Sunday, 3 February 2013

Sunday Sermon: Toy soldiers vs Joypads

  
   
Love it to bits.

This is a topic that has been done to death in our hobby, the idea that computer/console games will ultimately mean we're all doomed Captain Mannering! When I was a whipper snapper in the 80's I heard that arcade games and these new fangled console thingies were going to be the end of our hobby. The same was said of the ZX Spectrum, the NES, the SNES and Megadrive (Genesis for you yanks) and the PlayStation. It seems many in our hobby have an irrational fear of our digital brethren. That they are somehow gunning for us, and that there is this inevitability about our impending demise. Part of me can understand that fear, but it has been 30 years already, and yet still computer games haven't slaughtered our industry, and killed off our hobby. If anything our hobby is the strongest it has ever been. This raises a few questions, firstly why hasn't it killed us off? More specifically why haven't computer games done for wargames, traditional pen and paper RPG's and boardgames? Secondly, were they ever really a threat in the first place, or are they ever going to be a threat? Thirdly and finally, why are so many in our hobby so concerned, and are they right to be?

I still love the rattle of dice in my hands

I'm not really too sure, which question to tackle first. You see my recent hiatus on this Blog has been down to real life 'getting in the way' as it were. During this down time I haven't really had the time or indeed the energy to sit at my painting table and paint scenery or miniatures. I've not felt so inclined to set up a table, invite some friends round and play a load of Warmachine or Infinity. I was planning on trying to convince a few friends to try traditional RPG's, that new Star Wars one and Iron Kingdoms for starters... mainly because a few of you have asked me to do so, but I've lacked the will and drive to make it happen. True I've played boardgames, and I've played some card games during my break, but at the end of the day when I was a bit tired and worn out I've tended to turn my PS3 on instead. I might have turned my Xbox 360 on, but the fear of a 9th RROD stayed my hand. So why did I turn to my consoles for entertainment? Because it takes so little effort to keep me entertained, and a little effort is all I had left in me. It all started with downloading Okami HD off of the Playstation Store (great game by the way).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to drop my 'hobby' for a life of computer gaming. But, it was nice to be able to sit down on my comfy sofa in front of my TV and press a button and away we go. I've always been a huge fan of computer games, I can't think of a console I haven't owned... apart from the Wii. I've also owned some ludicrously expensive 'rigs'. However, in years past I used to say that what wargaming in particular offered over computer games was the camaraderie, the companionship and a bit of socializing. In many respects it still does, but while catching up on some of my games, in particular Borderlands and Borderlands 2, I got reacquainted with actual real world friends who I used to wargame with. One of whom lives in New York State somewhere, he did tell me, but I switched off when he started talking about the daily commute. He too still dabbles with warganmes, but mainly boardgames now. We had good long chats about Zombicide and Sedition Wars, two Kickstart campaigns he backed. He noted he'd seen my name in the later's rulebook. However, coming back to his daily commute he was saying he doesn't have the time in the day, or the energy to commit to many wargames anymore, hence his love of online gaming.

We hadn't chatted in years, and it seems he had come to the same conclusion as me... I want to play things that are easy on my time, as well as easy on my wallet. I want to paint individual sculpts that were a labor of love for the sculptor, and that I enjoy applying paint to. I want to play rule sets that entertain and tax me in equal measure, but don't take 3 hours to play and an 10' by 5' table to play them on. I don't want any part of my spare time to feel like it is a chore, and he felt the same. You see, even while playing one of the most critically acclaimed games of the last few years our thoughts instantly drifted to little toy soldiers. It's in our blood. There's no doubt that computer games though have increasingly started to offer social elements too, be that via MMO's on your PC, or blasting the crap out of some n00b from Arkansas on Halo Reach. Truth is it is now very easy to pop on a headset, head online and interact with other people. So should wargaming be worried about this phenomenon? Yes and no. I take a slightly broader view of things than most. I don't really think computer games are offering the same things that my hobby playing with little toy soldiers gives me.

Is it a case of this....

