Random Rambling: Painting and the clubbing of baby seals
Warlock here. Yes I know, it’s been a while. I was preoccupied with exams and assignments but they’re done now, allowing for just short of a month of holidays. Also I didn’t check the schedule for posting, so I apologise to my betters but I really wanted to write a post while it was fresh in my mind. Brain.exe is entering holiday mode and is dumping memory by the terabyte.
Today’s post is something Dave was talking about on the Book of Faces regarding Professional painters entering both professional and standard level competitions, in order to win one or more prizes (and +/- associated bragging rights), aka smurfing. Smurfing, not to be confused with the obnoxiously happy blue folk, is the act of (in gaming) creating a secondary account to log-in unbeknownst to one’s peers or play at a lower skill level in order to avoid “ruining” in-game stats. Smurfing is a typical case of clubbing baby seals as those with a wealth of experience can easily dominate less skilled competition.
This is something that cuts kinda close to the bone, as it’s been a long road with one’s personal painting skills and the belief that painting is one of the main facets of the miniatures hobby. Plus I was SEM for so long thanks partly to smurfs.
An example of smurfing (to use one of mine) is in the pc game Counter strike: global offensive, where a ‘smurf’ creates a second account to play in lower competitive ranks and generally troll (ie; team frags, team flash, etc) rather than doing this in their own tier level, thus avoiding bans, penalties or loss of the higher rank. Having been on the receiving end of smurfs, it is frustrating to know not only does the other team have an advantage, but that it actively puts people off competitive matches and even the game itself (not salty at all. I is playing New Vegas soon).
Back to the non-video gaming side of the hobby, entering professional level works into a standard competition for painting can really be detrimental to the hobby or at least this is how my eyes perceive this. While it’s not explicitly cheating, I feel it may be implicit cheating- a violation of gentleman’s rules or exploiting a loophole. If they’re that good to begin with, why do they have to lower themselves down so they can win?
OH GOD IT’S HIDEOUS. This was the first attempt at painting a miniature way back in 2006, well, 2007 (got the WHFB battle for skull pass set on 31/12/06 lol). It’s…adequate to say the least, or “pro painted” according to ebay :P. Keep in mind that this was when I’d first started the hobby (fer reals, after playing DoW) so I look back and joke at the growth one has made over the years in painting.
Compared to the outstanding quality seen throughout coolminiornot, there’s just no comparison in a competitive paint stand-off. Now if a professional level (non-ebay pro) painter entered pro work into a standard level painting comp, the bar is raised twice: The first is that judging will now be skewed as the pro’s ‘standard’ level is much higher than the true standard levels. Secondly, how will aspiring/hopeful painters feel when the pro’s work is held up as what constitutes a decent standard. Hell, I’d be crushed if golden demon/ crystal brush winning stuff was said to be ‘standard’.
In the interest of disclosure, I don’t want to shame ‘smurfs’ per se, but rather highlight why this kind of behaviour can be detrimental to less skilled painters/gamers. It’s just that it can be horribly demoralising for those who aren’t the best at painting to see a falsely elevated ‘standard’ paint job. It’d suck to be hopelessly outclassed especially if it’s your first competition.
I understand that it’s human nature to win and that we want to win. However, if two people engage in a game, someone has to lose. It’s a given that only one person can win (g/s/b rankings aside) and no amount of “everyone’s a winner” and participation awards will not change that. What hurts people though is not having a chance to begin with and this is where smurfing comes in. Using the lower skill levels as an easy win is personally horrid for me as how many people tried their best only to be slaughtered by a long-standing pro.
Even if a paintjob is bad (or you think it’s bad), the person who painted it put time and effort into it and should be proud of what they’ve accomplished. Always constantly striving for improvement helps to raise skills to meet/exceed the metaphorical ‘bar’ for a standard level miniature/comp rank. Hell, with painting it’s taken me nine years to get white to a level that I consider satisfactory (for my skill level). It’s a combination of frustration, practice, learning to paint strip, more practice, perseverance and above all, patience.
For those struggling with painting, you’ll get there, you really will. We’re lucky to have a blog community which can help with painting tips, schemes, tricks and the like to assist each other in lifting our own personal skill.
Oh and er, music. Hmm, let’s see. Heh. Run Rabbit Junk by Yoko Kanno.