With the nature of podcasting, I don’t often get the opportunity or free time to write lengthy blog posts. Thankfully, this is one of those rare opportunities where I can pour my complete focus into hopefully an insightful and engaging article.
Starting off with a story. Recently, my grandparents traveled up north for a visit and for one reason or another we ended up watching the World Series of Poker. My feelings towards Poker as a game are rather neutral, I don’t love nor dislike the game, it doesn’t really grab my attention except for this one occasion. It was the final match and this one alpha player was just dominating the field. He bragged and performed on stage to the crowds displeasure. His opponents most likely hated him and this was all the edge the alpha player needed to get under their skin.
He quickly and effectively eroded their will to win and took home the prize money and title. But for myself and the rest of the viewers at home, there was no glory to be had in this final. No pride or mutual signs of respect, just resentment and disgust. Not only had this man, ruined any future interest I might have had in Poker, but he reinforced a negative stereotype in competitive scenes.
Over a year ago, I made a pledge to explore and experience a vast variety of games (Click Here to Read Post). My ultimate goal, was to approach gaming from the stand point of being as inclusive as possible. I have supported my local gaming store by participating in various gaming themed nights. On the internet, I have always tried to be honest and as transparent as possible. Yes I have bias, and yes I will only talk about games that I have enjoyed or I am personally interested in. I provide my viewpoint and allow people to judge for themselves if they agree with it or not. I avoid bashing games and the people that play them. Which oddly enough, is really the heart of the issue here.
When I traveled to Adepticon earlier this year, I had an amazing experience meeting so many of the facebook/twitter folk that I talk to on a regular basis. During one of the late night dinners, a conversation about “what events are you taking part in” occurred. Each individual, as though they won a military medal, proclaimed their events and how excited they were able to participate. It’s moments like those, in which gamer’s can take pride in our hobby and enjoy other like minded individuals company. But is that always the perception.
Two days into the convention, I had a small chat with another friend who actively disliked Warmachine and Hordes. Through further discussion, I discovered that he had in fact two complete armies and fully painted miniatures. Puzzled, I questioned him further to hopefully discover why he had such hatred towards the game. He’s the perfect example of what a friendly and non socially awkward player that enjoys competitive game environment looks like. Back home at a local tournament, he took his army to a standard steamroller event. During one of his games, his opponent was none responsive and super focused on the game in a very disrespectful manner. At the end of the game his opponent said: “Why do you bother playing this game? Thanks for a complete waste of my time, they should let more competitive players into this tournament”.
Understandably disgusted at this point, my friend continued to play in the tournament, but he was reluctant to ever return in the future. In the past he has played in many aggressive competitive game environments (40K/Whfb), but this was the first time where he felt singled out and felt unwelcomed.
I replied by saying:
“Play the game you want to play, not the game he wants to play. You always have a choice and can control your own actions. The only obstacle that’s preventing you from enjoying this game is that guy… screw him and go play the game you want to play”.
Thankfully, after many days of friendly conversation during the convention about Warmachine and Hordes. He has started painting new armies and is looking forward to future events
As a podcaster I have pretty vocal opinions and I often become an easy target. A focal point if you will, that some gamer’s love to funnel their own teenage angst towards. My crime: simply loving the game they choose to hate. Now for the most part, I like to think I am pretty fluid with my game choices. If I get frustrated or bogged down by a game system, I have the luxury to jump around and follow exciting games. For instance, I love Dreadball; I think it’s cool as ice and has a lot to offer gamers. Not everyone thinks this way and many for valid and random reasons alike. Now its time to get to the real issue at hand.
I have been researching various games for the past few months and looking for people excited about these new “games”. So I found various people who love their game. Most of them were nice, friendly and good mannered. However, for one reason or another, each of these gamers had to proclaim why their game was the best, at the expense of other games. It’s like the only way they could promote their game, was to tear down all these other games. Now, I realize that all of it was superficial noise, because what they are actually saying is: “Please, just look at our game, I don’t want you playing this other game”. I understand, I really do. I have worked hard to build interest in various game systems and it can be very disheartening when others don’t “jump” at the newest game on the market. Yes, your game might be amazing, but here’s the problem. I love many many games, some of which “you” have stomped over and screamed against loudly. What makes you think I want anything to do with you or your game, if you are willing to drag other people through the dirt to make your point.
It’s like this, if a new member of the board game club brought in Monopoly because that’s the only board game he has ever played. Don’t be the person who walks up and says “Monopoly is a garbage game, here play this other game instead”. A much more positive and constructive solution would be: “Thank you for coming, sure I will play Monopoly with you, but have you seen the entire collection we have on the wall”? Notice a difference? Instead of removing free will and “dominating” the new member, give them agency over their own choices. Monopoly might be an objectively “bad game”, but if people enjoy it, so what! Give them the choice to explore outside their own comfort zone, at least then it’s their own choice if they decide to continue to play Monopoly afterwards.
So in conclusion, don’t let your pride as a gamer get in the way of making meaningful relationships. Change happens all the time in the gaming sphere; games we thought we loved shift and change focus. Don’t burn down relationships because of “what game they are playing”, you will never know what you will be playing in five years. Expecting people to pick up the pieces “once a future edition” comes is a terrible way to treat people. Be a positive source of change now.
Adam, Aka. Mr Voxman.