Monday, July 6, 2009

Favorite game arguments transcend hobbies

For miniature gaming clubs in Chicago we have Adeptus Windy City. That is the big Games Workshop “fan club” at our local GW store. They have a reputation for being Warhammer 40K elitists and quite uptight about their gaming. Compare them to say the Elitist Jerks or EQ2 Flames forums and you get the idea of what it is like to play a game of Warhammer 40K Miniatures against one these guys.

This sort of thing exists in every hobby I guess, MMO’s notwithstanding. Since miniature gaming is considered to be even more of a nerd endeavor than computer game playing they often tend to keep to themselves yet still maintain the ability to be social. Social but still sometimes rather off putting.

When I played Warhammer 40K I actually helped found a local gaming club of about 13 members and we had weekly meetings at the Bunker, a place that was a huge GW store with gaming tables. We weren’t exclusive but we did have a “get to know you” period and after a few games we would vote on whether or not to get you into the club and what not. We have tournaments, prizes, get togethers and even outings to local GW events.

After time people ran into real life, job issues and other things and the club died off or we all went our seperate ways. There were often quibbles and arguments over what games people were playing and straying from the “mother of all games” Warhammer 40K was very looked down upon. People that played Warmachine, Flames of War (WW2 miniatures) or say some obscure GW title like Lord of the Rings were often given a lot of flack.

I guess over time the miniature game playing hobby wore me down much like playing MMO’s has. I would love to go back to it, but finding people that want to play and have fun and not power game or get too upset about losing is a lot like trying to find a guild in World of Warcraft. You have to fit in. Playing miniature games can be a frustrating affair and drive you right out of the hobby if you get one or two bad pick up games at the local hobby store. There are some real snobs out there. When I was in the wargaming club I had some of the best times in a while. I had unplugged from my PC and was meeting people (granted more nerds but oh well) and getting out of the house and expressing creativity through assembling and painting armies.

Now I notice a pattern developing in my MMO play that follows what transpired for me in the minature gaming hobby as well. No matter what you do people will pick a side and argue over it. Whether it be remote control model plane flying, paintball (another fierce hobby I used to play) or even movies (DVD or Blu ray) you will find these arguments running rampant.

I think that among hardcore nerds like myself and my friends (or in some cases ex-friends) the arguments can get personal and downright ugly. They have on many occasions. Miniature gaming brought out the worst in people, I saw it first hand. At tournaments, at games, even at casual play. Once it started getting so expensive though I had to weigh my stress level with my fun factor. Dropping 100-200 dollars easily some weekends for the chance to play once a month was just not economical, so back to computer games I went.

After a while I switched to Warmachine (a miniature game by a great company called Privateer Press) and much like WoW to Aion I caught some flack. I had to sever some friendships over it and it was all quite ridiculous. However I generally do not like to hang out with people that are not open minded to new things. Sure, Warhammer 40K is great and all (well sorta the 4th edition rules were stupid) but you know what? There are other titles out there with great systems. Just like World of Warcraft is great, there are other games out there with great systems and  lot of offer. Now lately, some of these games HAVE NOT lived up to that hype. I can understand that.

So why do we care so much about all this? What drives us to be consumed by keeping up with what people are playing or why we have to play one game over another? I have about 2 friends I can count that are willing to try any game at any time. Other than that it is like PULLING TEETH to get people to try something new. I can understand that from a monetary point of view but FREE TO PLAY GAMES? C’mon. It is not hard to download a client and jump in for a night of fun no matter how bad it might turn out to be.

Nope. Some of my friends will just NOT do it. They feel brand loyalty betrayal if they so much as even look at another title and then start slinging insults at me. All of this reminds me of my time in miniature gaming.

As much as I loved it, I sure as hell would not go back to tournament play or anything like that. Now you ask me to come over and play a friendly 1000 point game on your pool table in the basement I will do it. However once it starts getting beyond that you can count me out. Too many people in MMO’s get like that way too early before they see the product. We have TWO major launches coming up and the blog-o-sphere will be rife with judgments and accusations and “I told you so” type comments.

Let it roll. This is exactly why I dumped WoW end game and will NOT get caught up in anything like that again. However I also do not want to be surrounded by really bad players. This is why we form guilds. However it is important to remember to form guilds not be elitist but to surround yourself with fun like minded people. Same reason we had a miniature gaming club.

Readers of my blog know that everytime in WoW I got back and started raiding that it RUINED my life as far as my free time. It pissed me off, it made me angry and it made me snarky. Just like miniature gaming it was fun until you had to take it seriously. I got so jaded by the community and by the experts that it backlashed and made me physically ill when I logged in. To this day looking at my unassembled Eldar army for Warhammer 40K makes me a little queasy. I want to love it again, but I know I will get stabbed in the heart.

So as these new games come out just remember that although it looks awesome at first, you never know what lurks around the corner. People will pick sides, people will fight and people will argue. You are just going to have to wade through it and find your own peace.