May 19, 2010

Social Wha-? Look Man, I Just Want To Play a Game

So if you're here, it's likely that you have come from a source where you have read these articles. If you haven't, get thee hence.

Warning, it's quite a bit to digest.

Chainfist - Casual vs Competitive
Chainfist - Casual vs Competitive, Part 2

Whiskey & 40k - Social Contract and Needs in Wargaming

Disclaimer: I am one of the owners of and Jive Professor is a contributor on YTTH. However, JP interacts with Andy for YTTH stuff, not me.

Here's the thing about the three "sides" expressed in the above articles - they're all right: Mkerr, Jive Professor, and MVBrandt. How can this be, you ask? They seem to be diametrically opposed.
  • Mkerr asks where the fun has gone and that competition has gone to far
  • Jive Professor thinks competition can be fun
  • MVBrandt wants you to be responsible to yourself.
And these can't all be right? We NEED to get mad about this - from one side or the other. The funny thing is that they're all doing the same dance, they just are on different steps.

Yes, 40k is a game and yes, it is about having fun. Competition can be fun, and a person can thrive in competition. And finally yes, you are responsible to yourself for having fun - not dependent on the other person. These are complimentary arguments, not contradictory.

It seems as though Mkerr is not accepting of JiveProfessor's arguments mostly because they aren't worded the same way Mkerr's are. Just a quick stab at my buddy Mkerr, but how very Stelek-ish of you ;-)
There is a definite disconnect between the communicators who are essentially the bearers of the same message.

The only thing I read that I really disagree with is one statement of Mkerr's, and it is sentiment he repeats several times throughout both articles. I can see how you can get there, but this is a dangerous, slippery slope.
"I don't know why it's so tough for some players to realize that you are completely responsible for your opponent's enjoyment."
It's tough to realize because it is flat out not true.

It is not your responsibility to make sure that anyone except yourself has a good time. This does not mean "Me first, you if I have time!" That's only for marriages... er, or not. Your responsibility is to the other player is to be a decent human being: to be pleasant and considerate of their wants/desires. You are not responsible to make sure that they enjoy themselves. If they start losing and start to not enjoy the game - what then is your responsibility? According to Mkerr's logic, it would be to lose the game so that the other person can enjoy themselves.
Feeling that you responsible for another person's enjoyment is not the road to any form of fulfillment - for any person involved. This spans beyond games and goes into families, relationships, et all.

So the summary of all these should be:

  1. Act like a decent human being. Because you're a better player/painter/fluff-writer does not make you smarter, better looking, or more accomplished in life than the guy with whom you're currently comparing.
  2. Know what you're doing and play appropriately. Do not bring your A game to teach a green player how to die (or how to lose interest in the game), or your all Terminator list to the local club's Hive City underworld campaign, or complain that Ardboyz has too many unpainted models and doesn't represent the game. If there are weird rules and you accept them, find a way to play and have fun in it (less complaining about Ardboyz Scenario 3, plz). If you don't accept them, don't play - as you will not find enjoyment, and will bring others down as well.
  3. Find a way to have fun. Enjoy the game whether winning or losing. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we can to do turn the game around, how to stomp out his last hiding unit, or why our dice abandoned us in our hour of need, that we forget why we even put our models down on the table - to have fun. If you enjoy yourself, the other person will have a much higher chance of doing so too (unless you're rubbing your win in their faces). Two of the most memorable games I had were wins by me, but not because I was winning, but because of how my opponent acted during the loss - like they were glad to have played the game.

Don't worry so much about "social contracts" - they're there yes, but if we can just remember why we play then the game will be so much better.

PS - Yes, I know there are the few out there who play simply to enforce their dominance upon others. Really... through a game with miniature toy soldiers... sigh. Anyways, if you worry about what you can do to have fun when you encounter them in a tournament (because I would hope that you wouldn't allow yourself to be trodden upon like that otherwise), then it will be better for you, for your opponent, and for people he has to play in the future. Try not to smirk when you beat him.


  1. Cool, I'm my own side!

    Also, are you talking smack about my all-terminator Underhive gang? They're Spyrers who totally have an in with the Astartes! If you'd just read my 75-pages of poorly written fluff...

  2. I'll wash down my vicodin to that.

  3. I just had to expand upon the self-feeding blog circle, JP. ;-)

  4. I liked MVB's article though you can see my comments there. I think it does boil down to simply talking with your opponent or know what type of "function" you are going to. If you've entered into a story driven camp, more than likely a fluffier list is required but if you're entering a tournament, there should be minimal to no "comp."

    This still doesn't mean you get to lord it over everyone, etc. but I think if the majority of people understand that tournaments are a place to show off your skills as a 40k player (which not only includes gameplay but listbuilding), there would be less complaining. On the flip side, taking a balanced and good army all the time to any sort of game isn't going to go down well with everyone...

    P.S. <3 Firefly

  5. I added to it too...

    PS - I <3 Firefly MOAR!