Saturday, October 30, 2010

YOUR Hobby and THE Hobby-Running Events

So I've recently been in disagreement with a fairly local (San Diego) group that is going to be running a local GT in February. Now the primary point of contention when it started was simply the missions. They had massively improved everything else over last year and even though the soft scoring was something like 60% of the available points it was clearly laid out and that's fine. Upon commenting upon the scenarios and giving feedback on possible ways to improve them it eventually led to the then resigned scenario developer saying not so nice things about me personally and informing me to go enjoy Adepticon and Ard Boyz and leave them their tournament.

That drama got me thinking about some things and I only post it so that the rest of this makes sense in context.

Now is human nature to get a little bit upset when someone critiques your work. And as gamers we are probably more susceptible to it than most others. But something that makes us more so is the fact that we are a pretty insular and elitist hobby. Think about it. How quick are most people in our hobby to judge others? Oh, people who attend tourneys are all ass-hats. Oh, all those fluff bunnies just want us to play their way because they can't bring it like we can. Oh, I can't believe someone would play an army from a codex but not paint it like the codex. This happens every single day on forums and blogs in our hobby. We're a pretty damn judgmental group when you think about it J

So this brings us to our main point. OUR Hobby vs. THE Hobby. I think because most of us invest so much time, money, and love into this that we have a tendency to get upset when things rock our little boat. We generally play this game with a like minded group of friends or a like minded group of people in our local area. That leads to a group think mentality and a group personality emerges. That is the way to play and hobby to most of those people. New people brought into the group are also brought into this atmosphere and generally get sucked into the mind think as well as all these guys do it this way so it's probably the right way.

So if the hobby stayed right here in this group then that would be fine. But we have this wonderful thing called the internet. Ideas and thoughts transferred all around the world and a place where minds meet. You would think that this would be a good thing for the hobby right? Well it can be but a lot of times since people don't actually have to talk to a person face to face they have a tendency to preach because obviously the way they've been doing it can't be wrong. This is when it becomes your hobby and then it becomes an argument about who is right when both parties generally are.

Oddly I've personally found that the best place for breeching these divides between different hobbies (i.e. different groups) is GOOD tournaments. Preferably large ones but tournaments that bring in people from several groups, clubs, or regions and have an even element for all sides of the hobby. The reason being is that this is a chance to share your view of the hobby with others while playing in a defined and fair environment and competing for your award of choice. It's forced interaction outside of your normal hobby circle. It is generally at these events that you talk hobby and sometimes get a new take on the hobby. It also can lead to new friends that you talk to regularly and thus expand your "hobby" circle and your views on the hobby as a whole since your new friends might not see everything the way you do but you've met this person, they were pretty cool, so maybe their opinion is worth listening to as opposed to that faceless bastard on the internet J

To many times though people from certain groups go in expecting the worst out of an event outside their group because they've heard horror stories from some of the older players or read those stories online. This is why it's so important to run a good event that brings the whole hobby together. Clear set expectations, open communication, and balanced/fair scenarios are crucial to ensure a good time.

Why does all this matter? Why am I talking about tournaments when most people out there don't attend them and probably never will? What does this have to do with THE Hobby?

Well, probably because tournaments are a big part of MY hobby. It's where I relate but it's also where I've found I run into the most "our" way oriented groups. I travel a decent amount and play with games from all over the country. I don't travel as much as some (I'm looking at you Blackmoor!) but I feel I do get out there quite a bit and experience a lot of different views on the hobby. I run into the people who love to paint and who show up to tournaments with the goal of pulling down that Best Army award or the guys who simply can't paint who just love to play the game or the guy who gets pounded on all weekend but is happy because he got to roll some dice and offered everyone he played a beer all weekend (I accept bribes!). You generally catch all aspects of the hobby at a good event and they are happy and having a good time together.

