Monday, 24 June 2013

The Danger of Opinions

Chaos Dwarf Daemonsmith

There's something in this Hobby that's recently been truly getting my goat. No, I'm not talking about the endless waves of people who seem to be in the Hobby for the sole reason of hating it - well, not quite, at least. I'm talking about those who are certain that their aspect of the Hobby is the only one worthy of enjoyment, to the exclusion of all else.

What do I mean? I'll see you after the jump to explain.
I was listening in on a conversation regarding our Hobby the other day; I was playing a game of Warhammer, and myself and my opponent had just had to check in the rulebook for a quick query of quite how a particular rule worked (or in this case, didn't exist at all). It was whilst flicking through the Rulebook I heard a voice behind me mutter:

"This is why I don't play [Warhammer]; it's just charge and win."

For a moment, my mind flashed back to gaming nights with one particular idiot who used to refer to Warhammer 40,000 as a "real mans game" and everything else as "not a real mans game". He would flit between tables, peer over your shoulder and enquire as to why you were not playing a real mans game; or, if you were playing 40k, would congratulate you on your choice. 

I should take this moment to point out that I have no issue with people enjoying one system more than another, people are entitled to opinions, but they're entitled to keep them to themselves.

Herald of Tzeentch

An opinion, unasked for, is only worth the paper it's written on.

It wasn't the opinion that I had any issue with at all, in either of these situations; it was the fact that the owner felt it necessary to voice that opinion to the rest of the world. In fact, it's often not even a case of just voicing an opinion, but enforcing it. Now, nobody was going around physically stopping the games they didn't like, but that doesn't make this kind of action any less dangerous.

I was talking to a friend of mine, just this morning, about his local Wargaming Society, one I used to frequent when I lived back home with my parents. We had been talking about these Hobby Enforcers, and he mentioned a recent addition to the Club Roster who turns up each week with Magic: The Gathering (a card game that I'm fairly fond of myself). Again, nothing wrong with this in and of itself, but he only brings MtG. Still not an issue. 

"We're not playing MtG tonight, we brought down X-Wing. There's space if you fancy joining?"

Perhaps I am biased, but I trust this particular friend well, he is not prone to exaggeration and is very well grounded, but this all seemed very friendly, open and trying to get the new guy involved with the Club. Certainly, I would not have expected the apparent diatribe as to why Science Fiction is just idiotic to arrive. At the same time, however, somehow I am not surprised.

Tau Empire Crisis Battlesuit

From what I am told, not only did this particular individual turn down the offer for the game (which is fine), explaining that they do not enjoy Science Fiction (also, fine), but they then continued to rant and rave about the apparent holes and downfalls of Science Fiction and Star Wars in general. Apparently, this continued despite several attempts to placate the individual, who felt it utterly necessary to enforce his opinion on others. Yes, it is enforce because, if you're present, there is nothing you can do now except rise to the bait and argue, ignore them and put up with the deluge, or tell them to sit down and shut up, and look like the douchebag. As my friend told me, "It ruined our enjoyment of the game and our evening". 

I know when that idiot asked why I wasn't playing a mans game, it would start off by annoying me, but eventually started to actually hurt. Be told it enough and you maybe start to question what you're doing. It's almost like some kind of reverse peer pressure.

Frankly, I find this kind of behaviour disgusting. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but you keep it until it is asked for. I went to see "Man of Steel" recently, and I'll be honest, I was not impressed. I made a brief three-tweet about it on Twitter and then left it at that. I figure that anyone following me on Twitter or reading this blog is kind of asking for my opinion by default, right? The reason I bring this up is because I don't let my opinion spoil other peoples enjoyment of it.

"So, we're going to see Man of Steel tonight, have you seen it?"
"What did you think?"
"Personally, I didn't enjoy it, but that may just be me. Let me know what you think!"

Even in the above I feel guilty. These people are going to the cinema and I feel like I've already stained it for them. Certainly, if someone tells me how much they enjoyed that film, I'm not about to butt in and explain every flaw, every hole, explain in great detail why it sucked; I will politely explain that it wasn't my thing, and move on with my life.

Daemonettes of Slaanesh

So what is it about our Hobby that means that people are so open to doing this? On one hand, the Hobby is a very personal thing, we each have our own part of the Hobby that we enjoy, and I've been over this before. We each have our own way of doing the Hobby, and I don't mean our own techniques for painting, or our own strategies in the games. My point is, I collect armies for the story. I base their back-story on something I've read, or a particular model, then I create my own around it. I'll often use my own colour schemes, and write lists that are fun to me.

Other people collect armies solely for winning. They write the most aggressive lists and don't bother painting their models. Others paint individual models with no care for the game at all, and convert models that make my sensibilities churn - a Chaos worshipping Tau Fire Warrior riding on the back of a Tyrannofex? Eh, cool. That's not my Hobby, and a part of me thinks they're missing out, but I know that's my opinion. I'll ask them if they've ever tried expanding their horizons, and offer them a friendly chance to, but if they decline, I'm not going to hammer-blow them for it, though I expect that same courtesy.

Skaven Jezzails

On the other hand, there's also the rise of the internet, a domain in which your opinion can be passed off as fact, and 'trolling' and 'flaming' are things. It's just a sorry state of affairs when such behaviour peels away from the internet, and the Voce Minoritas forget that they're not behind their keyboard in real-life social interactions. This is a social hobby, and some people really need to remember that.

In the paraphrased words of Warwick Kinrade, "A wargame is a contract between two or more players to have fun", and the same is to be said of a Social Hobby. This Hobby is what it is because of the social aspect, and the danger lies in these Enforcers eroding the foundations of that away.

I implore you, you're welcome to your opinions, but spend a moment considering the ramifications of voicing those opinions, and even then, consider whether giving the opinion is at all necessary or not, before you do.

As an aside, I am now looking to update this blog every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, content permitting. I'll be writing ahead and publishing to that schedule as best as I can; so check back on those days!

No comments:

Post a Comment