Now the recent- but short- discussion surrounding the merits of Donnington show last weekend on this and Robbie Roddis blog has prompted me to think a little on shows and what punters expect from them .
As always the first conclusion is that they don't know what they want but the moan when they don't get it.
Again I'm being deliberately provocative becasue I want answers - which doubtless I won't get.
Now Robbie admits his idea of some kind of overarching organistion to do "12 or so regional shows" is a fantasy but it does give us a worthwhile starting point to examine shows and why some blokes like Robbie find them unsatifying..
Now as it happens I don't have a problem with the current show structure and I'll tell you why. I like its individuality and quirkiness. The different levels of differing shows is an advantage- From Salute at the top via Donnington , Triples, Partizan Claymore etc. down to tiny shows like Durham- all have something to offer. Now I've not been to a show purely as a punter for a good few years- my last was Fiasco at the Armouries in Leeds and frankly a mere wargames show could not- for me- compete with the magnificence of the Armouries. So I spent about an hour at the show and 3 or 4 hours in the Armouries- no contest. Nevertheless different shows have different levels- I always enjoy Durham- its the only show I demonstrate at these days. Deliberately doing a different game each year. All of the other shows I attend I attend as a Trader and big is not always best. My favourite "Club" show this year was Carronade in Falkirk- a little craker. See my report earlier in this blog.
I don't for instance do the "Warfayre" show in Reading in November any longer. - Sunday was a waste of time Its a 6 hour trip each way the venue is falling to bits and smells of jockstraps and wee wee- or used to.
Similarly I don't do WMMMS any more for similar reasons or SELWG- mainly because for us it is a total pain to get to- another 6 hours each way- for a one day show with really bad unloading its not worth it.
Nevertheless - these show continue without me so someone is getting something out of it- and it can't just be the wedge the organising club make!
Yes all shows can be a bit samey and Robbie quite rightly picks out the old WARCON show of the early 90s as a fine example of its time. - I both traded and ran games there and it was great fun BUT the additional lectures etc were mostly failures- very few turned up. These days I'd wonder if any would. The intellectual down marketing of our hobby is now a constant . knowing stuff- in almost any walk of life is seen as not quite the thing so its bound to reflect in what we do. Look at the outporing of simple background knowledge free games. Intellectually low rent for the hard of thinking- but well produced, marketed and of course priced . Convenience Wargaming for the Convenience Generation.
However moving on . How for instance do we get to Robbies Fantasy- who decides which are the "best" games- A Committee of retired Civil Servant and ex-Police Wargamers ?(after all they have the time and the money) - NO CHANCE over my cold and festering corpse. A Committee of Traders- I refer the gentleman to the answer I gave a moment ago- only more so .
The problem with any kind of National organisation is that it will inevitably lead to a narrowing of what is "allowed" . Give any group power and they will abuse it and twist it to their own ends and there are always enough brown nosers and fellow travellers who think they can get something out of it- and no I don't mean just money.
Yes I'm a cynic devil a doubt but it is the differences that make this hobby so much fun. The current commercial climate has seen a ferocious narrowing over the last few years so that in some quarters anything other than the "dice rolling and counter pushing" is no longer in vogue. We need to keep the diversity- some of us are incurable Dillitantes- which is why I probably wouldn't want to trade at a "themed" show for instance- though I might demo at say a Pike and Shot show if invited and if I could get there- I wouldn't go near a SYW only themed show- too narrow and just possibly too far up itself for my egalitarian soul.. No more diversity not less- if a show is crap don't go then it may die and be replaced with something else- Darwins Natural Selection perhaps?
I remain of the opinion that many Wargamers are- for whatever reason - lazy in some respects, hidebound in some respects and don't want change- why should they when they enjoy their hobby..
Wargaming shows no signs of snuffing it, sure it changes and its far far more trend and fashion concious than it used to be- but that is a reflection of the world in general. .
Most Demontrsators and PP games masters at shows are- despite commercialisation still volunteers giving of their time and effort more or less freely because they want to do it.
Long may this diversityand Freedom continue.