They both offer me something very different, and make no mistake, what computer games offer is something very compelling, but it isn't an attempt to replace anything else. It is it's own thing. The way I see it is like this; we all have a limited amount of spare time for ourselves, how we use that spare time is up to us. The various forms of entertainment are all not only competing for my money, they're also competing for my spare time. So getting back to those questions I asked of myself at the start of this ramble, should our hobby worry about computer games, are they a potential threat? Yes, but not for the reasons many people think. You see I believe we should also worry about TV streaming services, movies on demand, music, comic books and a whole host of other things. Because every form of entertainment is trying as hard as they can to be more affordable, more accessible and to increase the quality of the content they offer to me. But, I think our hobby has responded in a way. Games companies that spring up nowadays aren't offering games based around mammoth armies for the most part. They're offering bite sized gaming if you will. This is partly why I think computer games haven't done for our hobby. We have adapted, and we have learned and changed.

...or this? I don't think so.

Plus we do offer a very different and tactile experience, that quite frankly rumble pads just can't match. Our hobby is starting to try and fit in more with how our lives are going now. Games like Bushido that fit onto my coffee table, or Freebooter's Fate that is so quick and easy to learn that it actually ropes those who are normally put off by tape measures and dice into its unique world; that poker element really helps. All around our hobby you can see the influence of modern life, and other entertainment media feeding back into our little hobby and giving us inspiration. Be it the anime stylings of Infinity, or general inspiration such as the Strain in Sedition Wars... so many influences from so many different sources on those bad boys, it's hard to know where to begin. So computer games can offer inspiration for our games designers and sculptors. None of us live in glorious isolation, and I'm sure many of you, like me, are geeks in other ways. I refer to myself as a 'broad-spectrum geek'. I love Fire Fly, I've been heard to utter the word's "winter's coming" far too often recently, and I quite often say frack! I also have a man crush on Deadpool.  Point is our industry is in a bun fight with every other entertainment media out there. Sure on budget, razzmatazz and glitz and glamour it can not, and never will compete...

Playing on gorgeous tables is still compellingly theatrical.

So are those who worry about such things in our hobby right to worry? That depends on who you are. If you are aware of what is happening in the world around you, and you're designing products that fit into how people are living their lives, make it accessible, easy and reasonably priced then... no you really shouldn't worry. Continue making a good solid product that people want to buy and you'll be fine. However, if you view your business as a way to bleed money out of people, if you have a product and all your plan revolves around is trying to convince people round to your way of thinking... well... yes, you should probably start worrying. Like in any industry, if you start swimming against the tide, pissing into the wind and any other metaphor you can think of... you will struggle. Some famous geezer once sang the times they are a changing, well guess what? They're always bloody changing, nothing stands still in society for very long. Today's innovators are tomorrows Luddites, and the wheel will keep on turning. So in the words of Josh Homme we should all learn to 'go with the flow', do some market research, listen to what consumers are telling you and everything will be golden. Ignore the crushing realities of modern life at your peril.


Two quality products I've been playing... but on one of them I'm biased! :P

Because you see, while we'll never have the fiscal resources of other industries, on community, on the closeness of the producers to the consumers, on depth and breadth of experience it sure as hell can compete. That's our ace in the hole, it is a unique past-time and will remain so hopefully throughout my life time. I still believe in terms of the quality of product being put out right now we've never had it so good. That banner at the top of my page, with all those games listed on it tells us just how good we've got it. Miniatures being produced by many companies now blow the 'market leader' out of the water in terms of art direction and quality. The games that are being offered to us are all eminently playable, many with unique mechanics and interesting styles of play. they're becoming more streamlined and smooth to play. We're now offering a breadth and depth that is as impressive as that other interactive media I mentioned. So there's no need to panic as I see it, but we do need to understand that we should not demand too much of those who wish to participate in our past time. Because if we do, we're screwed. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go sort out my wonky Veer-myn DreadBall team... what other hobby lets me sit hunched over a warm bowl of water while trying to straighten out lumps of resin? Peace out!

38 comments:

  1. Yay a new Sunday Sermon! :D

    Over the past few months I too have found that I have had less free time than I once did and have had to make more choices about how I spend that time. I seem to have gone down the route of spending more time on the wargaming/boardgaming hobby to the detriment of spending time sat in front of a console or PC.

    Now, I reckon I fell in love with the digital variety of gaming much earlier than the miniature variety and it's got much more of the immediate gratification about it but it's miniature gaming that has won my heart (for the moment at least) and I think I may know why. I can spend hours and hours (way too many hours) crawling through instances collecting up all the best purple coloured items or playing through a game earning all those achievements but, once I turn the power off, I suddenly don't really feel like I've achieved all that much. If I spend the same insane amount of time carefully painting up a Warjack or churning out silly numbers of Orks I can kick back and be surrounded by a collection of actual stuff and if someone comes round to visit, even if they're not a gamer of any sort, they can appreciate the time and skill invested in my collection and I do get more of a sense of achievement.

