Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Blue Orks and Zombie Pi-Rats

The Scabrous

The model above is the Scabrous, my favourite ship from 'Dreadfleet'. I'm constantly being told that Dreadfleet was a flop, too expensive, a crap game... or that the Scabrous is the worst ship of the bunch.

I don't care. I loved Dreadfleet, I still do. I think it's magical and awesome and if you don't like it, then you must have squigs instead of brains. As for the Scabrous, what's not to love about a gargantuan undead electro-whale infested with zombie pi-rats?!

So, why the Scabrous and comments?

I was browsing the internet today, when I came across some rather disturbing posts, the good old complainers, picking on the latest scrap of hobby and tearing it apart, and I thought to myself:

"Isn't ours a curious hobby?"

Before I go too much into anything, I wanted to just stipulate what the word 'hobby' actually means, as defined by the little dictionary on my Mac's dashboard:

hobby 1 |ˈhäbē|
noun ( pl. hobbies )
1 an activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure: her hobbies are reading and gardening.
I think the key words there are "leisure time" and "for pleasure". Now, forgive me, before we start, this isn't going to be a "Hate on the haters" post. Trust me, there's enough of those going around. Nor is this going to be an apologist post. What I'm going to do is to look at the facts and the comments flying around and examine the whys of things.

So, firstly, what even were these comments? 
I can't actually find most of them, but here are two I found:
"Come on GW for once in your life please give us value for money"
"...over priced, poor value, out of touch with their customer base..."
I make no sense in hiding that I work for Games Workshop. I am a Hobby Centre Manager (HCM), and as such, I do see a lot of how the business operates. I get to see how our figures are doing, why we do what we do, what new initiatives we're taking etc... I don't get to see pre-release information however!!!
What I also get, however, is to be standing in the firing line when the latest person comes in to rant about how Games Workshop is the devil.

Seeing these comments this morning really got me thinking, and I wanted to put those thoughts into writing.

An Imperial Fuel Dump

We all put a lot of time and effort into this hobby. We all spend a lot of money and time buying models, building and converting them, painting them up exactly how we want them, like I did with the fuel dump above (seriously, about five hours for that ONE model). We invest effort into giving them names and stories, into learning the rules and playing the games. Each and every model becomes a labour of love and the hobby itself becomes an emotionally attached to us. Is this a bad thing? Of course not.

However, what I really don't get is why so many people do this hobby, yet seem to detest the very fact that they do so. Again, to look at the definition of 'hobby', it's supposed to be something done for pleasure. The moment you start finding that your hobby is causing more upset than pleasure is the moment you should start looking for a new hobby. It is not the moment you should try and 'fix' the hobby for yourself alone.

What do I mean about that? Well, as an HCM, I've lost count of the amount of times I've heard customers complain that with a rules fix, or with a model update or even with the new paints, that their hobby has been injured.

"My army list doesn't work now!" - actually, this usually means "They stopped me doing something the rules were never intended to let me do, and actually brought my army back into line" or "Now I actually have to play the game in order to win". This is usually followed up with "I want my army to do this" or similar.

Fair enough, I guess. Wanting something is understandable. Demanding it and getting upset about something, isn't. Ok, so perhaps you loved checkerboxing your orks back in 5th Edition (for those who don't know, if you placed two units so that one was on the imaginary white squares, and one unit on the black, the two units could advance through the open with 4+ cover saves) as it made you win every game with your orks... but it was hardly fair to other people. The change was made to benefit the vast majority of the customer base.


Most of the time, the Internet Haters seem adamant that "their" hobby is the right hobby, at the exclusion of all else. The idea that someone might want a model just because it looks cool is alien to some. I've had to tell many of the younger (and in fact, older) guys in my Hobby Centre to cool it. An example being when one kid picked up a Tyranid Pyrovore, another told him "It's crap, you don't want it". I sympathise with the first kid. I want, and have, Pyrovores because they look awesome. I rarely use them in games, but I don't care. They look AWESOME. When someone comes up to me and says it looks like a giant phallus, or my beloved Storm Talon is a flying potato, they can get out. That's my hobby, it's personal to me. I will not have anyone dictate how I should do it.

"Your opinion is only valid if it's asked for" is a motto I run.

I'm not saying that your opinion of the Storm Talon looking like a flying potato is wrong. What I am saying is that you mocking my choice in model is wrong.

And is this not a hobby that has facets for everyone? If your hobby is finding a gaming list that abuses rules and wins at all costs, then fine. Just don't expect me to be supportive of it when I'm doing my own hobby; just the same as you probably won't enjoy me extolling the virtues of a really awesome looking model if it doesn't have a stat line you like.

Certainly, however, seeing comments like

"Come on GW for once in your life please give us value for money"
"...over priced, poor value, out of touch with their customer base..."
makes me scratch my head. In both examples, we have a person, let's assume they're a hobbyist - as why else would they be commenting/interested - who believes the hobby to be poor value for money. Yet, ludicrously, it seems both still do the hobby. This is a self-defeating opinion. Here we have two people who say something is not worth doing, yet do it regardless.

Orsys The Eternal - Necron Overlord of the Nefersekh Dynasty

If most people walked up to a restaurant, looked at the menu on the door and saw there was nothing they liked, or that the food was more expensive than they were willing to pay, they would walk away and find another establishment more suited to their culinary needs. So why is it that with Games Workshop, it's different? Why do these people feel the need to enter this theoretical restaurant, find a waiter, and raise hell and complaint with them?

It makes me sigh, ever so slightly, but the true revelation is actually in the latter part of the second quote:
"...out of touch with their customer base..."

How can a company that is out of touch with their customer base be in growth? What we see again is the issue that someone feels slighted by GW, and assumes therefore, that everyone must feel the same way. Again, we find that one person is trying to push their hobby onto someone else.

I'm not saying that any opinion is wrong (unless it's self-defeating, like the two above comments). What I am saying is that an opinion is personal, and sometimes people should think before opening their mouths or typing away. I watched one young lad suffer as a man, entirely old enough to know better, started picking apart the young lads model, "I don't understand this model, why did they make it look this way? Why didn't they do this? See, if it was me, I'd have done this..." - Was this man intentionally ripping it into the lad? No, but, for a moment (until I stopped him), he was making that lad feel horrid about his hobby. A hobby that he'd invested time and effort into.

The point I'm making is, we're all hobbyists. We all invest time, effort and money into this hobby. None of us want someone telling us that what we're doing is wrong, that we can't do what we want to do in the hobby. A little bit of tact and guile goes a long way - tolerance that people enjoy this hobby differently to you; understanding that the company has to cut a profit to keep going, to continue to make the models you enjoy, and our outgoings are probably higher than you think; and ultimately that you are a hobbyist in a community of thousands of awesome people. 

This is not YOUR hobby.
This is OUR hobby.

If I want to paint my orks blue skinned, I damn well will, thank you very much!

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