User Content Wednesday – Are You In an Abusive Relationship?

The House of Paincakes is coming dangerously close to having 300 blogs on the rolls.  As you can well imagine, finding posts to promote and figuring out how to give everyone a chance at some fame is an increasingly hard task.  Thankfully, our long standing policy of “the squeaky anus wheel gets the grease” has served us well once again.  Frontline Gamer recently joined us and recently squeaked a bit.  I think the article we’re posting is one of my new favorites.  It’s a poke at GW, but the exact kind of poke that we like at the HoP – intelligent and funny. 

Over the last 5 or so years I’ve slowly watched all of my fellow gaming buddies become steadily disenfranchised or disillusioned with the hobby… no sorry lets clarify, the Games Workshop. I watched Chris ‘the cursed’ Tapper go away time and time again to Warhammer Fantasy Tournaments and come back saying he had a good time, only then for him to tell me what happened and him realize he was only enjoying the beers on the nights out after the gaming. I’ve watched others grow tired of the price gouging and the annual price hike. I’ve watched as people realize that the tactics in 40k pretty much stop at army building, I’ve seen gamers grimace while reading the Dark Elves or Space Wolves army books. I’ve watched as the Games Workshop have systematically trashed their two core systems and pissed gamers off…

Willow Road, off of Lenton Lane Nottingham

So why am I telling you this? Well I’m telling it you because as an outsider, or someone who played games by other companies I’ve always felt that the Games Workshop games were something I was choosing to do myself and that therefore my views of these screw ups Games Workshop keep making are quite different. You see I found them funny and tragic at the same time, I’ve never really had a hatred or anger that some have felt, sure I was pissed off that Matt ‘minimum wage’ Ward, who must be paid in peanuts so gloriously screwed up Fantasy, but to me it was the final confirmation that the Games Workshop no longer wanted me as a customer. They don’t want affluent geeks because we’re hard to please and they know they can’t do it. Others though saw it as a personal slight or attack; Why? Well its partly to do with something that does annoy me about wargaming here in the UK, I say UK because I’m not sure its the same for the rest of the world… its a phrase, ‘alternative wargamming’.

Mark Wells, CEO Game Workshop

Let me explain, you see whenever I mention other companies product people say ‘oh you mean alternative wargamming’ hell even a manager at the Maelstrom once used the phrase to describe everybody else’s products to me as did a Bagttlefront sales rep!!! That very phrase is psychologically interesting because it supposes that the Games Workshop IS wargaming and that everything else is somehow either not wargaming or different, niche or some how ‘less’ even ‘inferior’  or a copy of the original. Its obviously utter bollocks but it does show the state of mind that most hobbyists find themselves in here in the UK. Well I say the use of the phrase ‘alternative wargaming’ should stop right now!!! There is Games Workshop wargaming and then there is wargaming in general, there is nothing ‘alternative’ about me playing Infinity or Warmachine, nothing at all; hell Warmachine is over a decade old now, its established and will no doubt soon become part of the establishment itself.

So what the hell am I rambling on about? Well I’ve been seen as either a herald of doom or a prophet of wisdom locally depending on how you look at it, because I’ve evangelized about Infinity, Warmachine or lately Spartan Games products. To Games Workshop zealots I’m an evil demon (notice there’s no ‘A’ in the spelling of that word!) sent to tempt them with lies and falsehoods to turn them from virtuous gaming. Then there are those whose faith is faltering and who are no longer willing to sacrifice their hard earned cash at the Games Workshop alter (the till), to them I’ve been a bit of a hobby saviour. I’ll admit at first I was doing it for purely selfish reasons, I wanted more victi… sorry opponents to play, however slowly that changed. Last night I realised that actually its no longer about getting ‘fresh meat’ into other games its now about helping people get their love of the hobby back.

I went to Warlords of Walsall gaming club, its not the biggest, but it is well attended, by decent gamers. I went to promote Dystopian Wars, Firestorm Armada and Uncharted Seas. What I was met with is what I’ve been met with before, people not enjoying their hobby. People playing 40k and Fantasy and both players on both sides of the table looking glum and miserable. I asked a few whether they were enjoying their games and the question itself seemed to flumox a few, but those who did answer me in something other than a grunt said ‘no’. So I asked ‘so why are you playing something you don’t enjoy?’, this question is one I’ve often employed, its a similar question to one used by counselors to try and break into the mind of somebody in an abusive relationship… because that’s what the Games Workshop hobby has become for many. Think about it, they treat you like shit, take all your money and give you very little in return and then because you don’t do anything about it, next year it escalates and they do more of the same to you, just worse and if you complain the staff say its your fault you’re doing things wrong its not them!!! If that’s not an abusive relationship I don’t know what is!!!

Thing is the analogy doesn’t stop there, oh no. The response of these hobbyists are quite eerily reminiscent of those who are in abusive relationships as well:

  • I love the hobby (I love them)
  • There’s nothing else out there (I’ve got no one to turn to)
  • What about all the money I’ve spent on my armies? (What about the kids?)
  • Other games / models aren’t as good as Games Workshops (He’s nice when he’s not beating me)

There are other answers, but they’re pretty much normally along those lines IF the person isn’t enjoying the hobby. People are basically scared of buying into a game that might not be supported, or played by others. They also believe the crap the Games Workshop staff peddle about their miniatures being the best and their games being the best, the other part of the abusive relationship, mental torture and brainwashing.

So I’m here to help, I’ll only help those who clearly want help though. So what happened last night? I watched a room full of gamers get their interest in the hobby back, I watched them look at miniatures from the Infinity range and gasp as they said ‘they’re better than Games Workshop models’ and a saw people confused by the detail on the surface of Dystopian Wars boats and utter the words ‘this is resin? Its not like Finecast *pause* I like it’. I watched people who were refusing to spend money on their hobby talk about buying fleets and starter sets and discuss how they were going to do awesome colour schemes. I saw them play these games and enjoy themselves, I heard phrases like ‘this is fun’, ‘its actually got tactics’, ‘they’re that cheap!!!’ and ‘they give the rules away for free?’. Yep it gives you a warm glow when you help good gamers break the cycle of that abusive relationship, its good to help gamers get their hobby back and its great to see them enthused and happy about toy soldiers again.

So this is my plea to fellow wargamers out there who know of wargamings wider patchwork of great games and awesome hobby options, get out there and help a fellow gamer out. Look if those panda’s can help each other out so can we!!! We’ve all been there, we’ve all felt violated as we hand cash over to receive an expensive pile of crap we didn’t really want. We’ve all sat playing games wandering why am I so bored, why is this game so lame, is there something wrong with me? Well we can help other gamers realise its not them, we can show them that there are options out there if you’re willing to break that abusive cycle. We owe it to our fellow gamer to help them get their love back for the hobby and besides, there’s always a need for new opponents. Peace out!

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