    In terms of the social aspect of online gaming, it has enhanced electronic games no end and I too have made good friends through this medium but I still prefer being able to meet up with people physically and throw dice around. I think that for some people the prospect of having to go somewhere and talk face to face to another actual human being is a big difficulty in which case being able to interact with someone semi-anonymously online fills the need for social interaction whilst lessening the awkwardness that they might otherwise feel.

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    1. Well I'm happy that at least one person is glad to see my return!!!

      You shouldn't be looking for purple items, you should be looking for orange and now pink buddy. If you have the game on PS3 I can toss a few awesome doomsday boomsticks your way.

      Like you there's still something a bit magical about seeing a miniature painted by my own hand on a proper gaming table that still excites me. And although I said in the article we all make the choice as to how we spend our spare time time, I guess something that is implied in the article, but not clearly stated in so many words, is that sometimes the amount of spare time we have dictates the choices we can make.

      That is why so many of my friends are starting to gravitate more and more towards boardgames I think. They're easy, and self contained worlds that you can plonk down and play in many cases with as many as 6 people. It sometimes does take a herculean effort to arrange a wargaming session, what with the busy lives we lead. But socializing together with our partners on a Saturday evening around a boardgame kills so many birds with one stone it's become preferable.

      That's why games like Freebooter's Fate, Bushido and others that ask so little of us are tending to get more game time too. Don't get me wrong my RoS and TB still get a look in for HoMachine, and games like HGB still keep my attention, but any larger than that and I have to admit I'm starting to looking at how long it'd take me with my spare time to get it to a tabletop and I'm being put off. Too much front loaded pain, for in certain cases very little gain. For othersthat will be great, but not me.

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  2. Glad to see you back, as well. I think you nailed it, and it's really not hard to understand. They are both hobbies, they are very different hobbies. Like Hendie, I have nothing to show for three years of my life playing WoW. On the other hand my armies are still sitting on shelves. I can pull them out and pew pew with them any time.

    I've been playing video games since pong (literally). I've been playing with toy soldiers for just as long. They are different, complimentary, but different. Effort, cost, phased interest, all are factors in which one holds my interest at the moment.

    I'm not worried, I'm just grateful that we live in an age where both are so awesome.

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    1. You say you have nothing to 'show' for it... but the point of entertainment is to... erm... entertain. It doesn't really matter whether or not you have something to show for it in the end. Music, art many forms of entertainment that enrich our lives ultimately leave us with anything tangible.

      Like you I remember Pong... except not the arcade cabinet. My Grandparents brought a wood veneer Atari 2600 to keep the Grand kids quiet, plus to encourage us to visit. My folks were forced to follow suit soon afterwards. Computer games HAVE enriched my life. I'm one of those individuals who thinks they deserve as much cultural credit as any other media, be it movies, music etc.

      Like you I'm really grateful to be around to witness this period of games... both electronic and toy soldier based.

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  3. Welcome back, Jody! I totally agree with the appeal to the older gamer of the skirmish-style, quick-and-dirty game, but I'm not sure I would link it so explicitly to digital games. I've never been a computer gamer. The only console I own is the Wii and my kids dominate its use. I bought the Space Marine game but my poor laptop can't run it (at some point I'll set up the spare tower, but I'm in no rush).

    For me, smaller games are a direct result of wanting to maximize my very limited hobby time: quick build, quick paint, quick set-up, quick play are my four essential ingredients for a game. And that's because I just don't have the time or money for anything else. Including a console and computer games.

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    1. Erm... I'm not linking it explicitly with electronic games. But it is hard not to notice that both the electronic and tabletop game industry's have slowly moved in similar directions. To more bite sized products and more accessible products. There is a real sense that the next generation of consoles, the Wii U, PlayStation Orbis, Xbox 720 and Steam Box might very well be the last. Mobile digital devices and games like Angry Birds are proving to be all the gaming fix many need. Nintendo with its Wii and it's quite frankly mainly disposable games has shown there is necessarily as much as an appetite any more for the really big games from the PS2 era and the current generation of consoles / PC. There are only so many big blockbusters you can play before you start neglecting other aspects of your life. Wargames and boardgames have found themselves in the same boat, and whether by design or accident our hobby seems to be moving in similar ways to other entertainment industries. That's a good thing.

