So yesterday I tackled the idea of video gaming vs war gaming.
It was left saying that it was obvious that one hobby was deemed more socially acceptable than the other, and so I decided to research this a little further through friends and twitter.
The response was pretty much universal, everyone agreed that in modern culture war gaming is seen as a taboo, something that should be hidden from prying eyes and something we need to "come out" with, where as video gaming is just assumed for any male between the ages 12 and 30.
The more I gathered this data the more apparent the issue became, people were embarrassed and in some cases ashamed of their hobby, and I wanted to know why.
You see my first thought that if we knew why it was considered taboo, then we could look into eliminating it, the more I thought about it, the more I realised there was one resource which was currently untapped:
My own experiences and beliefs.
So here we are, raw data and case studies thrown to the wind and in it's place my own story:
I'll put my hand up and admit it, I am embarrassed by my own hobby. I will so rarely talk about it in the open world forum, and before a few weeks ago the many friends I have on Facebook had no idea that this was something I do.
I was leading a double life, explaining to the people I work with about what I do, all the whole remaining as vague and cryptic as possible so I would never have to use the words, war and/or miniatures.
But why is this? It didn't used to be like that, years back when I would openly display my work and my hobby with pride, but somewhere along the lines this changed.
The first aspect I believe is my relationship with Games Workshop.
Now this company is the figure head of war gaming in the UK, and when I was a kid I was proud of that community, but that there is the crucible of the problem: I was a kid, now I'm 28 years old and I've outgrown my hobbies of childhood, except for war gaming.
I go into a GW shop and I see a group of 12 year olds buying models and I'm left thinking "i must look like some pedo trying to groom kids", another thought is "I hate kids"...
I hate to admit it, especially being a father myself, but I hate other people's kids, teenagers especially. I know that I was the same, and I know it's all part of growing up, but that's just me.
I believe that this is the crux of where my debilitating fear has come from. I know that war gaming and miniature modelling and painting is not for children. It is a wonderful hobby to get them using their imagination and talent, but the quality of work I output now (and there is still massive room for improvement) is infinitely better than what I did as a teenager.
However despite what I know, I also know that the world doesn't see it like that. It sees the 12 year olds playing with space marines, then it sees a grown man doing the same and it assumes he is autistic.
With gaming however I felt much more confident, I wasn't playing with dolls, I was doing a war time simulation, acting out the role of a USCM fighting off Cameron's Aliens! That couldn't be for kids, the game (and the films these games were based off) were adult rated!
So where do I go from here? I suppose it's a lot like my WoW hobby. At one time I thought people would laugh at me when I told them about it, it turns out when I have come out as being a geek they've either asked questions because they don't really understand how an MMOS works, or they admit to being one too.
Maybe the same could be said about war gaming, and I guess that's part of why I wrote this blog. Sure it passes the time during my commute to work, but I was tired of living a double life, I wanted people to see my work I spent hours and days over and what better format than a day by day account of my works, thoughts and feelings?
I hope this has been either helpful or insightful, and I hope some of you will join me for an afternoon drink on Saturday 21st April at Salute 2012, we may be the pariahs of society, but hey, better to be a pariah and proud, than accepted and ashamed.
- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley