All social groups possess certain dangers as they grow larger and more intertwined. As an observer of human behavior I often notice certain behaviors that cross almost all larger groups. There is one in particular that I fear is starting to grow within the Wargaming community. With the help of the Internet this process has only accelerated…
Here, story time for how some dangers start to grow.
So I know this Wargamer. He is really good player. He is always the favorite going into any tournament. He is a great painter and has no problem playing anyone that comes his way. In fact he is generally a good guy, even if he has a tattoo of his favorite marine chapter. Like manypeople who are on the top of there particular hill– followers are often attracted. The kind of followers at first glance are no different from those that walked and listened to Socrates. Instead of talking about the meaning of life and changing Western Culture forever this is about moving little army men around a table.
Unlike and idealized ancient Greece– in this little story these devotees are poor imitations of their teacher. The sort of guys that took all of MC Hammer’s money. They use the relationship with Socrates to boost their egos and at the same time look down at anyone else not up to their distorted standards. These devotees have created games similar to the clichés you find in movies like Mean Girls or Heathers for those Christian Slater fans. These tests are hurdles for acceptance to the group. Sadly there is no conch for Piggy to blow before he gets hit in the head with a rock. It doesn’t really matter if Socrates endorses this behavior or not it was almost inevitable. The result is that many other players are intimidated and ostracized by this groups behavior. Of course if they have a body odor problem araspergers then you really did not have a chance to begin with.
So ostracize away!
This is simple sociology 101, but when you are part of the sub-culture generating this sort of behavior you have to step back and look at the effects it can have going forward. Big or small the growth of any cult of personality can be dangerous. If enough of these “celebrity” types grow they can form harmful groups of elitist. Now this is sometimes the price of doing business when High School type dynamics rear their ugly head.
What happens when you add the Internet to the mix?
Suddenly the kings of their perspective ant hills have gained a greater voice and following. The danger is ever-present that people with a sudden burst of popularity have things go to their heads.
It also doesn’t hurt when you can hide behind the shield of anonymity. This shouldn’t be anything new to anyone that has spent one hour on the Internet. What is sorta new for us as wargamers is the feeding of the beast. This comes in the form of tournaments and events that knowingly or unknowing separates the patricians from the plebeians.
This can go many ways. From events that market themselves as “competitive” to “hobby” creating division in the ranks of players that are deciding what event fits their MO. Then there are the invite only events that are growing in popularity.
Currently our hobbies are too small to be excluding people from events. Especially considering some game companies don’t have the desire to put down standards or guidance for that sort of thing. Our games are not professional sports and analogies and attempts to make them ends in folly. Celebrity and Elitism love to take each other out to dinner all the time. So this danger is real and should be taken as a warning. Remember that all Wargame should never be taken that seriously.
What forms of Elitism have you encountered while playing Wargames? What do you think of invite only events? How do you deal with people that think they are too cool for school? Visit Blood of Kittens!
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TastyTaste is one of most well-known authors in the Warhammer 40K online community. The man behind the Blood of Kittens website. He has been covering the community side of the tabletop gaming hobby for over a decade. He began writing for BoLS in 2009