Monday, 27 June 2011
The search for Reality- part 1
Descending to the Trivial
Now here we go again - while at War Torn last weekend I was given a copy of the latest Wargames Illustrated. I hadn't seen a copy for around a year for which I'm truly grateful. The magazine is bright, colourful and has plenty of very pretty- and some far from pretty pictures in it so style 7/10 - losing a few points for being a bit on the chavtastic side- I kept expecting page borders to be fake Burberry pattern- will succeeding issues arrive in a dayglo Vauxhall Corsa 2.4 with extra chrome?? .
Levity aside however upon perusal the magazine once again appeared to be written by and for the "yoof" market. "Its da gamin' innit" .. This size - in terms of page numbers is impressive but the content other than the pictures is almost nil. The depth of its triviality is spectacular. The distance between advert and articles is to all intents and purposes nil. Its a far far smaller magazine than it was in the Duncan Macfarlane era.
This got me thinking again - dangerous that ! Has our hobby become irredeemably trivial in its own eyes
Think about it most hobbyist in other fields don't view their hobby as trivial insofar as they practice it. It's something they enjoy at whatever level only we- as far as I know have a section of our practitioners who feel so insecure about what they do that they trivialise it perhaps as a defence mechanism. It has to be "easy" or "quick" or "simple" or some other weasel word that makes us less than we should be.
Now don't get me wrong I'm not in favour of permanently sweaty browed calculator wielding accountant-a -likes but neither does it have to bethe "bang you're dead" (with pretty pictures) that seems to be the norm in some quarters.
This - at least for me- ties in with a wider debate about "realism" in our games. Now the current discussion on the OSW group regarding the "Black Powder" rules has highlighted a few points upon what constitues "realism" for most of the debaters it seems to centre around how this games mechanism works or does not, but, in my view there are many layers of "realism" that we can put into the game before we get to mere rules.
Leaving aside the obvious one of model realism- are the toys painted and made up as their historical protoypes would have looked like - or if Fantasy does it have an internal logic of its own ? .
What you might term"organisational reality" - Could the units in your model army (or toy soldier collection) have fought in that time at that place in that manner(in those trousers!)?- This is more of a "does it feel right" question
At its simplist level that for me is "No macedonians fighting bloody Aztecs " but equally it could be no cavalry and infantry in the same brigade at that time in this place. Or perhaps - as it says in Black powder " Baker Rifles in the case of Britsh Napoleonic light infantry" (page 176)- this is twaddle they didn't . Light infantry regiemnts carried muskets Rifle battalions carried Rifles and is a small example of the simplfying to the trivial that seems to be current.
My point here is that - although many do know such statements to be twaddle other either don't or will seek to use it to ganin some trivial little advantge which simply would not occour had they been historically accurate. Another case- a custome recently bought a bundle of BMW motorbike combos for WW2 simply becase a loophole in his chosen rule- which may or may not have been FOW made these supertroops. "It gives me an advantage" he repeated ad nauseam. Being the chaps I am - an not really caring much I took his money and kept my gob shut but I did find it a bit sad nonetheless. However to be fair this chap wasn't claiming any kind of historical justification but simply wanted to score points off his mates - nothing actually wrong there then .
No I suppose my prime objection is that the simplistic lobby have the flooras its diffcult to argue with the "my brain 'urts when I fink" brigade because they trot out the "its only a game " liturgy over and over again like the responses at Mass.
And Finally- for the moment. Visual realism- a couple of pics of my collection King David has his correct Heraldry as does John Scymengour his standard bearer. The pikemen are from Denzil Holles Regiment of Foot in August 1642.A couple of months later and they would be a lot scruffier.