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Sunday, 8 January 2017

Get out there and wargame!

Over Christmas and New Year I have seen lots of posts on various wargames fora where wargamers have been reviewing their activities in 2016, and discussing their plans for 2017. I was struck by how many self-identifying "wargamers" actually game very little or not at all. That struck me as really sad. I mean that in the sympathetic "oh what a pity" sense, not the disparaging "you sad man" sense.

I myself am about to do what for me is a rare thing: go more than a week without a wargame. (Don't feel too sorry for me. I'll more than make up for it the week after.) These days I have the fortunate luxury of a great gang of regular gaming buddies with enough shared enthusiasms and similar approach to gaming that there are always games to be played and players to play with.

But it was not always so. There were long years when I didn't get that many games in, and the games themselves, and the company, weren't always satisfactory. For a long time I was a bit frustrated in my quest for the High Quality Gaming Experience (TM). What was the problem? Partly it was the games themselves: too many evenings wasted using lame rulesets, or playing poorly designed scenarios (sorry, guys). But partly it was ... well, me.

A wargaming friend who was a psychologist once confirmed to me that hobbyists in general - including wargamers - tend to have poorer social skills than average, to be further than average along that autism spectrum, maybe with a dose of OCD thrown in. A very broad generalisation, of course, plus I may be misremembering and misquoting or exaggerating what my psychologist friend said. Still, it does tally with my personal observations of wargamers as a breed in general.

In that I include my younger self. When I started wargaming, I was excessively concerned with winning. I won the junior title at my then club's annual tournament. That was great for my ego, but I am sure I was obnoxious and annoying to play against, and not considerate enough of my fellow players and of what made a game enjoyable for them. As an adult, hosting games at my place, I'm sure I wasn't a very good host at first: minimal hospitality, inadequate appreciation of or concern for my guests, still too interested in winning and power.

I like to think I am a better person now.  :-)  I'm sure my social skills have improved. I'm no longer so insecure that I need to win games and trample over others to feel good about myself. I've learned from friends what makes for not just a good game, but a good gaming occasion. Our corner of the club is now always the lively noisy fun one, and new members often gravitate towards it. The games I and the other members of my group host at our homes are always popular, well-attended, convivial affairs bursting with bonhomie and good cheer.

If it was possible for me to do this, it could be possible for you too. So don't be a sad lonely non-wargaming wargamer: get out there and play! Thanks to the wonders of the web, it is relatively easy now to find other gamers within striking distance. Pluck up courage, bite the bullet, get in touch with someone and set up a game. Follow my advice about the HQGE. Choose a ruleset that will enable you to finish a game in whatever time you have, and that ticks all the boxes, not just for you but for the other player(s). Don't go out there to win, go out to have a good time yourself, and more importantly, to make sure the others have an even better time. Maybe you won't hit it off with the first group you try. Don't be deterred, try another, and another, until you find the one that you get on with.

Make some new friends, and have a happy 2017!