But I've also run into people who think others should play the hobby their way only. Those group thinks that decide to run a large event that brings in groups from all over but want to make them play the way that they play. These TO's don't realize that THE hobby is different from THEIR hobby. They've been part of their little group for so long that they don't realize that not everyone plays the way that they do and that they are creating a poor environment for growth of the hobby. And worse, instead of asking for help or going out of their way even a little to create something more inclusive they become defensive and angry. Disregarding any input that doesn't match their playstyle as wrong. This leads to drama, arguments, and puts a damper on the event and our hobby.

For them the line between their hobby and the hobby has blurred. I guess for me it comes down to this: If you're going to run any event make it as inclusive as you possibly can. Make it as fair and balanced as you possibly can. Get feedback from the community at large so you can put something on that brings those different groups in and allows for that interaction. These events can be showcases for our hobby and something for everyone to get excited about. Don't let your view of the game lead you to excluding others. Recognize that there are other types of hobbyists out there and set things up accordingly. I realize not everyone is an avid tournament player like me. They enjoy campaigns, leagues, Apoc battles, forgeworld events and such. And that is totally cool. I don't have the time generally for that kind of thing unfortunately.

When running a larger event take a step back and make sure your not injecting your hobby onto others. Big events should be a culmination of the entire hobby: competitive play, painting, converting, cool fluffy armies, and sportsmanship. Every aspect of the hobby you love should be on display and the best of each aspect should be rewarded. Don't let your dislike of one aspect of the hobby blind you to creating a large and fun atmosphere for everyone. Make it about THE Hobby.

Sorry for the rant but I guess it got a little under my skin today.


hyv3mynd said...

Chumby and I ran into similar issues with DaBoyz as they are our only organized local group and run only comp RTT's and GT (for now).

When raising our concerns, we received some similar replies as you did on dakka such as "if you don't like it, don't come", "we wanna be different than Ard Boyz", "there are enough competitive events we want to provide something different".

However, between our voices and response from dakka and feedback from attendees including BoLS staff and the ETC team, it looks like they may remove comp next year.

We also saw the defensive/aggresive responses that you did, but many of the group also play competitive events abroad so there are some among the leadership who are open to change. Many in the ruling council are more interested in growing the event than maintaining status quo, so most of the changes are based on post event player surveys. As such, they've gone from 66 to 100 40k participants over one year, and hopefully we can abolish comp and break 120+ next year.

The missions could be classified as "wacky" by some, and they did accept three of my submissions one of which may make the final cut. However, they have been play tested for 3 months including 2 RTT's. They still retain BP's (which I prefer based on personal experience) and bring some needed flavor. I may be a minority, but I think book missions become so boring.

Anyways, stay diplomatic and objecive. NOVA and BFS succeeded as hobby and competitive events. Not everyone sees it that way yet, but hopefully the format will spread. The main thing as I see it is they put all the ownus on the players. The organizers made no comp restrictions of penalties, so if players under perform, they can only blame their own list or generalship. Renaissance Man rewards painting, sports, and performance equally so people who put the time into a show-stoppig presentation can do as well as an all-competitive player.

I'm hoping Chumby and I can fire up something similar to your "Sprue Posse" sometime soon to give us a non-comp outlet. Now if we could just do something about "hobbyists" and their name-calling of "WAAC" players (I know both labels are imflamatory blanket statements).

Hang in there man! HOPE AND CHANGE! lol...

hyv3mynd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chumbalaya said...

+1, to both of you.

Black Blow Fly said...

Lots of good points here. I agree with most of what you said. As noted events like NOVA, BoLScon and BfS are having a positive effect on how other TOs decide to run their events. I am favor of dropping comp for the main reason that it is too subjective and no one has yet produced a solid system for grading all armies fairly. Let people play what they want, that is the most fun. Sportsmanship I still think is very important but hopefully this can be handled in a manner without adding it to the overall score. Something nice for TOs is that the W/L system is very easy to keep track of compared to battlepoints.


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