Friday, 6 September 2013

Of Miniatures, Ministers and Morality.

 First a bit of sadness.Doubtless it has not escaped you attention that Donald Featherstone has passed away.
 I had a couple of conversations with him in the  early 1990s- I remember he complimented my 25mm Napoleonics ! and we discussed books on 18th century India.
 Whilst I've never been one for heroe worship of any kind there is little doubt that Don gave the hobby a massive boost and set it on the commercial path  with his books in the 60s..
 His books certainly set me on the path.

 Like most of his generation he had served in WW2- largely in Italy and in our conversations I never got the impression he had any problems with the "morality" of our hobby - not that it ever came up directly  but even in old age he still had a "taste for the game" as it were..
Rest In Peace.

So think about it dudes . If chaps like Don- who has "seen the Elephant"  have no problems with this hobby- and a goodly number of other soldiers - both past and present don't either (and at least one Marine of my aquaintance -can't call him a Soldier!! ) then why should we.
 The recent spate of agonising over the"morality" of our hobby reminds me of the 80s - I had more than one brush with the peacniks who were mostly badly informed fools who opined that if there were no soldiers there would be no wars apparently Soldiers make Wars - the less said about THAT piece of Twaddle the better.
 They seemed to have much the same attitude to battle as the Victorians did to sex
 "Look Away dear it's not happening " (quick nip round the back door ....)
 In a way this is exactly the same as political Morality
 Ministers of the Crown are quite capable of looking away when it suits them . After all there is no morality in politics there is only power and its use and abuse .Politicians of all colours are good at telling us how we should behave  but often dammed if they will behave that way themselves.
 So when it comes to our harmless little hobby  I don't give a monkeys what someone else will or won't do or does or does not find offensive as I find none of it bad enough to really get steamed up about. But for the record there are bits I find a tad distasteful.- in no  particular order.

WW1 Western Front- don't play that  wholesale slaughter.
I don't use SS or flamethrowers in WW2 games- indeed I'm fairly picky about WW2
I find the darker side of Games Workshop quite disturbing- I'm finding out about this from a relative and it seems that teenage boys- and some older seem  obsessed with  cruelty and torture. There are no "good guys" in the 40K dystopia
 This is very very odd as when I was their age I was obsessed with knockers , kachungas, berdooblies in other words crumpet!
 GW has a lot to answer for....

 When it comes to modern games- these are the nearest I get to fictional countriesand I tend to treat them in much the same way a modern techno-thriller writer would- get the tech right but the plots are fiction.
 Indeed other than refights that pretty much sums up most of my games.
 Not that I'm playing much at the moment far too busy...


  1. Hi Andy,
    For anyone who is that squeamish , it should be very easy to ignore our small hobby -- it's not like it's in your face on TV or in department stores all the time.
    Personally it doesn't affect me in what hypothetical manner toy soldiers are made ineffective or removed -- it generally involves someone placing a marker next to them or taking them off the table due to some enemy toy soldiers action -- because it is just a game. If someone wants to base a game on how many toy babies their toy soldiers can pitchfork into a toy furnace in a given timespan, I will most definitely pass; and I won't want to watch, and I probably won't be eager to associate with the inventor or the devotees -- it seems pretty bent to me -- but I'm not going to lose any sleep over the fact that other people want to play it. However odd it is, it's still a game played with toys.
    If those who would rule us are allowed to stipulate that playing such games indicates or causes mental issues (such as a tendency to violence), then the next step is we can't read books on the holocaust or warfare, for the same reason.

    Just my 2 cents worth of ravings.

  2. Andy - nicely put - I think that the problem is that so much of my hobby is about mental pictures, and imagination, and for me (personally) I find it difficult then to enjoy certain periods... Russian front WWII, trench warfare in WWI, anything modern (especially Iraq/Iran/Afghanistan) are all off my radar because of that..... having said that I'm also just intelligent enough, and just about well read enough, to know that ultimately war is about dead and dismembered bodies no matter what period we are interested in, but it doesn't put me off playing those periods I love...!

  3. I'm always in two minds when it comes to the "It's only a game" thing. If that were solely true then we'd all be Workshop junkies Gawd 'elp us . So these is more to this than simply the game- which IMHO is what separates it from other "pure" games and makes it that much more interesting than Go or Mah- jong or chess .
    Also to be honest is the "not game" bit I find most interesting and entertaining.
    But I'd heartily agree with Steve on the imagination thing- which is why I find so much of GW disturbing as it is wholly a work of the imagination and to cite just one example I know of producing models whose clothing is supposedly made of human skin..... some of those dudes really should get an interest in Crumpet - not that any respectable piece of Crumpet would look at 'em....

  4. "In the future there is only war" - what a bloody depressing thought! Yes, GW is a definite bogey man to us wargamers, but they're also a useful decoy. Plenty of gamers include SS units in their WWII games and don't have a second thought about it. Is this morally wrong? Maybe to me and thee, but obviously not to them and it's commonly not a case of lack of knowledge.

    This hobby is a broach church and one man's meat is another man's poison (how many cliches can you get in the same sentence?) so what we're uncomfortable with is acceptable to another gamer and vice versa. However, we're not noted for being over-tolerant. Take the furore a few years ago on PMT about suicide bomber figures and (later) a certain wargames supplier being a member of and candidate for the BNP. There's an obvious tipping point (gerrem in!) where acceptability evaporates and somebody becomes the object of a witch hunt.

    So, it's a hobby centred around a game (or a series of games really) and that game represents war much more overtly than Chess or Go. Is it immoral or even morally questionable? Some will immediately say yes, whereas others will put up arguments to claim the moral high ground which become increasingly flimsy very quickly. However, I believe it's no more immoral than, say, Cluedo which recreats a murder to be 'solved' or Monopoly which encourages players to amass wealth deliberately at the expense of their opponents and force them into bankruptcy. So, you pays your money etc. (Another cliche!)

    1. Gary- Precisley- My persoanl discomfort with certain stuff is niether here nor thereand suits only me. I have no problem with much of modern aysmetric Warfare. other do- their choice
      Though I'd argue that its a game created around history and Warfare rather than a hobby created around a game- chickens Eggs anyone ??