Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Where it all went wrong...

I have been doing a lot of thinking as I have run down my usual blog roll.  The big theme lately, aside from tweaking army lists and tactics is how to make the ideal tournament.  This is a contentious area to say the best.  It has devolved in many instances into the interweb version of elementary name calling (your stupid!, your mom!) and prissy slap fights.  So, what went wrong??

I like to think it probably started somewhere awhile back with a little company we call GW.  I don't think they actually planned for this to be a competitive game.  What?? It is a player versus player game.  How could they not plan for it be to competitive?  I guess I should split the hair a bit more finely and say that I don't think it was ever meant to be, from their perspective, ogranized into comepetitive events.  I think the original GW idea was, "Hey, we like to game, let's make our own game and see if people will buy it.  We will make cool rules, cool models, and even let people paint/create their own armies. It will be rad!"

This part worked.  Warhammer Fantasy and 40k and all of their little specialist friends (not LoTR), became the soup du jour of a fairly large minority of geeks and nerds.  It is now a worldwide phenomenon.  The problem with that is that when something grows it tends to go through some evolution of existence.  I mean look at broadcast media for crying out loud.  We have gone from town-cryers to newspapers to radios to TVs to the internet. 

So, GW decided to "evolve" with it.  Unfortunately, the purpose never evolved.  It has always been to make money and sell product.  Though they had some cool staff at the beginning, the purpose hindered their ability to make good decisions about the implementation of competitive play with the hobby.

So, the GTs, Gamesdays, 'Ardboyz, and smattering of other events came into existence.  They are a seesaw effort of trying to make competitive play right from a skewed perspective.  "We should heavily judge comp and painting.  No people don't like that, let's have a tournament where none of that matters.  No, people HAVE to have the hobby part to be able to play, the majoritiy of scoring should go to that.  Besides, if people see cool models they will buy them."  The rationale has waffled quite a bit.

Unfortunately now, a generation of gamers has been "educated" as to how the system should work.  I am a teacher of elementary age children.  Let me tell you.  Once a students feels like they know something, even if wrong, you have a bloody, uphill battle to fight.  This is the current state of affairs with the Warhammer world in general.

So, what should GW have done all those years back instead of trying to create a system that is a poorly whitewashed attempt at selling product?  

I think they should have allowed competitive (aka Tournament play) evolve via grass roots like their business did.  Allow the player to make the decisions.  Stepping and stating what is and isn't allowed from a business (i.e. money making standpoint) perspective is bound to cloud your judgment. 

On the flip side of the coin, grass roots initiatives have shown a lot of really good ideas.  The Nova Open system is great.  Some say Adepticon is great.  The good thing is that GW is beginning to see this by allowing the tournament circuits to be comprised of almost exclusively Indy GTs.  That is great.  The problem is that they did it too late.  This should have happened a long time ago.  We are too trained now.  We have too programmed of a view on things like Comp, WAAC, Sportsmanship (which isn't comp folks), How painting should be included in a tournament, etc.  The damage has been done. 

So, should we give up?  By no means.  In fact, those few who are not only innovating and creating newer, better tournaments systems are trailblazing in their attempts to alter the present course of competitive play in the community, but we have to extend hands of friendship to those not yet on the boat.  We can't say that an event is going to fail simply because they embrace comp or support paint scores as part of the overall score.  We can give them ideas and alternatives and trust them to try to do their best.  The thing about community is that when the members stop working together, community ceases to exist.  If we don't like GW's perspective on competitive gaming, change it, but realize that there are people who do like it.  Change what you can, Accept what you can't.  Done.

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