Friday, April 29, 2011

Bad Sportsmanship: Dispelling the Myths

If you are reading this post, chances are that you have read my previous post, You Are a Winner!  If not, go to the link provided! It's obviously a tongue-in-cheek attempt to show what "that guy" looks like.  I don't know if it is human nature to take things to the extreme, but it seems to occur with startling regularity that we take a few negative experiences and hypothetically polarize them to their extremes and generlize them.  In fact, "that guy" is more akin to bigfoot in that many claim to have seen him, but can produce very little evidence that he exists.  Here's the point:  While "that guy" may exist, and in fact, may exist in multiples, he doesn't exist in the great numbers most people seem to think he does.  In large, our hobby is full of pretty cool people who aren't all that bad to play with and be around.  Of course, we are imperfect humans and are prone to have a bad day now and then, but mostly we are good people. 

So, the myth is that bad sportsmanship is rampant in our hobby and WAAC exists in great numbers across the board.  This simply isn't so. I want to break it down into more specific ideas and dispel some of the more flagrant thoughts that occur in gaming communities and would love to hear back from you as to whether or not my thoughts reflect those of other gamers in other communities worldwide. 

I guess now is the point at which I define bad sportsmanship.  It is defined, in my mind, as an inability to play by the rules, be civil with others especially one's opponent, and altogether be a nice person in regards to the hobby of Warhammer 40k. So, with that out of the way, here are the myths. 

Myth #1- 40k is chocked full of poor rules and loopholes begging to be exploited by cheaters and bad sports looking to obtain unfair advantage in a game.

This is just wrong.  Now I am not saying there aren't rules loopholes.  In fact, GW seems to produce a few with every new codex.  However, in majority, 40k works very well.  It is a complex game with a very complex ruleset and as such, the potential for errors is increases both in design and rules writing and in implementation and interpretation of the rules.  However, I think most communities get the point of the rules and play the game well.  Otherwise, GW wouldn't be selling models.  If the game is crap, there are plenty of alternatives a player could turn to. 

Myth #2- There are people who expressly look for those loopholes to exploit and base their armies/strategies on.

Again, this is a rarity.  In my experience (playing 40K for a year and a half and WFB for 8 years), this happens so rarely.  Occasionally, you will run into a guy who tries to pull a fast one, but when called out, they usually back down.  Communities can spot taboo practices a mile away and usually squash them.

Myth #3- Competitive events are a breeding ground for "that guy" and he shows up to them in spades. 

Again, simply not true.  You may have a player or two who are terrible people who go to competitive events, but generally, those events are peopled by players who want to test their genuine prowess (great or small) against others in greater concentration and in greater numbers.  In fact, most of the time you won't see "that guy" at these events for a few reasons.
     1) Deep down, "that guy" knows he isn't good and/or is exploiting rules questionably and thus doesn't   
     go for fear of being called out or having his reputation badly damaged when he gets trashed by a truly
     competitive player.
     2) "That guy" is usually somewhat smart and simply won't pay out a good sum of money to go and
     experience what was mentioned in reason #1.
     3) "That guy" likes to be the big dog and the only way to do that is to play where the little dogs are.  Once
     you go to a competitive event, you are in the big pool and most times "that guy" can't stand to have his
     authority challenged.  Thus, he won't go.

So, tournaments and competitive, well run ones for that matter generally discourage poor sportsmanship and gameplay. 

Myth #4- GW promotes "that guy's" behavior, especially in its own events.  Granted, GW doesn't throw the best events.  'Ardboyz is laughable as an event.  More an excuse to bring extremely crazy armies and apply extremely crazy scenarios and see who comes out least beaten (notice I didn't say best).  So, does the prospect of a free tournament with prize support bring out some bad sports?  Absolutely.  This is perhaps the most abused event in 40k and consequently the one that most people derive their opinion of 40k players/competitive events from.  1) This isn't a competitive event, it's list building and dice rolling.  2) It isn't designed to be a bad sportman's free-for-all. 

Why, you ask?  Well first, 'Ardboyz events are generally held in independent gaming stores who have a reputation to uphold.  In every 'Ardboyz event I have seen or heard of, the store owner/manager is more than willing to kick a guy out for being a jerk, regardless of whether this is a no comp event or not.  Second, unlike GW employees, there are many local store owners and managers who actually play 40k and know its rules.  This cuts down on rules interp shennanigans.  Third, again the general 40k populace isn' made up of bad people and most of the time they get along. 

Myth #5- Bloggers promote bad sportmanship by endorsing competitive play, best-of lists, and slamming/endorsing certain events.

Again, I haven't seen a well thought out blog that does this.  Even those "uber-competitive" guys don't endorse twisting the rules or being a jerk.  In fact, scuttble-butt around town is that most of those guys are really fun to play against IRL.  In fact, most tourneys attended by the likes of Stelek, Jawaballs, Fritz, etc. have people lining up to play the guys in their spare time.  Why?  Because they're nice guys.  They know the rules and won't budge on them, but that's because they believe in competitive gaming.  Honestly, if I were foggy on a rules interpretation, I would want someone helping me understand them better so that I became a better player.  Again, most blogs don't endorse poor sportsmanship.  They may disagree on what events are competitive or not (which I think is a waste of internet space.  If you don't like the event, don't go.), but they endorse good play. 

So, do bad sportsmen exist?  Yes.  Is the game of Warhammer 40k a cesspit/breeding ground for bad sports?  No. It just isn't.  Are they everywhere?  No.  So, what's the big deal? 

Wait I think I see a bad sportman......

Nah, can't be.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...