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  4. I am happy that you are back and hopefully your real life probs are/will soon be behind you!

    I have phased in and out of tabletop gaming several times, and spent most of my "formative years" in front of a C64, with the occasional "Das Schwarze Auge" and later WHFRP game thrown in.
    For me, these different hobbies all had and have their own but varying value, according to what I felt and feel like at the given moment.
    Up until some weeks ago, I used much of my spare time in the evenings to play Guild Wars 2. The first MMO that I really liked. But then I felt I needed something more "productive" but also something new, and I was tired of sitting hours in front of a screen.
    So I turned to probably the only minifacturer I had not touched in 25 years: Games Workshop. Even though I have no one to play with, the "thinking about which parts to use to scratchbuild another conversion, and what other minis I could use for that purpose" (mostly for Inq28 now) was exactly what I needed right now. Something to lie in bed and let your thoughts wander, doodle in a sketch book and hunt Ebay for spare parts.

    But all in all I have less and less time to play miniature games, as it takes a lot of time to prep the minis, the game and then playing. So I would agree that one factor of the success of skirmish systems in the last 5-10 years was definitely "how much time do I need to prep the minis, how much time to prep the game and how much time to play".
    I think it also shows that the consumer base of tabletop gaming has shifted from (or probably more accurately: grown with) "kids (+ some historical nerds)" to "students" towards "aged 25+ working adults".

    The second boom of board games might on the one hand be a reaction to growing impersonality and lack of real world experiences of video games, but the time factor was surely also an important one: meet with some friends, have 90 minutes of fun, then do something else.

    All these different hobbies complement each other, depending on time available and momentary interest.

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    1. My real life issues sadly continue unabated... but at least I have chocolate!!! Mmmmmm Yorkie.

      Like you I'm a bit of a dabbler with all things gaming. I've always dipped in and out of things. I've always played cmputer games and I've pretty much always had some hobby project or gaming sessions on the go at the same time. Lately that hasn't been able to happen. That's how much constraints have been put on my time... and well, I've totally given up on a few projects I've had and they've gone into indefinite hiatus. Computer games though... well, they're just so easy to interact with now. Like you though my group of gaming buddies seem to be getting their toy soldier fix more and more from board games. Sedition Wars, those miniatures are ace!

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  5. I also find that cold January (or February) days always seem to sap my modelling and figure painting MoJo.

    It could be that I do most of my modelling and painting in the-shed-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden. Cold weather will obviously have an effect.

    However it could also be the downturn after Christmas.

    I usually find that by Spring some modelling project or commission has woken me from my hibernation and re-invigorated me.

    As far as computer games are concerned, and this is with a Son who works as a Technical Artist for one of the UK gaming computer giants, I find that I can take them or leave them, while a good book is always a great draw.

    Tony

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    1. Tony, I think there might be a correlation between your shed and your hobby down time in January!!! :P

      I too love a good book. sadly I again haven't really been in the frame of mind to sit down and get into a good yarn. Instead I've been getting reacquainted with H.P. Lovecraft's short stories all over again, when the mood takes me and real life permits.

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  6. Good post (and good to see you back). I've felt the same way for a long time. video games are popular, and fun, but they also aren't an alternative to table top wargames.

    I remember many, many years ago (mid-90's) reading an interview with Jon Van Caneghem (the guy who created the Might & Magic series) where he said that he was first attracted to computer games because he saw them as a replacement for pen & paper RPGs. I didn't understand that sentiment then, and I don't understand it now. Video games and RPGs/Wargames are different beasts and provide totally different types of entertainment.

    Nothing against video games--I've sunk a lot of time into them over the last 25 years--but video games are almost completely passive and only a small step above just watching TV. Wargaming is a fundamentally creative hobby, most the time we spend 'wargaming' is actually spent painting.

    Saying that video games are direct competition to wargames is like saying Cute Overload is direct competition to knitting. They appeal to the same general demographic, so they are competing for time and attention, but the two just aren't in conflict. Wargamers are constantly hand wringing over something that's going to kill the hobby or change it forever; video games are just another one of those things to worry needlessly about.

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    1. I agree that the two hobbies are significantly different enough to happy occupy me and my time in very different ways. Computer games can offer creative types and great outlet, IF you are the one making the games. They're brilliant for helping you realise a vision for a universe if you will. But as a gamer you are a consumer of somebody else's creativity. To an extent wargaming and painting isn't as creative as maybe it could be, but it does give the budding (yes still budding and not in bloom) artist in me an outlet. Not many computer games have given me that outlet. Yet many games have started to enthrall and captivate me as much as my favourite films and books. I think both industries are getting into their respective strides at the moment.

