I tend to be a relentless optimist. That’s probably useful in general, but it makes me want to ignore the negative. And that’s not useful: examing the other side can provide extremely worthwhile information. So for today’s intermediate update to the Great Wargaming Survey, I decided to look at the answers provided by those who do not have an unequivocally cheerful outlook of their hobby. It appears that whereas for a substantial group, there’s not much the community can do, others pose interesting questions.
Somewhere short of 300 respondents indicate they are not sure about their long-term prospects as wargamers. That’s comparatively a small number, and most likely those who are really on the way out never took the survey to begin with. Having said that: what do they indicate about their hobby and which reasons do they provide?
First of all, this group as a whole is every so slightly younger than the respondents as a body. The age-groups below 40 are each about 1% larger and the ones above 40 correspondingly smaller. No doubt the pressures of education, finding jobs, houses, partners, starting families, etc, etc, play a role. The constraints of time and money are often specified as threats to the hobby. That should not be a surprise, and it’s hardly anything anyone in the hobby can do anything about, unless they’re filthy rich and would like to subsidize people to collect, paint and play with miniatures. Others seem to lack the intrinsic motivation to spend the money or time on this particular hobby. Wargaming can probably be done on a limited budget, but if you’re serious about getting the armies painted, terrain built and games played, it’s going to take an earnest investment in time. If wargaming is competing with other hobbies, it may lose out. Losing out may be due to two types of issues.
The first group of issues might be indicated by the lack of standardization. Even if you’re able to find a group of wargamers, you then have to get them to agree on a setting, a preferred scale, and a set of rules. We’ve all been there and it’s easy to see how one might get frustrated to be the odd one out. It’s remarkable to see the pleas for a standard size of mini, or a limited number of rules. This group of issues ties in to the next one however, especially where one or more gamers feel the need to proclaim the superiority of their chosen preferences. You guessed it, the other group is the gamers themselves. Apparently it’s still all too common to run into Win At All Costs gamers, snobs, or other unpleasant co-hobbyists. This problem is only offset by the polar opposite: the utter lack of people to play games with. Again, it’s easy to see how discouraging it can be if you’re unaware of anyone to share your hobby with within a reasonable distance.
Undoubtedly some of the issues listed here would occur all the time, and in any hobby. You might meet unpleasant people in the local choir, and getting a good handicap at golf requires both time and a substantial investment in the club. But I have to wonder if there’s nothing we as members of the wargaming community might do to reduce the effect, here and there. Any suggestions?