|Surely if we say somebody isn't a proper wargamer, it's the same as calling them a fake.|
I'm sure many of you have watched this meme develop on various Blogs over the past fortnight or so. It was all started by Phil Broeders over at The Wargaming Site Blog. The idea being that to call yourself a proper wargamer you must have ticked off a list of things you have achieved or done before you could be considered a proper wargamer. I think, and I hope the article was written in a fun and tongue firmly in cheek way, and indeed many have taken it that way. However, Phil stared his article by saying that "One does not simply claim to be a wargamer by having a couple of games of 40k. No, no,no." and while I agree with that sentiment to an extent, I really don't think there is much more too it for me. To call someone a wargamer I'd like to see somebody buy, assemble and paint their own army first, and then play a few games of whatever their game of choice is. You know what, for me I don't think the threshold for being a proper wargamer is set very high.
Obviously there have been many people who have risen to the challenge of answering Phil's original questions, I myself attempted it here. Then Lee over at the fabulous Blog Big Lee's Miniature Adventures added a huge amount of extra questions, as Phil originally asked others to do, but yet again I'd suggest many of them focus on the historical side of the hobby too much to be generally applicable. But, some of the others are actually more general and actually hint at things many experienced and long in the tooth wargamers will have felt, like hobby burnout and purchasing shame. However, as a researcher by trade it is two articles by J de Jong over at Rear Guard Action that have interested me the most, mainly because they involves graphs, and researchers love visual representations of statistics, it's like stats pr0n to us... now if only he'd included an SPSS output sheet, phwoar! You can read J de Jong's articles here and here, and if this meme has interested you then you probably should.
|Some think to be considered a proper wargamer I need to do ^this^.|
To call ones self an expert or indeed a veteran requires different and varying amounts of experience or skill I would suggest. Expert for example implies a level of knowledge about a subject, that might require a considerable amount of time to acquire, but not necessarily. Whereas veteran is all about the amount of experience you have, either a lot crammed into a short space of time, or over a longer period with less cramming. But, for me to be considered a wargamer, or a proper wargamer, doesn't take much. If you've invested your own money and time to this hobby and stuck with it to get your own painted army on the tabletop, and play a few games in my humble opinion you are part of the fraternity. I'd much rather stick to my inclusive methodology than the exclusive one put forward by Phil. The other problem I have with the idea that Phil put forward is that although I'm sure it was a joke, 'many a true word hath been spoken in jest' and I think it does speak to a problem that we have in our 'community' at large. We all think the way that we personally approach the hobby is in some way the 'correct' way to approach things. Often at the exclusion of other points of view and experience.
I'm not some I am an inclusive paragon of gaming nobility myself, so I'm not pointing fingers here, I know I've got my own preferences, and that if I'm not careful they could become prejudices. I strongly believe that to be considered a veteran or serious wargamer one must have tried multiple game systems from multiple companies. If all you've every done is play Games Workshop's core games then to me you are simply a Games Workshop hobbyist, and therefore a Games Workshop veteran. Nothing wrong with that by the way. I wouldn't exclude you from the wargamer fraternity, but neither would I be likely to value your opinion on the hobby as a whole. Now to many that might seem a snobby or snooty attitude to take, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let somebody who hasn't sampled the wider patchwork of games this hobby offers up, tell me what makes a good wargame. Why? Because there experinece is so narrow. Would I listen to what you have to say about Games Workshop product? Hell yes, but if you try telling me about Warmachine or Infinity without having sampled them as games... I'm sorry I'll not be listening... but that does make me a snob of kinds.