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  7. welcome back hope all is well soon :)
    Time it has all of us under its spell, we are all bound to its will. before all my kids poped along. I had a room for me and my toys, table with terrain ready to roll. minis at hand 5mins to start playning. It was no time at all,
    and no packing away if we finished late.

    Now its alot different, i have no gaming room. Sure i have a club but carting terrain i need and minis then set up chat and play.Well its just to much. its so easy to power up the ps3 for an hour or two then ping turn it off. I find my self looking at board games more. where all thats needed is in the box. maybe this is the way forward. I hope to have a man cave soon. maybe things will change back then. Great topic take care.

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    1. I'm stupidly lucky. I not only have a wargaming room... in effect I have a computer gaming room as well!!! Complete with computer, comfy sofa, 42" plasma screen TV and games consoles. Our lounge is a separate room. Not many men have the luxury of having two man caves... but I do. I fear and dread the day that I know will come soon where I lose one or both of them. It's interesting to hear just how many of you are starting to look at boardgames more and more for your hobby fix. It's something that parallels with my own experience.

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  8. We're doomed! Doomed!

    In all seriousness, it's good to have you back ;)
    But as you say, there are so many things competing for our time and money.

    I also think most broad categories of pastimes provide a unique enough experience to not be mutually exclusive. Although I will admit that I'm not an online gamer and that my consoles collection stops with the ps2. So perhaps the inclusion of the social aspect is bridging the gap somewhat.

    Miniature wargaming is high maintenance and labour intensive hobby though, so I think it's only natural there are periods where you prefer more 'plug and play' options.

    I've also noticed (again like most above) that I tend to prefer smaller skirmish games and with the arrival of Sedition Wars, (miniature) boardgames might get more attention as well.

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    1. It's a definite trend Aeria, and I'm glad to have you commenting again, in fact that goes for all of you. I wasn't sure how many would turn up after such a long hiatus. Good to see some familiar faces.
      Onto your comments:

      If you've not enjoyed the delights of Gears of War, Uncharted and many many more games this generation you have truly missed out on an excellent few years in computer games. The PS2 era was good, and towards the end of that consoles life cycle there were some truly spectacular games, but honestly I think this generation of consoles has been the best yet TRUE there have been issues with what I like to call sequelitis and clones... but there have also been some real gems.

      My hobby habits used to revolve around building huge armies, and playing massive games. But the time investment, and not really the monetary investment (still spent the same on my hobby regardless) has led me away from this. The rdiscovery of board games a few years back now has really sparked my hobby again. And with the advent of quality miniature boardgames from the likes of CMoN (boy have they spotted that niche in the market) I'm still getting my toy soldier fix. My wargames have all shrunk in size and looking at GW's and Mantic's games doesn't really inspire me like it used to. I can't wait for Relic Knights though.

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    2. In my teens I was a huge Sony fanboi and I was the guy who had an antique computer because I had my ps2 for gaming anyway. But when mentions of the ps3 started, the pc died. So I had a choice between getting another antique and keeping the rest for a ps3 or getting a good pc for gaming. I did the latter. Not that a gaming pc or a console are mutually exclusive, but I don't know, I just never got to buying a ps3 later.

      A friend of mine is really into 40k. But it could have been HoMachine. He just loves huge sprawling armies, all his guys in the same general themes, same(ish) colours and in the same world. He likes a single ruleset and a single background story. While I want as many different worlds, backstories, playstyles, colour schemes, ... as I possibly can. He invests huge amounts of money in one game system and I spend small(ish..) on alot of games. It's not like one is the correct way and the other isn't. But like you, I just can't get that excited about gw and mantic. The darklands kickstarter has a similar problem for me. Despite other niggles, I like the miniatures. But once I heard warbands in the full game are supposed to be 50-100 miniatures, it turns me off quite a bit.

      And you're not the only one looking forward to Relic Knights :p

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  9. I have to say I spend rather more than a healthy amount of time doing both hobby games and video games, and which I do depends largely on what I feel like doing at the time.

    Case point: Friday night, I spent what eventually turned out to be 8 hours building 12 Chaos Space Marines. (Slow process, but I had Back To The Future running on my laptop as well and it was a distracting and rewarding experience at the same time.) Finishing at 5am, I went to bed. Yesterday, barely being able to muster the energy to get out of it, I decided to put Fable 2 on for an hour and was still on it at 1am. Tonight, after reading a lot of material on Pathfinder RPG, I started on the Chaos Space Marines again and have now built 6 Raptors and a Chaos Lord...

    I think for those people who recognise what an immersive and rewarding experience hobby games can be, video games will never really take precedence because the experience is so different. For me, fun though it is to play online games, I've been on Xbox Live for a year and have only ever played a game with 1 person I know in, er, person. As far as a social event is concerned, I far prefer games night with my mate, and the Roleplaying club I go to on Thursdays. I like painting armies and playing with them. I like running and immersing myself in a good pen-and-paper RPG. I like board games that have a bit more to it than Snakes and Ladders, since there is some skill involved and you actually have to think about what you're doing.

    On the other hand, sometimes putting the XBox on and chopping some bandits to pieces is all you need...

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    1. This^^^

      That's sort of where I normally am with my own spare time. A litte bit of this, some of that. It keeps everything fresh. It's just lately looking at miniatures in their boxes and hobby materials has just looked too daunting. I did sit down a few weeks back to try and start a project gifted to me by Aeria actually. I cleaned two pieces of the miniature up before real life time constraints called again. So far I've pinned half of the damn thing together and started prepping the base. That would normally take me an evening as I like getting things spot on. Drives my mates nuts... but it's taken 3 sodding weeks so far. I'd have had more fun playing angry Birds on my phone!!! :P

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  10. Video games and Tabletop games can coexist just fine. Case in point - in about 6 minutes I'll be charged a considerable amount of money for Rivet Wars. The reason Rivet Wars was able to pull me in? The striking similarity it bears to the "Advance Wars" series (from the GBA, and DS). And, thanks to the grid system and a few other game mechanics it has the pick up and play simplicity of Advance Wars.

    When I see the 5-800 pages of games like Warhammr or Warmahordes I know I'll never play them or be able to convince anyone to play them with me (I don't know any Tabletop gamers).

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    1. Yeah, I meant to write an article about Rivet Wars... along with many other topics, but I've just failed so spectacularly to keep on top of anything lately. Let alone my Blog! Looks fun, and I'm sure I'll take a look closer to launch.

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  11. It's alive :D

    Comparing tabletop games and video games is comparing apples and pears. They are a bit similar, but have a complete different experience. Sometimes it's rewarding to finally have an army up and painted, but at other times I would just want to hack goblins/bandits/dragons to pieces.

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    1. The way I look at the difference is two fold. Traditional computer games, you know the solo experience, are more akin to rather large and complex puzzles. In effect you are trying to solve a massive puzzle with guns, plumbers or whatever. It's one giant puzzle to solve. The team behind the game, their AI and they level design are your opponents. Beyond that we don't really 'see' the mechanics behind the game. We know the laws and rules of their universe by interacting with them and receiving visual and auditory feedback. Part of that is changing though, and as more and more games have an online element that distinction begins to blur.

      Wargames are more openly competitive. Normally it is a 1 v 1 competition. The mechanics of the game are exposed, and we in essence are there to manipulate and utilise those mechanics to our advantage. The game is a puzzle in the sense that it is for a computer game, it's more a tool or a set of rules to govern how the two opponents will resolve their conflict. There is a key difference.

      As you say comparing the two is very different, but not totally without merit. I think there's a lot that wargames can learn from their more illustrious digital brethren and vice versa. Computer games often overly simply their input schemes simply because they feel that by offering a more complex or involved input scheme for the manipulation of their game will expose more of the workings of their games, and thus make them less immersive. I'm not sure that's right, and the counter intuitive point might actually work from a psychological standpoint. The more you focus on control and manipulating a game the less time and cognitive capacity is given over to remembering you're playing a game.

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  12. Nice to see a new post, and well done, too. Bonus points for the QOTSA reference.

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    1. Cheers, I was back briefly and then life took over again. Can't grumble too much though. Hopefully after my latest Sermon I'll have more time to get back on track with writing about things I love.

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  13. Great post - I would love to dabble in ahem, all areas, but simply don't have the time/energy/inconsideration levels to do so. That means in reality, small skirmish war games, snatched console gaming, boom reading on the pan and comic reading in bed on Saturday morning; in unequal measure :)

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    1. Monty, I'm quite lucky that all of my friends are massive gamers of all sorts, and that my partner thinks playing games like Dead Island and Borderlands 2 co-operatively is a better date than going to a swanky restaurant. Unfortunately this does also mean that from time to time when her friends are round I have to partake in murdering a few songs on Sing Star. Still, I think it's a fair deal. I've even got her liking comic books too. Really I am one of the luckiest men on earth!!!

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  14. I was going to say bonus points for the Kyuss reference, but I'm old fashioned, haha. Great post, and as you pointed out, maybe it's been talked to death nowadays but this post was refreshing and shed a lot of light in a lot of areas (and a lot of goo points in others). Balancing this gaming triangle (board, video, tabletop) for me personally has been tough. Sometimes it *is* nice to just kick back, put your feet up, and be immersed in a fantastic world for a bit without any effort other than some clicky thumbs.

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    1. Yeah, us geeks have a lot of different things to occupy our time now. Computer gamers have never had it so good, neither have war , board and card gamers. Honestly so much good product and design out there right now that it's sometimes hard to know where to start and where to focus your time. Me personally? Well I think there are a few games coming up like Remember Me, The Last of US and Beyond Two Souls that'll get some play time before the next generation hits. I was sort of hoping for a lull so I'd be able to assemble and paint my Relic Knights Kickstarter swag when that appears... but it seems Sony in particular are determined to keep my focus on the PS3 until they abuse my wallet for the PS4!!! Also like you I think Kyuss also rocked!

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  15. I have a working computer again!
    Mwahahahahahahahahahaha!
    :D

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    1. Oh God, the demented one from New York is bank online. Lock up your hentai and pictures of Megan Fox!!! :P

      Good to see you back buddy.

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  16. I don't think anything will ever kill the hobby totally. Well, not for a long time anyway. Maybe one day games that integrate technology with the table-top might shrink the traditional form a great deal. But there are still people who make their own bread from scratch even though we have sliced bread in supermarkets, and people who painstakingly reconstruct extinct fencing styles rather than joining a modern fencing club or playing Soul Calibur.

    As people have said above, the two past-times compete for time, but they tap into different things. I also feel that the social aspect of video games is exaggerated. Sitting there with a headset on is fun I think in the context of sci-fi shooters, because you can pretend that you're a space marine with a helmet feed to your squad-mates, but I think it's pretty lame in pretty much every other circumstance. It's basically playing a game over the phone with someone, which in my opinion sucks balls.

    To me video games are good solo relaxation, and fun if you can play split-screen. I've been playing a great game of Borderlands 2 with my dad once a week in his living room. But I can't see why we would bother to play over XBL with one another, and the last thing I want to do is play against a bunch of savant-like strangers with questionable attitudes.

    Glad you're OK by the way. Lucky for me I've been so busy lately I didn't miss many of your posts at all!

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    1. Playing with a headset is OK if you have friends in different cities or whatever. I used to pay Halo with a mate in Sydney. But it's not ideal.

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    2. Hi James, I think it's each to their own. I've always played online games for as long as they've pretty much existed. Back in the day I was a big PC RTS fan. Playing those games via dial up modems was... erm... interesting. :P

      I think the social aspects of online gaming are, in some respects often over stated. However, playing Borderlands 2 with 3 other people mid-week while we all relax in our respective homes is great. That's a gaming social interaction that otherwise wouldn't take place. My friends aren't going to drive to mine or vice versa after a long day at work to play games of any variety. However, we can all sit in our homes and whinge about our days work while taking on the minions of Handsome Jack. It does increase the fun for me of the game. Would I rather be down a gaming club pint in hand rolling dice? Some nights yes, when I'm in the mood. However, some nights I just want to sit on my sofa, vegetate and kill people with my mates. Horses for courses, but without the PS3 or Xbox 360 many people wouldn't have this extra social gaming option. So it's been a great boon to people like me and our lives. I now talk with my mates probably more than I ever did before.

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  17. Seriously...comparing Bob Dylan to Josh Homme...I was right with ya up till that point...ya'll mutherfuckers need some music edumacation!

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    1. Where did I compare Josh Homme to Bob Dylon or vice versa? I didn't so perhaps you need to wind your chin in. I used lines from a songs from both, one I grew up with listening too all the time and I love, the other I discovered for myself and think is actually one of the USA's most under appreciated rock musicians. I need no musical education thank you very much, if any one needs an education it is you in terms of reading and comprehension.

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