Replying To A Reply

Well, more of a thought inspired by a thought inspired by a thought. I apologise in advance if this is a little incoherent – I’m not feeling very clear this morning. Anyway, thought I’d put it out there 😉

My recent post on finding time to play for pleasure sparked an article on the Scent of a Gamer blog, and it seemed only fitting that the thoughts his article inspired in me should be another short comment here. It’s like internet tennis.

I’ll assume you’ve read both articles. In fact, while you’re at it, you’ll probably find a bunch of other interesting stuff to read on his blog. It’s definitely worth adding to your list of things to check. Anyway, when you’ve done, I’ll see you back here 😉

His points about Focus and Be Ruthless are fine as far as they go, though I think they are only relevant for a fraction of the gaming fraternity. I’d argue that they only work with a certain type of person, and not with me at all. I’ve tried to focus over the years, but it just isn’t fun for me. A major aspect of my enjoyment is understanding the game as a whole. The meta-game, perhaps, but perhaps not really that. I mean understanding how the different armies/factions/whatever go together to make the whole patchwork of the piece, and tell the story of the game from different angles. Naturally, some suit me more than others in terms of playing style. Even so, my playing style is not a static thing. It partly depends on my mood and partly on what else I’ve been playing lately. I like the change and the challenge of getting to grips with a different army. Sticking to one army might make me more experienced with them, but palls after a while. Also, understanding how to fight against an army makes you better at commanding it too, and if you only ever see the battle from one side of the trenches then I’d argue that you were likely to be a more limited general. So there are good aspects to diversity as wells focus.

To take it back to his comments on opportunity cost and first/second best options, I’d suggest that he’s mistaken in assuming that threes remain static for everyone all the time. If my most enjoyable experience right now would be to play game X with army Y then it does not follow that this will always be the case. Focus may, in fact, diminish my enjoyment.

Another factor (and one that admittedly may be peculiar to me) is related to my thinking on Loving Them Equally. It’s so ingrained in me now, and needs to be, that I find it very hard to decide between armies. I can see some good points in pretty much all of them. Am I really benefitting from restricting myself?

Having said all that, I do sometimes envy people who can focus on a single game and army for years on end. It must be nice to have that lack of distraction. But as I said, after years of trying various approaches, I think I know myself well enough to know that I simply can’t be happy doing that.

Another aspect is to do with foreknowledge. How do I know without trying different things which one suits me best? He touches on this with his final comment on Exploring (which does indeed sound contradictory). He’s absolutely right about there being a lot to choose from – I’ve written as much myself. So I don’t think it’s that we disagree entirely, just that I think there’s more than he suggests, and that while the focussed approach may be perfect for some it’s just not practical for all.

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14 Responses to Replying To A Reply

  1. Phyllion says:

    He also doesn’t include the pleasure of browsing, shopping, collecting and painting.

    I speak as someone who barely gamed for a few years, but took plenty of enjoyment from painting both collections and a fairly random of other things.

    • Phyllion says:

      Not everyone’s cup of tea, of course, but an equally valid way of enjoying (aspects of) the hobby.

      • davekay says:

        I agree Phyllion, though my article was written from the perspective of a gamer. If you take a look through my projects page you’ll see the eclectic mix I’m currently painting up.

  2. Ben says:

    I’m with you on this one, if I played one army for one game then I would quickly quit gaming altogether.

    • Ben says:

      I personally think he’s trying to solve a problem that for many gamers doesn’t exist.

      • davekay says:

        Hi Ben,
        It’s probably the diary type aspect of my blog coming out, where I am talking about how I’ve dealt with issues as a gamer continuing in the hobby with less time to do so. It’s certainly not a problem I had 15 years ago!

  3. davekay says:

    Thanks Jake. Of all the advice in my article, Explore is the one I’d nominate for everyone. I think your point on focus is really valuable. For some people focusing on one game is fine, while exploring multiple armies and styles of play within that game.
    These days I find myself with maybe 6-8 opportunities per year to play miniatures, and you can believe that has encouraged me to focus! Having said that I’ve managed to acquire small, playable forces for Malifaux, Dropzone Commander, War Machine and SAGA in the past four years. Only one per game except for SAGA where I quickly found myself with two forces and contemplating a third. At that point I had to ask myself some hard questions about the value I’d get out of any new force.
    Limited play opportunities have really made me value the games being released these days, with a low buy-in and smooth play.
    I guess what I wanted to share with people were some of the things that have kept me in the hobby over the past few years where time constraints might otherwise have made me drop it.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      And I think you make some valuable points. The swap from being cash-limited to time-limited as you age is a familiar issue for most gamers I know, though like most things that happen with age it creeps up and is often unacknowledged. It’s valuable to take a step back and see what it all means and whether you need to actually change what you do to get the most fun out of things.

      It is, as I think this thread shows, an oddly complex subject to talk about clearly. Perhaps because it’s to do with exactly what fun looks like for everyone, perhaps because you could think of terms like focus (for example) being on so many different levels: game, army, style, genre, gaming, painting, modelling, etc.

