A Period of Agonising...again and again .Now the last few months- or possibly years has seen a good deal of agonising about "The Future of the Hobby" and "The Future of Shows" but in all this hot air few or none have actually said what they DO want rather than the legions of what THEY don't want. Part of the problem is the simple fact that "Wargaming" is not one hobby but several and paradoxically both fragmenting and narrowing at the same time. Those of you who perceive yourselves as "Old Men with Tape measures" want something different from the GW Geeks or the Boutique games freaks. Now of course some of you fit into some, all or none of those categories some, all or none of the time. That is of course assuming that you go to shows at all. And after all of this there are those who try to tell us this is one homogeneous hobby - what planet are THEY on pray tell?
So I think its time we accepted that "The Future of the Hobby" means different things to different people- assuming you give a damn in the first place and don't simply want to continue enjoying your chosen bit of the overarching catch all they call "wargaming " in your own way, without reference to the various agony aunties ....
Do we actually care?
Now there is an inherent dichotomy here- at least for me. There are two distinct levels that I operate upon in which shows exist but they may - if this isn't a bit zen - exist differently .
On the level of the Trader and small Businessman my wants from a show are actually pretty simple.
Punters who spend cash at my stall .!
That one is the biggie - there is no getting around it Without chaps willing to spend their hard -earned at my stall there is no point in me being there. No point in me and my crew getting up at twenty-past ,God its early! to sit in a transit van for several hours before shifting a tonne of metal into a venue standing about for 6 hours or so then shifting- hopefully considerably less- metal back into the van for the trip home.
Now there are subsidiary reasons for being there once you have that above. Talking to the chaps who spend their cash is pretty important- meeting some of the chaps you only know as addresses on an email or a voice on a phone line .Now I'm aware that some outfits don't want to talk to their customers but that's not my style at all . Come to my shop and if you need help or advice with or about your purchases you'll get it if I can help .
Other stuff is incidental really- food and drink is useful- especially if it is actually edible !
Easy access is good. Of the shows I currently do the worst access is Newark and possibly Battleground the best Salute and Donnington. The Newark access made worse by the venue owners giving the show organisers a hard time.
I have not mentioned Trade Stand fees for me these range from the rather modest fees charged by the smaller shows to the pretty expensive at the larger end of the spectrum- If I've paid up and been to the show more than once or twice then it was and is worth it. I am aware- unlike some Trade-Whiners I've heard that show owners cannot guarantee that punters will spend money at my shop ! That bit is my problem!
What I do expect from show owners is a bit of advertising- and not simply on obscure Internet fora that nobody visits .
Now without the Trade I'm not sure there is a show- after all we pay for most of it. The door money in many- if not all- cases represents the organisers working profit
.....However speaking as a punter ...My wants as a Punter are a bit different. If I'm running a game I want reasonable access and set up time- in the same way traders do. I 'd like decent food and drink in the same way Traders do- but I've a little more freedom as a Punter so I can step outside the show and find a decent pub for a pie and a pint - or local equivalent if available.
I'd like a decent mix of Trade stands to satisfy my wants- unless I'm mean (or skint) and won't buy anything (mind you if I'm skint I shouldn't be at the show anyway perhaps ??)
Games of course will depend upon what I'm into this week. If I'm historically minded and into one or more given periods then I'd like to see something from then- maybe played or displayed in a new way or an unfamiliar style-this of course can work for the Sci-Fi and Fantasy chaps too . If I'm merely a games player with no interest in anything other than the dice rolling then I perhaps don't care what anything looks like as long as its easy to play and possibly free- after all as a games player I'm possibly not prepared to put any effort in myself so why should I expect that from other.... or perhaps I'm a games hypocrite who wants every one else to put in the effort so I can get something for nothing (that last bit doesn't count if you are only 10 as you probably don't know any better yet ! )
|The sort of game I like to see. A shot of the TWATS Fontenoy a like at Durham a few years back.||There are still good numbers of chaps who can do this sort of stuff. See the Pics on Robbie Roddiss' blog|
Somewhere to sit and have a pint with your mates is also nice- but not always possible.
Free parking is also nice- I don't mind that as a trader either but don't always get it- probably do however more often than not so its a minor point for me.
Lighting- again a minor point- not all shows are like the Stygian gloom of Newark- I take extra lights for my stand and may even take a headlamp for digging stuff out of the stock bins !!! Most other shows don't require such drastic measures.
Such flummery as "girlie -friendly" dolls house purveyors we can leave at Dolls house shows- do they have "wargamer -friendly" parts to their shows? I have no objection to craft and modelmaking materials on sale though.
Basically the main problem with Wargames shows is ... well Wargamers really - or some of them at least- they want to narrow it all down to the dice rolling. Fortunately there are still plenty of chaps who have a broader view.