you put up with it, or develop house rules is totally up to you.
|Yeah... I... erm... WTF!|
Yes it'd be nice if things were perfect first time round. But where language and rules are concerned it's highly unlikely that we're ever going to be able to communicate quite complex ideas, and messages right first time to everybody who reads them. Or that everyone will like them. So we have to accept that maybe some of us will have to debvelop our own 'house' rules, or that FAQs and their like are here to stay, and possibly embrace that fact. They do at least give us clarity where before there was none. Well hopefully they do. It doesn't however mean that we should give free reign to those producing rules or articles to write any old badly worded crap. Only to amend it later on, possibly many times over when a backlash hits. FAQs shouldn't be used as an excuse for lazy communication the first time round, besides:
'Efficiency is intelligent laziness.' - David Dunham
So if you really want to be lazy in your communication, be intelligent about it. Because communications in all it's forms is vitally important to our hobby's future. So we should take it seriously and try to say what we mean and be as specific as we can, and avoid needless jargon and certainly 'donkey-flop las-spam'... Jesus wept. Peace out!