Kirb your enthusiasm!


"Pink isn't a color. It's a lifestyle." - Chumbalaya
"...generalship should be informing list building." - Sir Biscuit
"I buy models with my excess money" - Valkyrie whilst a waitress leans over him

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Why Can't You Just Stop Worrying About Numbers and Have Fun?"

There is a common perception, especially from hobby-centric players, that competitive players don't "enjoy" the game, that somehow we play this game and invest hundreds of hours and similar hundreds (or thousands) of dollars into it and yet, for some reason, we don't enjoy doing so.

"Why don't you just have fun?" these players often ask. "Is there something wrong with them? Do you feel driven by some kind of vicious to put other people down? Are you just a bad person?"

Sometimes the latter parts of the statement are absent or merely implied, but just as often they are outright in their wondering and complaints. What is it about competitive players that prevents us from having fun with this game?

Now, I could be really smarmy and self-righteous and say something unkind, such as "People like you," but that's not really going to help any, is it? The real answer is a lot simpler: we are having fun.

I've written before about different types of players, and I'll probably do so again because it's a point that hasn't really sunk in yet. There are a lot of different folks who play this game and they come to it for different reasons. Just because someone doesn't like the same parts of the game as you do to the exact same degrees doesn't mean they aren't having fun.

Competitive players enjoy competing. (A-derp.) They like hard-fought battles and tweaking armies to the max. They like discovering new strategies and finding interesting rules to take advantage of. (This last one should be clarified, since it is NOT the same as cheating. Using the rules to your advantage is how you win the game- breaking the rules by cheating is how you show everyone you're a giant tool.) They like optimizing their armies and experimenting with different builds. I think that most of these are things that any player can understand- everyone likes to come out on top of a hard-fought battle with a good opponent. When your sarge is the last guy standing in the squad as he ekes out a five and then a six to punch that monstrous creature to death, leaving him alone on an uncontested objective? That's fuckin' rad, and it feels good. When you discover an awesome trick or combination with a unit that you never noticed before? You get that "oh my god I am going to RUIN someone with this" anticipation. These aren't things that are foreign to most players of the game, these are natural parts of being a human being.

So why are competitive players demonized for liking them? Why is it assumed that we don't have any fun, that we don't care about the game, that we're only here to ruin things for other people? Because we aren't- we love this game just as much as anybody does. Most of us like not just playing the game but also the hobby and fluff aspects as well- one does not preclude the other.

Are there assholes out there who do just want to ruin things for other people? Sure, I'm not gonna deny it. There are all kinds of assholes in this world; some of them pretend to be competitive players so they can bring a shitty list they found on the internet and smash newbies with it. Some of them also buy "pro-painted" models off Ebay and then sneer at anyone who doesn't have a fully-painted army, or that uses popular codices/units. Like I said, there are all kinds of assholes in the world- it is not a disease exclusive to any one segment of the population.

And maybe you don't enjoy tough battles or tricksy tricks; maybe you have no interest in that sort of thing at all and you think it's a complete waste of time; I won't begrudge you that, either, because honestly you're right- am I bettering the world by obsessing over the made-up rules for my toy soldiers? Hell no I'm not. Hobbies are pointless, almost by their very nature. All I'm asking is that you respect my decision to enjoy the hobby the way I want to just as I do for you- I know I'm never going to be even a fraction as good at painting as the Golden Daemon guys, and I have no intention of trying; I will leave them to their hobby just as they leave me to mine.

Wargames are a rather niche thing. Even 40K, the biggest of the fish in the pond, is still rather scrawny compared to D&D, which is dwarfed by video games, which are in turn dwarfed by sports, etc, etc. In arbitrarily dividing our hobby into subsegments and bickering amongst them, all we're doing is making things harder and less fun for everyone. We all have things we can learn from each other if we care to, so be polite to each other and respect the talent and interest that goes into each aspect of the game we all play.

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