Now this surreal statement has stuck in my head ever since the question was posed to me several years ago at a show in Reading which I no longer attend - various reasons but aside from the travelling it was mainly because the venue smelled mostly of old jockstraps and wee wee - a somewhat stronger version of what Americans sometimes call "Locker Room lilac" . If that whiff was in the sports hall Gawd knows what the locker room actually smelt like!.
But the reason it sticks in my head is its historical stupidity -well no of course not the institution of Knighthood wouls not exist for almost another millenia- but of course it was a statement made by a Games player who had no idea outside his chosen rulebook and didn't give a monkeys about how thick he sounded.
So once again I come around to our "Image problem" . I still maintain that much of this is our own fault.We do ourselves no favours .
Whilst other hobbies also have image problems especially those which, like us suffer from "Geek in his bedroom" syndrome or as I once heard it put by a lady
"45 and still living in his mothers attic" (though this was aimed specifically at a bunch of unwashed GW freaks I do know what she meant) I think there is a problem.
Wargamers often seem to make a fetish of having no image at all I'd go further enjoying the "anti-image" - see my post In Vogue- but I would also note the regular appearence of "builders bum" at shows and the Oxfam shop dress sense of many of our bretheren- not that this last is confined to our hobby at all but chaps, there are kids about put your arses away PL- ease- and run a comb through the unruly locks- if you have any. .
Model railways - a far more intricate hobby on average than ours BUT with roughly the same entry level costs- a basic "train set" will cost about the same as a basic army about a ton or a bit less if in smaller scales does not always seem to have the same "baggage" as it were. after that entry its up to you how far you go of course but the model railway chaps I've met do seem to actually give a damn If such as . Pete Waterman and Rod Stewart- those denizens of the Pop music world who are both model railway men and feel no shame thereby - both have extolled the virtues of their hobby on primetime telvision they why should we feel any nervousness about our hobby?.
Yet in our world its not like that-
I know a couple of BBC journos who wargame but neither advertise it much and many years ago I aquired a collection of 20mm Les Higgins and Douglas some of which had belonged to a minister of the crown who allegedly got rid of the lot in case it harmed his career.
There does still seem to be some kind of self made stigma here. despite the fact that our hobby has grown significantly. Growth has its downside unfortunately mostly of the "dumbing down" variety which on some levels has become much worse since the "It's only a game" lobby aquired more influence- as it has since the 1990s- and increasingly today we see rules refered to as Games rather than rules for a given period so FOW is a WW2 Game Saga a Game and so on ad nauseam. This is of course is the GW influence- especially as several of the major "games companies" are run or staffed by EX GW dudes. This goes a long way to "make official" the trivialisation of what we do- If its only a game then the History and Study and indeed research tht some of us do becomes - in some eyes pointless ,trivial and nerdy . Consquently why should we take ourselves even remotely seriously ? After all you are only rolling dice and pushing games markers about.
Think of the areas where our hobby crosses paths with other modelling based hobbies such as Military Modelling or Railway Modelling . Yet I've heard it proposed vey ernestly that Wargamers are in no sense modellers- that may be true for the rich dudes who just throw money at the job and buy all their stuff either off the shelf or to commision but for most of us modelling -even at a basic level -is part of the hobby. Paint your troops base your troops - assemble and paint this tank or that building - you are model making.
I think perhaps part of the problem is that we have allowed the "it's da gamin' innit" lobby too much gabbin' room with out sufficient replies, magazine editors may be afraid to upset their readership perhaps or in one case at least their owners who are of the games lobby - I don't know- can't answer that for sure as always I merely observe and perhaps take the p***
Nevertheless I do find it somewhat perturbing that we seem to do this to ourselves
I wonder why this is?
I can think of several reasons some , all or none of which may be or may not true in some, all or none of chaps heads but that is between them and their ...ahem brains ...
1/. You are so insecure about your hobby that you trivialise it to compensate
2/. Has our hobby become so introverted that it doesn't give a damn- it is the Geek in the bedroom???.
3/. Do you think what we do should be trivial and infantile in order to attract a new audience which isn't capable of entetaining more complex ideas?
4/. Are you simply a lazy git who can't be bothered to use his brain?
Of these points 3 has a laudable aim - attracting new bretheren is never a bad idea and introducing new chaps to what we do may be a tad difficult- but do we have to assume that they are thick and should we patronise them ?. After all the kiddies seem to understand the complexities of Games Workshop and I flamin' don't! One of the MAJOR problems I have with FOW(other than the fact that its simplistic and bears no resemblence to any WW2 action I've ever read) is its patronising tone- other rules do this to a lesser extent- Black Powder for instance. There is now an unwritten assumption in some quarters that your poor benighted customer is so dumb that he has either never read a book or has to use his fingers to follow the long words. Now whilst this may be true (see point 4) and the popularity of these sets would seem to support this- its not very nice or polite to tell 'em so - well not too often anyhow! Not only that. gentle reader. but there are still plenty of chaps out there who have not fallen for this load of tripe- even if they use some of the offending rulesets-
There now often seems to be a major disconnect between the hobby as it is often seem- at shows and in some magazines-(or rather perhaps at it is portrayed) and its historical roots or even many of its grassroots players . Back in the chaps Like Young Wise Grant et all knew stuff they were to a greater or lesser extent Historians even the fictional Callan was to be seen reading "The Campaigns of Napoleon" - even though he was an MI5 assassin.
If we see what we do as trivial then why shouldn't others?
If many of our bretheren appear unwashed and/or socially awkard why would you wish to be associated with such?.
Now to put this in context- none of the non wargamers I know have any sense of weirdness about me selling toy soldiers for a living- or at least I've never detected such- a bit of disbelief perhaps on occaision- "you amke money out of that ? " has been said to me more than once but also "what a fasxinating line of work to be in"
I find it easy to explain the history and modelmaking side- less easy .to be honest. to explain the gaming bit- especially as the peurile and sometimes nasty GW games are often the only contact the public are aware of with miniatures based games. To many out there both within and without out hobby there is no apparent difference between what we do and GW . That there should be some obvious distance is to me a no brainer. I really dislike the dystopian ethos of workshop 's games background the so called "lore" some of it really sets my teeth on edge- especially as it is aimed at children (though its adult workshop freaks that really do my head in)
So dudes what do we do about this- if anything?