      And, even with your article, my ramblings plus the interesting comments here I still think we’ve not really covered the whole topic. Needs more cogitation 😉

  4. braxandur says:

    Interesting read. I like both viewpoints and see interesting points on both. I’ve seen a few different kind of gamers and here are some of my experiences:

    One of my friends actually is a “ruthless” player and he purely plays and paints what he enjoys. Every year he tried out a few new games together with me and a few more of my friends. While most of us enjoy learning new rules, seeing how these interact and trying out new thing, he normally joined for a game or two, and than often lost interest, leaving our group (and often the campaign we were playing) to get back to his regular games. He is really happy with this way of gaming and I can imagine this. Still the fact that he often bailed out during a campaign annoyed me a lot and nowadays he is often not invited anymore for a new campaing. We expect him to bail out any time and rather spend time and energy in playing with people who will finish the campaign.

    For me it is the other way around. I don’t mind having way more games than I can ever play during my life. Nowadays I happily spend a my money on get a game such dreadball, wild west exodus, myth, Shadows of Brimstone and many more. Each game get’s about a two to three months attention (sometimes they overlap) during a campaing in which I happily seach for the models I need, paint them, learn the rules, devise strategies and have a lot of fun. After the two or three months I notice I’m ready to try something new and the cycle starts anew with another game.

    One of the most important things is to acknowledge that you don’t have time for everything and while that can be frustrating at first it is actually great. It means you always can do something that you like.

    Overal also interesting is that I see myself shifting more and more to skirmish games because those are relativly short projects compared to games such as WFB and 40k for which panting an army costs me easily a a few years. Still, I really do like those games due to the diffence in tactics needed in them compares to the ones in skirmish games.

  5. I think Jake has overlooked what I understood as being Dave’s point when it comes to both “focus” and “be ruthless”. He’s not arguing for a gamer to stick to just doing one thing to the exclusion of all else. It comes on the heels of “understand” – if you’ve got minimal time in which to play (as I, too, do these days) you need to understand clearly what you want to get out of your gaming experience and focus on that. It’s possible that your focus may be on one army for one game. Or it may be on playing as many new games as possible. Or it may be on playing whatever game against as many new people as possible.

    I’ve recently joined a new club (nothing wrong with the old one, but my evening schedule changes and, by the grace of God, there was another club meeting nearby on a different night) and I understand that what I’m really going to enjoy about going to the new club is meeting as many people as possible and learning what they enjoy about games and gaming. Whether I even get to play a game is largely irrelevant to me at that point.

    Once I’ve had a chance to really learn who everyone is (or, at least, who most people are), I’ll probably focus on demoing games I enjoy.

    With respect to being ruthless, I think this is more about being honest with yourself. Don’t force yourself to participate in a way that won’t be fun for you or which will leave you with regrets. Opportunity cost cuts both ways. If your time will not be well spent, don’t spend the time on that thing. If you have 20 chances to play your games in a year, it is – in my opinion – better to spend ten of them having a great time and the other ten not gaming at all than it would be to spend ten of them having fun and ten of them being miserable.

  6. Greg Johnson says:

    These things come in varying degress, of course. I recognised some time ago that I no longer had the time and enthusiasm to be involved in a lot of different games. I pointedly ignored some of the newer games people around me were exploring in order to focus what time I had on my chosen “main game”. It has become something of a running joke amongst some of my friends, but that’s not a problem. Having said that, I do have 8 or 9 armies for that chosen game, so I have some scope for mixing things up when I want to, without having to branch out into an entirely different game. So it’s a level of focus, without becoming complete “tunnel vision”.

  7. Jim says:

    Personally I found myself agreeing with Dave’s points in a general sense. I also try to apply some of the business lessons I’ve picked up over the years to my hobby… and they do work (for me at least).

    Most wargamers tend to have a ‘lead mountain’ of items bought in haste and successively sign up to whatever the next ‘big thing’ is in the hobby. I’m sure a few of also know at least one guy who has a number of armies which never get finished. If you don’t, take a look at show bring and buys, or E-Bay, for evidence of these partially completed projects.

    As has been said, a more disciplined way of doing things is not for everyone, but can work very well. If you’re time poor, you might begrudge the time spent formulating your plan, but I’ve always found that such time is rarely wasted in the final analysis.

    You can still have variety in your gaming, as ‘focus’ can be ascribed to more than one project at a time too… the idea is to concentrate on what you really want/need to do, versus sort of blindly trying to do everything all at once. If you have wide interests, then you will benefit from prioritising rather than focusing per se, but nevertheless having a plan and sticking to it will reap dividends.

    It might all sound a bit dull, but the pay-off is actually gaining more enjoyment from what you have, rather than bemoaning how you’re not having fun, with what you haven’t been able to complete.

  8. Pingback: The fun in gaming | Braxandur's Weblog

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