|So are only historical wargamers able to call themselves 'proper wargamers'?|
I also feel strongly that it is important to immerse yourself fully in all aspects of the hobby itself, be that modelling, painting, scenery building (scenery is really important to me), list writing etc. I do believe that wargaming as a hobby is a many faceted beast. I know there are people out there who put their miniatures together and don't paint them, or get others to paint them. Now I have a quite snooty and snobby attitude towards this practice as well, perhaps bordering on the elitist, which is something that Phil's questions brought to the fore of my mind. You see I do think where possible you should paint your own forces, put your stamp on them and take part in the creative side of the hobby as well, I do actually look down my nose at those who never paint their own stuff. And actually, I don't like that I think in these ways, it is a bit elitist of me. Who the hell am I to decide what others should do, or what the hobby should entail? Sure I know the things that are important to me, my preferences, but what makes my way any better or more enjoyable than other peoples way of doing things? I'd love to be able to say I've never looked down my nose at people who don't paint their armies or only by second-hand pre-painted armies, but that would be a lie. Because I did, and honestly part of me still does.
|Hover tanks and Mechs are just as geeky as Dragoons and Fusiliers.|
What makes it all the more worse is that this attitude also potentially makes me a hypocrite, why? Well for two reasons, firstly I currently own a huge pile of unpainted miniatures or part painted miniatures, that I have actually used while reviewing product etc. and... secondly because I actually used to sell a lot of pre-painted armies myself to these very people who I feel slightly snooty about. So I'm feel snooty about people who actually funded my own hobby! Awful behaviour if you ask me. I know many of them very well, and I know why they chose not to paint armies themselves, partly it's time, partly it's skill but a good chunk of it was to do with the fact that many just don't enjoy painting miniatures to quite the same degree that I do myself. So for them it's all about the game and back story. So whereas I'm a more holistic hobbyist they're more focused on the things that they enjoy. At the other end of the extreme you have modellers and painters like Mike McVey, who quite frankly only really enjoyed painting miniatures, designing miniatures and sculpting miniatures and has told me himself that gaming never used to float his particular boat. Yet in my mind that was always acceptable as a pursuit whereas just being a pure gamer wasn't.
|Mike McVey's Green Knight. Simply stunning!|
Now isn't that an interesting double standard, don't you think? I'm sure I could come up with an almost convincing, but wholly fatuous argument that supports my obvious double standard, but I've never really been one for self deception. Truth is I have some quite elitist attitudes towards our hobby that are at odds with my overall inclusive attitude I have in general. I do think that what I like, my hobby preferences are the best way to approach the hobby, yep I'm very much in danger of my own preferences becoming prejudices. In short I'd like to think that I'm the sort of gamer that would welcome all comers, and all sorts to my gaming group, but when I look around my own little clique of gamers there are some very stark common traits and attitudes towards the hobby amongst us. I have quite clearly surrounded myself with like minded gamers and hobbyists. I know plenty of others who aren't quite like me, but in all honesty I don't play many games with them. So for somebody who is normally exceedingly very open minded about most things in life, there is a core cognitive dissonance at the heart of possibly the most important hobby in my life. So if anything good has come from Phil's questions it is that it has made me realise that I perhaps need to re-adjust my attitudes towards different approaches to our hobby.
|We're all geeks and we should try to stick together.|
I wander how many of you, my readers have similar issues, prejudices and double standards? How many of you think that you're inclusive, but actually harbour some snobbish behaviour you aren't really self-aware of? If nothing else the fact that Phil's list was clearly so predicated towards historical wargamers, which is a totally different side of the hobby to the one I'm used to, shows how blinkered we can often be to the experiences of others. I've already discussed that the historical side of wargaming is something that doesn't hold the same appeal to me as ray-guns and sorcery does, although I've learned to have an appreciation of the dedication those who do have for it. So what the hell is a proper wargamer? Well it's whatever you want it to be. Don't listen to what anyone else has to say on the topic, including me, if you feel the way you do things is enough for you to consider yourself a wargamer that's good enough for me. Even if it is only playing a handful of 40k games. You make what the hobby is from your choices, not the other way round. True I might approach things completely differently to you, but the hobby is hopefully big enough to accommodate everyone, but it is probably small enough that we shouldn't be trying to exclude people from it, or fracturing the community anymore than is absolutely necessary. Peace out!